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Aside from my general disagreements with the Never Trump pundits about policy, strategies for, and direction of, ahem, conservatism, I had pre-existing doubts about their overall ability to judge political outcomes. They have a very bad record of selecting or backing candidates that GOP voters could relate to and be inspired by, and also of judging candidates viability on both sides.
My conclusion, based on new information on how these pundits have gotten things so wrong is: They don’t understand basic psychology of either candidates or voters. They may be policy wonks, but they don’t understand people.
While they are often accused, rightly, of being out-of-touch with the common man, which is another way to describe why these guys get it wrong, I think it goes deeper.
Bill Kristol is the best example. He fundamentally misunderstands Trump’s personality and therefore it naturally follows that he would misunderstand Trump voters. This is reciprocal and self-reinforcing.
If you get such basic things as voter’s desires, motivations and expectations wrong, you will not be able to make very good choices or predictions. Any strategy such a fellow suggests is based on badly flawed assumptions.
Instead of analyzing Kristol and his fellow travelers from their origins and history, let’s look at the present and work backward.
Presently, Kristol is supporting Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, and for President. Let that sink in.
Knowing Kristol as a neocon centrist who doesn’t like radical change or outright socialism, this might be a good choice for him policy-wise. His ‘plan’ is to stop the Trumpward drift of the GOP and make it through the next 4-8 years with a centrist Democrat White House, while shaming and removing anyone related to Trump, trying to relegate the revolt to an insignificant blip in the grand scheme of the glorious GOP. While this idea alone is preposterous, I want to keep my focus on Kristol’s failure to understand people:
“Trump and his aides were obsessed with destroying one, and only one, of the Democratic candidates: Joe Biden. If they feared him so much, maybe we should, after acknowledging his flaws, go back to the big picture: At the end of the day, he’ll beat Trump and govern responsibly.”
Here, he misdiagnoses personalities: they were “obsessed”. There’s absolutely no evidence for this. Then he sees “fear”. I fail to see that. At all.
Then he casually slips in “after acknowledging his flaws” as though they are an afterthought and ordinary voters won’t see them, or will just nod their heads in agreement with Bill the Pundit.
He seems to be free of fear that Biden will continue his gaffes, further embarrassing himself. Kristol apparently has no concern that Biden might be suffering from the onset of dementia. For someone so concerned about how the USA comes off to other world leaders as representative of our country, imagine if we had Joe Biden bumbling and blustering around in meetings and on stage.
Kristol thinks Biden will beat Trump. Where does he get his information about support for Biden? Doesn’t he know that the support is largely name recognition from low-information voters, who will soon see (are seeing, based on his cratering support) how “flawed” Biden is?
We can go back to look at which other politicians for whom Kristol has advocated, but it can be summarized as losers and traitors, and people who did not have a passion for winning or much of a message with which to connect to voters. You know… people.
Someone who misunderstands Biden on this scale is fully capable of wildly misunderstanding Trump. And he certainly does. And if you misunderstand candidates then you misunderstand their voters.
If you don’t understand voters you have no business making predictions about what they will do.
I believe this holds true with most Never Trump pundits and voters. They do not understand the full spectrum of personalities and people. It could be, in part, denial of aspects of human nature they find unpleasant or inconvenient. Perhaps a fear. They live in entirely abstractified worlds. It’s not their zip codes, it’s the worn-out templates they apply to politics with no grounding or understanding of people.
And what would have to happen at this point for Joe to get the nomination? Bernie’s support would have to collapse and certain centrists would have to drop out of the race.
If, somehow Biden gets the nomination, it will be at the expense of Sanders. Is Kristol unaware of the large contingent of Democrats who will not vote for Joe in 2020, especially if there’s even the slightest suspicion the establishment Dems screwed Bernie again?
Once again, consider these words:
….maybe we should, after acknowledging his flaws, go back to the big picture: At the end of the day, he’ll beat Trump and govern responsibly.”