Glenn Reynolds @ Instapundit asks: “Who’s to blame for Hillary and Donald?” and then uses the “shortest distance between two points is a straight line” formula to explain it…
The political class failed in both parties. The Trump phenomenon is a result of the GOP establishment taking a large part of its voting base for granted. GOP donors want open borders in order to save on wages. Many GOP voters, seeing their wages forced down by immigration (both illegal immigration and legal-but-abused programs like the H1B visa program that allows tech companies to pay near-slave wages for foreign programmers and engineers) felt differently.
In a huge GOP field, only one candidate, Trump, actually spoke to their concerns. Others, who might have done better, were disqualified, to a large plurality of the primary electorate, by their positions on immigration. A few tried toughening their stances, but it was too late, and Trump steamrollered the opposition. He may not be the best GOP nominee, but the GOP didn’t give voters who cared about the subject any other options.
On the Democratic side, the entire primary was more-or-less rigged as a coronation for Hillary, to the point that Bernie Sanders fans are still claiming fraud. Fraud or not, there’s no question that the Democratic National Committee put a thumb on the scales for Hillary, to the point that, when hacked DNC emails were released on Wikileaks, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to resign. Hillary’s track record of money-grubbing and foreign-affairs incompetence is unattractive, but the Democratic Party didn’t really allow any other options.
The media, meanwhile, didn’t do much of a job either. Questions about the Clinton Foundation’s financial dealings were soft-pedaled or ignored. Hillary’s failure to hold a real press conference at all in 2016 received sporadic attention. And the scandal over her illegal email server and the exposure of classified information to hackers didn’t get the attention it deserved until, all of a sudden, Donald Trump became the email bad guy.
With Trump, meanwhile, the press treated him as a novelty candidate until he had the nomination wrapped up, and then started calling him, basically, Hitler. This didn’t get much traction because they do that with every Republican nominee. As David Mastio wrote here, “No one is listening anymore. When mild-mannered technocrat Mitt Romney was running for president, Clinton’s obscure Obama-administration colleague Joe Biden told a black audience that Republicans ‘are going to put ya’ll back in chains.’ If you listen to Democrats, every Republican who has run for anything in my lifetime has Klan robes in their closet and secret Confederate memorabilia collection.”
Perhaps we should require reading “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in journalism schools.
And, of course, voters are to blame, too. One of the flaws of democracy is something called “rational ignorance.” Voters know that their individual vote isn’t likely to make a difference, so it’s rational for them not to put a lot of effort into informing themselves. Instead, politics is more like sports, with people cheering on a team or an idol regardless of real-world issues. Tyler Cowen writes that much of American politics is about which groups will rise in status over others, rather than policy per se. An electorate that views things this way is not likely to make political decisions that benefit the nation as a whole.
Glenn offers common sense and simple solutions to what is ailing us, and mostly a return to our founding principles.