October 14, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson

 

I.

Three weeks short of Election Day, the sum of the clues that are currently available from the campaign of 2020 appears to be no sum at all, sums being a toting up of coherent units that when added together produce a coherent conclusion. In this year, as in no other I can think of (including 2016), the units as data, while seemingly clear and perhaps even certain enough of themselves, simply fail to cohere. In other words, they contradict one another. This is because a fair number (at least) of them are false, for three possible reasons. One: The technical means to ascertain them are not available to the people (that is, the psephologists) whose job it is to collect them comprehensively and assess them accurately. Two: The psephologists are deliberately collecting  false or incomplete data and lying  about it.  Three: Prospective voters (and other people) are lying to the psephologists about their opinion of the candidates or identifying the candidate they expect to vote for. We have all heard of the “shy Trump voter” who is afraid to give the pollster an honest answer, though the thing seems incomprehensible. Can anyone really believe that the latter is an agent of the thought police? (That could be so in some future election, perhaps even the next one, or the one after that. For now, though, the totalitarian state seems insufficiently advanced for such a thing to be likely.) Does he enjoy lying to him, to throw off his findings and discredit psephological “science”? Does he answer dishonestly because he resents having the cocktail hour interrupted by busybodies? Does he  hold the reactionary view that every man’s (or everyman’s) home is his castle? Or does he simply enjoy telling an intrusive stranger to bug off? Perhaps it is any one, or all of these things. We shall never know, unless or until the “science” of psephology is perfected.

What we do know is that a Gallup poll completed four days ago found that 56 percent of pollees report that they are better off today than they were four years ago; and that another poll, by an equally reputable firm and taken within a day or so of the Gallup one, approve President Trump’s policies over Mr. Biden’s by about the same margin.  Concurrently, I learn that Biden leads Trump in the national polls and those reporting from battleground states by 5 to 10 points. Can it possibly be true that seven (let us say) percent of voters intend to vote against the candidate who improved their lives while in office, and that almost the same number expect to vote for the candidate whose policies are not their preferred ones? Can Donald Trump possibly be as unpopular with the ladies as all that?

I live in Wyoming, the reddest of red states, a fact that no doubt skews somewhat my personal experience of the general electorate. Still, can report that during the ten days I’ve worn a REELECT PRESIDENT TRUMP cap (the words printed on a background of hunter’s camouflage with a bit of Stars & Stripes along the brim) in public, I’ve been complimented by an encouraging number of the fair sex (mainly students at the University of Wyoming), as well as of the local males, in particular those I shoot with at the Laramie Rifle Range where Trump caps are worn like part of a uniform.

I can’t be sure, but my bet is that none of these people, man or woman, has been shy with the pollsters this fall. Shyness is typically not a characteristic of well-armed people.

 

II.

Joe Biden turns out to be by far the most honest candidate ever to run for office. Yesterday he announced that he is running for a U.S. Senate seat, though he did forget to mention that he is simultaneously dropping out of the presidential race this year, as the law prescribes. Colleagues who know him attribute his sudden and unexpected decision to Mr. Biden’s lifelong modesty and a false sense of personal inadequacy to the job; but also from a sincere conviction that the moral thing for him to do is to step aside and make way for a Black Woman to assume the nation’s highest job next January, in the same spirit as John McCain is suspected to have deliberately lost the race in 2008 to Barack Obama.

Top aides deny that Biden’s magnanimity and generosity are related in any way to his denial the previous day that “they”—the American people—“don’t deserve to know” whether, as president, he would pack the Supreme Court; thereby breaking the most basic law of American politics, that a politician must never ever voice the opinion that there is anything  the American people don’t deserve, from “pie in the sky” to winning a war in some Third World backwater to a forthright and honest answer to any question, however uncomfortable and inconvenient it may be. It is a sad paradox that refusing to give such an answer is often the most honest, even the most noble, thing an American politician can do—but there is the fact.