The Election Proved I Was Right All Along
The Pundit's Fallacy meets opportunism.
Because so many people voted by mail this year, the exit polls are even less useful than usual in explaining why people voted as they did. That has not stopped pundits from analyzing the results. Miraculously, to a person, they have all reached the same conclusion: the election demonstrates that, had their pre-existing preferences been followed, their party would have done way better.
This phenomenon has played out most obviously in the Halls of Congress, as the progressive wing of the Democratic Party argues that moderation was the problem and the moderates argue the opposite. But we’re definitely seeing it on the op-ed pages.
For example, Margaret White, executive director of No Labels, takes to The Hill to explain “Why Susan Collins won.” I was expecting some analysis of problems in polling methodology but, alas, not so much. Her argument boils down to this:
Even as Washington conservatives lambasted her for being a “Republican in Name Only” and Washington liberals shook their fists in frustration when, in their view, she did too little to take President Trump to task, voters in Maine actually liked her brand of moderate, balanced, independent politics.
That Collins is in no meaningful way moderate, balanced, or independent—having voted to seat Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and refusing to vote to remove President Trump—is no obstacle to her case. White supports a bipartisan agenda and, if you squint really hard, Collins demonstrates its efficacy in attracting voters.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders took to USA Today to show that the election proves we need more socialism:
The lesson is not to abandon popular policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, living wage jobs, criminal justice reform and universal child care, but to enact an agenda that speaks to the economic desperation being felt by the working class — Black, white, Latino, Asian American and Native American. People are hurting, and they are crying out for help. We must respond.
Even though those policies didn’t prevail in the Democratic Primary and Biden ran away from most of them during the general election, it turns out Bernie was right all along.
So, of course, was Elizabeth Warren, who was given space in the Washington Post to outline “What a Biden-Harris administration should prioritize on its first day.”
- Cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt, giving tens of millions of Americans an immediate financial boost and helping to close the racial wealth gap. This is the single most effective executive action available to provide massive consumer-driver stimulus.
- Lower drug prices for millions by producing key drugs like insulin, naloxone, hepatitis C drugs and EpiPens at low costs using existing compulsory licensing authority that allows the federal government to bypass patents for pressing public health needs.
- Issue enforceable OSHA health and safety standards for covid-19 so giant companies don’t escape accountability for workplace conditions that expose workers to serious harm and even death.
- Raise the minimum wage for all federal contractors to $15 an hour.
- Center racial equity by building on Biden and Harris’s commitment to establish a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force by collecting and reporting covid-19 data and reviewing racial disparities in pandemic funding.
- Declare the climate crisis a national emergency to start marshaling resources toward addressing this challenge.
- Restore balance and competition by prioritizing strong anti-monopoly protections and enforcement.
As with Sanders’ plan, this lost badly in the Democratic primaries. And, holy moly, this list represents neither prioritization nor something that can be tackled in a single day.
Meanwhile, #NeverTrump Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis takes the obvious conclusion from Trump’s better-than-expected performance that “Trump’s Down Right Now—and Republicans Should Kick Him.”
Similarly, #NeverTrump WaPo columnist Max Boot analyzes the results and determines, “Never Trumpers played a critical role in beating him. The numbers prove it.“
Look, I get it. These people all have agendas to push and will use any plausible news hook to do so. But it’s a bit silly.