The Phony Campaign

2016-09-25 Update

As I type, PredictWise puts Hillary at a 70% chance of winning in November, down 2 (two) percentage points from last week. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight puts her probability significantly lower (58.1%, 57.5%, or 56.0%, depending on which methodology you like); that's down a few percentage points from last week.

Nearly everyone seems desperate to make this election interesting, as opposed to…

Our Phony Polling shows Jill Stein expanding her phony lead, with Trump solidifying his grasp on second place over Hillary in third. Gary Johnson continues to be in the cellar:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jill Stein" phony 3,750,000 +890,000
"Donald Trump" phony 1,100,000 +20,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 819,000 -201,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 110,000 +20,100

  • Is your vote for Jill Stein a wasted vote? Find out the unexpected answer to that question from Joshua Holland, writing in The Nation: "Your Vote for Jill Stein Is a Wasted Vote".

    If the last three presidential elections are any guide, 75 to 90 percent of those who say that they’re planning to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November won’t follow through. Yes, there are some dedicated Green voters, but much of the party’s support is an expression of contempt for the Democrats that evaporates in the voting booth. I’m a registered independent and a supporter of the Working Families Party, and my disdain for the Greens springs from my own experience with the party. I agree with much of the Greens’ platform, but when I went to Green Party meetings, I found a wildly disorganized, mostly white group that was riven with infighting, strategically inept, and organized around a factually flawed analysis of American politics. There are effective Green parties in Europe, but ours is a hot mess. And while the Greens’ bold ideas are attractive, what’s the point of wasting one’s time and energy on such a dysfunctional enterprise?

    Mostly white? Well, there you go.

    Honestly, I don't understand the concept of "wasted vote". Given the zero probability of your vote changing the election outcome, I don't see any benefit to not voting for the candidate you think is most in alignment with your own views. Where's the "waste" in voting for someone destined to come in third or fourth, as opposed to someone who'll be in the top two?

    Holland's essay doesn't clear things up on that score.

  • On a related note, Ms. Adele M. Stan, writes at Alternet with a list of 12 Ways Gary Johnson Is a Hardcore Right-Wing Radical.

    Ms. Stan, of course, has a clear fear: that "Johnson’s candidacy could pull more voters from Hillary Clinton than from her Republican rival, Donald Trump". Can't have that!

    For Ms. Stan, a "hardcore right-wing radical" is anyone who believes that the Federal Government should shed significant amounts of power (and associated dollars), returning such powers to the private sphere, or to the states. Here are some of "Johnson’s alarming stances and ties" according to Ms. Stan:

    1. Opposes federal guarantees for student loans.
    2. Opposes virtually all forms of gun control.
    3. Opposes the [Federal] minimum wage.
    4. Opposes equal-pay laws.
    5. Opposes collective bargaining for public employees.
    6. Proposes cuts to Social Security and removing Medicare and Medicaid from federal control.
    7. Supports private prisons.
    8. [ … You can read the remaining items at the link if you would like … ]

    For those who don't assume the Federal Government is entitled to ever-increasing power and money, all those stances are fine ideas. Thanks to Ms. Stan for clarifying.

  • Sometimes I think I should just auto-blog anything Kevin D. Williamson types. For example, "What Conservatives Can Learn from Gary Johnson". Kevin (I call him Kevin) has a deep sense of history, and will remind you (if necessary) of the 1980 candidacy of John Anderson, and its similarity to the Johnson/Weld effort.

    Gary Johnson and William Weld are both decent, honorable men with fine records in public service and no particular reason to be elected president and vice president. But the strength of this year’s Libertarian-party candidacy is a reminder that there is a substantial number of Americans who are looking for something that the Republican party is not offering, neither in its pre-Trump configuration nor after its disfiguration by Trump and Trumpism. Johnson is not offering them exactly what they want (still less what they need), but he is thriving for a reason, and conservatives should take note.

    What he said.

  • A reminder from Ronald Bailey, writing at Reason: "Burn-It-All-Down Political Antinomianism Is Not Libertarian". After quoting former Democratic presidential hopeful Jim Webb and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel and (some) Reason commenters, Bailey notes the significant meme: "burn it all down". Where "it" is the current political establishment.

    The burn-it-all-down Trump supporter (or potential supporter, in Webb's case) is engaged in what I call political antinomianism. In Christian theology, an antinomian is a person who believes the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. In the current electoral context, voters disgusted with how corrupted our political system has become are attracted to the lawlessness at the heart of Trump's personalized theory of governance. "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it," declared Trump at the Republican National Convention. Supporters have faith in Trump the Great Man and therefore are political antinomians.

    I see that tendency myself in some of the blogs I read. I'm persuaded by Bailey's argument that it's (at best) a dead end.