What's Next?

I keep coming back to the same conclusion.

The election pundits I read are split between three camps. On the one hand, there is a disconnect between the enthusiasm and momentum people feel, and the actual results that emerge at the polls. And so one group of writers is convinced that, since the outcome is in conflict with their visceral sense of how things are, then fraud can be the only explanation. Thus their writing is all about fraud and how we're going to have to get serious about fraud, etc. etc. ad nauseum.  Now, I have no doubt that fraud goes on. I was born at night but I wasn't born last night. There's always an undercurrent of fraud. But I suspect that (this may sound odd) decisive fraud is easier to pull off in a presidential election than in a mid-term. I suspect this because you only have to influence 50 vote counts (state totals) rather than 500 (individual congressional districts).  To fraud a national vote count result, you only have to focus on a small fraction of the states (i.e. battleground states where smallish #'s of votes can tip the electoral college) and only isolated geographies within those states. So the nature of the electoral college seems to me like it's a more tractable problem for fraudsters. Besides, Hanlon's razor applies to elections as to so many other things: "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

When the aggregate results at a very large scale, in a highly distributed environment (500+ congressional districts), are at odds with one's sense of things, one has to consider the possibility that one's sense of things is off.  This is analogous to the phenomenon, after Nixon's reelection victory over George McGovern, when Pauline Kael famously observed that she hardly knew anyone who voted for Nixon.   Our sense of things is informed by our relational community and insularity is often a factor.

The second cohort of writers focuses on Trump as the cause of all the world's electoral problems. They suggest that, if only Trumpian candidates hadn't been on the ballot, the right would have swept the field. All the right needs to do, in this telling, is tinker with the roster of candidates and all will be well.  Because, after all, the voters all inherently love conservative policies and would have voted for them if it hadn't been for some icky candidates who refused to distance themselves from "the Donald".  These writers come across to me like people who love politics for its own sake.  Or, at least, people for whom the minutia of political tactics provides the entire explanatory lens through which to understand elections. This view is, in my opinion, a target-rich environment for those who disagree with it. But I don't intend to unpack that right now.

Finally, there's a (much smaller) set of writers who are reconsidering their understanding of our cultural moment. They are wondering if, with the on-going decline in numbers and influence of those who have a historical memory of a different time, we may have reached a political hinge-point. They wonder if demographics and time is inevitably beginning to favor those cohorts of voters who have been indoctrinated by the left these last 60 years. These writers suggest that what we may be seeing (this is my highly summarized version) is the playing out of Chesterton's observation that “when men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

I'm not quite as pessimistic as believing our fate is already sealed, because I don't think history inevitably develops according to inexorable, impersonal forces.  I think that the courage and initiative of small numbers of people, even individuals, can change the course of things. But there is going to have to be an upheaval, of some kind, in the worldview of American voters, if we are going to alter our trajectory.  And conservatives are going to have to learn to be far more persuasive than we are.

Now, reality bites, and it is eventually going to bite those hordes of Orcs who vote for the left. Pain is a teacher. So the political class is going to need to anesthetize that pain if they hope to delay the learning that would otherwise take place.  But it is also the case, (I have seen it with my own eyes, I have stood over the graves) that some people can be so committed to lives of dissipation that they would rather be destroyed than undertake a life of actual self-responsibility.  For some, their delusional worldview makes them impervious to learning. So it's an open question whether the left's voters will learn before utter catastrophe ensues. We may actually be living in Huxley's world rather than Orwell's – the passivity and egoism fueled by social media could ultimately act as prophylactic against vital learning.

Time will tell.

I keep coming back to the same conclusion. I think that people of faith had better intentionally cultivate tight and culturally rich communities within their churches and synagogues. Tourist-like membership needs to become a thing of the past. We are probably about to find out just how much we need each other.

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