I Have Never Been So Sad To Be So Right

I called it in 2012:

“I will now be the first person to project the winner of the 2016 Presidential election. I hereby project* that the Republican candidate will win in 2016.”

And I doubled down nine months ago:

“To summarize, I think it’s next-to-certain that the Democratic nominee this year will be Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee will be Trump — with some wiggle room; it might be Cruz. And I think either Cruz or Trump will beat Clinton in November.”

Nate Silver got it wrong. And I got it right. How could such a thing happen?

Well, Mr. Silver was looking at polls, using the same math that helped him call every single county correctly four years ago. It wasn’t his fault that the polls missed stuff. I on the other hand was simply trolling. I thought I was wrong, and flat out said that I hoped I was wrong. I wanted people to comment on my blog entries and tell me why I was wrong: “Wil, you’re underestimating the better nature of American voters”, or “Don’t worry, we would never vote for Donald Trump”.

I had already prepared — in my mind — a “concession speech” of sorts, ready to say how glad I was to have mis-called it. Imagine my shock yesterday. I have never been so sad to be right. (And if you know me, you know how much I love to be right.)

But now that I’ve brought emotion into it, here is the text I posted to Flickr earlier today:

__________

While half the country celebrates (a little quietly, if you ask me) the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and much of the other half consoles themselves that mid-terms are coming up in two years, I am stopping for a moment to take stock of myself.

I have always tended to see the good in people, to believe the best of people, to assume that most people are basically good at heart. It was this belief (along with most polls) that convinced me we had nothing to worry about yesterday. And like many of my other past beliefs, this one too turned out to be mistaken.

Sixty million adult U.S. citizens voted for the worst of four national candidates, a man who has promised to specifically target many of the people who are the most vulnerable. Some of those people are very, very close to me.

Over the past 20 hours or so, I went through a similar variety of emotions that most other liberals/progressives experienced: surprise, sadness, frustration. Unlike many, I never felt anger, though perhaps I should have. What I eventually settled on was fear.

Fear of emboldened white supremacists, for one. You can’t live in Texas and be very far from them, so I know they’re around. To them, my wife and children are a lesser species, and I’m a “traitor to the race”. And to them, the election of Donald Trump was a call to be more bold.

Fear of latent theocrats, for another. These men (and some women) have worked their way into politics for years, daily attempting to erode the First Amendment wall between church and state, but are usually held back by a balance of power. Today, we have a Vice President-elect who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, evolution is a lie, climate change is a scheme, and that Jebus magically tells him what to do. He further believes that his archaic religious code should be written into secular law, and has repeatedly worked toward that goal during his years in office. Like his President, Mike Pence will have a willing Senate and House, and soon hopes to have a compliant Supreme Court.

For my gay and lesbian friends, I fear for their marriages and the children they’ve adopted. Their loving homes being torn apart.

There are other fears, too many to list.

But I always keep coming back to this: 60 million people wanted this. 60 million people thought this was an acceptable way to vote, in order to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. For one reason or another, every one of them loathed her. Whether it was her platform, her sex, her husband, her choices of technology, or completely made-up problems like “eating babies” (yes, I actually heard that from a regressive last week), 60 million adult Americans honestly believed Donald Trump would make a better president than Hillary Clinton.

And so I’m back to sadness.

I assume that — like always — I’ll find other ways to distract myself and eventually quit feeling this. But then Jan. 20, 2017, will roll around and I’ll be reminded of it once again. And then we’ll see what happens. Of all the groups the regressive party has promised to target and further disadvantage — the poor, women, LGBTQ+, Mexican-Americans, Muslims, or others — I wonder who will come first, and how quickly will it happen. Of all the rights they’ve promised to erode, I wonder which ones will come under fire first, and how soon it will come.

And I’ll still be thinking of 60 million people. Some of them are my extended family members. A bunch of them are religious. All of them believe they’re patriots. It makes me want to despise my family. It makes me want to despise religion. It makes me sad for the United States of America.
__________
__________

I won’t make another prediction, not this time. I have lost faith in my fellow voters. I have no idea what they will or won’t do next time.

13 Comments
  1. Jae says:

    I’m also sad your prediction was right. I was extremely disappointed with the outcome and am still in shock. The main thing that brings me comfort is that Clinton did win the popular vote. It’s hard and scary not knowing what will happen to the vulnerable groups you mentioned.I keep trying to tell myself the only people we can control are ourselves. Try to keep your head up. We love you.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      Thanks, Jae.

      Currently, a really good reason to hope is that Trump is unpredictable and (at least during the campaign) changed his public views several times. So there’s really no telling what his agenda is or which way he’ll go with it. Another reason is that *all* presidents tend to move to the center once elected. I can’t really think of one who became MORE fanatic after taking office.

      Unfortunately, several vulnerable groups have already been targeted by white supremacists, just in the past two days, each time claiming increased boldness because of Trump’s victory.

  2. Zane says:

    I wanted to write something that tried to convince you and myself that it’s not as bad as it seems, but I keep countering my own arguments internally. I haven’t felt this mixture of anxiety and sadness about national affairs since 9/11. It’s hard to swallow because I feel I have so little control, and for what won’t be the last time I’m embarrassed to be an American. The fear is real, but I do think some of its strength is irrational, and I think it will dissipate some over time. You can only be the judge of what’s rational for yourself.

    Like looking at a many-sided mirror, some people saw something of themselves in Donnie Orange’s platform, without carefully examining, or caring, what some of the other sides were reflecting. That aspect isn’t different than any other election. What I’m having a hard time rationalizing is why they couldn’t see those other sides of the mirror when they clearly reflect racism and sexism. I think those voters were misguided and bamboozled. Some of them surely weren’t racists. People who voted for him are not necessarily hateful, or bigots, because of the vote. On the other hand, I’m not feeling compelled to justify their blindness today.

    I’m a casual political observer, so correct me if you feel I’m wrong about any of the following. The SCOTUS same sex marriage decision being overturned isn’t likely, because Scalia’s seat is vacant, and he dissented the decision. A constitutional amendment being ratified to outlaw same sex marriage is next to impossible unless Republicans continue to dominate elections. Donnie has already backtracked on a Muslim ban, which is obviously unconstitutional. Building a wall is implausible. Deporting every undocumented immigrant is impossible. However, I’m will to bet that there will be policy changes to attempt to remove many more undocumented immigrants than we are now, and this worries me on a deep level. The affordable care act is a goner, hopefully some provisions will remain intact like insurance companies not being able to deny for pre-existing conditions (but who knows). Foreign policy could very likely be a disaster. Oddly enough, I actually agree with some of Donnie’s foreign policy stances, but like you said he is so inconsistent about everything that his words in the past really don’t matter at all, and he’s also clearly not very bright or tactful. And whatever economic policy changes the Republicans cook up will surely only hasten the next recession or market crash, but some economists were predicting this would happen anyway. It will be an ugly four years, no doubt, but it’s a passing shadow and a step backwards, not the end times.

    That leaves us with the overall climate. I think the world is a more dangerous place with Donnie as president, but has anything fundamentally changed? The number of people who are hateful and bigoted hasn’t dramatically increased since Monday. Bigots may feel emboldened by the victory, but they also woul have felt angered by a loss. Hateful violent people would have been that way whether he won or lost. There’s no reason to think that the rule of law and human decency will falter. Additionally, judging the number of votes on Hillary’s side, there is clearly a very strong opposition and a lot of people willing to fight social injustice. I feel terrible that you and your family could face ugliness, and feel afraid. I’ve got your back, and the law has your back. And you can take comfort in the social progress this country has already made.

    Nearly 60 million people did vote for Donnie O, but he received the least amount of votes for a Republican since W in 2000. I’m guessing that many right leaning voters must have been turned off by Donnie, but were countered by the “white rage” voters. Whatever happened there, Hillary clearly failed to deliver the Democratic votes. It’s just as easy to blame Hillary and the Democratic party for this disaster as it is to blame red voters. Over the last three elections the red number has stayed nearly the same, but Democrats have lost 10 million votes since 2008. There is no other way to characterize that other than a complete failure. I’d be willing to bet that if Hillary and the DNC had a little less party elitism and more intelligence they would have picked a more progressive running mate (HELLO, Bernie?) and they would have won. Even if Hillary had been willing to integrate some of Bernie’s policies into her campaign in a viable way she would have won. I know I’m preaching to the choir about this, though. Hillary was the pre-groomed pick, and it was a disaster for the party. They did not show enough flexibility even with the rapid rise of a socialist left, and a pending FBI investigation.

    Finally, despising someone for their politics or their religion will obviously lead you down a dark path, and I urge you to resist those feelings. If those same family members who you have those feelings about were to take the same approach to you, a pronounced atheist and progressive, then they would obviously be despising you. And I do understand the difference between your emotional response (which is a feeling I share sometimes) and how you will actually live. Looking at our countries problems as a whole and specific violent incidences themselves, and tracing the cause of those back to individual people in your life and how they voted could end up making you bitter and unhappy. But, that’s just like my opinion.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      There you have it, folks, the longest thing my brother has ever written!

  3. Wil C. Fry says:

    Zane, as always, I appreciate your commentary. You’ve always been one of the smartest, most level-headed people I’ve known.

    As usual, I can’t find any fault with your logic, except for this part: ” Hateful violent people would have been that way whether he won or lost.” The difference is that he won, and they *think* he’s got their back. In the past day alone, hate-crimes have escalated, popping up at schools, parks, businesses, and other public places all over the country. In almost every instance, the perpetrators have mentioned Trump and how “we can do this now”.

    Just a few examples:

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-trump-students-targeted-20161110-story.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/us/police-investigate-attacks-on-muslim-students-at-universities.html
    http://www.vice.com/read/muslim-women-have-been-attacked-at-multiple-colleges-since-trump-won-vgtrn
    http://time.com/4566413/women-hijabs-attacked-donald-trump/

    “If those same family members who you have those feelings about were to take the same approach to you…”

    I did consider this angle, but I keep coming back to the primary, fundamental, crucial, stark difference between their vote and mine. I voted to give *more* people *more* rights and *more* protections. They voted to give fewer people fewer rights and fewer protections. And then they “praised God” when they heard Trump had won. This is not an assumption on my part; it’s what they posted on Facebook.

    “…the difference between your emotional response (which is a feeling I share sometimes) and how you will actually live.”

    How I live will change very little, I assume. As for my contacts with toxic people, I’ve been chipping away at that for a month or more, and it will continue. Certain ones are no longer welcome around my home, wife, or children — not that they had much contact with us anyway.

    • Zane says:

      It’s too early to tell if the emboldened hypothesis is correct for me. Maybe it will be proven correct over time. The antagonists in these examples already had hate and anger in their hearts before Donnie won. His victory isn’t the ultimate cause of these attacks.

      If Donnie had lost, and there were attacks people would say he incited the violence from his rhetoric during the campaign, and I can only imagine what his concession speech would have been. It may have created more violence than a victory.

      • Wil C. Fry says:

        “His victory isn’t the ultimate cause of these attacks.”

        Agreed.

        You are also correct (in your insinuation) that we can’t know what would have happened if the tally went the other way.

        Great observations.

  4. I turned off the news at 11:00pm on Tuesday night and haven’t turned it back on. I still have my sanity. I think the two are related. I am coping.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      “I think the two are related.”

      Almost certainly. My mood indeed sways in a correlation with how much news I ingest.

  5. Dana says:

    I was right, too (and called it at about the same time). I also spent this entire campaign season stating that you couldn’t trust Nate Silver and he was going to be wrong (he was). (Sorry, I have nothing substantive to add; I’m just patting myself on the back.) A rather Pyrrhic victory. This is one time I would have loved to have stated, “I was wrong.”

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