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: What the Election Tells Us About the Past, Present and Future

Alan Dershowitz
Ноябрь 2016
Опубликовано 2016-11-13 08:00
For America: Respite, Not Redemption

avatar by Martin Sherman


Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic-israel.org).

            anti-trump protest in Chicago in March. Photo: Wikipedia.

An anti-trump protest in Chicago in March. Photo: Wikipedia.

“[Our] elections model suggests that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, based on the latest state and national polls. A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible: Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 37-yard field goal.”

— “Hillary Clinton has an 85% chance to win,” New York Times, November 8, 2016.

Incredibly, this New York Times assessment, predicting an almost certain Clinton victory, was posted at 10:20 pm EST on Tuesday, when many voters had already cast their ballots. Indeed, it was not until late that night that the paper’s forecasting machinery began to give Donald Trump a greater probability of winning.

November 11, 2016 4:33 pm

Alan Dershowitz: What the Election Tells Us About the Past, Present and Future

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The recent election ended in a virtual tie, as did the election of 2000. Voters were split approximately in half...

Smug and supercilious 

Little else could illustrate more dramatically how detached the allegedly “enlightened” social elites have become from the recalcitrant realities in the world around them. Little else could underscore more vividly how their misguided complacency, born of smug arrogance and supercilious superiority, has isolated them from the discontent in growing segments of the public — people who live outside the elites’ immediate like-minded ideo-intellectual milieu. Worse, the elites had been stripped of any ability — or willingness — to understand those people, and were even desensitized to the need to consider them of any weight or merit.

They were so self-absorbed with their own sense of pompous self-righteousness and puffed-up self-importance that they were totally oblivious to an “Other,” or they were incapable of envisaging such an entity. Although recognizing “the Other” is allegedly the hallmark of their socio-political credo, the only “Others” that these self-anointed paragons of wisdom and virtue can conceive of, are, in fact, darker-skin-toned versions of themselves.

They were incapable of conceiving that their “progressive” worldview of multiculturalism and moral relativism, in which everything that made America what it is could be discarded in favor of everything that didn’t, would not have universal appeal for all intelligent life. They were utterly convinced that they embodied “the spirit of the times,” imbued with an unshakable belief  that they were on the “right side of history” — just as ISIS and the ayatollahs of Iran do.

Intellectual inbreeding in an ideological echo-chamber

In explaining how the Obama administration managed to enlist the mainstream media to endorse the fatally flawed Iran deal, Ben Rhodes, the deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communications, confessed: “We created an echo chamber. They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

This seems to be precisely what happened during the Trump campaign, particularly in its final weeks. Trump’s detractors seized on every piece of information as definitive proof of the coming of his inevitable downfall. Every pejorative item of breaking news was pounced upon as heralding the inexorable demise of his presidential bid. The misplaced haughtiness of a contrived media echo-chamber, constantly self-reinforcing through intellectual inbreeding, was reflected in a caustic piece (written a month before the elections) by John Avalon, editor-in-chief of the allegedly “progressive-liberal” Daily Beast. Entitled “All Over But The Shouting: Donald Trump Just Lost The Election,” the article informed readers: “[Trump’s] numbers were already nosediving after a disastrous first debate performance, but the tape catching the candidate bragging about sexual assault has alienated key allies and confirms his critics’ suspicions.”

With unassailable conviction, Avalon assured us: “Mark down the date: October 7, 2016, is when Donald Trump lost the presidency.”


It would seem that, unlike Avalon, voters understood precisely what I pointed out last week: the election was for President, not Pope. Consequently, being a crude (the less charitable might say “lewd”) SOB is not necessarily a definitively disqualifying defect.  After all, similar epithets could be plausibly attached to previous incumbents — even, heaven forefend, Democratic presidents, from Clinton to Kennedy.

Rejecting unwanted metamorphosis

As I have written previously in these pages, Trump was the creation of Obama and Clinton. He was a reaction by millions of Americans to the unwanted metamorphosis of their nation. In many ways, he is cut from precisely the same cloth as another phenomenon that pollsters failed appallingly to predict: Brexit. Much like the British rejection of the “Europeanization” of their land, so Trump was a response — albeit a somewhat unrefined one — to what tens of millions of Americans perceived as an attempt to decouple their country from its roots and heritage.

Few could convey the ongoing metamorphosis with such biting precision as Daniel Greenfield. In a short essay written a day after the election, he acerbically depicted the concern, even fear, that many Americans have been feeling, aghast as they watch the dynamic diversity that characterized their county rapidly descending into increasingly dysfunctional diffusion.

He wrote: “The tidal force of demographics had made the old America irrelevant. Any progressive policy agenda was now possible because we were no longer America. We Were Obamerica. A hip, happening place full of smiling gay couples, Muslim women in hijabs and transgender actors. We were all going to live in a New York City coffee house and work at Green Jobs and live in the post-national future.”

Beyond ‘white identity politics’

Typically, “progressive liberals” are fiercely protective of minority identities, but somehow denigrate, equally fiercely, any sign that the majority may to wish to preserve its identity. In what turned out to be an excruciatingly misguided and erroneous assessment of Trump’s electoral prospects, The Atlantic’s staff writer, Conor Friedersdorf, denounced the conduct of the now president-elect’s campaign. He warned of the fate that would befall the Republican Party, “If the GOP becomes a party of white identity politics” (August 5, 2016). Since then, of course, the GOP has won the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and looks set to determine the composition of the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. So much for Friedersdorf’s prescience.

Of course, in a profound sense, Trump was — purposely or otherwise — invoking identity politics. His message hit a nerve that went far beyond “white men without a college degree.” It resonated with all those who, regardless of gender, race or religion, identified with the fundamental values and civilizational foundations that made America the exceptional power that it became —  i.e. its Anglo-Saxon origins and its Judeo-Christian roots.

Victory of identity over ‘identity politics’

In this sense, Trump’s triumph can be seen as a converse victory of “identity” over “identity politics,” meaning, a victory for the vast number of Americans who felt their identity would be permanently jeopardized by the metamorphosis that Obama tried to impose and which a Clinton victory would irretrievably cement.

Greenfield tartly parodies the kind of realities many Trump supporters (even the reluctant ones) recoiled from:

The past was gone. We were falling into the gorgeous wonderful future of dot com instant deliveries and outsourced everything. We would become more tolerant and guilty. The future was Amazon and Disney. It was hot and cold running social justice. The Bill of Rights was done. Ending the First and Second Amendments was just a clever campaign away. Narratives on news sites drove everything.

Presidents were elected by Saturday Night Live skits. John Oliver, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee were our journalists. Safe spaces were everywhere and you better watch your microaggressions, buddy. No more coal would be mined. No more anything would be made. The end of men was here. The end of the dead white men of the literary canon. The end of white people. The end of binary gender and marriage. The end of reason. The end of art. The end of 2 + 2 equaling 4. This was Common Core time. It was time to pardon an endless line of drug dealers. To kill cops and praise criminals. To be forced to buy worthless health insurance for wealth redistribution to those who voted their way to wealth.

So, after decades of being cowed by the dictates of political correctness, it seems as a counter-revolution may just be beginning to take root.

The challenges ahead

It is difficult to overstate the significance of Trump’s victory. For whatever he may, or may not, achieve in the future, it is what he has prevented from happening that is of incalculable importance.

The Obama incumbency has been one of the most ruinous in the history of the Republic — socially, economically, diplomatically and in terms of security.

It has left American society more divided than ever: labor participation at the lowest for decades; American influence waning across the globe; a disastrous Iran deal; allies disheartened and abandoned; adversaries heartened and emboldened; much of the world ablaze with violence (a significant portion of which is due to injudicious US policy in recent years). A Clinton victory would only have sustained and accelerated the downward spiral. That this was averted is something for which we should count ourselves fortunate, very fortunate.

However, Trump’s win is no guarantee of improvement. Far from it. A myriad of difficulties and obstacles will be encountered. Overcoming them will be no small feat.

To begin with, there is Trump’s inexperience and lack of familiarity with the mechanisms of government, which hopefully can be partially overcome by a judicious choice of experienced, competent aides and officials who can help navigate bureaucratic obstructionism (should it arise).

Many of Trump’s stated objectives are, to say the least, controversial. They are likely to arouse stiff opposition in many places within the government apparatus and elsewhere. Dealing with this will require considerable resolve and resourcefulness, and will sorely test the ablest and most committed of administrations.

Refusal to accept defeat?

But beyond these objective difficulties, Trump will arguably face even more harrowing challenges. These will relate to the very legitimacy and authority of his incumbency. Indeed, there are already signs that his defeated rivals do not, and will not, accept defeat. Despite his clear electoral advantage, the popular vote was almost 50:50, with a minuscular advantage (0.2%) to Clinton. This is being seized upon by Trump’s opponents as proof of his presidency’s invalidity, fueling nation-wide protests and refusal to accept his victory.

Elsewhere, rather than acknowledge the dysfunctional defects in their political doctrine, Democrats have looked to lay the blame on the defective nature of Trump’s supporters, attributing their choice to either the basest of motives or their lack of education. By denouncing any call to preserve identity as “bigotry” and social discipline as “fascism,” Democrats are attempting to strip all moral worth away from Trump voters, casting them as uneducated, misogynistic oafs. However, as the Washington Post reported, a majority of both white women and college-educated whites voted for Trump.

Thus, ostrich-like, with their heads firmly buried in the sands of denial, Trump’s vanquished rivals obdurately refuse to honestly confront the real reasons for their astonishing defeat — thereby virtually ensuring that it will be repeated, something that will only increase their fury, frustration and befuddlement.

Respite not redemption

These sentiments of fury and frustration — bolstered by a hopelessly biased mainstream media, much of the politically correct academia, an array of celebrity entertainers and threats of violent civil strife — will clearly intensify their effort to thwart any chances of a successful Trump incumbency.

This constitutes a considerable threat to his ability to deliver on his pledges, which is why his success in precluding another four to eight years of a Clinton continuation of the Obama doctrine is a welcome and much-needed respite. For America, however, and for everything that made it America, it is far from being an assured and durable redemption.



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