Who To Blame

By now we’ve all read many, many pieces to the effect that the burghers of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, and much of the new internet media, vastly misread the working class electorate. Matt Taibbi has another good one in Rolling Stone.

But yesterday I ran across an article in CNN: How Gary Johnson and Jill Stein helped elect Donald Trump.

The entire scenario conjures up memories of Ralph Nader’s Green Party run in 2000. Nader’s share of the vote in that year’s razor-thin Florida contest was 1.63%, according to the final totals from the Federal Election Commission. Bush won the state by just .05%, which tipped the Electoral College in his favor. (Nader has for years denied his candidacy played a role in Bush’s 2000 victory.)

It’s impossible to know how an election could have gone under hypothetical scenarios, but the Johnson campaign regularly said they thought they were pulling support equally from would-be Trump supporters and would-be Clinton voters. Stein’s campaign, meanwhile, made a constant, explicit appeal to disenchanted Democrats and former supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

First, whenever the press mentions Al Gore’s electoral defeat in 2000, they never, never, never mention their complicity in the meme that Gore claimed to invent the internet. The video clip of Wolf Blitzer’s interview of Gore was strangely unavailable until after the election, but there was endless rehashing and misquoting of that story. Gore is a fairly vanilla guy, and ran a fairly lackluster campaign. He failed to carry his home state. According to all recounts but one, Gore won the popular vote in Florida, but lost in a controversial Florida Supreme Court decision, that was essentially upheld by the US Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case.

But they always have, and always will blame Nader.

Second, Gary Johnson did help Donald Trump win. But he did not take votes away from Hillary Clinton. Some Libertarians are very well read, but most are essentially conservative Republicans that want to smoke a little weed, don’t like the US fighting in foreign wars and know something about Ayn Rand and Freedom. Very few of them would ever vote for a big government Democrat.

With former Governor William Weld behind him, Gary Johnson was well-positioned to siphon Republican votes away from the disreputable Trump campaign. Early on, Johnson-Weld were polling between five and ten percent of the vote, or more. Then came Johnson’s “What is Aleppo?” gaffe, followed closely by an interview in which he could not name a foreign leader. Johnson limped out of the race taking only 3% of votes away from Trump.

After offering her spot to Bernie Sanders, Dr Jill Stein – who urges a healthy skepticism towards big pharma – was repeatedly savaged by online DNC trolls as an antivaxx advocate, and her campaign went nowhere, too. She took maybe 1% away from Clinton. If Johnson had known even a little about foreign affairs, and taken 5%, Clinton may have won the battleground states.

But third parties make excellent scapegoats.

Update 20161112: The video at the end of the Rolling Stone article also claims that third party votes contributed to Clinton’s loss, and Rachel Maddow has also made the same argument on her MSNBC show.

Update 20161113: John Laurits crunches the numbers of the third party vote. Thanks to trkingmomoe for the link.

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2 responses to “Who To Blame”

  1. Lis says :

    Everyone from Hillary on down has a scapegoat…Hillary holds Comey responsible, even though it isn’t Comey’s fault that Weiner’s laptop had Huma’s emails in it. I liked Jill Stein but knew a vote for her would be nothing but symbolic. We are forever stuck with a two-party vote. If the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, or and Independent Party could come up with a perfectly viable candidate and have their parties represented on every state’s ballot, every election cycle, then perhaps we could finally change this gridlock system we are stuck in. Until then, nothing will change except the Dems going to Republicans and back again.

    I think you know, Donal, how I voted, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I think you know how I felt after Bernie lost in the primaries, and you know that I know just how and why he lost. I turned my back on the DNC after that, and I’ve never cared for the Clintons. So I made my strategic vote, and now I must live with it.

    Matt’s piece rubbed me the wrong way because, while he properly vents about the media’s place in what went wrong, he – in my opinion – improperly still treats the voters as the ignoramuses he claims the media thought them to be. Voters who voted Trump aren’t as bad as he thinks. Many of my friends here in PA preferred Trump because a) he talks straight (not dumbed-down, just honest and clear and plain – i.e., no spin) and b) he’s not an establishment politician. It’s that simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donal says :

      Lissie, anyone who can sing Secondhand Rose like you can vote anyway she wants. Seriously, though, half my family voted Trump and half voted Clinton, and I’m not self-righteous enough to claim that they all should have gone one way or the other. Both candidates scared me.

      Liked by 1 person

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