J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

WTF Just Happened?

Usually I try to write posts that might help people solve problems, or otherwise be useful. But today I’m just going to try to sort out my own thoughts re: what just happened with the U.S. elections. And some ranting. So be warned, and check back next week if you want to read something useful (like how I turned my obsolete 2011 Macbook into a screaming fast machine running the latest everything).

Why did Trump win?

He won because 59.7 million people voted for him. Not as many as Clinton’s 59.9 [edit Nov. 21, up to 63.7M vs. Trump 62M] million, but enough to win an electoral victory. Who voted for Trump? It’s tempting to come up with pithy descriptions of these subgroups. Red Pill bros. Muslim-haters. Women who are scared of being raped by Mexicans. Angry white men who want their privileges preserved. KKK members.

But the descriptions don’t matter. Almost 60 million Americans voted for Trump. They each had their own reasons, each one a little different. Common sentiments in this group include economic fear, distrust of government, resentment towards political correctness, and a view of white Christian patriarchy as an American norm. If Trump’s racism, misogyny, shady business deals, and unstable temperament bothered them at all, it didn’t bother them enough to change their minds.

Just as importantly, too many Democrats stayed home. Obama won in 2008 with 69.5 million votes, and in 2012 with 65.9 million. Clinton didn’t come anywhere near Obama’s first term demolition of McCain, or his second term win over Romney.

Why did they stay home? There’s plenty of blame to go around.

I blame Nate Silver.

His percentage estimates gave liberals a false sense of security. When you see that Clinton has an 85% chance of winning, that doesn’t inspire you to work hard for your candidate. Stick to sports, Nate. You’ve failed at political predictions. And Nate Silver fans who tried to calm themselves down by compulsively reading his blog are to blame too. There was never any reason to remain calm.

I blame Facebook.

There was tons of liberal rage at Trump, but none of the conservatives saw any of it. People engaging on social media really do change each other’s minds, at least sometimes, but there was very little opportunity to engage. Facebook made sure like only saw like. Liberals preached to the converted on social media, and felt like they were doing something.

I blame Colin Kaepernick.

Not for protesting–I supported that. But to protest and then not vote, that’s just lame. Fine, you didn’t want to vote for Clinton. But what about supporting funding for California schools, or repealing the barbaric death penalty, or the two dozen other important issues on the ballot? Democrats and liberals lost a huge amount of power because of liberal downballot apathy across the country.

Voting matters. If you still don’t think so, watch what happens during the Trump presidency. It’s gonna be ugly.

I blame myself.

I gave money, and I shared my political views on this blog and on Twitter. But I could have done more. My father-in-law called over a thousand people around the country.

I have a few friends who I’m pretty sure didn’t vote. I should have called them. Maybe I could have convinced them to get to a polling place, even if they were never going to vote for Clinton. It wouldn’t have made a difference in California in terms of the presidential race, but I should get used to having those awkward, difficult conversations.

I blame voting suppression efforts by Republicans.

Republicans worked hard to make registering to vote harder, to reduce early voting, to close polling places, and to intimidate voters (especially African Americans). They succeeded.

I blame everyone who voted for Trump.

So, you want to watch the world burn? You want to roll back civil rights? You want to tear down the system? You want to slap down feminists and Black Lives Matter protesters? You want to accelerate climate change and the destruction of natural habitats? WTF, Trump voters?

Maybe you don’t consider yourself a racist or a misogynist, but you voted for Trump because you think he’s going to bring back U.S. manufacturing or prop up domestic energy production. Good luck with that. Globalization and technological automation/replication are here to stay. This tweet says it all:

To smoothly transition to a fully automated global economy (which is coming no matter what) we need to strengthen the safety net and consider a basic income system. Electing Trump made that pretty much impossible.

So what now?

60 million people just declared ideological and political war against legal immigrants (especially Mexicans), people of color (especially African Americans), religious minorities (especially Muslims), people with disabilities, women’s rights, children’s rights, LGBT rights, atheists, scientists, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, civil discourse, and basic human decency.

My immediate plan is to pursue escapist distractions for a few weeks. I’m working on an epic carrot farm in Minecraft, and I’m considering purchasing Civilization VI. This weekend I will be indulging in the thrilling consensual violence that is UFC 205 (one of the greatest fight cards of all time). I will drink more wine than I usually do, and probably some whiskey too. I may start a new D&D campaign. I’m gonna finish reading Ferrett Steinmetz’s ‘Mancer series. I’ll keep writing science fiction stories and making techno beats.

Once I’m ready to face reality again, here’s my plan:

  • I plan to fight cultural regression, to keep my vision of progress alive.
  • I plan to be an upstander and protect people more vulnerable than myself.
  • I plan to actively campaign for the strongest liberal candidate in the 2020 election, starting now by supporting the potential contenders.
  • I plan to continue to express my political opinions, and to engage respectfully with anyone who disagrees with me (provided they show a basic level of respect in return).

And maybe more.

What about you?

One last thing, if you voted for Trump, and you want to share why in the comments, I won’t jump down your throat. I’ll also delete abusive comments of any kind.


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  1. danielsherman

    Good words JD

  2. Aaron Cote

    It’s understandable to be angry and confused right now. I had started to come to grips with the possibility of a Trump presidency a few weeks ago, so I think I got through the stages of grief a bit quicker. We clearly live in a world of 2 Americas, and we can’t just write off the other America as racists and islamophobes. We need to understand how he got this grip on that population, and offer solutions for *all* Americans.

    I do protest the Nate Silver blame. At the time of the election, Hillary’s odds of winning were in the 70’s, while many other sites were boldly proclaiming 95%. 70% means 70%, not 100%. His methodology is based on the polls, he literally can’t do better than his sources, and the polls were wrong. In fact he *warned* us the polls could easily be wrong, and that was why he had it at 70% rather than 90.

  3. As the mentioned father-in-law who made 1,344 calls for Hillary (but who’s counting?) I also want to blame the vaunted Clinton ground game. I got credit for a call each time I, or the clunky system, dialed (“why do you say dial, Grandpa?”), but by election week swing state voters had evolved the sensible tactic of not answering any phone calls from unknown numbers out of state. And the software was decidedly clunky, as compared with 2008 and 2012. Basically Clinton’s team couldn’t figure out a way to put their massive California and New York overvote to use in a way that would reach swing state vogters.

    • Sylvia

      I just wanted to thank you for acting powerfully for something. I’m in Australia; in a sense this doesn’t matter to me. But, I really, really appreciate ANYONE who will work that hard for something they believe in, no matter the difficulty. You inspire me JohnOliverSimon 🙂

      • Sylvia, whatever happens in the US automatically affects the rest of the world. That’s part of what is so scary about this.

  4. Alex Graff

    “She got more votes than Obama did vs. Romney, but it wasn’t enough to defeat a populist candidate.”… that’s not correct, Obama got 5 million more votes in 2012 than Clinton

  5. Monica Sleeter

    I usually don’t comment on political stuff. But I do like your blog sooo. As an educated person who read the wiki leaks and also am uneasy with her blatant connections to countries that are beyond mysoginist, I could not vote for Hillary. I have been a life long registered democrat and I could not do it. Too many questions in her side remain unanswered. The media’s bias also caused me pause and question her campaign influence on it. Freedom of the press being on the constitution and all that. The division that the media caused and the focus on his racism is what really makes me sad in terms of this country. Ask yourself when cops killing blacks grew in proportion and when the movement of black lives matter started. It was during obamas terms. Ironic. I tell kids to never judge a book by its cover.

  6. Didn’t you forget 1) Comey? Even with everything, I think she might have slid by but for that. He’s top on my list. I despise him. After Comey comes 2) the remarkably poor American memory which apparently lost track of the vast difference in the candidates not long after the debates ended. Then 3) older and narrow minded people. She carried the young people vote in nearly every state and they needed her platdorm the most. After that 4) Fox News and the Republican Party. For all their destructive lies over the years, especially toward her, and 5) Bernie Sanders. I don’t happen to care about her damn emails either, but knowing what we know today about how it all went down, if only he’d been mean spirited enough and opportunistic enough to say he did care about the damn emails maybe the primaries would have been different and he’d be our president. Better for the country though sad for 6) Hillary, who I’m very sad for, but really wish she’d been able to deal with the fact that her candidacy was fragile given her history and the questions surrounding her and was maybe putting the country at risk to pursue. But she did sense it enough to attempt to leverage the outcome by relying on the protection of 7) the DNC and the 8) cooperating media who not only advocated for her and disregarded the crowds (like trumps) and enthusiasm Bernie generated, but also lacked the imagination to see the pain the country was in. No surprise to some, and painful for all, Bernie’s candidacy was likely a much better match for the outrage of the times and his leadership would have been light years distant from what we can expect from trump. I’m not saying Bernie is better than Hillary, just that he inspired more passion. (I actually do think he’s better because he reached people so well and for all his beliefs and his uncomplicated history and his track record in Burlington and his work with the va. Still I grew to feel real belief in her. And totally agree with great despair about all those who didn’t vote.

  7. Fran Koski

    I voted for Hillary. But I blame the DNC for running Hillary, gravely underestimating (as they have all along) the deep, deep and wide, wide hatred of her that persists in the USA. I don’t share this hatred. But it exists. BERNIE could have beaten Trump. I blame the DNC for sabotaging him.

  8. Good ideas. Nice list to follow. When we fall into easy compliance and trust, we lose. Notice that many Dump supporters were not upfront about their candidate? I don’t expect them to be honest with me in the future either. It’s madness.

  9. M Welch

    If one person as president can make as much a difference as you are saying they can, then we have already lost the battle by having handed over king-like powers to our president, and every liberal is just as culpable for that fact over the last eight years as the conservatives were before them.

    Having this buffoon in the white house may be our last best chance to claw back some of the power we’ve given to that office and return the government to the dysfunctional, slow, but useful, balance that it was intended to have. That sure as hell wasn’t going to happen under a Hillary presidency. We have ample evidence of that from the last eight years. Hopefully Trump will enact several incredibly stupid and illegal executive orders that will come before the courts and we’ll finally see some precedent set for limitations on executive power.

    Then, either after impeachment or four years from now, we can begin a new normal and not continue down this long march towards demagoguery.

    • The USA now has a “republican” president, congress and soon will also have a republican supreme court. so much for checks and balances

  10. I think corruption in the Dem party, particularly the DNC undermined what little trust people might have had in HRC. Combine that with a decades long onslaught of GOP slander about her and her uncanny ability to just make people feel weird when she speaks… well… we got Trump. I also think that HRC never really reached out to people in the rust belt and dried up towns who’s mills and mines have closed because of ‘reasons.’ I don’t think she presented them with a future they could wrap their mind around. I also think that there was a huge racial backlash against Obama, and whatever he got behind. There were many who just went the other direction on principle. (that same racist bunch who are fully behind the worst of Trumps ‘isms’) Mostly, I think there are so many people in the US that just don’t have a voice and felt/feel trapped. It’s very easy to sit in my apt in SF musing about uneducated masses and …blah blah… it’s arrogant. I only just read today Trumps list of things he wants to change in the first 100 days. Most of it is actually not that bad, and some of it is outright terrible. (See healthcare and oh, the planet) That’s my fault. I didn’t do my homework at all. I believed what was fed to me via social media choirs preaching to social media choirs. I’m hoping for the best, and I’m hoping that there might be some sort of inverse positive reaction to Trump–I hope he sets and example don’t act like him. What really gets me, and still is baffling.. is how the religious right seemed to just glaze over his amorality. Where are the fundamentalists who go so far as to debate sects of Christianity etc etc? Where is their outrage?

  11. Stomped and stumped

    South Park’s member berries are hard at work here. There are positive associations between Trump and the boom times of the 80s. There is a primal yearning for strong-armed white patriarchy. There is mistrust in government and admiration for someone eager to treat it like big business despite obvious pitfalls with that logic.

    Sadly, all of the people I know who voted for Trump here in California were also racist and sexist. While this is a small sampling, it may reveal a surprising segment of voters compelled to vote out of fear. Double standards used to criminalize Hillary and exonerate Trump are clear examples of underlying irrational fear. There is monumental uncertainty about how our nation and world would change with a woman at the helm. Furthermore, Hillary does not represent the ideal feminine mold-breaker at this time. Her articulate speeches and political savvy may have also intimidated less educated voters, an interesting challenge for women in politics.

    Last, this election was our most repulsive example of media manipulation. The news constantly shifted perspectives to create (what they thought was) a tight race to keep viewers glued. The vices of Donald Trump have been discussed more than any other human in history – proving the powers of negative press.

    Honestly, the press won this election. They gained enough fodder for stories about domestic protest, pending disaster, and Trump family gossip to keep them profiting for another decade. As long as we are a willing audience, the media will exploit our weaknesses and glamorize the worst in humanity.

  12. Thanks for the comments everyone. Good to get different perspectives, many of which I hadn’t considered.

  13. A

    mate, who gives a sh*t. UFC 205 is where it’s at!!!! haha. i’m not american, but in my opinion, neither were suitable candidates.

  14. Trevor Chapman

    I’m not American and have never been to the US but watching from across the Pond I was amazed that a country of 300 million people could end up with a choice between two really unlikable candidates. It seems to me looking on that people in the US along with people here in the UK are tired of the established political class and feel that for too long we have had the wool pulled over our eyes and are fed up with over liberal views.

    I have watched a lot of YouTube videos recently of people like Milo Yiannopoulos, Mark Dice & Paul Joseph Watson definitely an alternative perspective.

  15. Ed

    I’m not American but I watched the campaign with a mixture of bemusement and some amusement.
    It’s quite reminiscent of Brexit where people don’t like the result and are out on the streets. Well, sorry, that’s democracy. The Democrats are no better than the Republicans. If America wants to change it needs to start supporting independent candidates. Clinton is by some accounts an awful person and I guess Trump is but at least he’s up-front with it.

    If he wants to deport illegal immigrants, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. They’re breaking the law.

    By the way, Clinton wanted to build a wall to keep Mexicans out as well.

    You can’t trust any of these politicians. When are people going to wake up? The people at the very top don’t care about you. OK?

    At least we say goodbye to Obama who has been a waste of space. Things have only got worse for black people in America during his time as president. The debt has gone through the roof.

  16. Ed

    And just to add that Americans need to remember they live in the most amazing country in the world and that even a president you don’t want won’t change that.

  17. Nekurahn

    A combination of intense mistrust towards the Clintons by Democrats and an incredible level of desperation by rural folks seemed to have been some of the key components as Trump’s win as well.

  18. Tom Stillwell

    3 days after the disaster, I left my home in Arizona, where I regularly feel like I’m living under siege, for a seminar at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif. It was planned as a great way to celebrate the election, but now it had become a way to escape the noise of the Titanic sinking. We were weary of the wailing, the blaming, and yes, the touchdown dances of our conservative friends (which we had mostly, but not entirely, managed to ignore without vulgar responses.)

    If anyone at Esalen was happy with the election, they remained incognito, because the feelings there ranged from melancholy to outright, uncontrolled grief. We were in a memoir writing workshop, and more than one writing prompt, seemingly unrelated to politics, led a writer to unburden their soul to us with an essay about an unshattered glass ceiling and very shattered dreams.

    We had to leave that amazing place, and all of those like-minded people, and we’re working our way back to our home in the literal and political desert. But your constructive conclusions are really, really appreciated, as are your observations about WTF happened. One writer I thought said it best. They didn’t win this won, but we lost it.

  19. Anonymous

    looking over your list of people to blame – basically you blame everybody over 18.

  20. Another “WTF Just Happened” article … an in-depth analysis of what happened and why. TL;DR — everything mattered.


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