Friday, November 11, 2016

Why I Like Trump... AND Hillary

First, some general principles which underlie my view. I feel that the vast majority of the impact of a president comes from day-to-day work, mostly outside the spotlight, which is mostly unrelated to popular political issues. Furthermore, most of that day-to-day work is highly specialized, requiring special knowledge and skillsets. I believe that most presidents, regardless of party, perform far better during their second term primarily because they've acquired the requisite knowledge and skills.

On the flip side, the public mostly supports very bad ideas, on both sides of the isle. The vast majority of people, including myself and probably you, knows very little about economics, foreign diplomacy, legal procedures, or bureaucratic feasibility. (Democracy is still better than anything else we've tried, but it has major downsides.)

Put two and two together, and the ideal political candidate is somehow who tells people exactly what they want to hear, gets elected, and then completely ignores everything they told people.

In this election, Hillary was certainly the better candidate in terms of having the requisite knowledge and skills, more so than any other first-term candidate in recent memory. Unfortunately, Hillary also seems conscientious enough to be at least somewhat honest. She had to make promises in order to be electable, and she would have carried through on some or all of those. Now, this where you and I might disagree: you might think most or all of the things she promised would be great. I'm not going to bother digging in to that. But I will say that I thought Hillary's competence made her a great choice this year, and I would have loved a Hillary presidency.

Now back to Trump. If ever there was a complete huckster, a con-man who is master at the art of schmoozing and suckering, it's Trump. One of the two things that I really like about a Trump presidency is that there's no way in hell this guy is keeping his campaign promises. Maybe we'll get a two-mile "wall" on the Mexican border, with lots of fanfare, but there won't be anything with real impact. The other thing I really like about Trump is that he has an established reputation for bringing in the most competent people to do the actual work. That's not as good as having all the right knowledge and skills himself, as Hillary does. It's a higher-variance choice. But if Trump's presidency goes anything like I expect, he'll be offloading all the work to extremely competent people, and he'll spend his time going around blustering and bullshitting and generally telling the public whatever they want to hear. In the best case, the competent people will get a great deal of freedom to do what needs to be done, while Trump bullshits the media. That could be even better than a Hillary presidency. In the worst case... well, worst case is that Trump does what he said. Like I said, high variance.

On the bright side, the worst case is that Trump turns out to be completely honest and does exactly what he said. So not very likely. Reasonable to worry about, but unlikely, especially considering the political views he espoused back before running for president.

To wrap it up, I should mention that roughly 1 in 3 latino/latina voters voted for Trump (slightly more than Romney in 2012), so it's not just safe white guys who think the risk isn't too high.

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