A perfect political storm

Political scientists attempt to explain the November election surprise

Gregg Reese | 1/26/2017, midnight
It was all but inevitable. An upstart candidate, a celebrity to be sure, but with no track record in political ...

Indeed. CNN reported a 20 percent drop in the voter turn out (a measly 55 percent of those eligible to vote did their civic duty) compared to the last election.

With this in mind, Phoenix highlights another flaw shared by Hillary and Trump.

“The widespread un-likeability of both candidates ensured this would be a low-turnout election, which introduced more volatility to the outcome. Add to that the presence of not one, but two third-party candidates with non-trivial followings, and Hillary’s apparent advantage became even less secure.”

Careful not to omit the racial component, Phoenix advised on how this impacted one specific demographic.

“I believe these factors all contributed to lower turnout among African Americans in particular and racial minorities more broadly,” he said.

Explaining the unexplainable

How then, could this happen against all odds? The answer may be accounted for by looking into the influence of our media-driven society. More specifically, consideration should be given to the cult of celebrity, which propelled a foreign weight lifter into a mega movie star and ultimately Governor of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star power paved the way to two terms helming the state with the world’s sixth largest economy, Austrian accent not-with-standing (unsubstantiated rumors hold that he lost his accent decades ago, but maintained the façade because fans expect it, according to the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail newspaper, circa June 2015).

The “it” factor attached to a person’s charisma is such an intangible thing because it’s the person’s “self” that is the source of adoration.

Smith offers an academic explanation by citing the German economist/philosopher/sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920), who postulated that this appeal cannot be explained by anything except “I like him (or her).”

Smith points out the significant drop off of Black voters for Hillary—in spite of the wide popularity of her husband among that demographic. Trump may have used Bill Clinton’s well known sex scandals (which he withstood by virtue of his own charisma) as a way of neutralizing Trump’s own carnal misdeeds while simultaneously attacking Hillary.

(Smith is quick to point out that a Weber-style charismatic leader need not be a positive force, as evidenced by Adolf Hitler and scores of other magnetic despots who compelled the masses to commit mayhem. “They can be nasty and still be charismatic,” he said.)

Against the grain?

Trump’s master stroke may well have been identifying the wide spread resentment among a large portion of the voting public. Taylor takes this further by claiming that Trump’s “… support was an anti-Black effect.”

Another skillful ploy was going contrary to the (traditional) Republican position on free trade. Resentment against NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) has simmered since Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1994 (the actual “ground work” for this bill was begun in the Ronald Reagan era and finalized during the administration of George Herbert Bush, but it was left for Clinton to make it official, and thusly his is the name associated with it).

This is especially true in areas where unions hold sway, and it is telling that the “Rust Belt” states, a traditionally Democratic stronghold, failed to embrace Hillary.