Clinton has a 99.9% chance in California, and Trump, a 99.9% chance in Alabama. Some people think voting in those places doesn’t matter. Let me explain. This is not a normal democratic election.
The Democracy Tipping Point
Democracy is a huge advance over Kings and despots, but it is fragile. Democracy has a tipping point, and we are now so close to that point, that there’s a 15 to 30% chance we’ve passed it. If the fraction of voters who prefer ending our democracy grows past 50%, democracy tips over and it cannot be righted without a (real) revolution or a miracle.
Worse yet, the tipping point can be reached by fooling people into voting for a fascist demagogue without knowing what they’re doing. (And that’s why the concept of sociopath, discussed below, is so important.) Passing this tipping point is not that unusual. It happened recently in Hungary, and has happened many times before.
Read conservative Andrew Sullivan’s brilliant analysis of Trump if you have time. If not, keep reading here. This is the first tipping-point election in US history. Even if it won’t affect this who wins on Nov 8, your vote matters because it will send a signal to those determined to help another demagogue four years from now.
If you vote for Jill Stein or don’t vote, you are encouraging the forces the may end our democracy. That would make you an accidental reactionary. And you would not want to wake up to that realization later.
Don’t be fooled by Clinton’s sudden partial recovery in the polls. They now (Nov 7) give Clinton a 70% chance (Nate Silver) and the presidential betting market gives her 81%. What does this mean? She has a considerably worse chance of winning that you do if you play Russian roulette. Think about that for minute. If you are in any swing state, it’s super important to vote.
Trump is no normal politician. He’s a sociopath. That’s doesn’t mean “killer.” In fact sociopaths are very often charming or charismatic. That’s why they are so dangerous. (See, The Sociopath Next Door, just reissued.) They are the ultimate con men (or women). And when that doesn’t work they are the ultimate bullies.
The reason they are so good at these games is that they just want to win and they think that’s all life is about. They don’t think in terms of good and bad, they only think about winning or losing. They don’t have a “conscience.” If you win, you’re smart. It doesn’t matter who you crush on the way. They are losers.
Sociopaths think exactly like you do when you play poker with equals. You just think about winning. Bluffing (lying and deceiving) is expected. You don’t feel bad about it. In fact you feel good if the others fall for your lies and you beat them.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Trump says:
“I’ll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win.” (The Art of the Deal, 1987)
“I’ll do what I have to do.” (Atlantic, April 2013)
“You’re either the toughest, meanest piece of shit in the world or you just crawl into a corner, put your finger in your mouth, and say, ‘I want to go home’.” (New York magazine, Aug. 15, 1994)
Now here’s the danger
Normal people, including most of his followers, have a very hard time imagining that a person they find charming is a sociopath. They never suspect the truth. This makes it easy for Trump to fool millions. He says he loves them and they believe him. They don’t get that he just says that to get their vote, and sees them as a bunch of losers.
This lets him get away with the most outrageous lies. For example:
“He [Ted Cruz] said I was in favor in Libya. I never discussed that subject. I was in favor of Libya? We would be so much better off if Gaddafi would be in charge right now.” —Trump, Feb 26, 2016 (Politifact)
But you can watch, him say this (and much more) back in 2011:
“Gaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, … this horrible carnage and that’s what it is: It’s a carnage.”
“Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. … This is absolutely nuts. We don’t want to get involved and you’re gonna end up with something like you’ve never seen before.”
“But we have go in to save these lives; these people are being slaughtered like animals. It’s horrible what’s going on; it has to be stopped. We should do on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out.”
Then, after claiming in his primary debate (Feb 26) that “We would be so much better off if Gaddafi would be in charge right now,” less than four months later, on June 5, 2016, he said:
“I didn’t mind surgical. And I said surgical. You do a surgical shot and you take him out.” —Trump, June 26, 2016, on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Politifact rates 51% (168) of the Trump quotes they’ve checked as False or “Pants on Fire.” The point is not that he lies, the point is that because his base does not understand that he’s a sociopath, they most often believe him. And when proven wrong they make up an excuse for him. It never occurs to them that he’s a con man and they are his marks.
As he destroys our democratic institutions — a free press, fair elections — and begins using the Justice Dept and the FBI to imprison his political opponents, he could easily threaten and deceive enough of the population and political ruling class to end our democracy. Even without the power of the presidency he has intimidated most Republican officials (who generally hate him) into doing his bidding.
Every vote, wherever you live, counts
We absolutely must stop him on Tuesday. But if he comes close to victory it will still greatly empower him and the forces behind him. Our fight to save American democracy will be long and difficult. But every vote against him on Nov 8 will make it just a tiny bit easier.