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Thursday, November 29, 2018

My FINAL Take on 2016



Now that the evidence of the Trump-Russia relationship is so in the open that even Chris Cillizza has to acknowledge it, I think I'm ready to firmly stand on this take that I've found myself having to defend every time I've floated over the last year or two.

Once we can finally all admit that Trump and Russia stole the 2016 election, we need to also begin to understand that everything we thought we learned from that election is completely wrong.

Yes, Trump's base is racist. The Republican base has been racist for a long time. But the few million who changed their minds from Hillary to Trump or third party in the last month did so because they were duped by the Russians and Trump into thinking Clinton was crooked.

Going into the 2016 election, I thought our electorate looked more like the 2018 one than what we saw on 11/8/16. It's been hard to say that because it bucks widespread conventional wisdom, but I think it's OK to say now. Hillary was a fine candidate. Her campaign was quite good.

We all remember how amazing and optimistic we felt during the 2016 DNC (Russian-encouraged Bernie supporters notwithstanding). We all remember how she kicked Trump's ass in all three debates. We remember that she had a good ground game and he had none (though it turns out under the radar the Kochs had put together some semblance of one). We remember she had a more or less stable team while Trump's whole campaign was a dumpster fire.

This was all true all along and we let ourselves get gaslit (very much in Russian style) into thinking "Oh shit, Hillary didn't go to Wisconsin!" or "The Democrats need to cater more towards racist white voters in the exurbs!" We came to believe that people like Brad Parscale, Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon were secret geniuses all along. It was bullshit.

At the end of the day, the story is that we're always within a 5-10 point margin of either party being able to win a Presidential election because there are enough established Republicans and Democrats, and that in 2016, a substantial number of the 15-20 percent of undecideds broke hard for Trump because the floodgates of an international conspiracy against Hillary Clinton (and probably would've been the case with any other Democrat) that had had wave after wave after wave thrown at it for a year crashed through due to a perfect storm of pre-arranged factors -- Wikileaks; the Republicans pressuring Comey into conducting an investigation he had absolutely no rational reason to conduct in the first place; Giuliani and diGenova working retired FBI agents and agents into a frenzy to pressure Comey to reopen said investigation at the last minute; illicit Facebook and Twitter campaigns aimed at swing voters with stolen data -- happened in the month before an election that was comfortably in the blue column until October 2016.

The polls weren't wrong; they tracked it happening even though it seemed unbelievable at the time. This also probably cost the Democrats the Senate in 2016. THAT, in a thready nutshell, is the story of the 2016 election. And I'm sticking to it.

NOW we need to figure out what that means for the future.

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