Monday Reads: TransitionsPosted: November 7, 2016
There are some interesting reads out there as America head to the polls tomorrow. I’ve got two bits of analysis from our Brit cousins’ media to share. I’m particularly fond of Barbara Kingsolver’s contribution yesterday at The Guardian. Let me share the headline with you. “End this misogynistic horror show. Put Hillary Clinton in the White House”.
I’m horrified to watch the bizarre pageant of my nation pretending these two contenders are equivalent. No one really imagines Donald Trump applying himself to the disciplines of the presidency, staying up late reading reams of legislation, instead of firing off juvenile tweets. It’s even harder to imagine Clinton indulging in the boorish self-aggrandisement, intellectual laziness, racism and vulgar contempt for the opposite gender that characterise her opponent. If anyone still doubts that the inexperienced man gets promoted ahead of the qualified woman, you can wake up now.
This race is close. Polls tell us most Americans believe Trump has sexually assaulted women (to name just one potential disqualifier). A majority also believe Clinton “can’t be trusted”, for unspecified reasons. We’re back to the ancient conundrum: a woman can’t be that smart and commanding, so either her womanliness or her smartness must be counterfeit. To set that hazy discomfort next to a sexual assaulter and call these defects “equivalent” is causing my ears to ring as I write.
Read it. All of it.
Lexington–at The Economist–has an a good explanation for Trump voters. This one makes sense to me. He compares the motives of voters to those folks that love the Stand Your Ground laws. They want to shoot at anything that frightens at them with no consequences to protect them and theirs.
Partisanship explains some of this gigantic folly, as does widespread distrust of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. But another cause lies in something harder to criticise: the desire of most people to think of themselves as good and useful citizens, capable of providing for and keeping safe those people and values dear to them. After more than a year of meeting Republican voters and Trump supporters at rallies and campaign events and twice interviewing the candidate himself, Lexington is unexpectedly struck on election eve by echoes from America’s stand-your-ground movement. That movement has led dozens of states to pass laws which allow gun-owners to use lethal force when they reasonably believe that their safety is threatened, with no duty to retreat when they are in their home or other lawful place. Vitally, this defence can be invoked even if householders misjudge the perils that they face, in the heat of the moment.
Critics call such laws vigilante justice. They cite horrible mistakes, as when stranded motorists are shot dead for knocking on a door in search of directions or a telephone. Some see racial bias at work when courts absolve white householders of killing black men who alarmed them. But once passed, such laws are difficult to repeal. For that would involve convincing supporters that they are wrong to believe that they are the last and best line of defence for their family and property—a hard task.
Quite a few Republicans, including those who initially backed more mainstream rivals in their party’s presidential primaries, sound strikingly like stand-your-ground advocates when defending a vote for Mr Trump. Even if not every Trump voter takes all his promises literally, they feel heeded and respected when someone of his stature—a very rich man who could be a member of the elite, but instead chooses to side with them—agrees that their home, America, is under assault, whether from foreign governments scheming to “rape” the economy or by Muslim terrorists allowed in as refugees. At rallies in swing states from Arizona to North Carolina, this reporter has heard the cheers when Mr Trump roars that America has every right to fight back, even if that involves rough justice or being “so tough”, as he puts it.
Our first woman Attorney General has died after suffering with Parkinson’s disease. Janet Reno passed at the age of 78.
Janet Reno, the strong-minded Florida prosecutor tapped by Bill Clinton to become the country’s first female U.S. attorney general, and who shaped the U.S. government’s responses to the largest legal crises of the 1990s, died Nov. 7 at her home in Miami. She was 78.
The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, her goddaughter, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, told the Associated Press. Ms. Reno was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1995, while she was attorney general.
Ms. Reno brought a fierce independence to her job. From the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas to the investigation into Clinton’s sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, she was adamant that her prosecutors and agents work outside the influence of politics, media or popular opinion.
Her supporters believed she brought a heightened level of integrity and professionalism to the attorney general’s office. They admired her insistence on legal exactitude from her employees and praised her caution in prosecutions.
Sam Wang of Princeton Consortium has spoken. We’re going to see Madam President.
Three sets of data point in the same direction:
- The state poll-based Meta-Margin is Clinton +2.6%.
- National polls give a median of Clinton +3.0 +/- 0.9% (10 polls with a start date of November 1st or later).
- Early voting patterns approximately match 2012, a year when the popular vote was Obama +3.9%.
Based on this evidence, if Hillary Clinton does not win on Tuesday it will be a giant surprise.
There’s been buzz about the Princeton Election Consortium’s win probability for Clinton, which for some time has been in the 98-99% range. Tonight let me walk everyone through how we arrive at this level of confidence. I will also give a caveat on how it is difficult to estimate win probabilities above 90% – and why fine adjustments at this level do not matter for my goals in running this site.
Here’s Hillary’s Closer.
“I think we can all agree it’s been a long campaign. But tomorrow, you get to pick our next president,” Clinton says, dressed in white, looking into the camera as the ad opens.
The choice on Tuesday, the Democratic nominee says, is a simple one: “Is America dark and divisive, or hopeful and inclusive?”
The ad was billed by a campaign official on Monday morning as a “personal and positive closing message,” following what has been a long slog of an election, some 18 months after two polarizing figures began their rise to the nomination — one a distrusted figure and mainstay of American politics, the other a divisive outsider defined by a campaign of offensive remarks.
Many of us have recent history in our backgrounds where voting has been illegal or close to impossible. Even today, many of us may wait in long lines to exercise our duty and our right as a citizen because a small group of people do not want to hear our voices.
This is our day. It’s the day we vote for all of the folks who couldn’t and we vote for all of the children who can’t vote right now but will in the future.
Let’s vote for hope. Let’s vote for people. Let’s vote for Hillary.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?