The Meaning of 2016


For my last blog post of each year I briefly summarize the main events of the preceding year and then try to evaluate their significance. Last year I was badly off in one respect. I said that the rise of Donald Trump was a disaster for the Republican Party because he could not possibly be elected president!  I badly underestimated the force of populism sweeping the country.
Here are the main events of 2016:

  • Brexit. On June 23 Great Britain voted 52% – 48% to leave the European Union. Elite opinion advocated staying in and the polls predicted majority support for staying. The world was shocked when the vote went the other way.
  • Donald Trump was elected the next U.S. President on November 8. The polls predicted a Hillary Clinton victory and she in face won the popular vote by a 3,000,000 vote margin. But Trump squeaked by in the Electoral College by winning the rust belt battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined total of 100,000 votes (see attached map to understand the Trump electoral vote margin).capture17
  • The Mid-East Refugee Crisis, Terrorism and Russia’s Vladimir Putin were even bigger problems in 2016 than in 2015 and will present huge challenges to Donald Trump when he becomes President on January 20.

Granted that Trump was elected by a slim electoral vote margin and a smarter campaign by Clinton could have led to a different outcome, nevertheless for such a sleazy, non-politically correct candidate to have done so well, has huge significance. It constitutes a major slap down of elitism:

  • Consider where our most recent presidents went to college: Reagan (Eureka College), George H.W. Bush (Yale), Bill Clinton (Yale Law), George W. Bush (Yale), Barack Obama (Harvard Law) and Donald Trump (Fordham). In other words, Trump will be the only president since Reagan not to have graduated from Harvard or Yale.
  • Consider that since John Paul Stevens (Northwestern Law) retired from the Supreme Court in 2010, every current Supreme Court Justice has graduated from an Ivy League Law School.
  • Consider that most nationally prominent Republicans, including members of Congress, shunned Donald Trump on the campaign trail even as his poll numbers steadily increased. In other words he was elected largely without the help of the Republican establishment.

Conclusion. The American voters have decided to take a big chance on a nontraditional presidential candidate. Are the voters collectively smarter than the elites to whom they usually turn for leadership?  I am optimistic that the answer will turn out to be yes!

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4 thoughts on “The Meaning of 2016

  1. Think about a quotation from nearly 58 years ago. It goes as follows: “I believe the world is increasingly in danger of becoming split into groups which cannot communicate with each other, which no longer think of each other as members of the same species.” Without context, the author might be thought of as referring to the geopolitical divisions within our world-wide community. This view, in fact, would not represent its original context. On May 7, 1959, Baron C. P. Snow gave a lecture at the Senate House located on the University of Cambridge campus in England. He described his view that a communications gap was evolving between the intellectual realms of the humanities and the sciences. Note: Carl Festinger published a book about the concept of “cognitive dissonance” two years earlier in 1957.
    Could it be that the communications gap between these two intellectual realms actually represent the essential root cause, of root causes, for the problems plaguing our nation’s “common good,” community by community? Also, could it be that the communications gap between the two realms noted by Baron Snow, a physician, contribute substantially to the level of uncertainty as our nation adapts to a rapidly evolving, new world order? And, most specifically for our nation, is it possible that the success of the scientific and economic mandate for our Complex Healthcare Needs is related to the failure of the humanitarian and social mandate for our Basic Healthcare Needs? I propose that the Paradigm Paralysis of our nation’s healthcare has really evolved form its connection to the root cause of root causes described by Baron Snow nearly 60 years ago.
    Just think about it, and you’ll begin to sense that absolutely nothing on the horizon will change anything, what so ever, about the equity, ecology, justice and reliability problems pervading our nation’s healthcare, especially community by community. And, while we all “dither,” our nation slowly (? < 24 months) approaches a recession on the backs of our nation's evolving bankruptcy.
    I shouldn't have to remind my friends, via Jack Heidel, that the Design Principles for managing a "common pool resource," as in the portion of our national economy devoted to healthcare, already exist. They have been verified by a long standing scientific tradition of political economics. A modern day example exists as demonstrated by the preservation of the fresh water aquifer underlying the city of Los Angeles, all without the involvement of Sacramento or the "Beltway." Our nation's worsening maternal mortality ratio, now twenty years in a row, awaits our resolve to confront the massive humanitarian and scientific paralysis of our time, community by community.

    • I agree that the cost of healthcare, public and private, is our #1 fiscal and economic problem. Our debt will continue to explode and our economy will continue to stagnate until we get healthcare costs under much better control.
      But I’m more optimistic than you are that progress will soon be made on this front. Trump says no entitlement reform (i.e. no cost cutting) but I don’t take this statement literally. I think he’ll go along with the huge Republican desire to address these costs.
      I agree with you that if nothing is done, however, there will be a new fiscal crisis very soon, perhaps as soon as two years, as you say.

  2. People couldn’t stand another four years of Obama, so to speak. They wanted a change. Trump has been good for the stock market and business prospects so far. ,When he meets with Putin he is going to have to let him know that we won’t stand idly by while Putin tries to take over his neighbors and throw his weight around. Trump may not want to insult Putin in public, but when the U. S, puts real money into the military, Putin will believe that we are not going to put up with his aggression. Trump must not appease Putin.

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