Saturday 11/12/16

  1. Prayer Mission Accomplished?
  2. A natural, self-driven eruption
  3. Trump’s Secret Weapon
  4. I thought The Vapors were passé
  5. Cobbler, stick to your last
  6. Pollster shame


First Things

1

I do hope that all those conservative Christian people who were praying fervently for the nation in the run-up to the election will not now cease, saying if effect “mission accomplished.”

We conservative Christians, whether or not we supported Trump, do not now fear the imminent prospect of a peculiarly American version of secularist dhimmitude.

We now hope for a Supreme Court that will be willing to say “baking and decorating custom cakes, artfully photographing events, calligraphy of invitations to events, and even floral arrangement, are forms of artistic expression that cannot be compelled under a theory of ‘public accommodation’ and in the name of ‘equality.'” That may sound petty, but earning an artistic livelihood without compulsion to express particular messages it is at least as important to human dignity as letting kids with gender dysphoria mingle in bathrooms and locker rooms, of the sex they objectively are not, rather than being provided single-user bathrooms. (That potty case is headed to the Supreme Court. Why not another freedom from compelled expression case?)

We also hope for a Supreme Court marginally more willing to break from a terrible 43-year-old abortion precedent, returning the issue of abortion regulation to the political processes of the 50 states (though we need to be realistic about the changed political environment in many of those 50 states, too).

But really, no mission has been accomplished. We have elected one of two terrible choices to the office of the Presidency and to, in effect, leadership of the “free world” (whatever that means). We have elected a man so petulant and narcissistic that in the midst of running for this august office, he would commence Tweetstorms at 3 am over personal indignities.

I could go on. Really, I could go on.

The nation’s — and the world’s — fate is to some extent is such a man’s tiny hands. So while we’re apparently not going to become dhimmis in the next four years, humanly speaking we could be slaughtered indifferently, along with everyone else, in a war triggered by personal pique.

And there are people who — with more or less justification, less or more histrionics — are more fearful of their personal futures now than we were for ours Tuesday at 6 pm EDT (if we believed all the polls).

David Bernstein thinks they’re unjustifably fearful, but that their fears are nevertheless not irrational:

[M]any of these students have grown up with progressivism dominant all around them …

Moreover, they have noticed how dissenters from dominant political orthodoxy have been treated in these institutions — they are ridiculed, ostracized, sometimes harassed and occasionally punished for their political views. They have seen that progressives have organized to deprive dissenters of their jobs and their livelihoods. The more politically aware among them may have even noticed that the Obama administration has been distinctly unwilling to accommodate religious dissenters. For example, the Obama Justice Department has refused to rule out the possibility that the government would seek to deny tax exemptions for religious institutions that refuse to recognize same-sex marriage.

With the federal government about to be dominated by presumptively regressive and evil Republicans — a tribe that elite students are barely personally familiar with but have heard terrible things about — it’s not wholly irrational for progressive students to wonder: Is this going to affect my job prospects in the future? Will the institutions I care about be threatened with federal retaliation? Will a wave of conservative sentiment sweep over the nation, and as a result, will I face ridicule, ostracism and perhaps even punishment for my beliefs?

In other words, payback would be hell, and aren’t paybacks what’s to be expected?

I hope not, though I hope that we can negotiate some peace treaty so progressive monocultures will stop — for a long, long time — treating conservatives shittily.

We must pray for Donald Trump both as a matter of self-preservation and for love of our fearful neighbor. That’s part of the command that is “like unto the first”: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Tertiary Things

2

But some things should be said:

First, our democratic republic is vibrant and alive. It is not resigned. It is still capable of delivering a result so confounding it knocks you into the next room.

Nobody rigged this. Nobody hacked it. There weren’t brawls at polling places, there was kindness and civility. At the 92nd Street Y I got to embrace three neighbors. All this in a highly charged, highly dramatic and divisive election. We did our democratic work and then went home. It all worked.

Second, Donald Trump said he had a movement and he did. This is how you know. His presidential campaign was bad—disorganized, unprofessional, chaotic, ad hoc. There was no state-of-the-art get-out-the-vote effort—his voters got themselves out. There was no high-class, high-tech identifying of supporters—they identified themselves. They weren’t swayed by the barrage of brilliantly produced ads—those ads hardly materialized. This was not a triumph of modern campaign modes and ways. The people did this. As individuals within a movement.

It was a natural, self-driven eruption. Which makes it all the more impressive and moving. And it somehow makes it more beautiful that few saw it coming.

On the way home Wednesday morning I thought of my friend who runs the neighborhood shoe-repair shop. He is elderly, Italian-American, an immigrant. I had asked him last winter who would win the Republican nomination and he looked at me as if I were teasing. “Troomp!” he instructed. I realized at that moment: In America now only normal people can see the obvious. Everyone else is lost in a data-filled fog.

That was true right up to the end.

Those who come to this space know why I think what happened, happened. The unprotected people of America, who have to live with Washington’s policies, rebelled against the protected, who make and defend those policies and who care little if at all about the unprotected. That broke bonds of loyalty and allegiance. Tuesday was in effect an uprising of the unprotected. It was part of the push-back against detached elites that is sweeping the West and was seen most recently in the Brexit vote.

(Peggy Noonan, What comes after the uprising)

3

Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal thinks Trump’s secret weapon was none other than Barack Obama: “Not to take away from the GOP victory, but this was a rejection of Obama’s governing.

Something about that seems right even if it’s a paradox that Obama’s personal appeal remains 55%. Is is possible that Americans remain proud of having elected an African-American, and respect his demeanor, while thinking that Obamacare is a steaming hot mess and that he overlooked a lot of folks in flyover country in practice even while acknowledging them in theory?

(The prior paragraph is not really a reflection on Strassel’s argument. It’s more a free-association based of her subtitle.)

4

I’m trying to ignore the hysteria wrought by Trump’s election because some of it is sincere. I’m convinced that much of it is affectation as well, like a New York Times motif of “How do I tell my daughters that a woman can never ever be President of the United States?”

Oh puleeeze! Hillary Rodham Clinton, a highly defective grifter, lost to a conman who apparently has created quite a reality TV persona. It’s a bit early to generalize.

The most histrionic I’ve seen so far, though, was a sort of feminist NRAesque trope: stock up on your guns IUDs now while you still can!

I wish I could remember where I saw that. It could have been the New York Times, which apparently is really, truly, as biased as many fear and even more so. (This revelation makes me glad I shuffled the web browser deck and click on the Wall Street Journal tab for news now before clicking New York Time and Washington Post.)

Adiaphora

5

For the record, Rick Steves has been very annoying lately, but it appears he may be ready to return to normal.

6

I, presumably along with others, have been wondering how pollsters got the election so wrong. The Wall Street Journal has a pretty good story on that. I’ll mention just a few factors that seem key to me:

  • “People are changing how they communicate, moving from landlines to cellphones and the internet. That makes it harder to generate large random samples.”
  • “Two decades ago, more than one-third of U.S. households contacted for a survey agreed to answer questions, according to the Pew Research Center. Now, that number is around 9%.”
  • “About half of all American households rely exclusively on cellphones, but reaching those people is expensive and time consuming because researchers can’t call those people using auto-dialers. A law aimed at telemarketers requires anyone calling a cellphone to dial all 10 digits by hand.”

There’s also an interesting side-story to the inaccurate political polling:

The outcome also raises questions about the research businesses rely on to test new products and measure customer behaviors, since many of the same survey methods are used for market research.

“A corporate market research project, you don’t know if your polling is shit because there’s no election day,” said Dan Wagner, head of Democratic research firm Civis Analytics, which also conducts nonpolitical surveys. In politics, “there’s a day where you’re going to find out whether you were right or whether you’re an idiot.”

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.