For months there's been a running gag on social media about "Earth 2," where the 2016 campaign is a happy, normal thing. For instance, in mid-October, shortly after the release of the "Access Hollywood video," I joked on Twitter that, "On Earth 2 [the
Many of the quips are expressions of "Oh, what might been" dismay from conservative Trump opponents about how horribly this election has gone. Understandably, Trump supporters tend not to find these jokes very funny.
But there's more to the gag than shoulda coulda wouldas; it captures the fact that this whole election has been otherworldly.
There is a conservatism to politics -- and I don't mean ideologically. It's an art whose medium is human nature, which is largely permanent. And because of that, the practitioners tend to stick with what works. "What is conservatism?"
When something works over and over, it becomes a rule, not necessarily of science or the universe, but as an axiom, a rule of thumb. And this election season seems to have rendered us all thumbless.
Here is just some of what conventional wisdom held on the eve of the
Republicans don't nominate people without electoral experience unless they successfully invaded
None of these rules held. Not one.
The oddity of the
Our bizarro primaries, naturally enough, yielded a bizarro general campaign.
One of the oldest rules in politics is that voters prefer likable candidates.
For generations, pundits thought TV advertising could change voter attitudes; not anymore. According to a
It has been a hard rule of the political landscape for 30 years that Democrats have an easier path in the
For obvious reasons, Trump plays a major role in any conversation about how strange this election season has been. But I think historians will see him as a symptom. Demographic, economic and technological changes will surely be part of any "root causes" analysis, while foreign policy wonks might say the story begins with the Iraq War and the political and psychological dislocations it caused.
Others might point to
Regardless of where or why you think things got weird, the salient point here is that the election was just an illustration of the deeper weirdness of American politics -- and that did not end when the votes were tallied.