Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Megan McArdle Revolution

It takes a lot of arrogance to assume you have the right to overthrow elections, but if you are Megan McArdle, all it takes is a keyboard.
Is it time to Dump Trump?
Long past, #NeverTrumpers would say. Many of them in my vicinity have been wistfully speculating on the means, from convention coup to public-spirited time travelers, by which Donald Trump might be removed from the top of the Republican ticket.
It doesn't matter what #NeverTrumpers say because they will #NeverWin. They've already lost and McArdle's latest boy band crush, Marco Rubio, made a very authoritarian statement in support of Trump.
I signed a pledge, put my name on it, and said I would support the Republican nominee and that’s what I intend to do.
When William Krystol finally held up his #NeverTrump candidate to take over as presidential candidate it was David French, the National Review candidate most likely to be arrested for barricading himself in his house surrounded by guns, praying for God to save his pure children from the invading Muslim hordes. Meanwhile, McArdle's eco-crush, Paul Ryan, endorsed Trump, as did many others. The #NeverTrump movement gave up.
“We are kind of in a reorganizational phase,” says Rory Cooper of the Never Trump super PAC, noting that the group will have a better assessment after the convention.
“I think there is a really huge misconception about what the Never Trump movement is. Somehow it’s conveniently become shorthand for a third party candidate,” Cooper says. “But Never Trump is really a lot simpler than that. We don't want the party to become an echo chamber of his beliefs.”
Cooper says the group is planning to focus on ways to protect the party from Trump, and to prepare it for what comes after the November election.
If the Republican leadership and the leadership of #NeverTrump have given up and the money people of #NeverTrump have given up, who is keeping the movement afloat? Megan McArdle's friends and relatives, of course! From February 29, 2016:
Over the past week, as it’s begun to sink in that -- no foolin’ -- Donald Trump might really be the nominee, I began to notice a trend among family and friends who are stalwart Republicans. These are people who consistently vote, and consistently vote (R) straight down the line. And they are tortured because they cannot bring themselves to vote for the Republican nominee this year, if the Republican nominee is Trump.
“She’s beside herself,” my mother said of a near relation, who is apparently seriously considering voting for a Democrat for the first time. I wanted to understand this phenomenon better. I asked on Twitter whether this was a real thing, just as the hashtag #NeverTrump began trending. And I got an earful. So I invited lifelong Republicans who had decided that they couldn’t vote for Trump in the general, even if he got the nomination, to tell me their stories. Hundreds of e-mails poured in, and are still arriving. They're informative.
McArdle's relatives have always voted a straight Republican ticket, which isn't authoritarian at all, and now they can't vote for the man who is not their authority. Amazing! This inability to vote for their guy, whomever he might have been, has tortured them. McArdle knows that all good and right people agree with her and her nearest and dearest, as hundreds of emails verified. McArdle often gets hundreds of comments; no doubt she is also amazed that they agree with her as well, as I am absolutely sure that such agreement can only reinforce her self-esteem and her belief in her own wisdom. As we shall soon see, McArdle also has done the math, and it always proves her right.
But the case for doing so has become stronger with three pieces of news. First, the revelation that he has, to a first approximation, done none of the things necessary to build a viable campaign, such as raising funds or hiring staff.
Which is how Trump lost the nomination!
Second, he is trailing Clinton so badly that his supporters have already resorted to the kind of poll “unskewing” rituals that are traditionally reserved for the first week of every fourth November.
If your presidential candidate is losing the pre-election polls, you can toss him out with the used bunting. McArdle's election rules are fascinating; she must tells us where she read them.
And third, Nate Silver has released his election forecast on his FiveThirtyEight blog, giving Trump just a 20-26 percent chance of winning the election.
See: News Item #2.
So let us consider three questions:  
1.Would the Republican Party be better off if they staged a coup at the convention and substituted another candidate?  
2.Does the Republican Party have a moral right to stage such a coup?  
3.Can the Republican Party manage to pull it off?
The answer to the first question is, I think, simply obviously “Yes.” Consider the magnitude of Trump’s campaigning incompetence.
McArdle restates that Trump doesn't bother to run a proper campaign and is a pariah in the party.
[...] Leaving this man on top of the ticket in November will not only mean probably losing the presidency, but bring a down-ticket disaster for the party.
FiveThirtyEight is only forecasting the presidency so far, but their forecast matches the forecast of prediction markets, which also place the odds of Republicans losing the Senate at 60%, and losing the House at almost 20%. In other words, if you believe the betting market, the chances that Hillary Clinton gets to be president with solid majorities in House and Senate are on par with Trump's chance of getting to be president at all. And I think the odds of losing the House are probably understated.
While we tend to focus mostly on the presidency, a party is a much larger entity that needs to build a coalition to wield power -- and for this reason, the fates of its members are strongly intertwined. In a presidential election year, candidates for the House, Senate, and even local elections get a free ride on the presidential campaign efforts. People voting for your party's presidential candidate will probably also vote for your party in the House and Senate.
Getting people to the polls is hard. This is not like a primary, where you need a relatively small number of highly motivated voters to come out and swing the election your way; this is the Big Game, where you need to get well north of 60 million folks into the ballot booth. By definition, the last 10 million or so are going to be the ones who aren’t that interested in politics, and need a little push to get them to take the time out of their day. That’s why candidates spend so much time building up their get-out-the-vote operations.
Trump so far has shown no signs of developing either the money or the campaign infrastructure to mount the kind of operation that the typical Republican presidential candidate would put on, which helps shore up down-ticket races even when the candidate loses (as Mitt Romney did in 2012)....
Even if dumping Trump causes some of his supporters to stay home, getting someone else to lead the ticket would at least enable the party to raise the funds and staff a campaign that could help other Republican candidates. And of course, some of the losses would be made up by recovering #NeverTrump voters from the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld Libertarian ticket. The object at this point is not to win the presidency; it’s to keep from losing everything else.
 We can see that it's very important to have a powerful Republican party, to elect Congressmen who will be powerful enough to enact Republican policies and save the world.

Now we are getting to the good stuff. It's all very well and good to say that one can and should, for practical reasons, subvert the democratic process. But it is the moral thing to do? We all know that Republicans are from the moral party that won't break a Commandment or do what Jesus would not do. Subverting democracy doesn't seem like the moral thing to do, considering how dearly Republicans clutch the Constitution to their chests. It's stealing the nomination from someone who won it legally. Thou Shalt Not Take What Belongs To Someone Else encompasses most of the Commandments, in fact.

But as we all know, rules are for the followers, not the leaders, in an authoritarian society. The people spoke, the people chose, but the people are littlebrains who need to be told what to do by the smart, educated people who were born and bred to lead. But who are not the wrong type of elite! because only liberals are that elite.
Trump supporters might justly protest that he won the nomination fair and square, and the party has no right to rob him of his due. I’ve thought long and hard about this. But overall, I think the party does have the moral right to remove Trump.

Yes, McArdle says she's thought long and hard on the moral issue. As we all know, the elite of the right kind are more moral and therefore more qualified to mediate moral decisions. Who could be more qualified than a (very) lapsed Catholic who said children should be trained to rush gunmen in a libertarian Hunger Games, to protect the gun industry's second amendment rights?
All political systems strike an imperfect balance between democratic responsiveness and undemocratic institutions that limit responsiveness in the name of efficiency and stability. You can't decide where to put roads by democratic referenda, and you also can't run a legitimate democratic state by putting all the important decisions in the hands of unelected technocrats.
The tree of liberty bears a poisoned fruit. Since you must let your elected officials or their public servants do what they were elected or hired to do, perfect democracy does not exist. Because democracy is not perfect, it is morally justified to deprive the American people (white ones, no less!) of their right to representative government. It's for their own good.

We can argue whether we've gone too far in one direction or the other, but the moment you concede we need some kind of bureaucracy, some appointed judges, some constitutional rights that cannot be willy-nilly overruled, then we’re no longer debating whether it’s okay to have anti-democratic elements in the political system. To steal a line from George Bernard Shaw (or, er, some other famous person), now we’re just haggling over the price.
McArdle is an expert in both failure and political whoredom, so trust her.
I'd still draw the line at overturning the results of a democratic election that you don’t like. And yet … a party is not the same as a government. It’s a coalition designed to get things done within that government.
Those "things done" are getting people elected to government office, which definitely does have something to do with government. McArdle begins by saying that Trump must be deposed to save the down-ticket elections, including Congress. The Party must be strong to do its "things" and Trump is weakening it!

Now we are told that the Party is just a coalition of people gettin' stuff done within that government. They have no power, unlike the liberal elite government.
Which means that the restrictions on what it can and can't do are considerably lighter, precisely because it does not have direct power over our lives. Parties are ultimately a private association, and if you don’t like how they choose to govern themselves, you can easily go out and join a different political party. The same cannot be said for the U.S. government.
This little passage contradicts anything McArdle has ever written about the importance of the Supreme Court, but we are accustomed to McArdle's little ways.

You can always become a liberal (boo!) or a libertarian (who?) or maybe some other powerful political party not yet a-born. The free market of political parties will ensure that you find the right party for you. Supply always meets demand.
Moreover, the primary’s not really like a government election -- it’s a multi-stage process that doesn’t cleanly express the will of the voters as a single-day election does. And Trump didn’t even get a majority of the votes in the primary. So you can't quite argue that the convention is overturning the will of the voters, a majority of whom wanted someone else. (And still do, according to a new poll from Fox). That, I think, gives the rules committee the moral right to let delegates choose someone else, if they want.
If you ignore the rules, which are unclear and for the little people anyway, you can say that you won, not lost. That, I think, gives the elite the moral right to skip voting and go straight to the proper nomination.

If they want.

McArdle burbles on that the religious right and moderates couldn't work together.
Since those folks can’t agree on a consensus candidate, they're mostly standing around in their respective clumps, wistfully sighing that they’d sure love to vote for Donald Trump if he’d only stop being so vile for a few minutes.
What we’re seeing in the Republican Party, in fact, is a replay of the very forces that let Trump stage a hostile takeover of its apparatus: the two sides are so far apart that there is seemingly no candidate that can unify them. And in the gap in between those two sides, we get chaos.
That was very helpful. Now we know the moral case for voiding elections: the voters picked the wrong guy, who is bound to lose.


Andrew Johnston said...

Hey, S of T: Are you familiar with McArdle writing about health care? One of the chapters of her book includes a big section in which she finds all these mistakes that doctors and nurses were making and its clearly self-congratulatory bullshit, but she keeps claiming to have special expertise due to her coverage of the health care system. It's news to me.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I believe SoT has more knowledge of Meegan's writings or whatnot than even Meegan herself.

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, I am. I've discussed her health care writing a lot. The essence is that health care should be paid for out of pocket and not regulated, so that perfect market equilibrium will keep prices low and supplies high.

She reflexively supports PHarma. She spent months drumming into her readers that Obamacare would destroy drug and medical innovation.

That led to this:

Here's a summary:

Susan of Texas said...

I'm very glad you're going over her book. I tried, but I couldn't face even more McArdle and quit before I began. I'm enjoying it very much.

Susan of Texas said...

Ah, now I see you know about that WaPo chat.

Andrew Johnston said...

Ah yes, the classic McArdle defense - shift the goalposts, suggests that the critics are stupid, deny, deny, release a tepid mea culpa only after "proving" that the critics were wrong too, stick out tongue. She really is eleven.

And looking back at this chapter, she presents herself as an expert not just on the economics on health care but on the actual practices, based on the fact that she knows "how to look up the relevant studies." Clearly she has yet to master humility.

Kathy said...

So let us consider three questions: And not one of those questions was: WHO would the repugs run for President. ALL the candidates are horrible and unlikable. There isn't anyone out there who repug voters would tolerate.

Kathy said...

I’ve thought long and hard about this.

HAHAHAHAHHAHA! I'm trying to visualize ArgleBargle thinking. I wonder if she places her elbow on one knee and her chin in her hand to boost her thinking power? Or does she scratch her butt?

Cole said...

"So you can't quite argue that the convention is overturning the will of the voters, a majority of whom wanted someone else. (And still do, according to a new poll from Fox). That, I think, gives the rules committee the moral right to let delegates choose someone else, if they want."

That is so unarguably logical and clear! The GOP should throw Trump off the ticket; they should do it at the height of the convention; and McArdle should be the gal selected to stand up in front of the stiff-armed saluting Trumpeters and 'splain it to them as condescendingly as she can muster.

That would be some good television.

Smut Clyde said...

I'd still draw the line at overturning the results of a democratic election that you don’t like.

Having argued at length that no-one is a absolutist about democracy, that we all agree with her about the need for the technocrats to overrule the masses on occasion, is she fooling anyone with this belated claim to have principles after all? Even herself?

fish said...

And looking back at this chapter, she presents herself as an expert not just on the economics on health care but on the actual practices, based on the fact that she knows "how to look up the relevant studies." Clearly she has yet to master humility.

Yeah, I once had an argument with her over the effects of dietary salt on high blood pressure. She had offhandedly dismissed salt intake as an issue based on something a friend told her. I actually am in a position where I can and do understand the primary literature and I sent her the very clear results of huge, multi-year studies on the topic. She just doubled down on the stupid, no one can know anything BS...

Susan of Texas said...

Heh, that was pretty funny. She needs to watch her salt intake because of her health issues but as you say, she thinks she knows better.

Ellis Weiner said...

Late getting here, but Christ on a toothpick, this:

"So you can't quite argue that the convention is overturning the will of the voters, a majority of whom wanted someone else. (And still do, according to a new poll from Fox)."

Okay. Then how do you pick the alternative, Megs? Impose it by diktat from Reince and the Gang? Start over? And then express concern when 44% of your base a) brings the convention hall down in flames, and b) stays home on Nov. 8?

She's really incredible. It would probably cost her nothing to write, "He won. We hate it. Let's see what happens." But no, she has to exercise all of her considerable skills at dishonesty and disingenuousness to justify the unjustifiable. What a pro!

Susan of Texas said...

If the Party is a "private association," with no power or responsibility, then they can do anything they want, such as skip the formality of voting. They can hoist up Rubio on his little throne and give him a tiara.

Ellis Weiner said...

Legally, yes. I assume. But she's making what she thinks is an argument for it being morally permissible. That is, you have a private association with rules and by-laws. People join it in part because of those rules. One rule says, whoever gets the most delegates in the primary represents the Party. Now she's saying the Party can scuttle its own rules (with new rules), betray the loyalty and intentions of almost half its membership, and still be morally okay. Which is baloney.

Susan of Texas said...

I was being sarcastic; I agree with you. She's barely even trying to make an argument. Does she really think if people don't like their votes being overturned they can just find another political party? Does she think this whole situation is good news for libertarians?

Jerry Shepherd said...

If Trump wins the election, the Retro party might be in danger of surviving his presidency and we might see a new political party. If Trump loses the election, the Retro party will most likely survive and the party leaders will pass rules that will not allow just anyone to mount a presidential bid without having served in the House, the Senate, as a state governor or a Federal Judge. They might even require a candidate make a pledge not to speak ill of another Republican and or mock one of their peers.

Procopius said...

Who is William Krystol?