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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

False Prophets: A Winter Solstice Reflection

Another Great Disappointment (writeonnewjersey.com)

Is there a difference between false prophets who know they are false prophets and false prophets who wrongly believe their own prophecies? Just because a person is wrong doesn’t mean they intended to deceive you. How many predictions that the world is coming to an end have proven true so far? With these thoughts in mind, let us look back on a memorable experience in American Presidential politics that is not yet over.

To begin with Peter Beinart reported in the January/February, 2016, issue of The Atlantic:

According to Microsoft’s betting market, Predictwise, Democrats have close to a 6o percent chance of holding the White House in 2016. That’s not because Hillary Clinton, whom the Democrats will likely nominate, is an exceptionally strong candidate. It’s because the Republicans may nominate an exceptionally weak one.

 According to Predictwise, in early November Marco Rubio―widely considered the GOP’s strongest general-election candidate―had a 45 percent chance of winning his party’s nomination. But according to Predictwise, there was also a 37 percent chance that Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz would win the nomination. And if any of them did, Clinton’s election would be all but assured.   

Remember those days? One day, the received wisdom you dispense today will seem just as absurd.

When it comes to false prophets, I would like to devote the remainder of this post to a false prophet of the highest order of the 2016 presidential election. I am referring to Feinman, not Peter Feinman (me) but Ronald Feinman (no relation). I confess his last name is partially what drew me to his posts and also that they have been a never ending source of both amusement and insight.

I do not intend to review all Feinman’s posts. Some posts reveal a persistent disconnect with the reality of the American people and therefore with American politics today while at the same time concocting a wishful-thinking future that may yet come true. Ironically, he starts off fairly competently and reasonably.

No Way Will Either Trump or Sanders Be Elected President* (2/12/16)

The * is the key that the title doesn’t mean what you think it means. To the contrary, he itemizes eleven examples in American presidential elections where the general refrain of “no way” that type of person could be elected turned out to be exactly wrong. Feinman then concludes the post with:

These eleven “no way” cases should convince anyone that there is “no way” to say that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders can be dismissed as possible Presidents, based on public opinion polls and large crowds that they have drawn to their public appearances.

We may be on our way to the 12th “no way” Presidency in the past century. Predicting Presidential elections is a fun game, but also excludes the human factor, that life is uncertain, the future is uncertain, and only after it is all over, can we analyze and understand the process by which we will have elected our 45th President of the United States.

As it turns out, Feinman had gleaned the truth. But would he take his own advice about the importance of the human factor? Did he later predict the “no way, no how, what, are you kidding me?” candidate of 2016 would win?

Flashing forward to September 4, 2016, Feinman then raised an issue that continues to haunt him and others to this very day.

The Constitutional Crisis We’d Face If Donald Trump Actually Became President

Feinman sought to comfort those anguished Americans contemplating the unthinkable.

The only solace sane Americans have had is the assumption that Donald Trump will NOT win the Presidency, and early public opinion polls make it seem likely that he has little to no chance to be elected President. [bold added]

But one can never be sure how political events will transpire over the next two months until November, and if something untoward on a massive level were to occur, all bets are off, and the supposed “impossible” could occur. So therefore, attention needs to be paid to the idea that we COULD have a President Donald Trump, and to plan for and wonder what that would be like, and it is not a pretty picture that can be painted about the next four years under a President Trump.

A loyal Democrat might conclude than Feinman had predicted the consequences of an October 27 event when Comey sabotaged the election of the Democrat. Alternate facts aren’t limited to Republicans and it can be fascinating to observe how traumatized people who experienced “the Great Disappointment” connect the dots to avoid facing the truth.

So while it can’t happen, maybe we should prepare just in case disaster strikes. Feinman’s predictions seem quite reasonable.

It is hard not to believe that a President Trump in office would be a constant constitutional crisis, unmatched since the Civil War, and maybe even possibly worse than that terrible event’s impact on the nation….

So one can project that even with a Republican Congress, there would be no or little cooperation with party leaders and that he would have cabinet members and advisers only willing to accede to his demands and wishes, and would ignore anyone who challenged his beliefs and views on every subject….

His proposed mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants and the building of a Mexico Wall would create an environment inciting massive reaction and social uprisings and bloodshed.

So we might have a constitutional crisis requiring the impeachment process. Probably, support for the effort would come from both major parties, but given the slow workings of an impeachment inquiry, we would be endangered in the interim by a beleaguered President Trump…. Wisdom and courage might be needed in the next few years, if somehow, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.

At this point just months before the election, Feinman still sees the Republican election as farfetched but he has sketched out some scenarios if the impossible occurs. He sees impeachment in the future if the “no way he can win” candidate did in fact win.

Feinman’s hyperbole notwithstanding, the possibility of a constitutional crisis still seems feasible. However his portrait of Republican Congressional leaders not cooperating with him and instead voting to impeach him seems like fantasy, a wishful thinking expression of a misguided guided faith in the American political system. By contrast, this Feinman [me] predicts that the one and only way there could be an impeachment is if Democrats controlled the House of Representatives. It doesn’t matter what the “no way” candidate did or what he does as President, my prediction is that Republicans will not vote to impeach him no matter what, a subject to be pursued in the following post once Feinman’s election prophesies are disposed of and we turn to his impeachment prophesies. Still it is interesting to note that the other Feinman has raised the issue of impeachment months before the election.

As we moved into October, 2016, Feinman seemed quite sure that the unthinkable could not possibly occur.

It’s Possible Donald Trump Could Win a Smaller Percentage of the Popular Vote than Any Other Major Presidential Candidate

Now Feinman throws caution to the wind.

Donald Trump may be on his way to one of the worst popular vote percentage losses in all of Presidential election history — and this was true even before the videotape surfaced showing his vile comments about women. It is probably [sic] that he will win about 20 states at least, and will have an electoral vote total in triple digits, but his percentage of the total popular vote could rival the worst examples in American history, a total of nine Presidential losers since the Civil War who had less than 40 percent of the popular vote.

In this prognostication, Feinman provides a case study into social calculus. In mathematical calculus, one calculates the derivative (or right angle) at a given point on a line (slope). But just as in skiing, the slope varies requiring an adjustment in the right angle or the skier will fall. So even if one is right, the validity of the calculation may be ephemeral as time marches on. Feinman has calculated the voting results based on a particular point in time, the public disclosure that the immature child candidate functioned as a 7th-grader with his locker room banter. We will never know what the vote would have been if the election had been the next day when even leading Republicans were calling for their flawed candidate to step down. But keep in mind, Feinman was predicting a blowout loss even before the videotape was revealed. He concludes the post with:

Donald Trump could well end up in the company of these gentleman and end up the tenth nominee [of a national party] to score less than 40 percent of the national popular vote. We shall know very soon whether this is the case.

On the eve of the election, Feinman is in exulted prophet mode. His admonition about the human factor and uncertainty has been discarded.  Now he is completely out of touch with what is actually happening in the real world even as he confidently asserts what will happen. His post on November 4,

 Who Will Win?

leaves no doubt. Feinman cites his previous accuracy as a prophet in the elections of 2008 and 2012. He then presents his prediction for the current cycle.

This author’s projection has certainly changed as a result of events and controversies, and the growing evidence that Hillary Clinton should do better than originally predicted in May [bold added].

New England – Democratic sweep

MidAtlantic – Democratic sweep again despite Pennsylvania supposedly being in play

South – Democratic wins in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia

Midwest/Great Plains – Democratic wins again in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin

Mountain West – Democratic win in Arizona

Pacific Coast – Democratic sweep

He was wrong about so many states that it should be embarrassing. He pretty much got everything wrong. I suspect his predictions or close to them were shared by many experts and contributed to the shocking moment of truth so many believers confronted as they were on the verge of celebrating only to be thrust into the abyss instead. This disconnect with the facts on the ground became readily apparent when Feinman’s Electoral College predictions are compared to the real world.

The final predicted Electoral College is 352-186, with 27 states for Hillary Clinton plus one electoral vote from Nebraska, and 23 states and one electoral vote from Maine for Donald Trump. In a few days, we shall see how accurate my forecast is. [Bold not added!]

How would you characterize a prophesy that was off by 120 Electoral College votes?

Feinman predicted a popular vote of 49% for the Democrat which turned out to be about right, 44% for the Republican which under changed the actual results, and with the rest split among third-party candidates which overstated the actual results. Overall, Feinman predicted the Democrats would hold what they had won in the Obama past and would expand on it. In fact, he claimed, one can reasonably expect the Democratic electoral vote to swell to over 400 in the near future from the 352 in 2016. The census will further increase the Democratic winning totals in Arizona, California, and Florida which the Democrats will win in 2016 and Texas which will flip in the 2020s.

As for the Congress,

And Hillary Clinton’s victory will propel the Democrats into control of the US Senate, with a projected gain of seats in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina at the least, making for a 6 seat gain to 52 seats, and possibly winning Arizona, Florida, and Missouri, so a maximum of 55 seats or a 9 seat gain. The House of Representatives will remain in Republican hands, but not by 30 seats, but more likely by 10-12 seats, so from a present total of 247-188 to 227-208 or 229-206.

Obviously, and I do mean obviously, Feinman didn’t know what he was talking about in the 2016 election. His smug assuredness intended to allay the fears of the Democratic ninnies worried about the election just days away instead revealed a clueless person who basked in his righteous certainty. The good times will continue and even better times are to come. Of course he was as wrong as wrong can be in his predictions and displayed no knowledge of actually what was going on in America, a characteristic trait among Democratic elitists regardless of whether Feinman is one himself.

So when all is said and done We the People did elect an immature child as president. Now he is under investigation, his poll numbers are disastrous, and Alabama, not one of the states predicted to vote Democratic ever, did vote Democratic. So let’s just say while Feinman didn’t know what he was talking about for the 2016 election, his forecasts might make more sense for 2018. But as will be seen, his impeachment prophesies showcase how anti-Trump fantasies are just as prevalent as pro-Trump conspiracy fantasies.

To Be Continued

False Prophets: A Winter Solstice Reflection – Part II Impeachment

 

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