Last week I wrote that those of us who got the election so badly wrong at least owe the incoming president a chance and the benefit of the doubt. After all, we blew it so badly in our analysis of the election, relying in part on data that turned out to be completely wrong, perhaps we have gotten other things wrong about Trump. Being so wrong should be humbling and humility should be the proper path forward.
In writing this, I have been floored by the vitriol from people on the left and right still completely unwilling to accept the results and now attacking me for suggesting we keep an open mind. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but she did so in a constitutional system that requires candidates to focus on a variety of states instead of on urban metropolises. It is entirely speculative to claim Clinton would have won the popular vote had the election been based on the popular vote. Trump and Clinton would have both used completely different strategies.
The fact is Trump’s strategy worked. He built up a coalition of voters few saw coming. Trump did better among black and Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney did, which you would never know if you listened to the rhetoric these days about Trump’s racism. Hispanic voters are increasingly identifying as white voters and it turns out many of them care about illegal immigration because, in part, they took the time and effort to come here legally.
But there is additional and unhealthy angst on the part of many liberals who cannot bring themselves to accept that on Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump will actually be their president. After the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush decided to start spending political capital. Republicans, having made unusual gains in the 2002 mid-term election, decided they were on the glide path to a permanent Republican majority.
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A writer for a libertarian publication applied the phrase “epistemic closure” to Republicans in politics. The GOP had concluded that its majority was permanent, its ideas were agreed upon by all right thinking people, and it no longer had to consider conflicting data points or other opinions. It has been abundantly obvious for a while that Democrats reached epistemic closure. Everything they see confirms their biases and anything that deviates from those biases is bigotry, racism, homophobia, or exceptions that prove rules.
Voters have a way of forcing both parties to pay attention. At a minimum, voters demand allegiance to one overriding political principle: There is no such thing as a permanent political majority. Democrats abandoned working class voters, and working class voters abandoned them. Calling Republicans skeptical of global warming fear-mongering “anti-science,” the Democrats now claim boys can suddenly become girls. Any scientist who pointed out there is no science for that claim is unworthy of consideration. If you object to a boy in your daughter’s bathroom, you are a bigot.
It, of course, goes beyond this. The left’s fixation with diversity runs skin deep. On college campuses across America, organizations celebrate skin color diversity while demanding safe spaces from competing ideas. Desperate to get to epistemic closure, the left has decided to force out any idea or person that conflicts with their world view.
That is why their surprise and anger from last week continues on streets across America. Their display has helped many conservatives skeptical of Trump suddenly appreciate his win. The left might now want to be a bit more tolerant of other competing beliefs and remember it takes more than hipsters and college professors to elect a president.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.