November 8, 2020

1. The 2020 Election

The 2020 election resembled the 2016 election: again the Democratic candidate won the popular vote by 2.5 or 3%, again many states were decided by small margins. But while Trump won many of those small-margin states in 2016, in 2020 it was the Democrats’ turn.

Many votes were cast by mail, increasing the potential for fraud. A 2012 article in the New York Times said that fraud was “vastly more prevalent” with mail-in voting than in-person voting. “Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner.” In France and other countries, mail voting was banned because of the potential for fraud.

People are shocked at how far off the polls were. One of the few accurate pollsters was Robert Cahaly. But Cahaly’s polls left you with the impression that Trump was going to win; this turned out to be a false impression. Cahaly understood the importance of the “shy” Trump voter who didn’t want to talk to pollsters. But did Cahaly understand the power of ballot-harvesting? The most accurate forecast may have been the prediction market, which gave Biden a 65% chance.

2. Who Supports Trump?

Many pundits were horrified that almost half of American voters still support Trump. Who are these Trump supporters?

My grandfather and my father worked in the construction-equipment business. Their office/yard was in the South Bronx. I worked there part-time. One of my jobs was to call customers and ask them to pay bills. I remember one customer saying, “You know the construction game: you fight to get work, then you fight to get paid.”

This is the sort of person who supports Trump: a person who scrambles to make a living — scrambles to get work, then scrambles to complete the project, then scrambles to get paid. In the last issue, I mentioned the conservative pundit George Will, who couldn’t understand why people supported Trump, why they would want four more years of turmoil. George Will has had a steady paycheck for decades. Can he understand people who scramble to make a living?

The Democrats want to give illegal immigrants free legal advice, free health care, free education, etc. The Trump supporter asks, “Why are you so eager to give my tax dollars to illegal immigrants? I scramble to make a living, I contribute to society, I pay taxes, I obey the law, but you don’t want to help me, you prefer to help illegal immigrants. Don’t you realize that your generosity is an inducement for more people to become illegal immigrants?”

Twelve years ago, I wrote,

I recently met a roofer who knelt as he worked, and eventually injured his knees. I met a chain-saw operator who was missing several fingers. I met a plasterer who injured his shoulder lifting sheets of dry-wall over his head. A high percentage of working-people have work-related injuries, perhaps because they do the same job, and stress the same part of their body, day after day. Society may benefit from the division of labor, from specialization, but the individual who specializes often pays a price for it.

If you talk to this roofer, this chain-saw operator, this plasterer, you’ll probably find that they support Trump, and they don’t understand what George Will calls “turmoil.” How can George Will and David Brooks understand the man with seven fingers?

If the New York Times or PBS wants a conservative voice, they call someone like George Will or David Brooks — that is, they call a conservative who’s not really a conservative. So the mainstream media becomes entirely liberal, as academia is entirely liberal. The country becomes split, with liberals gravitating to the mainstream media, and conservatives gravitating to Fox.

Many of my acquaintances have been the victims of crime. Three days ago, a friend in Seattle went to a lake with her sons, and within a minute or two, she heard her car alarm. Someone was smashing the windows of her car, and taking her purse and cell-phone. She could see the person, and other people at the lake could see the person. One of her boys, about ten years old, ran toward the car, but the robber was gone; he was swift, skillful, experienced. He had probably carried out dozens of these robberies, and will carry out dozens more in the future.

It was a brazen crime, a crime in broad daylight, a crime in full view of several witnesses. My friend called the police, and they said they didn’t have enough manpower to investigate that kind of crime. Liberals had reduced their funding/manpower. My friend will be voting Republican for a long time to come.

Trump creates turmoil? Isn’t it criminals who create turmoil?

Kamala Harris donated money to a fund to bail looters out of prison, so they could get back out on the street. Trump supporters don’t understand this. Why do Democrats sympathize with criminals instead of with the victims of crime? Crime is rising in many American cities, anarchy is spreading, criminals are becoming more brazen. Trump wants to make things harder for criminals, Biden/Harris want to make things harder for police. And George Will doesn’t understand why people support Trump?

The liberal website Vox said, “most U.S. crimes, from murder to common theft, are unreported, and the great majority of crimes that are reported aren’t solved.” In an earlier issue, I discussed the Vox piece, and I estimated the number of felons in the U.S. at 30 million. The number of crime victims must be around 100 million.

When Obama was in the Senate, one of his priorities was to make it easier for felons to vote. Obama was contemplating a run for President, and he knew that felons are a key Democratic voting bloc. He knew that, if only law-abiding citizens voted, he would have little chance of winning. Republicans want to get criminals into a jail cell, Democrats want to get them into a voting booth.

* * * * *

In the last issue, I advocated compromise. Of course, both sides would say, “We tried that. It’s impossible to compromise with them.” My response: Keep trying, it’s the only way. Wake up every morning, and say to yourself, “Today I’m going to treat my opponents courteously, today I’m going to try to compromise.” As Martin Luther said, virtue is always beginning (semper incipere).

© L. James Hammond 2020
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