Sunday, July 31, 2016

Zero-sum politics Part V: Leaders and followers if Trump loses

In Part IV of Zero-sum politics, I talked about how the level of Easton's "diffuse support" for the political system among Trump voters would be a limiting factor if Trump loses and tries to stir shit up because HRC supposedly rigged the election.  So, suppose the following:

1)  Trump loses (70% chance, according to Predictwise, as of writing)
  1a)  Trump loses by a big enough margin that we don't see serious legal battles like Florida 2000

2)  Trump accuses HRC of rigging the election (high likelihood, conditional on HRC winning)

3)  Trump tries to incite action in response (low likelihood, as I suggested in Part III because Trump is lazy, and more likely to "withdraw in disgust," to borrow the "oblique strategy" from Slacker, and say, "screw you guys, I'm going home," as Cartman would).

4)  There are low levels of "diffuse support" among Trump's voters, thereby permitting some form of action.

Suppose all of that.  That still isn't enough to guarantee Trump's ability to cause real trouble if he loses.  Why not?  The answer is your next homework assignment.  Dennis Chong, Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement.  Like everything I recommend, this is a great book.  Here's the gist.  Engaging in counter-establishment movements is costly and risky.  The more people there are involved, the less costly and the less risky it is.  Therefore, a movement requires leaders willing to absorb the high initial costs and risks, e.g. MLK.  You are less likely to be the one shot and killed by James Earl Ray if you are just a face in the crowd.  Leaders reduce costs and risks.

This is where any post-election, pro-Trump movement starts to fall flat on its face.  It has no obvious leaders.  Chris Christie will lead chants of "guilty" at the RNC, but there is no way in hell that he would absorb any personal risk on Trump's behalf.  He doesn't want to tear the system down.  He has power within it, and he wants to use it.  He either wants to be Attorney General, or the 2020 Republican nominee.  This was why I always said, back during the primaries, that the Republicans would never block Trump from the nomination.  It would tear the party apart.  The party is a power structure, and those within it have no incentive to break it apart.  Nobody within the Republican Party will fight for Trump after he loses.

And those violent dipshits at Trump rallies back in the primaries?  They weren't leaders in Chong-ian terms.  They were just drunken redneck fuckwits.  (I suppose they could have been meth-heads.  I wouldn't want to pre-judge).

That doesn't mean Chong-style leaders on Trump's behalf couldn't emerge.  It just means there aren't obvious people now.

If Trump were to lose by a narrow margin, then we just get some version of Florida 2000, and wouldn't that be fun?  But, that's a legal battle, and Chong doesn't really help us with that.  The protests there are the backdrop, not the main front.

Regardless, it is important to understand that Trump probably wouldn't lose gracefully.  The real constraint to anything bad happening as a consequence, though, is not diffuse support among his people, nor Trump's belief in constitutional order, nor any of that, though.  No, the real constraint is Chong.

What to watch for between now and November, then, is the emergence of Chong-ian leaders among Trump supporters.  If you start to see such people emerge, then you should worry.

One way or another, though, you should read Chong.  Great book.  Next up, what Republican leaders have at stake here...

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