As I reflect on the magnitude of Trump's victory, which victory I did not expect, I think that Patrick Caddell is really the one who got it right. I am sure we will hear from the smart, educated people that this election was all about sexism and racism. I suspect that voters for whom sex and race were the most important factors are why it was so close for Clinton, rather than why Trump won. My evidence is anecdotal, but I know many women for whom Trump's sexist treatment of women was the deciding factor. I know a Latina for whom it would be hard to divide between her opposition to Trump's way of speaking about women, and Trump's apparent opposition to what she thinks of as her race. For my mother, it was both: though as white as it is possible to be white, she was offended on behalf of recent immigrants, as well as offended as a woman. I do not mean to say they were wrong to vote as they did. I just mean to say that, insofar as they were concerned with these things, they were forces holding the election close rather than driving the Trump victory.
I think the reason Trump won was not a counter-reaction in favor of sexism or racism. I think it was what Caddell identified, which now that I reflect on it I realize I've been hearing from both sides of the aisle for a long time. I just didn't see the unity in the position until he pointed it out, and might not have believed in it if he hadn't backed it up with his research.
Let's hear it again.
What we learned in our in-depth research was as astonishing as it was unexpected. It became clear from this really deep public opinion inquiry that American politics has entered an historic paradigm. What is emerging in what had been assumed to be the static political system was about to be reconfigured in ways and that we still do not know fully. But one thing is certain: the old rules of politics are collapsing and a new edifice is emerging.I realize Mr. Hines objects to hearing the "conventional wisdom" described as a "falsehood," as if it were a lie. Say, rather, that it was simply false. Surely people did believe it. They taught each other to believe it, by reading and writing pieces analyzing the world in this way. All the wise and well-educated believed it, most likely. I believed it myself, until I heard something better.
The conventional wisdom that America is absolutely divided into warring tribes is a tired falsehood. Overall, in the attitude structure of the American people, the elements of this new paradigm are commonly shared by upwards of 80 percent of the population – from the Occupy Wall Street movement on the left to the Tea Parties on the right. The political battleground is no longer over ideology but instead is all about insurgency....
In our research, the current level of alienation that now grips the American electorate is staggering and unprecedented.
Here are some of our latest results among likely voters from early October 2016:
1. The power of ordinary people to control our country is getting weaker every day, as political leaders on both sides, fight to protect their own power and privilege, at the expense of the nation’s well-being. We need to restore what we really believe in – real democracy by the people and real free-enterprise. AGREE = 87%; DISAGREE = 10%
2. The country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists and other powerful money interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people. AGREE = 87%; DISAGREE = 10%
3. Most politicians really care about people like me. AGREE = 25%; DISAGREE = 69%
4. Powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions and political interest groups have used campaign and lobbying money to rig the system for them. They are looting the national treasury of billions of dollars at the expense of every man, woman and child. AGREE = 81%; DISAGREE = 13%
5. The U.S. has a two-track economy where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, where huge corporations get all the rewards. We need fundamental changes to fix the inequity in our economic system. AGREE = 81%; DISAGREE = 15%
6. Political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people. AGREE = 86%; DISAGREE = 11%
7. The two main political parties are too beholden to special and corporate interest to create any meaningful change. AGREE = 76%; DISAGREE = 19%
8. The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream American and the ruling political elites. AGREE = 67%; DISAGREE = 24%
This election is thus a historic moment. I don't know if I believe the man it has settled upon is at all the right man for the task ahead of him. Insofar as he takes this particular task seriously, however, we surely ought to help him. The systems of the elite do need to be broken up. The way in which the government has come to serve the elite and not the people is indeed a swamp that needs to be drained. The looting of America by the few needs to end, and the government ought again to serve the common good of the People.
If he instead turns to the exercise of bigotry as if he were some sort of monarch, or if he violates his oath to support and defend the Constitution, I will be steadfast in opposition to him. If he does what I think the American people have chosen him to do, I must have faith that it was the right I asked God to defend. It has a strong claim to be the right: whether the ruling class serves the common good or its own interests is the very criterion that Aristotle set as the test for the health of all forms of government.
Our government is not healthy. Our people are. This was a mass turnout election. We are always told that high turnout favors Democrats, but this year it favored the insurgent candidate. Trump out performed past Republican candidates among minority voters, too. The people are demanding this change, and it is the change that Aristotle -- though cautious of the effect of the mob will on democratic societies -- would likely endorse. America must be for the common good of its people again, and not just for the few and elite.