I’ve been a bit fixated on the US midterm elections for the past week or so. So I’m glad they’re over. Now I’ll maybe be able to think about something else. The provisional result:
US midterms usually see a low turnout of voters of around 30%. But this time there were reports of a much higher turnouts, in some cases 70%. So it looks like there was a Blue wave of Democrats, but also a Red wave of Republicans, and they more or less cancelled each other out.
This election was very much a referendum on Donald Trump. The US mainstream media made it into that. They’ve been completely fixated on him for the past 3½ years. So Americans were voting yesterday either for Trump or against him, even though his name wasn’t on the ballot papers anywhere.
But there’s an interesting asymmetry here. Because while you can vote for somebody, you can’t actually vote against them. You can only vote for somebody else. And that means that when somebody popular comes along, who wins lots of supporters, those supporters can vote for him, but nobody can vote against him. They have to vote for somebody else. And if there are a lot of other candidates, the anti-vote is likely to get distributed among them, and thereby diluted.
And that would seem to mean that politicians who become very popular are very hard to dislodge from power, even if most people loathe them. And so if Donald Trump can hang on to his adoring political base, he’s likely to be re-elected in 2020, regardless of how many people detest him.
If people had anti-votes they could use to vote against someone rather than pro-votes they could use to vote for someone, it would likely all be completely different. Trump would never have been elected president because far more people seem to loathe him than love him. Whoever got elected would be the least loathed candidate.
In other news
British police have arrested five* men (*actually the figure has now risen to six) after they were caught on video on social media burning on a bonfire an effigy of Grenfell Tower.
This is a weird story. What crime were they arrested for? What harm did they do to anybody? I can’t see that they did any harm to anyone. It may have been rather tasteless of them, but I can’t see that there was any real harm in what they did.
Or is it now that the law is to be used to simply express disapproval? And indeed, smoking bans are exactly this: they simply express disapproval for a harmless pastime.
It’s the same with “hate crimes.” It seems it’s now a crime to hate something or somebody, and to openly express it. Or rather, it’s a crime to hate the wrong things or people. So it’s OK to hate smoking and carbon dioxide and Donald Trump, but not OK to hate gays and blacks and Muslims. But isn’t hatred simply strong disapproval? If so, making hate into a crime entails expressing strong disapproval for hate, and so hating hate. And isn’t that just another form of hate?
And since us Brits burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes every 5th of November, isn’t that a “hate crime” too?