Below are the video and transcript to the panel discussion ”The Election: What Just Happened?” which took place at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 Restoration Weekend.
Moderator: Good morning everybody. Can you hear me all right? Excellent. Take your seats. Who would have thought that Hillary Clinton’s 3:00 a.m. phone call would have been to Donald Trump? So, everybody’s been asking me what the heck just happened. In all honesty, in my circle of guilty white friends I told them they just won’t understand. Quite honestly if you can afford your healthcare premiums and your deductible you probably won’t understand what happened this election cycle. So, is everybody excited with the outcome of the election? Is everybody ready for Trump to govern with a mandate for a conservative change? Well, let’s start with some of the positives. It’s been 88 years since the Republicans controlled the White House, the U.S. House and the Senate at the same time. Under Obama’s rule Democrats have lost 900 plus state legislative seats, 12 governors, 69 house seats and 13 senate seats. Republicans right now hold at least 33 governorships, tying a 94-year-record high last set in 1922. Wow, conservatives must be really on a roll and ready to be the dominant party for the next generation. Well not so fast. Republicans have lost the popular vote in six out of the last seven presidential elections. Turnout was so low this last election cycle it mirrored that of 2004. In fact, 4 million less people voted this year than 4 years ago. Romney lost in 2012 with 47.2 percent of the vote. Donald Trump won with 47.5 percent of the vote. In fact, Donald Trump got 1.1 million less votes than John McCain and 2 million less votes than Mitt Romney. Did we win this election or did Hillary Clinton lose this election? Did we win this battle, but are conservatives losing the war?
Our panel up here is going to shed some light on that, and I’m going to introduce them as they speak, but our first speaker really needs no introduction because he’s a great friend of the Freedom Center and is here every year, but Pat Caddell, as you know, is a strategist and pollster who worked for George McGovern, President Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy. He was a producer and writer and consultant for the Emmy award-winning TV show The West Wing and someone who saw the power of Donald Trump before anybody else did. I now turn it over to Pat Caddell.
Pat Caddell: First of all, I have to start by saying that someone who is not with us tonight, and who has been a special friend of the Center, but most importantly to me and who was responsible for starting, as you’ll see if you read this little thing here that I wrote Monday before the election, wanting to get on the record what I thought might happen, who really was the sponsor and made this possible, the research that allowed me to see what was happening in the country and the voter revolt going on and so forth (none of which you will be hear about in the media), and that was Lee Handley. He died last week, and I wish he could have been here for another week. If he could have made it through to Tuesday, it would have been a delight for him. And I met him first here at the Breakers outside, actually outside where we had breakfast this morning. I’m standing out on the wall, and we had been taking a break from whatever was going on, and from that time on we were very fast friends, and he was a great, great American patriot, and he was one of the few people I know whose interest was to do what was right rather than whatever they thought would be good for their agenda and their ego, and we will all miss him dearly. And he and Allie and his children are all in our thoughts, and we’re having a memorial service in Connecticut on Tuesday.
All right, with that said, I want to start – because it is in this little thing here, which I’m not going to reread. I got it so I wouldn’t have to do it. You will see the case I made Monday, and I want to start with a couple of other points. I’ve been watching some of the reaction. Oh, I’m looking for my notes over there. I had a few, but I pretty much know what I want to say. But I do want to make sure I don’t leave anyone out of this analysis. I want to start with one thing I do want to take on right away. What now the Democrats and the Clinton people are saying is we really won because we got the most popular votes, and therefore already this suggests the illegitimacy to the presidency of Donald Trump, which is a shocker. I mean, I don’t know how, given his victory mistakes – she is president of California. That’s essentially what we have. We have the Electoral College system for a reason, and like all reforms, the people who want to abolish it, they haven’t thought it through. Just like early voting where some people are voting a month before Election Day.
Elections are supposed to culminate a campaign. They are not supposed to be an ongoing process. Think of a jury trial, as my colleague, John LeBoutillier, said on Political Insiders, which you can watch this Sunday night at a little after 7:30. Doug Schoen and John and I get a chance to finally weigh in on the election. But he said like in a jury trial, and you have somewhere halfway through, before the summations, before anything, and the jury gets up and says, “That’s it. I’ve already made up my decision. I vote guilty or whatever, and I’m going home.” No, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. We could have a longer vote. We could have 24-hour voting. We can have Monday/Tuesday, whatever they wanted to do, anything but an election that starts a month early, which was designed and has effectively become a place to, I guess, exercise, get out the vote for the best organized side, which in this case, was the Democrats and not the Election Day, and this is an important point. I won’t be able to get to all of these, but look, everything about this year is wrong. As Mike Murphy, who went from masterminding the Bush PAC into spending $150 million or $160 million and getting almost no votes for his candidate, got a lot of money for himself, but he immediately went to NBC as a political analyst, of course, as they fill their ranks with anti-Trump, Never Trump Democrat and Republicans, to represent the Republican view. But he said Election night that data is dead, and I had said this 4 years ago. Look, folks, the only reason data analysis is so important is the campaign had no messages, had no content.
Presidential campaigns are about content, but we have seen the entire collapse of the political industry as we know it. The polling has failed, I mean miserably, and I won’t get into all of that. Well, some of the polling has failed, and the ads are terrible. They have no effect, and yet the consultants still manage to convince rich people to put up money so they can make millions and millions of dollars, and any of you who contribute money to those causes, you know what, you should have saved it and given it to your local charity because all you’ve done is put it in the pockets of political consultants, who also have no idea what’s going on in politics. We will have a new system of communications, because communication is important, but Donald Trump showed you don’t need money. You have a message, and he had an identity and he was able to knock the system over.
As I said here, I first unveiled the Candidate Smith Project at restoration or in LA. I have to ask Mike again. I think I did it out there, and we had a Freedom Center meeting, and I came out and unveiled it originally. Look, there was not a big surprise in the election, and if you read my piece Monday, you can see what I am arguing. Our research that we had done on the Candidate Smith Project in October, just to be very quick about it, it identified what would be the critical voters. And those critical voters were those who were unfavorable to both candidates. The reason we had such a low turnout is there’s so many people who were not pleased with the choice. Let’s understand that. However, those people who were unfavorable to both going into last weekend were about 20 percent for each candidate and the rest. I had identified these voters in early October. This is a volatile vote. It’s very large. And I had argued that I believed that they would come down, if you look beyond the fact the attitudes about candidates – so if they were going to vote, they either had to say who was worse or go to another set of issues – and I said they will come back to what they believe, I suspect. That is, if this election is a referendum on the two-thirds of the American people who think the country is going in the wrong direction, to the 70 percent who actually believe it’s in real decline. If it goes to the more than 63 percent who wanted to move away from the policies of Barack Obama, if you wanted the people who didn’t think the economy was great, all the way up and down the line on foreign policy, all of these things favored the Republicans, which is why I could never understand the insanity of the discussion of a Democratic landslide.
But the media is a special topic and deserves special attention because one of the poll results that’s not in this article I want to mention, and I hope there’ll be more discussion of this when we do corruption tomorrow, which is that the media’s corruption is the greatest because their job is to protect. Their job is to inform. The reason they have no checks and balances under the First Amendment, the only institution in America that doesn’t, is because the deal was they were supposed to protect the people from power. They were supposed to give – that’s why Jefferson said, “Well, if we have to have a choice, take a free press before free government,” but the fact is that in the years since 1988 they have now become a powerful force, and I asked a question of the voters on this. I was doing some work for consulting on the Breitbart/Gravis poll, and I got to put in a lot of last-minute questions, all of which were in depth. When you have a confusing election, let me say, regarding the polling problem, it is not done by these quick one-off polls. It is done because what you need is depth. You need to understand the dynamics undergoing and the conflict. These pollsters treat people with same way the political class does, as though all the people in America are cardboard figures they cut out. They design polls because they design them to manipulate people. They are not interested in hearing from people, and that is the problem in all of this.
In any event, we asked the question, “Do you think the media bias for Clinton and against Trump constitutes a threat to the people’s right to know and a threat to the American democracy itself or these things happen?” This is not a threat. It’s either democracy or the people’s right to know. Basically, it was a 50⁄28 question: 21 undecided, which meant 65 percent of the people who had an opinion felt that way, including many Democrats and many Independents, and that is the real crisis because they are now reanalyzed. After Election Night, I think, in fact at 5:30, when everyone thought the exit polls meant Hillary was going to win, having been to this rodeo and knowing how bad they are, the minute I saw one thing, I looked at the exit polls before they were reweighted to the results to get what they want, I mean make it match. They are not really terrific, but they give you some indication. You had, on that question of people who are unfavorable to both candidates, what had been two candidates in the low 20s going into the weekend, just as this article predicted about the anti-political class, the revolution going on in America, was Trump was running 45 to about 30. It ended up being 20 points or more that he won those people by. That’s why it got the late-deciders. That’s what the election was about. Most of all, it was the alienation and discontent with the political class. The problem is the political class is incapable of recognizing it and will not until they’re replaced.
Donald Trump was voted in to help drain the swamp, and I will talk about the danger of the transition going on because I want to say this. Most importantly, and you’ll see in the very last paragraph where I talked about the people’s attitudes about Hillary Clinton, if she won, would be a victory or defeat for the political class and the special interests. Sixty-five to 35 people said her victory would be a victory for these political elites and special interest. On Donald Trump, it was the reverse, 57⁄43 saying his victory would be a loss. They would lose. Now that included many Democrats, people not voting for him and what have you. That is in part what drove the election, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to make this case. I guess one of the – we all pay for our sins, and for my sin of being right Election night I have yet to still appear on Fox either Election night or the next day. I guess out of the fear that I don’t show up the people who are wrong who are now all the ones now telling you why they were wrong or not wrong or re-estimating the election. So, in any event, I will have that chance Sunday night a little bit on Political Insiders and I look for you to hear that because finally the country will hear myself and Doug and from people who have a different perspective for a year and a half.
But I just want to say a couple of other quick things. Independents were very important. We don’t hear any discussion about Independents. You would think the whole world is Democrats and Republicans. It is not. Both of these parties are in danger of disappearing as we know them. The Republican Party, and this is the great crises of the transition, and my opinion is if Donald Trump could win, think of what he went through to the Election year. Think of the fact he was all alone, which was actually kind of a plus. I thought the image of the end of Hillary having to be carried around by Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, her husband and anyone else was not a sign that there was particularly a lot of interest in her, and Trump was alone, and he made the closing argument as I said here very effectively at the end, and he could have, I think, done it earlier and more often, and I think he could have and that would have solved the popular victory.
But I just want to just make – when I started with the Electoral College. The reason we have a federal system. If Donald Trump wanted to win the popular vote he would have spent huge amounts of time in California, in New York and other places getting votes. The game is called getting Electoral Votes, and he went to get Electoral Votes. As long as California has the kind of majority – remember it’ll take 16 days for California to get its results. We won’t know until December. That’s how screwed up their system is, and whatever and whoever they let vote or whatever, but the fact is we had a real national election. And the change in the upper Midwest – and this is what I want to caution the Republicans in here about. This was not a Republican Party victory by any means. The reason the Senate was held – notice the three senators who should have – two senators lost their incumbency, Senator Ayotte in New Hampshire, Senator Kirk in Illinois, and I’m not sure he could have ever been saved, but they both defected first and Trump, then back, but look at Mr. Heck, Congressman Heck in Nevada who was leading the race, who should have won that race, and ended up losing, well partly because the Harry Reid machine is the most corrupt and efficient machine there is, but also because he managed to desert Trump and then tried to come back. He looked like – and all of these people who thought they would appease the left, I mean, I didn’t see anybody saying to Hillary Clinton opponents, “You tell me how come you can support her corruption on the emails and the foundation. Are you in favor of this kind of corruption? Are you part of it?”
Because you don’t attack it anymore than the two greatest hypocrites – and I’ll end on this – the two greatest hypocrites of this election season, Elizabeth Warren, who 2 years ago I was quite positive about, because I’m a Democrats, so I saw her passion. This is a woman who Harry Reid kind of had carved out some pretend leadership position, and other than appearing – she appeared with Hillary, the pantsuit twins, which was really a sight to see. I’m sure that is too chauvinist to say, but I said it anyway. But she went around – here’s the woman who attacks Wall Street and everything, she’s standing next to the woman who has taken all the money from Wall Street, all the money from the special interests, and when she is asked in the spring with Bernie Sanders running, “What about the speeches? The Wall Street speeches?” Which we then found out about thanks to Wikileaks, she wouldn’t answer that question. But it didn’t bother. Her cause was all about corruption, but except when it’s a Democrat and it’s Hillary Clinton. She gets the award for the biggest hypocrite, and Bernie Sanders gets the award for the taking a powder or taking a dive, which he did to support her, which destroyed his standing in his own movement. He doesn’t exist. He cut a deal with Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate, and he should have, after learning that the race had been rigged and he would learn more, should have simply said, “When I see the Wall Street speeches, if she releases them, then I’ll consider endorsing her,” and sat there and he would have been fine. But no, no, no, this thing of we only have two parties, two choices, doesn’t work for voters, and I want to remind Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell: They do not represent the majority of opinion in this country that elected Donald Trump or the real Republican base, and the danger here is they want to push their agenda.
I went through this in 1976 with Jimmy Carter, another outsider, when we ended up with a Carter presidency and a Mondale government, the insiders, the resume people. That is what they’re trying to push Trump to. Trump needs to stay to his agenda and not worry about paying off their agenda. They’ve been paying it off forever.
Moderator: Thank you, Pat. Our next panelist is James Freeman, an assistant editor to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and the author of the weekday morning editorial report newsletter. Thank you.
James Freeman: Thanks, Lonnie. Thanks to all of you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be the ambassador from the mainstream media at this event, and it’s a particular pleasure given that this election, among other things, was I think really a rebellion against political correctness, and I’m sure it’s extremely satisfying for David, who was talking about that issue decades ago before most people knew what political correctness was, what it meant. He was talking about the radicalization on college campuses and obviously since then the Freedom Center has expanded and now does influential work on a range of issues, but I would think for everyone involved this tends to be a moment to savor. I’m all for considering the caveats and looking at the popular vote and thinking about long-term trends, but why not take the weekend to wallow in this victory for freedom.
I believe it was a rebellion against political correctness. It was really the failure of identify politics. Hillary Clinton won a smaller share of the female vote than Barack Obama did in either 2008 or 2012, and I think that’s because people realize that the most important fact about her was not her gender. It was her character defects or perhaps her agenda. We can talk more about the numbers as we get into the discussion. I also believe it was a repudiation of Barack Obama, in large part, a presidency that failed on its own terms. Every year since 2010, the White House has overestimated economic growth to come. You look at his signature healthcare plan. Obamacare did not bend the cost curve. It didn’t extend insurance to all Americans. It didn’t allow people to keep their own doctors, as we know. It didn’t allow people to keep their own health plans, and lately it hasn’t even allowed people to keep his healthcare plan, so a failure all the way around. I think voters rejected it. They rejected the Obama new normal of slower growth and diminished opportunities. We can talk more about the impact politically, electorally, of that repudiation, but it is stunning that the Obama era has been an absolute disaster for Democratic politicians other than Barack Obama. It now ends with a Republican White House, Senate, House, 33 governorships, 69 of 99 state legislative chambers, so an absolute disaster for Democrats, and as we know much of the Obama program was done through the phone and the pen, which now can be erased. So, I’m not going to say maybe we’ll look back and it was all just a bad dream, but it’s possible you’ll see in the next year really the dismantling of the whole Obama program.
Pat was talking about the collapse of the political industry. We look at how wrong many pollsters were, how wrong so many folks in the media were and so many political consultants. You look at the Trump campaign, the rookie spending roughly half the money as his opponent, breaking every rule of politics, ignoring all the advice from the experts and finding a way to win. And you had a similar situation – I was focused on the Wisconsin Senate race where Ron Johnson was basically given up for dead last summer. The Washington Republicans stopped sending him money, and the Washington consultants lost interest, and I think he had lost interest in them by that point. He contacted his brother who had worked in public television of all places and also there was one of his staffers, who had once had a job in TV, and she had an iPhone with a camera, and that’s how they made the ads that turned the tide in that race. It was a homemade effort, and he succeeded and came back to beat Russ Finegold when all of the professionals had basically abandoned him, so it’s a fun moment for people who like seeing the conventional wisdom absolutely trashed, repudiated, blown up, exploded, and that’s one of the messages.
I also think it’s kind of inspiring thinking about Donald Trump and how far he came in this race where I think there may be a bias; people thinking that 70-year-olds don’t change a whole lot. Maybe thinking that they’re not as adaptable as some other people, but you think about where he started last winter and how unprepared, non-substantive he seemed in those first Republican debates. You get to the final debate against Hillary Clinton, and he beat her discussing constitutional jurisprudence. He beat her describing the impact of the intricacies of the Heller Decision. It really is amazing because you think about how Hillary Clinton in the media telling was the ultimate policy wonk and always read all the briefing books and was up on all the issues, and yet he was the one running the substantive campaign at the end, and that’s why I kind of thought he might pull it out. I can’t say I guaranteed a victory, but she was essentially running an issueless campaign largely about him and his shortcomings, and he was running about reviving economic growth, reviving our healthcare system. Their “drained the swamp” is a great slogan, but behind it was a substantive set of proposals on term limits, lobbying reforms, etc,. which I think resonated with a lot of people, so he turned out to be the policy wonk, another kind of shocking result from this election. Anyway, we’ll have time to talk some more, but thanks again for having me.
Moderator: Our next panelist is Ned Ryun, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, founder and CEO of American Majority, a political training institute that identifies and trains the grassroots, the next generation of conservative candidates, Fox news contributor, and I might also add his father is a former member of Congress and Olympic runner, Ned Ryun.
Ned Ryun: Thank you, Lonnie. Thank you, Mike. Thank you, David, for having me. Really appreciate it. Sometimes I can be a Debbie Downer, and you know what I think I’m going to take James’ advice and say I’m going to bask in the glow of this and bathe myself in the tears of those poor young millennials protesting, who have had their safe spaces invaded, who, while they’ve been afraid of micro-aggressions, just had one massive macro-aggression, who in an age of participatory awards in which everyone’s a winner, they have now realized there are in fact losers. Oh, yeah, you don’t think I’ve been having fun on Twitter. I have been.
I do think, though, that as we think about this and really come to grips with what actually just happened, this is a once-in-a-generation election that took place Tuesday night. The conventional wisdom, which many times is wrong, said no way Trump can win, and actually with my Electoral map I got him up to the mid-260s because I’m thinking Wisconsin hasn’t gone Republican since 1984. I believe the last time Pennsylvania went Republican was in 1988, and they had a massive Philadelphia machine. I wasn’t sure the right counties could overcome the Philadelphia machine. You had everything in which all of the media and all of the establishment against this candidate, against Trump, and he still beat them, and that to me is amazing. I woke up Wednesday morning, and I looked at my wife, and I said there are a lot of different things. There’s so many different things, and it’s going to take us a long time to kind of unpack what just happened. But I’ll tell you this. This was a massive backlash, as James said, a massive backlash against political correctness, and it definitively showed that the media’s protection racket has been broken, and that to me is huge for the future. Huge.
Now, I’m going to do 30 seconds of clear-eyed realism. They put up their Bob Dole, and I can say that. I’m from Kansas. Bob Dole’s a great man. Bob Dole was a terrible presidential candidate in ‘96. They essentially put up their Bob Dole. She was, despite everything else, a mediocre candidate at best. She’s no Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was a phenomenal candidate. Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate, and coming down the home stretch – I was a middle distance runner – she was tying up, she was dying the death of a million self-inflicted cuts from her email server, from the Clinton Foundation. She had five FBI investigations going on, all of these things taking place. She still won the popular vote, and so I think we have to understand this was awesome. We are going to bask in it. We are going to think about what the next 4, hopefully 8, and I would like to think 12 [years] and maybe even more with a Mike Pence. I love Mike Pence. I have always been a fan of Mike Pence.
I’m going to take 30 seconds and tell you a really quick story about Mike Pence. In 2002 my dad was running for conference chair inside the House conference, and leadership was not thrilled with that. Leadership, Tom Delay and everyone else, used the whip machine against my dad. We knew that this was going to go down as a loss. The morning of – and it’s a closed-door election, but it’s not a closed-door election – but we knew dad was not going to win. And he had been talking with Mike, and he and Mike had gotten pretty close, and Mike’s like, “Jim, I want to support you. This is a tough. I think you’re going to lose.” That morning knowing that leadership was heavily against my dad, that the race was lost, he had nothing to gain, he wasn’t going to win any more votes from anybody, Mike Pence stood up in front of that conference, and he nominated my dad for conference chair in the face of leadership, in the face of what he knew was going to be a losing election because he believed that was the morally right thing to do, and he had the integrity to do it. And that to me tells you what a man is like when the doors are closed. So, Mike Pence is a good, good man.
So, thank God for the American people. They were the winners. The victory on Tuesday night was the American people. They bailed out the RNC, and they bailed out the campaign, and I don’t mean to be overly harsh, but knowing what I know, and I know a lot about what goes on inside that white building of the RNC, it was a cluster. There were pockets of effective work, but it was a cluster. The American people showed up despite massive gaps in functional organizational infrastructure. Thank God for the American people. The other thing to think about too, this was not about some great forgotten voter or some voter that came. This is about the great swiped voter, and the working class, the people that should and normally do identify with the Democrat Party after being insulted, after being abused, after being treated as less than nothing decided we’ve had enough, and Trump swiped them, and good for Trump because I think Pat made a very good point. Trump is the Republican presidential-elect, but he doesn’t come from the establishment. He has no obligations to them. He owes nobody anything, and I think that’s a beautiful thing because guess what? We have a lot of work to do.
And I was thinking about – I was just talking with Congressman Gary Palmer, who is another rock star in the House, just a few minutes ago about the agenda that’s going to come up, and there’s been this debate. Who’s going to drive the agenda? Is there going to be a war? Is Paul Ryan going to be speaker? The last thing we should do is have a civil war. There should be no turmoil. This summer, Paul and Trump sat down and they discussed what the agenda was going to be because Paul went into the conference and put together six task forces. [Rep. Palmer’s] like, “There is agreement on what the agenda is going to be.” He’s like, “There’s not an agreement on the priorities, but there is agreement on the agenda,” so he’s like, “I hope that people understand this should not be some fight over the speakership right now. There should be agreement. We should push the agenda forward because we have an opportunity.” The other point I want to make is we were thinking about the White House. Amazing. Won the White House. We have the Senate. I don’t know what Joe Manchin is going to do in West Virginia, but even if he stays as a Democrat, it’s going to be pretty much 52⁄48, and if he decides to go Independent which he would be wise to do seeing that he’s up in 2018, it could be a 53⁄47 in the Senate. In the House I believe we still have 238 members. The thing that I think a lot of people missed is looking below the federal at the state. Republicans now have 33 governorships with McCrory’s race in North Carolina still in the balance. I was just texting with his lawyer and it’s still in the process, a couple of thousand votes’ difference, but even if McCrory loses we’ll have 33 governorships. That is the most in our history that any party has ever held, 33 governorships. We own 70 percent of the state legislative chambers. To give you another perspective too, we have 25 trifectas in 25 states. We have the governorship, the State Senate and the State House, Republicans do. Democrats, they have seven. This is a moment. This is an opportunity for us to say we have no more excuses. There are no more excuses to put forward a positive agenda to be aggressive, to push back, to roll back everything that Obama has done in the last 8 years, what the left has been pushing. We have an opportunity.
I think there are a couple of functional things that need to be done and should be done ASAP. Does anybody remember spring of 2014? There was a Supreme Court case that I think can be transformational, that I think a lot of people missed, and it’s called McCutchen v. FEC. How many of you are familiar with that? I saw one hand. I’m going to tell you why that’s transformational. It removed the aggregate limits on how much you can give politically, and what the RNC missed and needs to be doing moving forward, they need to set up these super joint fundraising committees because we have to make the most of this to build up the state parties, and we’ve got to build up the county GOPs, and if we will be smart and sophisticated about this, we will extend and expand upon our majorities because guess what’s coming up in 2020, the census, and with the census comes redistricting. So, I want us to be very smart about this opportunity we have moving forward to really start to restructure things. There’s going to be some great things I think that happen in the first 6 months of a Trump presidency that I think Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are actually going to get behind. He’s going to drive it, and they’re going to come behind. I think you’re going to see Obamacare repealed and replaced, but I’m telling you right now, it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s probably a two-year process to really roll back everything that took place with Obamacare. I think you’re going to see regulatory reform, tax reform, all these things, and that’s phenomenal. But, we’ve got to start thinking about how we can change the functional ways in which we can dig in and make this last even longer.
Moderator: Bruce Thornton is a professor of classics and humanities at California State University, Fresno and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His most recent book is “Democracy’s Dangers and Disconnects.“ Let’s hear it for Bruce Thornton.
Bruce Thornton: Thank you. I, too, recommend basking in the glow of schadenfreude, particularly for the Never Trumpers, those Republicans that functioned as a fifth column for the Democratic Party. They have some of them in our working group at Hoover on military history and contemporary conflict. I can’t wait until the next meeting just to watch their faces. Actually, my comments are sort of a summing up of what we’ve already heard. The first point that Pat made about the Electoral College is how did this happen. This happened because of the constitution and the brilliance of the founders in realizing that a Democratic mob is a very dangerous thing and to protect us from that they created what James Madison called “filtrations,” indirect exercise of popular sovereignty. The Electoral College was a very important one. If it wasn’t for the Electoral College we’d all be gloomy here right now because Hillary would have won and Al Gore would have won too. Yeah, I know, horrifying thought isn’t it?
Second, again something touched on by my colleagues here. It was Jesse Unruh, I think, who was a State Treasurer of California that said money is the mother’s milk of politics. Well, it wasn’t this election. Hillary outspent Trump two-to-one. She paid $10.00 for every vote she got. Trump paid $5.00. The money wasn’t the issue here. The problem is that despite what the advertising agencies want us to know, you can’t sell a bad product for any price. Hillary Clinton this election was the Betamax. She was the Edsel. She was the new Coke. No amount of money was going to make people buy those products, and the American people, they didn’t buy her either, and for that we should be grateful.
Another point that was made about thanking the American people, that is because they have common sense more than we think. It may take a while sometimes for them to exercise it and to express it, but they’re not as stupid as a lot of the establishment on both sides think. They may not have the credentials, the Ivy League credentials, the college credentials, right, but they know a stinker when they smell one. They saw that everything that the experts said, which was touched upon here, was built on a very flawed assumption, and the assumption is that when you are going to talk about the behavior of any group of human beings, let alone 120 million or 110 million, there is no science for that or where the science for that is very provisional. It’s very hit and miss, and they could see the corruption of Hillary Clinton, and they could see the rank hypocrisy of the elite, particularly in the progressive elites who talk about the 1 percent. They are the 1 percent, who talk about income equality while amassing a couple of hundred million dollars. They can see that there was no connection between those political positions and their actual lives and their policies. A great example of this is the love affair between Wall Street and Hillary Clinton and the transcript of those speeches, which she did not want released for obvious reasons. It’s because they love her. The progressives have always loved big business. The big myth a lot of people entertain is that the progressives arose out of a resistance to the growing power of corporations. No, they loved having one number to call. They loved having big business write the regulations that they want to pass. If you are Armor or Swift back in the early 20th century, you loved those food acts because that meant the little ma and pa butcher down the street couldn’t afford it, and you would dominate the market. So, this myth that they are somehow opposed to big corporations, as long as big corporations don’t get too much in their way, they’re perfectly happy with them.
This brings me to my third point, which is connected to the idea of common sense, the myth of technocracy. Progressivism arose as the idea that the common people, the ordinary people, you and I, we don’t have the intelligence or the training or the technical skills to be able to run the government. That’s why they didn’t like the constitution. That’s why they wanted to expand the executive. Woodrow Wilson complained, this was in the 1880s, that the president has the power to veto bad laws, but he needs the power to make good laws. We need a technocratic elite to run things, and what we saw with the political technocratic elite, as Pat was talking about, is they totally missed this. They totally blew it. But also, a lot of the never Trumpers, I won’t mention any names, one in particular a colleague of Jim’s who was remarkably unhinged. You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? I have to say I kept thinking every time I read his column, what Ophelia says of Hamlet, “Oh what a noble mind is here o’erthrown.“ But the assumption behind a lot of these people is that they had technical expertise that could see farther than the common sense of the American people, and they are absolutely wrong because there is no comparison between vulgar talk or a braggadocios personality, which some of us may find unpleasant, and criminal corruption. No contest. Donald Trump did not endanger national security, and most important, Donald Trump has not yet sworn an oath to uphold the constitution as Hillary Clinton did and betrayed that trust. There is no comparison between those two classes of sins.
And this brings me to my last point. Again, something particularly that the Never Trumpers, the Democrat – I don’t spend a lot of time on the progressives because I know them. I’ve been in the university a long time. I know what they’re going to say before they say it. I can’t wait to go back to campus. I have an office on a floor in the English department which means the belly of the beast, so probably my first day back I’ll stick my head out of my office and say “Donald Trump” really loud and then go back in. It’s better than pulling the fire alarm. Yeah. But something that in my classical training that’s particularly learned from Thucydides in his analysis of the dissolution of Athenian democracy, there’s a difference in words and deeds. Right? All the complaints about Donald Trump were about his rhetoric, period. They didn’t like his rhetoric, and again, what did we have on the other side? We had a 25-year record going all the way back to the “bimbo eruptions,” of Rose Law Firm records to travel-gate, email-gate, server-gate and now foundation-gate which personally I hope is still pursued by the DOJ. That is a record. That is a record of malfeasance, betrayal of the constitution, betrayal of the interest of the people, sordid money grubbing, Lady Macbeth ambition, and for anybody to say they were going to vote for that person rather than somebody whose rhetoric I don’t like, that was some species of derangement syndrome which I still haven’t been able to figure out. So I hope that these lessons that have been made so obvious are taken to heart by people, particularly the House of Representatives and the Senate. They can’t lose their nerve again. As we heard this morning at breakfast, they can’t lose their nerve again, and worry about what the New York Times is going to say about them or in Washington Post or the Huffington Post or CBS or any of these other subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. They need to – I’m trying to say this politely – they need to get some testicular fortitude. After this election, talking to you guys is like a comic talking to a drunk. He’s always going to get a laugh. But, they have the nerve to do what needs to be done, whatever it takes, within the law, within the bounds of the Constitution to turn this ship around because it needs turning around as I’m sure you all know. Thank you.
Question and Answer Session
Audience Member: Pat Caddell, could you please elaborate on the Independent voter and the importance or relevance of them, and the second one, just talking about safe spaces, for James Freeman, could you just tell us what was going on behind the scenes at Fox with Megyn and Shepard Smith and all those people.
Pat Caddell: On the question of the Independents, very simply, they make up 31 percent of the electorate. They are the non-existing people. Actually, in terms of the country, they are the largest political party now. They’re preference among registered voters, among the public, is higher than Democrats or Republicans, but because we have a system that is a duopoly geared to drive out other choices, we pretend to pretend they are never discussed. Those voters broke for Donald Trump. They could have broken bigger, but they broke for Donald Trump. When I knew the polling was insane is when I was being told from some news organizations, which should be named, but I won’t, that the Independents were going heavily for Hillary Clinton. They may have not done that in my lifetime. I don’t think [they have gone] for a Democrat except probably Johnson in ‘64. I mean you just couldn’t see how bad that is, but they represent not the two parties.
Let me just make one point here. I know most of you are really ideologically conservatives. Most Americans are not. They are into common sense. They can walk and chew gum at the same time. This was not a battle between left and right or even Democrats and Republicans. It was, as my paper points out, an uprising by the American people against the mainstream political class and their failure and where they delivered America, and that political class includes a Republican leadership, which the Republican electorate threw out and wanted nothing of, and all of the Never Trumpers who believe that they’re still counting angels on the heads of pins because – I could only think in reading some of them was what was said in Vietnam by the captain when they were burning the Vietnamese village. It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it. Jennifer Rubin and others who were praying for the Republican Party to be destroyed so they can rebuild it in their image, well I’m not sure what we’re going to get, but the ceiling, the barrier has been cracked. You probably had to have someone like Donald Trump to challenge a system which is bent to make nobody able to challenge him. And when you got the two sides, as we saw, the minute the curtain went up and Donald Trump was nominated, suddenly all the Bushers and all the Democrats were hand-in-hand endorsing her and attacking him, and you could see that the political class, they’re all basically the same whatever they say.
James Freeman: As far as backstage, I mean I think it’s a fairly transparent organization in terms of seeing that we did have a range of views. I would hope everybody who underestimated Donald Trump – and I would include myself in that category. A year-and-a-half ago I saw no chance that he would be President, that he would get the nomination. I think we all should learn from Tuesday, and I would say it’s not just us and the media. I think when you look at the Republican leadership in Washington, you have a really amazing opportunity with Ryan and McConnell and Trump bringing different skills, Ryan really a tremendous policy guy, McConnell knows the nuts and bolts, and I hope what they realize is they need to learn from Donald Trump how to speak to the American voter and how to market an idea.
Pat Caddell: I’m going to ask James one thing, though, and it affects your paper too. Where the rubber is going to hit the road here is on trade. Basically McConnell and Ryan and the Republican leadership and your newspaper and whatever are totally globalistic free traders. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders represent a huge majority of Americans who believe that it has been a disaster for American workers, and I guarantee you that’s why nobody’s talking about it upfront, and their every intention is to try to co-opt him. And if Donald Trump lets himself get co-opted by people whose agenda they hate – he borrowed the Republican Party. He’s about as much a Republican in some ways as I am, and we are going to have to have a reconfiguration of political parties or new people because I don’t see when we get to issues like trade and immigration where the Republican Party has been owned and operated by the Chamber of Commerce – I started to say the Wall Street Journal, but I didn’t mean that – but the Chamber of Commerce, which is one of cheap labor and been willing to give the Democrats cheap votes in return, and this issue is going to be a problem. I want to see us get to those issues and see what happens.
Talking about replacing Obamacare, which is very unpopular and should go, is one thing, but I have to ask you, you tell me how that’s going to come out, because it ain’t a matter of communication. This is a matter on what Donald Trump was elected to represent – the people, not these political institutions, and this thing about well, they can learn, they can teach him. No, what they want to do is co-opt him, so what do you see that battle’s going to look like.
James Freeman: Well, I think – certainly, I think they have a lot of good policies where they see eye-to-eye on in terms of tax, regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, and I think that’s actually the key to how you solve the other issue. To me, trade is one of the things that’s working in the United States. What’s not working is the tax and regulatory system that doesn’t allow U.S. businesses to be competitive. I think if you fix that part and you’re growing at 3-4 percent a year, 5 percent a year, I think some of these other concerns recede. I think –
The reason [free trade] is such a big problem now is because we’re not creating new businesses and new jobs the way we used to. We all understand the competitive markets are better than closed markets whether it’s a corner store or something larger, so the question is how do we get those benefits, but return to the job creation engine that the United States used to be? Now, obviously he’s come in with a very skeptical view of trade, I guess, to put it mildly, so I think they will have to work with him on that. As I’ve been thinking about ways you can work with him on the trade agenda without it erecting huge tariff walls, which are going to be bad for U.S. workers, bad for the United States, bad for consumers. Maybe he likes to talk about China. Maybe some common ground there is you talk about how do we stop the Chinese government from forcing our companies to engage in joint ventures in which their business steal our intellectual property. Maybe that’s some common ground.
But look, I think, similarly with the border wall, I’m not exactly sure where he is on immigration, but I think everyone wants rule of law, and I think you have to understand this is an important pledge for him, and some of those barriers have to go, physical barriers have to go higher on the border. I think that’s understood, so there is going to be some compromise there. But I think if they get the tax and regulation in a way that allows American businesses to grow, you’re going to – and they can do it, they agree on this – you’re going to be amazed at how quickly the new opportunities arise and people are not going to be as hostile to engaging with the world in trade.
Pad Caddell: Just one specific thing. Donald Trump got up last week and said in Michigan, a state which he is still ahead in and may well win – I was thinking he did not even have a prayer in it, and in Pennsylvania where he swept in the Lehigh Valley and around Wilkes-Barre and so forth – when he said in Michigan, when Ford decides to fire it’s employees and move its factories to Mexico to pay .07 cents an hour, there are going to be tariffs, they’re going to find it. He got elected because he said that, and the Wall Street Journal represents a set of attitudes, and the Republican leadership in Congress represents a set of attitudes and says screw those people. We don’t care. They’ll benefit in the long term. No. They want to benefit now. The Chinese act in their own national interest. We are the only people who are so stupid enough not to.
Moderator: I’m sorry to cut. This conversation will continue in the bar this evening, but I’m getting the hook from Mike Finch. I do want to do one more question.
Audience Member: Oh, thank you. Mr. Caddell, could you kindly just quickly explain why the Electoral College is important? I don’t think people here are necessarily born knowing that, and also what do you all make of the riots now? Is that more Ferguson or what, and who is behind it and how does one stop it? Riots in Portland and people demonstrating. There was a lot of vandalism last night. People who don’t like the election. They’re being very poor sports about it.
Moderator: So, Pat, if you can answer why the Electoral College is important, and then I’d just like to go down the line quickly about the protests.
Pat Caddell: The Electoral College is important for one reason. Because if you tried to have a country this broad a vote of the people given a popular vote, and when I said California takes until December 20 to count their votes and all of that stuff, you want to see a system that makes us into identify politics? That’s it. And you’d see a system that the amount of corruption that would go on – the reason we have a federal system is we have a federal country. The Electoral College is supposed to – and I was on a commission that made a recommendation that there be some rewards for the popular vote winner or whatever, but the point is this is a system as it is so that we have a national election. If you think we have states ignored now, you just wait until you have a system where the only places that matter are those with the most people in them.
Moderator: Bruce, if we can just start with you and work down this way on the thoughts and comments about all of the protestors taking to the streets.
Bruce Thornton: Sure, we like to talk about snowflakes and safe spaces and micro-aggressions, but let’s remember most of these demonstrations are being managed and created by hardcore activists. Right? Because they leverage the demonstrations for power. I’ll give you a very quick example. You remember last year at Yale the whole big brouhaha over Halloween costumes and all the protest. Well guess what? The President of Yale made a speech, you can find it on the Iinternet, and I calculated based on what he promised these people it came to about $150 billion. That’s easy to understand isn’t it? So, maybe some of these are these over-parented, oversensitive snowflakes, but the real heart and soul is an old-fashion Alinskyite movement to leverage power and influence from an institution, and that’s what’s going on.
Ned Ryun: When your hopes of free college have gone up in flames 48 hours ago. No, but, you’re right, this is being funded by Soros-types to continue to agitate to try and delegitimize a democratically elected president, and I find it highly ironic from the left that in the weeks coming up to the election, questioning Donald Trump: Are you going to accept these elections? Are you going to accept the results of this democratic process and these elections? And now who’s losing their minds? They were claiming that the streets, if Trump lost, that there’d be rioting, there’d be violence, all these things. Go look at Twitter. Go look at Reddit, all these places and watch the videos of Trump voters just getting the snot getting kicked out of them. And even I saw on a clip this morning an 11-year-old who was beat up by his classmates for admitting that in the school mock election he actually voted for Donald Trump. So, this is highly ironic. I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon. I do think the snowflakes are going to get bored. They’ll go away. But the hardcore leftist, the professional rioters, I think it’ll continue for a while. I just don’t know. Is it 6 months, a year? I don’t know.
Moderator: James, anything to add on that?
James Freeman: Sore losers. I like the term I read on Twitter, hyperbole babies, so I think that kind of describes it. I mean, obviously if there’s people doing violence, criminal acts, they need to be prosecuted, but in terms of the general just sort of young people upset about the results, they need to get over it. I think one nice result of Tuesday is that free college was rejected.
Pat Caddell: One quick comment on that. I would like someone to go through and have, literally, I wish we had that thing where you have purple thumbs where you voted, so we could get a count of how many of those kids out there or whatever actually voted as opposed to protested.
Moderator: Can we get a hand for our panel this morning?