A truly disturbing explanation for Trump’s win

Why was Donald Trump able to gain just enough votes in the just the right places to win the White House, despite the deep unpopularity of his policy proposals? Perhaps for the same reason that Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker or Marco Rubio will struggle against Kanye West in 2020. Policy no longer matters very much in our elections. Because pop-culture following is far more potent than any form of political support or activism.

Southern preachers and the Southern Strategy

The problem is that Nixon’s Southern Strategy mostly flopped. By some measures he was less successful in the South than Goldwater had been and the Republicans made few inroads there farther down the ticket. The flight of the Dixiecrats didn’t materialize in serious numbers at the local level until the late ’80’s. Something else was at work here to turn the South red.

Imagining an endgame

How does this mess end? There are too many equally likely scenarios to have any confidence in an outcome. For the sake of entertainment, here is one possible scenario.

Enough rope…

One or two years under a Republican budget, with a Republican health care plan, and a Trumpian foreign policy might be just the kind of rock-bottom experience it takes to sober us up. Will there be damage? Yes. Will it be severe? Probably. Will it harm a lot of innocent people who don’t deserve it? You bet. Compare it to the consequences of a low-grade civil conflict and it seems pretty merciful.