Glossing over yet another Boris Johnson affair – surely the most non-story story there’s ever been – I thought I’d write a little bit about politics today. Life proceeds at pace otherwise but I’m not going to dwell on that. Instead, I thought I’d talk about the fact that Republicans are now splitting off from the Trump train. If it wasn’t for Boris’s humping, it would be the most non-story story of this week.
I wrote a piece for Reaction earlier in the week about the nature of polling and how useful they are but how deceptive. I quoted Nate Silver, who is always worth reading, but he naturally has a bias in favour of polls that manifests itself as cynicism towards pundits. I’m not going to find the quote I quoted but he essentially warned against getting caught up in narratives.
It’s a really good point, though perhaps too dismissive of narratives. The problem isn’t getting caught up in narratives but in the wrong narratives. When analysing politics, it’s always good to check yourself in the mirror to ensure you’re not falling for your own bias. This is what happened in 2016 and why the liberal media tends to be a bit paranoid going into 2020. They misjudged the popular enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton and never truly appreciated how appealing the candidate willing to be disruptive and bring a TV make-the-punters laugh attitude to politics. I admit that I watched a lot of Trump rallies in those early days and I found him as entertaining as I found him shocking. I could entirely see why people would vote for him, even if I’d have never done that myself.
The point is: Hillary was a very flawed candidate that anybody with the eyes to see could recognise. Though Biden is equally flawed, those flaws don’t actually work against him in 2020. Rather, they appear to be helping him.
He’s old. Usually not great selling point but there’s some awful pragmatics at work here. A moderate Republican can vote for Joe knowing he’s not exactly going to be dominating US politics for the next decade in the way that Obama still is (and will continue to do).
He’s boring. Normally poison at the box office but “it’s so boring” is going to be in 2021 what “I’m sick of this shit” has been in 2020.
He’s white. Yes, but he’s not orange.
Then there’s the real narrative of this election, which polls probably don’t articulate. Most of American seems to be genuinely sick of Trump. This happens to all politicians who dominate their epoch. Blair had the magic touch until he reached that point where it was obvious that he had to go. The same happened to Thatcher before him. With Trump, it’s happened inside four years (actually, it probably happened inside the first two) and like some Replicant who has watched the C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate, he burned so brightly and now it’s time to… Well, perhaps not die, but certainly face the legal jeopardy his four years of presidential immunity has kept at bay.
And that, I think, is the real narrative of the past few days which will probably become more pronounced in the lead up to the elections. Ben Sasse has already seen where the Trump train is heading and he jumped off at the last bend. Others are sure to follow, trying to save their Senate necks rather than be tipped into the canyon of political oblivion. If the Republican’s October Surprise was the Hunter Biden laptop, then they’ve pinned their hope on the worst narrative of all. Given the tragedies that Hunter Biden saw in his life, I’d be surprised if he didn’t turn to drugs and sex. That really is one of the oldest stories in the book.
Okay. Now for the Liverpool derby…