So What, am I a Democrat now?!?! Hell no. But, as I mention in today’s video, I definitely want them to win big in the mid-term elections this November. This may be surprising to some of you. Though I certainly changed my tune in 2016 and became a very reluctant Clinton supporter, long-term viewers know that I’m a pretty hardcore third party guy. In fact I’ve never voted for a Democrat or Republican in a national election. (In 2016 I was registered in Washington, DC, a super Democratic jurisdiction, so my vote didn’t matter). In fact, when I started doing this channel full time in 2014, I intended to use it to agitate for third parties in 2016.
Trump changed my calculus, obviously. I was convinced that Trump posed a unique threat to US politics, and nothing about his presidency has changed that conviction. I’m no Democrat, and it’s hard to imagine my ever becoming one, but Trump makes for strange bedfellows.
And my support for the Democrats this time around is actually quite consistent with my old school Libertarian views. Divided government, one where different parties control different branches, is always better from a Libertarian perspective. It means that less gets done. I’d be perfectly happy for the next two years of Trump’s presidency to be completely gridlocked. It’d be better than what we’ve got now.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. So on November 6th, the United States is having another election. The democrats have high hopes for defeating the Republican majorities in Congress, but most think that’s going to be a very difficult thing to do. I am no electoral expert, but I think many of the predictions are missing something very important about this election. It might actually be the most important thing, and I think it’s going to lead to the Democrats doing better than most people think…
Before we get there, it’s important to point out that The US system functions differently from most. We have a national election every two years. A third of the folks in our legislature’s upper house, the Senate, turn over every two years, and the entire lower house has to run for reelection each cycle. Every four years, this election also coincides with the election for president. This is not one of those years. But Donald Trump is still really important. The election will be seen as a referendum on his presidency.
Now the electoral map in 2018 is not favorable to the Democrats. Loss of power in the US system is self-reinforcing. If a party is in power in a given state, it can rewrite the rules of electoral districts to keep themselves in power. The democrats have been doing so poorly for so long that its estimated that they need at least 54% of the voters to win a majority in the house of representatives. Also, the class of senators that is up for reelection this year comes from 2012, the year that Obama was re-elected. Without Obama on the ticket in 2018, many Democratic senators in traditionally more Republican leaning states are seen as vulnerable.
So even though Trump is really unpopular by historic standards, Democrats are being told not to get too optimistic. This is a good thing for Democrats to think. They should be worried, and they should be motivated to work harder. I’m no Democrat, but as a Never Trump Conservative I want the Democrats to win and win big. And I think they will. I think they will definitely win back the house, and I think they have a good chance at the Senate as well. I’m more optimistic than most, because I think people haven’t fully reckoned with what a weird election 2016 was.
Two years before most US Presidential elections, nobody knows who the candidates actually are. I’m a bigger politics nerd than I used to be, but I’ve always considered myself fairly well informed. In 1998 I had a vague idea of who Al gore was because he was Vice President, but I had never heard of George W. Bush. In 2002 I certainly had no idea who John Kerry was. In 2006 I probably remembered John McCain from his 2000 presidential run, but I am pretty sure I had no idea who Barack Obama was.
I like to tell myself that I was already aware of Obama because of his impressive 2004 speech at the Democratic national convention, but I think I’m probably editing my memories to flatter myself on my political awareness. I don’t think I’m alone in that. This is the way things usually are. Most Americans learn about the presidential candidates through the campaign process. They decide who they like better in the three to six months before the election.
2016 was very very different. In 2014 everybody knew who Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were. And most people knew exactly what they thought about Trump and Clinton in 2014. Hell most people knew exactly what they thought of Trump and Clinton in 2004. Our options in 2016 were the two most hated candidates in modern presidential campaign history. The 2016 election was not decided by the debates, or by one gaffe or another. It was about which bad guy you were more interested in voting against. People voted for the person they hated less. Our political parties, and even our media apparatus are built around pretending that candidates are a good choice, even when they are so, so obviously not, so this central weirdness of the 2016 election gets ignored.
It shouldn’t be. The most important thing about the 2016 election is that both parties were led by one of the most hated people in the United States. In 2018 and 2020, only one of the parties will be. That’s why Fox News, AKA the Republican broadcasting company, spends so much time talking about Hillary Clinton, even though her political career is almost two years dead now. They desperately need a bad guy. Otherwise everybody’s just going to focus on the GOP’s bad guy, Donald Trump.
I think this will make a much bigger difference than most people are predicting. Over the past two years, most shockingly in Virginia and Alabama, but in every election we’ve had, the Democrats have outperformed. I think the 2018 election is likely to be very similar.
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