The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
A nice post by Ted Folkman (Letters Blogatory), a longtime critic of our new President-elect; here's the opening paragraph:
The tone of my first reflections on the 2016 general election, written before voting began, was hopelessly smug and made unwarranted assumptions. I assumed that the data we had at the time were true and that it was pretty likely, though hardly certain, that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election and that the Democratic Party would retake control of the Senate. To quote a former governor of Texas dispatched early in the primary season, "Oops."
The rest of the post focuses more on the substance, and has interesting, substantive things to say. But I think the opening sets the right tone, a tone that all of us who were blindsided by this election (as I completely was) ought to keep in mind: We were badly wrong in our predictions about American politics. Might we have been badly wrong in our judgments about policy, too? Or even if our policy is completely right, given that policy can only be implemented through politics, might we be wrong in our sense of how best to do that, and in our predictions about how any particular approach would fare?
The election is commonly talked about as a revolt against the elites. But it also highlights the failure of the elites—the elites in the Republican Party, the elites in the Democratic Party, the elites among the commentariat—to understand how Americans would respond to the Trump candidacy. I totally put myself within that box of deplorable soothsayers: Political predictions aren't my main field, but I made plenty of them in my mind and to my friends, and I was completely mistaken. I suspect that a healthy dose of self-doubt is a necessary, though not sufficient, ingredient for any cure.