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Shaun's Meandering Thoughts on the 2016 U.S. Election (Before)

{MISCELLANEOUS}

Articles about everything in between...
 

Shaun's Meandering Thoughts on the 2016 U.S. Election (Before)

Shaun Cordingley

I will start with this: 

I am Canadian. I will continue to be Canadian, so at the end of the day, I am going to be talking about the 2016 American Election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from a sort of outside perspective, which also means, I do not particularly have a horse in the race, so I will do my best to be unbiased, however I do know the way that I would most likely be voting, were I for some reason to be voting in the U.S...so that may bleed through. At the end of the day, I am mostly just a politics junkie--I enjoy watching politics, and generally have watched elections in 4 different countries, because I think they are neat, particularly in the drama, and seeing how something that matters shifts as time goes on (over the course of a campaign etc.),

I am essentially going to be answering the questions about the elections that we (I) were (was) asked to answer as a part of The Guys From {PODCAST}, though we were unable to because I was too darn sick. There's actually something of a benefit to this as it meant that I was able to make a full out Electoral College prediction map (which I have embedded at the bottom of the article, where I answer the "what do you think is going to happen" question), as well as see the end to the second wave of F.B.I. inquiries that popped up last week...as I may have had a change in my thoughts had those gone differently. 

I suppose another benefit is that David R. Smith is saved from having to discuss politics with me, and can focus on his Temple of the Dog roadtrip...though I'm sure he will answer you if you ask him about the election on his Twitter (that I linked you to). 

Anyway, I will get to answering your questions. Forgive me for not putting everyone's name in who asked, there have been repeats, and a whole pile of notes and whatnot, so rather than credit someone wrong, or forget one person who asked, I will just be posting the questions themselves (if you're unfamiliar, our Podcast is literally set up to answer any of the internet's questions, people ask us about something going on, and we give our views). Oh, and my language is going to be a tad saltier than usual.

See, I deliver on my promise of meandering. 

Here we go: 



What do you (guys) think of the 2016 Election as a whole?

 

In a word: depressing. This has been the worst election I have ever seen, and I would be comfortable saying that this is one of the worst election cycles of all time. With two of the least-liked candidates ever running against each other, a pile of corruption accusations, scandals, and a general lack of substance beyond attacking each other, this is what rock bottom, shitty politics looks like. The fact that this has been going on since the middle of fucking June 2015 (if not earlier) is embarrassing. I hope that the next President, whomever it is, enacts electoral reform to restrict the length of a campaign, because this has been WAY too much. 

My country had a Federal election in 2015 that was one of the longest in our history: 78 Days. 

Think about that American readers: 78 DAYS of election, and then we were back about our business of beating people at hockey, making fun art, and snow. Doesn't that sound better than what happened these past TWO YEARS? You can totally change hockey for basketball, and snow for...I don't know...tacos?
Yeah.
I thought so. 

Is Donald Trump's Success so far the Media's Fault?

Nope. 

That's not to say that the media has not played a substantial part in all of this (more on the media in a bit), but that is neglecting a lot of factors in the election that I think some people are not noticing, or ignoring. Trump is a lot of things to a lot of different people, but the media is nowhere near influential enough to completely make a candidate anymore, particularly as so many people have retreated into their own niche--there are media outlets that cater to essentially every ideological preference, so this is not the ol' 3-network world where they inform everyone. 

Trump is a product of the media to a point, in that he had a substantial early Primary advantage thanks in large part to name recognition, but his candidacy speaks to a disillusioned segment of the American population (specifically white voters without a college degree) toward the way the US is going, the way it is being run, and changes they are uncomfortable with. There is also a huge anti-establishment movement going on, that has been building for years that has been fostered by some media outlets, but also has a lot to do with the fact that the American Government has been ground into a do-nothing, boring, mess that from the outside looks (in some parts) corrupt and (in all parts) ineffective. Washington looks broken, and so some people do not want to see a long-time politician back in the White House, leading the country, because then it is just "more of the same"...and what candidate in this election cycle (on the Republican) side was less "insider politician" than Trump?

I also want to say something here: Trump has said a lot of xenophobic, racist, untrue, and occasionally crazy things, which has appealed to a certain demographic of the American population...but at no point should anyone EVER consider that all of Trump's supporters agree with everything he is saying, or even most of it--there is going to be a substantial popular vote percentage going to Trump (my predictions are later) and a great many of them will just be Republicans voting against Clinton, or even just voting against the Democratic Party because, in a 2-party system, there are traditional platforms for each party that correlate with a person way more closely than the other, and that means voting for Trump. 

Why has this election sucked so much?

Dave would've loved answering this one

Dave would've loved answering this one

 

Honestly? It's because this has barely been an election. 

Now what I mean by that is: so much of this election has not been focused on the fact that this is an election to determine the LEADER of the United States. Generally this means two qualified individuals presenting two different views of the future of the country, which will provide insights into how they would serve as President. Candidates would be able to have debates/discussions about things that actually fucking matter to the country like foreign policy, economic plans, domestic policies, education, the military, the environment. 

What has been served up in 2016 is a year long, scorched earth character argument that degraded into watching two people having to defend themselves moving from scandal to scandal, problem to problem, mistake to mistake, and then retreating to their own camps bubble to push forward. I probably have a better idea of what Clinton's plan for the country is than I do Trump's outside of the "throwing red meat to the base" points on both sides, but even then, I know way less than I did in 2012, 2008, 2004...and that is not OK. 

I think the rest of my answer to this question ties into the next one: 



Why do the facts not seem to matter in this year's election?

I was moderately baffled too, but then I had to stop and think about something: 

I read both sides. 

This not only ties into the last question, but what I was talking about when it came to the media: thanks to the proliferation of media, and the fact that people are able to find a corner populated by people who think exactly the same way they do, be it a news outlet, or blog, if they do not leave their insular group, then they would only get one viewpoint. Now in this situation, facts no longer play an important part in the discussion because you can make your own facts. If Clinton or Trump says something that is not factually correct (you know, actually...true), but it is reported, and repeated as true in the echo chambers that is these small insular groups, then in a way they become true...then THAT is what matters...you continue doing it, or saying it until it becomes true. 

This is where the media is failing, but only because it is the responsibility of every voter in every democratic country to be well informed, but with niche media heavily biasing/slanting news and opinions toward one viewpoint (or what is in reality, a lie), coupled with the fact that your average person could not care less about doing any research when it comes to elections to actually BE informed, means that...

...well honestly, I think the 2016 electorate is the most misinformed, ill-informed democratic body in modern history, and they are tasked with making a very, very important decision...and that's a scary thought....and that also means that the polls are tougher to trust, which is ridiculous as they're already skewed thanks to the ever changing way in which they need to be conducted in order to actually get a reliable cross-section of people.

What do you think the outcome of the Presidential Election is going to be?

I obviously am not a psychic, but based on everything I can think of, and the polls that I have been seeing (again...trusting them as much as one can) my electoral map looks like this:


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Shoutout to www.270towin.com for having an interactive electoral map for me to fill in--that made this whole process easier...especially considering I'm probably more familiar with the electoral vote numbers from historical elections, rather than today. 

I feel that there are a few toss-up states that could go either way, but at the end of the day, while I do think Clinton is going to win, I would not call it anywhere near a certainty--I'd say I'm about giving her about 2/3 odds to win the Presidency, and Trump at 1/3, just because there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to turnout (especially when it comes to the demographics that Trump has been appealing to--if there is a large turnout of "disillusioned" voters, then Trump is going to do very, very well), as well as whether or not the polling has been missing a large group of people who could swing the election either way. 

I feel that Clinton is going to win largely because I see Trump needing to win a few states that have been polling solidly blue since essentially the very beginning of the election, whereas if Clinton were to lose a few states in her "firewall" there are a few crazy mish-mash maps that I could see her still pulling out a win, especially when you consider how...well I cannot imagine a world where there isn't a large Latino bloc voting Democratic, which could make a few states interesting. 

Do you have any crazy election predictions?

 

  1. I think the Senate is going to split 50/50, giving the Vice President the tiebreak in votes, which could actually make the senate interesting--especially were Clinton to win and the Senate Democrats attempt to put Fillibuster reform through (not to mention the Supreme Court) 
  2. There's a part of me that thinks that McMullin could win Utah...
  3. Arizona votes Democrat.

If I'm Watching the Election, What Should I keep an Eye on?

This is probably going to be the best time to watch the 2016 Election as it's the part that is finally going to matter, and it should not be a whole slough of speeches.

Early result wise, I think Pennsylvania and Florida are going to give you a good indication of how the night is going to go; if they declare relatively early, and particularly if you see Pennsylvania declare for Clinton early, she is going to have a good night. If both Pennsylvania and Florida are "too close to call" and that continues for a few hours...then it's going to be a very tight election, and a close night. I felt that North Carolina and Florida were essentially toss ups, so I could see either one of those go either way. 

I think it will be interesting to hear if there have been illegal campaigning (read: bullying) at voting centers...I'm hoping that this is not the case, but the fact that there have been injunctions filed leads me to believe that there could be a turn-of the century feel to some of the voting places...and that's scary.

And unfortunately, if Clinton does win, I think watching for a Trump concession is going to be important..because that has been called into question in this campaign, which is ridiculous, and weakens a cornerstone of American Democracy (the concept of a peaceful transfer of power)...I hope that if Clinton wins, Trump comes out, concedes, and ends this long, drawn out nightmare...

 



Final Thoughts?

I think either way, the United States has problems ahead: the country is deeply divided, and needs to re-learn the art of compromise, and to have the tenor and tension lowered some. Regardless of who wins, the President is going to have trouble governing such a divided country, and the House of Representatives and the Senate are not going to be able to help.

I fell like if Clinton wins, it is going to be hard for her to get her mandate across unless there is a dramatic shift in the House and Senate in 2018, as we have seen how hard it has been for a Democratic President to get anything done with such combative (and I'll just say it, self-indulgent and selfish) lower houses. I think she will also have to be extremely careful with security, and making appointments that balance the growing and powerful progressive wing of the Democratic Party (lest she be primary-ed in 2020), and the centrist/blue-dogs that vote for her to keep Trump out of office. 

I feel like if Trump wins, Foreign Policy is going to become a huge problem for his administration, and it could hurt the United States for decades to come if he and his cabinet do not pivot and handle it well, and fast, because that is an area where Trump is very inexperienced. I also feel that there may be a splintering in the party if he does not move to the center, that could either strengthen the Democrats in 2020, or create a third party of 'Centerists' to counter the far-right direction the GOP has moved (because the Democrats for some moderate Republicans may be too far-left...especially in a loss, as it could swing the Democrats Left, with a Center-left candidate losing). 

Honestly, I think a better Republican candidate (a more savvy politician) would most likely have won handily, with all of the troubles Clinton has had, and I think a stronger, less scandalized (for better or worse, truth or not) Democratic candidate is maybe having a "landslide" discussion right about now, because Trump has not had a very good campaign, and outside of his base, is not particularly well liked by moderates in his own party. Hearing/reading so many discussions about people voting for one candidate just because they detest the other...that doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence. 

So there you have it, I'm sorry we couldn't cover this all in the Podcast as I intended, but I hope you enjoyed...well no, it's the 2016 Election, no one is enjoying themselves....I just hope that you got something out of all of this....and feel free to comment here, or hit me up on Twitter (linked below) to chat about it. 

Plus, the election is over tomorrow (hopefully...dear God...please), so there's that to look forward to.

Plus PLUS, here's something fun as a reward for making it this far. 

 

-S (@Shauncord