Current Events

Post-Election Post

Johnson, Mcmullin, and Castle all presumably took votes from Trump. But what would those voters have done if those candidates were not available? We can’t know. (If you think we can, ask yourself how the polls were so far off.) In some places, the third party candidates did not matter. (I.e., even adding their votes to those for Clinton would not have given her a win.  E.g., GA, OH!) Of course, in other places (FL, UT), they *might* have. But they might not have. (Would UT conservatives voted for Clinton if McMullin was not on the ballot?)

Today is a sad day for America and the world.  There are lessons to be learned from this (in no particular order):
1. Third party voters have to be careful.
2. The duopoly has to be reformed so that we get better major party candidates.
3. A less powerful government is less scary in the wrong hands than a more powerful government. Maybe you like the power big government has when your party is in the White House (or the White House and Congress), but what about when the other party is? One hope now: Congress reigns in presidential powers. But a Republican Legislature can probably do a lot with a Republican White House.
4. Racism, sexism, anti-otherism is alive and well in the US. Pretending they are not pushes them underground, where they fester and boil up. People say they won’t vote for a sexist or a racist if they fear public ridicule, but in the private voting booth, they go ahead and vote with those festering views. We need a cultural shift that makes honest conversation about difficult topics more prevalent. People like those that write for this blog and those in The Heterodox Academy can help here.  More generally, those of us who honestly believe all people are of equal moral worth must stand firm against bigotry.
5. Markets tend to do a better job of seeing through BS then polls. There is a reason markets, both at home and across the world, are in the toilet. Lack of stability is a bad bad bad thing.  And we just elected instability. Hopefully, things will calm down. Perhaps Pence will be the de facto President.

I suppose I assumed (begrudgingly) we’d have a Clinton Presidency and hoped the Libertarian Party would have at least 5% of the vote and thereby be invigorated for the future. That would mean that for the next couple of years, libertarians could have worked to find a candidate for 2020 that could be a contender. Someone with (most of) Johnson’s views (bleeding heart libertarianism) but without his awkwardness. That’s still a consideration, but all of the structural factors that worked against Johnson remain as they were before this election.

The Democratic Party elite must do some deep thinking and figure out (a) how not to piss off large portions of the American population and (b) what candidate(s) both represent the basic views of the party but are also better at attracting voters. One optimistic friend on the left thinks 4 years of a Trump presidency can get a Warren presidency. I’d caution against that sort of thinking.

The Republican Party elite will hopefully also do some deep thinking. They lost their party this year. Perhaps they can get it back. I would guess that working with Pence is the best hope for that. If they don’t succeed, the realignment of American politics is straightforward: the Democrats represent the establishment elite and the Republicans represent populism.

A final note: one positive about Trump, in my view, is that he actually responds to those he dialogues with.  The presidential debates in particular, but really much of political discourse in the US for the last few decades, have not been genuine dialogues.  They have been more about sound bites and talking points.  One candidate says P and her opponent says not-P and neither says anything about why the other thinks as they do, or is wrong.  We need genuine and honest dialogue.  We need to actually listen to what others say and try to see things from their point of view.  Only then can we really analyze their views and hope to have them really analyze ours.  And only with that sort of open, honest, genuine dialogue can we hope to do better.

  • Adam Digged

    1. Third party voters have to reject democracy.
    2. This election has shown that the duopoly cannot be “reformed.”
    3. Most people are sadly incapable of understanding this.
    4. The terms racism, sexism and (particularly) “anti-otherism” mean nothing thanks to the left’s continued war on language. congratulations, you’ve lost that one and you have made the world a worse place.
    5. You aren’t seriously implying that state-crippled markets can be a harbinger for anything real are you?

    I’m glad that we no longer need to argue which tyrant is best tyrant, but the Libertarian party is not the answer and never will be the answer. Power has rooted itself too deeply, and the populace have so gladly accepted their chains.

    In this post, there is no mention of the populist movements on each side of this election. The one that the democrats squashed out and the one that Trump rode.

    You may not realize this, but there are a lot of blue collar folks out there that the left has abandoned (though they never really cared for them) and are now vilifying; there are a lot of young males who are sick of being the scapegoat for the patriarchy, especially since the vast majority of them are not sexist and thought that they were on the same side of the progressives on this issue; there are a lot of white folks who are sick of being the scapegoat for racism, especially since they aren’t racist and many of them thought they were on the progressive side; there are a lot of atheists out there who have been critical of Christianity and are sick of being labeled bigots because they hold Islam to the same standard.

    • geoih

      Hear, hear!

  • Sean II

    The markets are recovering rapidly.

    Probably because they realize what I’ve been saying all along: that the Presidency is already constrained by public choice factors that make an FDR style policy tumult very unlikely.

  • j_m_h

    ” Markets tend to do a better job of seeing through BS then polls. There is a reason markets, both at home and across the world, are in the toilet. ”
    But the major indices are all up in the US now.
    What’s that telling us? Nothing. It’s a snap shot at a moment in time on a given day. It’s just noise. Wait for a few weeks or a year to get a sense on what markets are telling us about any Trump presidency.

    • When the UK voted for Brexit, the Pound sank immediately, then it appeared to recover, then it began a slower but significant decline. The market bounce today may simply be an example of what old traders term “the dead cat bounce”.

  • Puppet’s Puppet

    Just because he wore the polo you sent him doesn’t make Johnson remotely close to a “bleeding heart libertarian.” He is about midway between a genuine ideological libertarian like Justin Amash and a “social liberal” and “economic conservative” (neither of which match up remotely to noninterventionism in those areas) like Mike Bloomberg, Bill Weld, or the UK Lib Dems. Or, as one sympathetic but disappointed commentator wrote, he is essentially a man with libertarian impulses but without the capacity to turn them into something well-considered.

    Whatever he is, left-libertarians are the last people who should be confusing libertarianism with being “socially liberal and economically conservative,” and the first to see it as an exciting, forward-looking and people-empowering ideology of a totally distinct nature. Those of us who are converts from more statist forms of leftism should be especially appreciative of this appeal.

    But don’t take my word for it. Johnson himself has repeatedly summarized himself throughout this campaign as “socially liberal and economically conservative,” saying that this is what his self-identification as a libertarian means to him. This is what not only libertarianism, but bleeding heart libertarianism means–“economic conservatism”? And, of course, he has greatly put his money where his mouth is. Burqa bans, Nazi cakes, eminent domain…and I’m just scratching the surface.

    If you want to say Johnson is a libertarian, because he’s libertarian enough, then fine by me. He certainly is more so than his opponents, and it’s silly to argue on this sort of disambiguation. But to further specify his views as “bleeding heart libertarianism,” as though they would be in any way distinguish themselves within libertarianism as particularly appealing to left-libertarians, just leaves me dumbfounded.

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  • JW Ogden

    The Democratic Party needs to try to make peace with blacks and the republican party needs to make peace with Blacks. Hillary Clinton tried a little by selecting Tim Kaine but Wikileaks and her extreme abortion stance set that effort back and some republicans tried by practically drafting Ben Carson but that failed.

    I hope Trump acts dovishly on foreign policy and on the Drug war there are indications that he will in both cases.

  • Jeff R.

    A contributor to this site, Mike Munger, wrote an essay a few years ago decrying the open primary system. I found this persuasive. Trump wouldn’t have even been on the ballot without an open primary system.

  • Matty Hawthorn

    I’m consistently amazed at how one very simple problem is so frequently overlooked – the plurality voting system. I don’t know if this is a failure of imagination, or a failure of numeracy, but it really is a simple mathematical exercise to imagine how any particular election would have gone with a ranked ballot in, say, an instant-runoff type system such as is practiced in, e.g. Irish presidential elections (not even still the most ideal system, but a beacon of reason by comparison). Among students of social choice theory plurality voting is easily singled out as the *least* rational way of aggregating collective preferences into a “will of the people” when there are more than two options (and I hope we can all agree here that it is nice to have more than two options). That is to say, plurality voting among all reasonable voting systems satisfies the fewest of the basic mathematical criteria that most reasonable people, upon reflection, would likely agree are desirable traits for a social choice system. Most glaringly, it encourages tactical, dishonest voting far more than any other system. We must not “waste” our vote on someone who “can’t possibly win”, where this notion of impossibility is conveniently conjured from the minds of pundits interpreting a polling system that itself is administered to the populace in the same one-person-one-vote fashion as the final ballot. Self-fulfilling prophecies! Everyone else will vote for A or B so you have to too! And lo and behold, look how they do.

    We simply do not have enough data to comment objectively on the true nuance of public opinion on the candidates. It’s as if an Olympic figure skating competition were decided by judges who were allowed only to indicate a single approval for a single athlete, 1-0, T-F style. That seems absurd to us, but somehow we all just accept it as gospel from our electoral system and then go on squabbling around the intangible fringes, hopelessly reading the tea leaves of “public sentiment” after the fact from a pile of cryptic boolean on-off switches.

    But let’s make an honest guess.
    Remember this number: No more than 25.9% of voting age Americans turned out for Trump on election day, and they were the most motivated voters of all. The poorly motivated 28.3% who even bothered to turn out form a handy majority of decisive rejection of Trump.

    Do the math. In an IRV election, Stein drops out of the running in the first round. Her votes go to Clinton. She now has a lead – she started at 26% of all elligible voters and now has 26.5 to Trump’s 25.9. Johnson drops out and (I hope) his votes go at least 60-40 to Clinton. Now she’s at 27.6 to Trump’s 26.6. It’s a much safer margin than what we saw.

    And all of that is WITHOUT honest voting. With honest voting, we would have gotten all of that, plus our precious 5% of first place votes for Johnson (many times over by now with your favorite 3rd party candidate inserted here) – he would have stolen maybe a few percent of first-place votes from Clinton and Trump each, and the rest of the logic would have been basically the same, with Clinton winning by similar margins.

    And all of that is if the abstainers would have *actually* abstained, if given options. In reality, given the option to rank Johnson or Stein first, the silent 45.6% who stayed home may have been closer to 37.7%, as was the case in 2008 when Hope and Change were on the ballot. A larger number of these would have listed 3rd parties first on their ballots (that’s why they stayed home in the first place!), but few would likely list Trump second, given his low approval among all but the die-hard fans, who were already turning out in record numbers. We would still have Clinton, and we would have surpassed the 5% threshold with flying colors for Johnson. All with a little rationality. No pleas to the better angels of our amorphous collective nature, no deep thinking from establishment heads, no gnashing of teeth about whether we third-party voters should have been more careful, just a little rationality. (All this presumes abolition of the electoral college as well, which is even more irrational than plurality voting and was born of the desire of slave-holding states for “fair” representation, i.e. representation of the enslaved portion of the population by the votes of their masters)