Political Fix (17 November, 2016)

Prognostications in Hindsight

It would make sense for me to hang up my prognostication hat, except for the fact that I, along with a lot of other people smarter than myself, were completely wrong about this election. Donald Trump won, despite insulting every minority and special group in the United States, and campaign chair Kelly Anne Conway was right all along.

So was one of our devoted readers.

The Valley Voice was chided on facebook and emails, some justified some not, for printing the predictions of a 30-year-old college student. But Cheyne Strawn had the last laugh, as all of his predictions except two were spot on.

He was the only reader to definitively state that Mr. Trump would be declared the winner on election night. Association of Realtors Representative, Joel Rosales, also predicted a Trump victory, but that it would be too close to call that night.

Not only did Mr. Strawn blow my predictions out of the water, but he got some predictions correct down to the number of votes.

He stated that Republicans would maintain control of the House and Senate and that the Senate would end the night with 48 Democrats and 51 Republicans, which is exactly what happened. He also correctly predicted that Craig Vejvoda would win his Tulare City Council seat by two points and that Congressman Valadao would win by 15 points or less.

As far as the California State Assembly and Senate claiming a supermajority, only the Assembly did. The Democrats only needed to pick up one more State Senate seat for a supermajority, but that does not look likely. California still has some 4 million votes remaining to count.

The Tulare County Registrar of Voters still has more than 15,000 mail-in and provisional ballots to count, so no race is final. But it is unlikely any of the results will change, especially the Visalia City Council District 1 race that everyone got wrong. The prediction was that Adam Peck “would blow Phil Cox out of the water.” In fact, Mr. Cox won by more than 10 points.

The closest race is Tulare County Supervisor District 1 between Kuyler Crocker and Dennis Smith. Mr. Smith has held a consistent lead by 200 votes since election night. Also, Mr. Strawn and Mr. Rosales predicted he would win–so Mr. Smith can rest easy.

What Happened?

Susan B. Anthony predicted when women were given the right to vote that it would be 100 years before we would see a female president.

I think she was giving the United States too much credit. Ms. Anthony did not live to cast her first vote and Hillary Clinton will probably not see a woman president in her lifetime.

As women flocked to Ms. Anthony’s grave on November 8 to put their “I voted” sticker on her head stone, state after state was falling to Donald Trump until Hilary Clinton called late that night to congratulate him on his unlikely victory.

He gave his victory speech right before midnight, congratulating Sec. Clinton on a hard-fought campaign.

So what happened?

The biggest reason for the upset is that Sec. Clinton ran on her 30-year resume while Mr. Trump talked about the future. He gave a voice to White working class anger about being disinherited from the American dream while the Washington establishment declared the economy recovered. Mr. Trump declared at rallies what the working poor already knew that the economy hadn’t recovered and that the system is rigged.

It seems counterintuitive that the people against whom the system is rigged would vote for a billionaire. But middle America wanted Mr. Trump to bring change to Washington because he is a political outsider, despite the fact he is an insider of the financial elite.

There is a raft of other reasons for Sec. Clinton’s defeat that everyone seemed to miss before the election.

Research suggests that more than half of nonvoters tell pollsters that they are going to vote, which also gave the illusion that Sec. Clinton’s victory would be a slam dunk. Sec. Clinton received the predicted high percent of Hispanic vote, but there was no “Trump effect.” Latinos had the same miserable turnout as always, and there was no surge at the polls. Sec. Clinton also failed to draw in as many African-American and non-White voters as President Obama did in 2008 and 2012, giving Mr. Trump a slight edge in Florida and Ohio, swing states that he ended up winning.

Pundits laughed at Mr. Trump for holding rallies in Michigan and Pennsylvania in the final days of his campaign, but the joke was on them. Mr. Trump concentrated on the Rust Belt where Latinos have a sparse presence and gained more votes in the Electoral College by mobilizing more White voters than he lost by alienating Latinos.

His strategy lost him the popular vote but he won the election.

This has happened four times before in US history–twice in the 1800’s, and twice in recent history. In 2000 Al Gore won a half million more votes than George W. Bush, and Sec. Clinton won a million more votes than Mr. Trump.

When political junkies say that during this election Mr. Trump rewrote the political map they are referring to the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

These states were erroneously considered the “Blue Wall” and a sure thing for Sec. Clinton. But these industrial states have felt mocked by the mainstream media and more educated coastal states.

In fact, while Mr. Trump campaigned regularly in Pennsylvania, Sec. Clinton did not bother to visit the state since her convention.

Another demographic Sec. Clinton was hoping to win was White women, who she ended up losing. Part of the reason was FBI Director James Comey’s announcing that he might reopen the investigation into Sec. Clinton’s emails. He couldn’t have launched a nuclear strike any more strategically into the Clinton campaign even if he tried. Eleven days before the election, in the middle of early voting, he sent Republican congressmen a letter that the public interpreted as saying that Sec. Clinton was under FBI investigation. White women, who traditionally vote Republican, decided they could not trust Sec. Clinton after all and voted for Mr. Trump.

Now that the election is over and Mr. Trump is sitting the Oval Office with President Obama, it seems that a lot of Mr. Trump’s promises were, as Newt Gingrich put it, “campaign devices.” Promises such as to build a wall, ban all Muslims, repeal Obamacare, move the American embassy to Jerusalem, reinstate water boarding, raise tariffs on China by 45% and deport 11 million illegal immigrants have now morphed to “that’s no longer a priority,” “campaign talk,” or as his “being misquoted.”

The bottom line, though, is that Mr. Trump is right. Whether Mr. Obama’s fault or not, the majority of Americans are not better off eight years later under a Democratic president. Because of this fact the Republicans have the House, Senate, Presidency and probably the Supreme Court.

A feat that hasn’t happened since the 1920’s and we all know how that ended.

Do I dare make one more prediction? When I see Senator John McCain, I see a hard worker. When I look at Hilary Clinton I see a worker bee. When I look at Donald Trump I see a player who just beat his adversaries at a marathon game of Monopoly.

Mr. Trump proved his point and won the highest office in the land. I predict he will call it quits after four years and retire to one of his golf courses.

And Lastly – Something Local

The polar ice cap is melting, North Korea is on the cusp of developing nuclear missiles, and Syrians are dying of famine in Aleppo. But what are my neighbors worried about?

Their lawns.

The neighbor on the corner of our cul de sac where we live owns two specialty lawn mowers and an edger.

He spends three hours on his lawn, first using a regular lawn mower, then his specialty lawn mower, then his edger, to make it look like a putting green. He sits in his bay window like a sentinel with the louvres positioned in such a way that he can see out, but someone on the street can’t see in, just in case.

Our home at the end of the court has a limited back yard that is constantly wet in the morning because of the sprinklers. As a result my little fussy dog doesn’t want to get her paws wet and won’t urinate in the back yard, so I have to take her out front into the cul-de-sac to find a dry spot.

Seven o’clock one temperate summer morning, her tail wagging, unaware of the boundaries that delineate my yard from my neighbor’s, she runs across our driveway on to the neighbor’s lawn.

Right in the middle of doing her business a middle-aged man, who obviously had been watching us from his window, burst out his front door.

I, with sleep still in my eyes, exclaim “morning, what a beautiful day.” He, not noticing the nice weather, starts yelling at Bun Bun as if she understood English.

He yelled in her face the reasons why she can’t pee on his lawn while all five pounds of her stood looking up at him wagging her tail thinking he wanted to play.

I explained to him that I diligently pick up her poop and throw it in our trash. But he points to some patches of grub grass and says that she is ruining his lawn by peeing on it.

He was distraught so I didn’t think it was the appropriate time to explain that only large female dogs can cause lawn burn, not grub grass. It also normally only happens to stressed lawns and looks burned on the edges not dead.

A week later I approached another neighbor to see if she was missing a kitten we found in our back yard. She did not hear my question and told me she could sue for damages because of Bun Bun. She is rarely home but said she had “heard” that Bun Bun was peeing on her lawn.

“The entire neighborhood is upset with your dog,” she said.

The first thing to point out is that the lawns in my neighborhood are not “stressed.” Rain or shine, sprinklers go on each night and everyone’s lawn remains an Ireland green, even when it is 107 degrees outside.

It’s ironic that the yelling neighbor’s wife was so nice to point out to me that their CC & R’s prohibit unleashed dogs while the entire neighborhood was in flagrant violation, on several counts, of the City of Visalia’s watering code.

My interactions over the last few months with my neighbors reminded me of why such a nice house to rent was available on such short notice.

The homeowner had been driven out of town by her neighbors. She now lives a peaceful existence in Exeter.

Where have people’s priorities gone? Is it that my neighbors, Americans, or humanity as a whole have lost their way? I always thought that lawns were for children and pets, soccer balls and swings, and bad mitten and croquet.

I guess I was mistaken.

Maybe this country does need change and Mr. Trump is the answer – or maybe he is our punishment.

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