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What does the presidential election teach America?

Dec 22, 2016 | 11:44 AM | Thomas C. Graham

Tags  Presidential, election, Congress, Senate, House, polls, academics, media Thomas Graham?


Elections have consequences, as President Obama likes to say. This one exposed a startling rift in the alignment of constituencies, unlike anything that has previously occurred. Hilary Clinton was the beneficiary of the huge Washington establishment; bureaucrats, federal employees, lobbyists, the academic world, and the population of both coasts—California, New York, and Massachusetts. The media, TV and Newspapers lined up behind her candidacy like well-disciplined soldiers. A count revealed 99 percent of the Washington press corps voted for Hilary Clinton. It has to be a matter of continuing concern that the world of journalism and academia are both so uniformly advocates of classic Keynesian redistribution economics.

We are all to a great degree a product of what we read or what we hear and see. If the professionals practicing in these areas are of one mind—but the citizenry is not sold that their conventional sources of opinion are persuasive—then we have an outcome like the one that occurred on November 8th. The journalists clearly allowed their sentiments to dominate their obligation to the facts; the academics thought they were voting for a sure thing.

In predicting the outcome of the election, all the forecasters got it wrong—and not by any small measure. The Republicans not only won the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives going away, they dominated the state level by winning governorships and state legislatures in landslide fashion. There was more to this election than the personalities of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton that was not foreseen or forecasted, and is probably more significant over the long term than the presidency,

In doing the postmortem, it has been suggested that the pollsters got it wrong and the journalists were misled by the pollsters. Some people suspect that the pollsters and the forecasting journalists are an echo chamber, each one influencing the other. Whatever the rationale, polling as a technique suffered a blow to its credibility that will be difficult to repair. In these days where everyone claims that their findings have “science” on their side, polling had best remain silent. The failure was so gross, that the poll sponsors look entirely foolish.

What things are certain as an outcome of the election? The Electoral College and the authority of the States is confirmed. A large part of the voting public—perhaps 50 percent–does not accept the view of self-appointed elites on key political questions. This should prompt a serious re-examination of their positions by liberal/progressive leaders. By retaining Republican control of the Senate and House, voters supported the constitutional separation of power between the executive and the legislative branches of government. Government by executive decree will not survive. The Supreme Court has escaped liberal domination, perhaps for a full generation. The states, excluding the coasts, will be open to education and labor reform.

The growing popularity of Right-to-Work legislation and the growth of charter schools are occurring in the face of Obama’s contrary actions at the Labor Relations Board and the Department of Education. As the founders surely intended, the “experiments” at the state level are prevailing over the dictates of the executive branch of government. That is certainly the important but little recognized outcome of the election.

Thomas C. Graham is a founding member of T.C. Graham Associates. He is a former chairman and chief executive officer of AK Steel Corp., president and chief executive officer of Armco Steel Co. LP, chairman and chief executive officer of Washington Steel Co., president of the U.S. Steel Group of USX Corp. and president and chief executive officer of Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. His column appears monthly. He invites readers’ comments and can be contacted at graham1804@gmail.com.



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