Back in March of 2016, I wrote a long rant about the state of American politics, particularly the rise of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. In this rant, I made a series of six predictions:
1- Someone would die in a Trump rally.
Following this, I also made a very specific seventh prediction on Twitter:
7- In defiance of all polls and pundits, Sanders was going to win the state of New York over Hillary Clinton.
The definition of science is not interpreting the past, but making falsifiable predictions about the future. On April 20th, once my specific seventh prediction turned out to be false, I didn't thrash around and try to explain myself. I admitted defeat. I admitted that I did not know more than the polls, the pundits, the columnists or the experts. I was wrong, and I did not actually understand American politics in some special way.
This was a very freeing thing to admit. I didn't have to pad my own ego. I didn't have to mansplain. If someone asked my opinion about anything - not just the American election, anything - I could shrug and admit that I had no special insight, and maybe we should check CNN or Snopes or Wikipedia? I could still read and learn and think and react, but my ideas and opinions had no real weight or significance or predictive power.
The experience was like setting down a small but noticeable burden that I had been carrying for most of my life. It was a kind of ego death. I recommend it.
Of course, Donald Trump did not turn left once he became the Republican nominee. He doubled down on his right-wing rhetoric - and some of his "alt-right" supporters went to the logical conclusion of full-on Nazi. Still, though, I wasn't worried. After all, I wasn't an expert, but you know who was? The actual experts.
So I trusted in the polls. I trusted in the columnists. I trusted in the news. I trusted in Nate Silver. I trusted in Carl Diggler.
Everyone - everyone I considered credible, anyway - assured me that Hillary Clinton was a lock to win.
And then, on November 8th, we were all proven wrong.
And let's be clear - it doesn't matter if Hillary won the majority vote. It doesn't matter if voters were suppressed. It doesn't matter if Russians tampered with the process, or if the electoral college doesn't vote the way they're supposed to, or if Rocket Raccoon and Groot descend from the heavens with a million uncounted ballots that all say "I'm with her". Clinton conceded. Hillary Clinton has officially said "yes, let this man be president". The race is over, and Donald Trump has won.
And the pundits and experts have all been scrambling to interpret this after the fact. Maybe the working class were experiencing economic anxiety. Maybe white people were racist. Maybe millennials were too hip to vote.
I personally think the answer, in retrospect, is obvious. Trump sold America the same thing Obama did:
As regressive and backward-looking as "Make America Great Again" is, it's at least a slogan that says that things are bad and promises to make them different. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, you can't deny that her presidency would have been the closest thing possible to a third Obama term. Anyone dissatisfied with their lives - and dissatisfied people are more likely to vote than satisfied people - was going to vote for whichever candidate promised change, even if that change amounts to burning everything down.
So I was wrong, but you know who was right? Scott Adams.
The Dilbert cartoonist has a blog, one that I've been reading regularly for years, and for almost the entirety of 2016, he's been talking nonstop about Donald Trump's skill at persuasion. Donald Trump, evidently, uses special hypnotic tricks of persuasion to convince people to vote for him, and at the end of the day, that persuasion and those votes were all that mattered.
Persuasion - what a less persuasive person might call bullshit - gets the job done. That, evidently, was the proper predictive model to use.
But I've gotten beyond prediction at this point.
Who's right and who's wrong doesn't matter.
Who's right and who's left doesn't matter.
The only thing that matters is helping and not helping.
I plan on doing what little I can to help in the coming years. I'm going to raise awareness. I'm going to buoy up my American friends who are protesting and phoning their representatives. I'm going to donate to Planned Parenthood and the NAACP and the ACLU.
And y'know what? I'm not going to try to write those donations off on my Canadian taxes, because that's something Donald Trump would do.
The main thing I intend to do in 2017, the primary way that I'm going to resist the Trumpification of the planet - and I hope you'll join me - is to do at least one thing every day that is the opposite of what Donald Trump would do in your position.
-Pay your taxes.
I've been wrong before. I will be wrong again. I don't know what the future holds. Neither do you.
But I believe we can be good to each other.
See you in 2017.