I told you Donald Trump would win
Nobody thought it would happen, but Donald Trump surprised everyone by winning the election to become our next President.
Back in December of 2015, I predicted that Donald Trump would be the next President, but a coin flip could have predicted that too. I did something more: I also detailed why Donald Trump would win. Most of the pundits and pollsters didn’t believe Donald Trump had a chance, but I predicted that when people actually voted rather than responding to pollsters that Donald Trump would consistently perform better than his polling. He did.
The reasons I believed Donald Trump did better than everyone expected comes down to two main ideas.
First, populists always perform better in elections. People vote privately and emotionally, so polling always underestimates a populist’s performance.
Second, Bernie Sander’s supporters would vote for Donald Trump. I also said this would be shocking to people, and it was. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin weren’t supposed to be in play, yet despite the polling, Donald Trump did far better than expected here because the Bernie Sander’s Democrats didn’t turn out and vote for Hillary like everyone thought they would.
Back in March, I updated that December post with the following observations:
So why am I more convinced than ever that Donald Trump will win? Over the next few weeks and months, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will become the respective nominees of their party. Most Democrats and many Republicans believe this ensures Hillary’s election. They will all be surprised. The two candidates will be perceived by the electorate as an establishment insider, Hillary Clinton, running against a populist reformer, Donald Trump. This election will go to the populist, Donald Trump, because the masses hate candidates perceived as establishment, which Hillary Clinton is. …
Contrary to popular belief, Bernie Sanders’ supporters won’t vote for Hillary just because she’s a Democrat. … many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters will cross over and vote for Donald Trump, enough to sway the election.
I didn’t pay much attention to the pundits and pollsters over the last month or two, but I lost faith in my December prediction when I saw how far behind Trump was in the polls and how damaging the sexual misconduct allegations were against him (see Teflon coating below). Even his own party lost faith. I was surprised as anyone with his performance at the polls. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been because I foresaw this outcome almost a year ago.
This isn’t a political blog, and I don’t want it to become one.
That being said, after watching The Big Short yesterday, I had an epiphany: Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States.
What about The Big Short made me realize that?
To answer that we need to look back at the history of populist candidates and at the widespread Wall Street fraud that spawned the housing bubble and the financial collapse of 2008 that resulted in the Great Recession — something The Big Short does exceedingly well.
Populism in the late 19th Century
Like the early twenty-first century, the late nineteenth century was a period of extreme disparity between the wealthy ruling elites and the common man. The wealthy in America controlled the Republican party and used their wealth and power to install candidates in political office who maintained the status quo. Sound familiar?
The control of the wealthy elite allowed William Jennings Bryan, a populist Democrat, to become a three-time nominee of the Democratic party. However, the money of the wealthy elite allowed them to defeat him each time and ensure none of his reform policies ever came to pass.
Then the Republicans faced their worst nightmare: Teddy Roosevelt, a populist Republican the establishment couldn’t control. Fearing his populist appeal and penchant for reform, the Republican establishment made him Vice President under William McKinley in 1900. They figured that since the Vice-President has little or no power, Roosevelt would be safely tucked away where he couldn’t damage the status quo. Unfortunately, the Republican establishment of the era didn’t count on McKinley’s assassination less than 6 months after taking office, leaving Teddy Roosevelt in charge.
Teddy Roosevelt was not beholden to the Republican establishment, and he pursued his own reformist agenda, doing what no establishment candidate could — a position Donald Trump would be in should he win the presidency. In case you haven’t noticed, the Republican establishment hates him, except that he makes the establishment candidates look rational by comparison.
Populists Are Granted a Teflon Coating
In the late 20th century, I observed two populist candidates obtain Teflon coatings, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum, both men were charismatic leaders, and it was this charisma, and their status as outsiders, that enabled them to overcome setbacks on their path to the White House.
For those of you that remember the Reagan Landslide of 1980, you probably remember that nobody had any idea it was coming. The polls leading right up to election day did not forecast victory by such a wide margin. Populists candidates are nearly always underestimated, just as nobody gives Trump a chance today.
Bill Clinton was a surprise winner in 1992. He chose to run against an incumbent, which is usually doomed to failure, and the Democratic primaries in 1992 were notable in their absence of top-tier candidates like Mario Cuomo, George Mitchell, or Tom Foley. Jerry Brown ran and failed as did former Irvine mayor Larry Agran, now disgraced.
Both Reagan and Clinton inspired their supporters, and as outsiders, they were not products of the political machines bent on screwing over ordinary Americans. This is the appeal Donald Trump has to his supporters, supporters who feel disenfranchised by the political elites who rip them off on a daily basis. Thus, Donald Trump has been given a Teflon Coating. Nothing he does or says sticks to him, so he can say whatever he wants, and everyone gives him a pass.
Failure of Barack Obama
To watch Fox news, or worse yet read the Facebook feed from my Conservative high school friends, you would believe Barack Obama is a foreign-born Muslim and terrorist sympathizer who destroyed America. I think the spin machine on the political right is largely full of shit. The failure of Barack Obama is that he didn’t do enough to neuter the financial elites in this country — Barack Obama’s failure was not going far enough to the left. He failed to tap into the populist mood of the Country.
The 2008 election was a time of populist fervor, a hunger for real change in Washington. We elected the first African-American president with a foreign-sounding name in hopes he would reform Washington and Wall Street. He did neither. Without a clear mandate, he didn’t have the power (or perhaps the desire) to go too far left.
The populist undercurrent was so strong that the “Occupy Movement” sprang up as rebels without a cause. The movement failed to find a leader or an issue they could rally behind, and when it dissipated, the undercurrent of populist resentment went underground again, and I argue it strengthened in its dormancy.
People want real political change in Washington.
They want the establishment broken up and destroyed.
The surprising popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are direct evidence of the strength of this populist fervor.
Agreement on the extreme left and extreme right
In our era of extreme polarization when the moderates in each party can’t agree on anything, you wouldn’t expect to find the extremes of either political party agreeing on something, particularly something important — but we do. Both Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz agree on reforming Wall Street and the Federal Reserve. Why is that? Because the moderate (establishment) candidates are owned by the financial elites, and it’s the populist furor coming through at the fringes.
Bernie Sanders recognizes the populist appeal at the fringes. He’s even gone on record stating that Trump’s supporters should support him, and that’s not as crazy as it sounds. In the end, I believe it will be the other way around. Hillary Clinton believes she has these voters “in the bag”; She is wrong. Democratic insiders will be shocked with Bernie Sander’s supporters turn out on election day in large numbers and vote for Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders is also a populist doing far better than he should be given his extreme views and the strength of the establishment’s candidate, Hillary Clinton (It’s ironic that Bill Clinton got elected as an outsider, but Hillary is perceived as an insider). Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be doing so well if the populist discontent weren’t present; however, he is running in a narrow field with a strong establishment candidate, so he won’t win the nomination. Donald Trump doesn’t have that limitation.
Donald Trump is running against a field of blithering idiots. The true establishment candidate, Jeb Bush, can’t gain any support among voters, and although he has the money to stay in through the primaries, he lacks the charisma to become a factor. [Note: Jeb Bush quit on February 20, 2016] Plus, the populist fervor is not in his favor as everyone in his own party sees him as the establishment meat puppet — which he is.
The Big Short
At the beginning of this post, I stated I had an epiphany after watching The Big Short. Starting in early 2007, I was one of those lonely Cassandra’s writing about the imminent collapse of the housing market. I remember that time very well, and I still feel a seething hatred for the bankers and financial elites that ruined our great country — which is why Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” refrain resonates with so many people.
What is best in life?
Crush the banks, see them driven into bankruptcy, and hear the lamentation of their stockholders.
Conan the Barbarian
The financial elites screwed all of us
Let’s be completely honest for a moment.
You and I both know the financial elites screwed us.
They screwed us all.
And rather than experience negative consequences for their actions, they received huge bailouts, huge bonuses, and the too-big-too-fail banks are bigger and more powerful than ever. This isn’t hyperbole: it’s just a fact, a fact that really pisses off a lot of people — me included. It’s an injustice we live with every day.
If you want to feel this anger, go watch The Big Short. If you and your family and friends suffered at the hands of these greedy and unrepentant bastards, you will be reminded of just how angry you are. And you should be angry. There has been no justice, no retribution for crimes committed. A few billion in fines does little to dent the billions these men made, nor does it do anything to deter this behavior in the future. Until something is done to create a resonant feeling of justice in the populace, the populist discontent will continue to grow. No amount of bread and circuses will quell this forever.
The unresolved anger of an entire generation is the upwelling of populist support for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Which brings me to why I believe Donald Trump will win the 2016 Presidential election.
The conventional wisdom among Democrats is that a Donald Trump nomination spells certain victory for Hillary Clinton. Given the bombastic bullshit Donald Trump spouted to gain the support of working-class Republicans, this smug complacency is well founded. However, like most populist candidates, the Democratic establishment underestimates Donald Trump.
Donald Trump proved he can and will say whatever he needs to in order to win support. After he gets the nomination, he will tack hard to the left, like all Republican hopefuls do. Democrats believe either those in the middle won’t fall for it or his supporters on the right will abandon him. Both assumptions are wrong. Such is the power of populist support.
The people in the middle don’t believe Donald Trump believes a single thing he said to gain support of the Republican base, so they won’t hold any of his previous comments against him. The Republican base is emotionally attached to Donald Trump, and they won’t believe any of the more moderate things he says to woo the middle. They will still turn out to support the guy they believe secretly has their backs.
As I said earlier, the real shocker to the Democrats will come from the extreme left, the Bernie Sanders supporters. Ronald Reagan managed to gain the support of the so-called Reagan Democrats to win in 1980 and 1984. These were moderate Democrats who defected to support Reagan. In 2016, the Trump Democrats won’t be the moderates, they will be the extreme left supporters of Bernie Sanders, the populists in the Democratic party.
[BTW, Bernie Sanders is technically an independent. If neither Trump or Sanders wins their nominations, what would you think of a Trump-Sanders ticket? It could be a viable third-party run.]
Why Trump will win
Trump will win because he taps in to the populist discontent underpinning the American culture.
He will secure the nomination by making outlandish statements that emotional bind the Republican base to him.
He will win the election by backing away from his outlandish statements securing at least half of the moderate votes.
And the surprise voting block that will put him over the top will be the populists in the Democratic party that can’t hold their nose and vote for the establishment’s Hillary Clinton.
The guy nobody thinks has a chance will end up the next President of the United States.
The burden of living in California
Realistically, my vote doesn’t matter. Living in California, I know my electoral votes will go to the Democratic nominee, likely Hillary Clinton.
But I will let you in on a little secret: If I really believed Donald Trump would bash the too-big-to-fail banks into submission, if I believed Donald Trump would follow in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt who busted the monopolies of the 19th century, I would vote for him, despite the outlandish crap he’s spouted to date.
I want America to be great again, and with the financial elites firmly in charge, we aren’t a great nation anymore. We are a nation of impotent losers who can’t take our government back from a group of corrupt and greedy assholes who screw us at every opportunity. Like many others, I hunger for a candidate with the balls to bash these banking bastards without fear.
I would vote for Donald Duck if he were that man. I guess I will have to settle for Donald Trump instead.
BTW, my immigrant wife says we may have to move to her native England if Donald Trump wins.