Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Thank you to everybody who followed along with my election simulations this year. In the past few months, I've enjoyed some interesting conversations with readers and friends about the intersection of math and politics. I was also able to use what I learned to make an informed decision about where to volunteer—Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, where I spent the last two days of October knocking on doors and committing Hillary supporters to vote on election day. (Hillary did win Lehigh County, but Trump won the state overall).

My original motivation for modeling the election was a suspicion that the major election models weren't accounting for third-party candidates very well. Doubtless, the data pundits will examine that issue and many others in the coming weeks. (I did notice that Jill Stein's 31,000 votes in Wisconsin exceeded the Trump margin of victory over Clinton there….)


I thought Hillary Clinton was the better choice, but not enough people agreed. Democrats are the opposition party now. I don't pretend to know how it will play out, but I do want it to be every patriot's mission over the coming years to defend our bedrock liberties, some of which President-elect Trump is overtly hostile to. I'm thinking in particular of the freedom of speech, of the press, and of peaceable assembly; due process of law; the right to vote; the people's right to be secure in their persons and free from unreasonable searches and seizures; and the freedom from cruel and unusual punishments.

If you'll forgive the emphasis, I feel a need this morning to stress that these liberties are not just for White people. I feel I have to say that because some of Trump's core supporters seem not to believe it. For them, race and culture have everything to do with being an American, to the extent (for example) that recent immigrants are by that circumstance less American.

For me on the other hand, what makes us all American is the Constitution that structures our great republic. In this post from last year, written in reaction to the Obergefell same-sex marriage decision, I wrote:
I think that what we are as countrymen has less to do with cultural things like religion or language, which we inherited from Europe, and everything to do with the Constitution, which set us apart from Europe.
One reason many commentators are concerned about a Trump presidency is that in comparison with the power of place and tribe (a power that becomes concentrated in the one entrusted to speak for the tribe), the principles set down in the Constitution are—in one of the president-elect's favorite phrases—"just words." And they are just words. Maybe the Founders cared so much about education because they recognized that they were building a nation with a quill pen, and only the educated could ever pledge allegiance to a mere piece of writing.


Adding to this later, because I don't want to be misunderstood. There are threads of paleoconservatism that make sense to me. I don't consider myself a progressive, and I agree with key parts of this critique of progressivism. Like its author, I don't consider 'attachment to the local and the particular' to be automatically racist, xenophobic, or 'primitive.' However, I do insist that the Bill of Rights is for every American. Where that precept clashes with culture, I want culture to lose.

1 comment:

Nathan L said...

Thanks for this post, Jason.