For the past several decades, you’ve portrayed every Republican, no matter how benign, as the second coming of Hitler. So when you did the same to Trump, the electorate tuned you out.
But what about “double negatives”? The default assumption most of us have had, I suspect, is that they would split roughly evenly between the candidates. But that didn’t happen this year. According to the exit poll (current figures, which may be slightly revised), 18 percent of voters were “double negatives,” that is, had negative feelings toward both Clinton and Trump. Of these 18 percent, 49 percent voted for Trump and only 29 percent voted for Clinton, with 22 percent saying they picked another candidate or not answering.
This wasn’t the only example of campaign malpractice. The Clinton campaign spent time and money on winning Arizona and Georgia, and while it performed better there than Obama had, it was not by enough to carry their 11 and 16 electoral votes, respectively. At the same time, Clinton didn’t set foot in Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) after its April 5 primary. In effect, Clinton was aiming for her 340th electoral vote and ignored the need to campaign for her 270th, which is the one that counts.
It’s interesting, too, that the New York Times that is so suddenly on newfound hair-trigger alert for antisemitism would publish, in the same issue as all the paranoid coverage of Mr. Bannon, an article headlined: “76 Experts Urge Donald Trump to Keep Iran Deal.” Among these “experts” are Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, whose view of the “Israel lobby” was endorsed by David Duke, and whose book and Harvard Kennedy School paper were widely condemned by Jewish groups for trafficking in long-discredited and harmful stereotypes of Jewish influence. Yet the Times news article doesn’t even mention their involvement, let alone their sordid history. It’s a double standard — almost enough to make one think that what the Times is worried about isn’t antisemitism, but Republicans in the White House.
American conservatism has always been a collection of varied groups and schools of thought united, in broad terms, by a general view of the world. That view usually involves a low opinion of man’s character and rationality, combined with a high opinion of his dignity and rights; a resulting skepticism about power that tends to point toward greater confidence in mediating institutions and decentralized decision-making than in consolidated expertise and social engineering; and an overarching belief that the world is a dangerous place and maintaining order takes real work. These general views explain the attachment conservatives have to the American Constitution—which is rooted in some similar premises—and to the Western tradition beyond.
This should be troubling for conservatives. Philosophy matters. It’s long been a leftist trope that the president who governs best simply “does what works.” That sentiment goes back to Woodrow Wilson, who stated in his first inaugural address in 1913 that he wouldn’t govern based on a set philosophy, but rather based on “the facts as they are. . . . Step by step we shall make [our economic system] what it should be in the spirit of those who question their own wisdom and seek counsel and knowledge.” Decisions would be made based on “our time and the need of our people.”
Wilson, of course, was no pragmatist. He was a progressive.
Quote heard from The Professor, “The Democrats took him (Trump) literally but not seriously; and the Republicans took him seriously but not literally.”