COVID-19: Is Reason Possible?

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

A sure sign that the worse of this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is behind us is that things are returning to normal.  No, I do not mean we no longer need masks, or that we are opening up. Rather many are focusing less on the pandemic itself and more on politics and trying to score political points by casting blame.

I wrote last month that, “Trump, the Governors, Republican and Democrat, and health officials are doing the best they can in a very difficult situation where there are a lot of unknowns.” That still generally remains my position today. Sure, some have attempted to play politics from day one, nor am I naïve enough to think that politics could ever be eliminated from the actions of politicians. This is an issue of degree and prominence.  After all, as I wrote in that post, the reasons we changed the standard naming convention and now refer to the virus as COVID-19 was entirely political.  

Still, for the most part, the President and the Governors in both parties put politics on the back burner, or at least a side burner, and focused on the problem.  Did they get everything right? Of course not, but they focused on the problems and made the best decisions they could with the information they had. We can always play Monday morning quarterback, but overall, they did a good job.

The main goal at the time was to flatten the curve.  The pressing concern was that the number of cases would rise so quickly that the medical system, particularly hospitals, would be overwhelmed. We needed to “flatten the curve” to give them time to catch up.  The CDC records the first U.S. COVID-19 death in the week of February 8th. Deaths peaked during the week of April 18th at 17,005. They then began to decline to the mid 3000s by the end of June. The curve was flattened. They did what they set out to do, and thus my conclusion that they did pretty well.

Perhaps it is a sign of the age we live in, but many find success and good new difficult to take.  Doom and gloom must always lurk right behind the next bend in the road. This attitude is particularly true of those in the news, whose product is more fear and hype than news.  It was always expected that as we opened back up, the number of cases would rise, as would the number of deaths. How could they not?  The goal had been to flatten the curve, not eliminate it.  

Some states opened up and, and as expected, the number of cases rose. But something strange happened. The ground rules changed. Hospitalization and death cease to be the focus; after all, they were still declining.  The number of infections became the major focus.  As the number of reported cases rose to new records, claims that we opened too soon became common. These were often accompanied by demands for mask mandates and new lockdowns.  Also, a huge controversy erupted over whether or not schools should reopen in the fall.

Two factors make this all problematic. The first is that record numbers of deaths or hospitalizations did not match the new records for cases per day. While deaths did increase some, they remained well below the highs of April.   Undoubtedly this is because many people who contract COVID-19 show little or no symptoms. Increased testing was finding more of these people. The second and somewhat related factor is this disease does not affect all age groups equally. According to CDC data, as of August 6th, 92 percent of deaths were in the age group 55 and above.  While everyone can get the disease, for those under 55, COVID-19 poses a very small danger.

A huge problem is the lack of perspective.  For example, in the age group 1-4 years,  only 15 children have died.  Each death is a tragedy, but during that same period, 8803 children in the same age group died from other causes. The normal deaths from flu season are between 60,000 to 80,000 depending on how well the flu vaccine works. The Asian flu of 1957-58 killed 116,000 in the U.S. Adjusting for differences in population, that would be a death toll of 220,000 today, significantly higher than the current number of COVID-19 deaths.  

It may be a fact that many do not want to hear, but as the saying goes, life is a sexually transmitted condition, the outcome of which is 100% fatal. Baring some medical miracle, death is a part of life and will remain so in the future.  During the COVID period, nearly 1.6 million people died from all causes. Demanding that politicians from either political party stop the virus is about at reasonable as King Canute commanding the tide of the ocean to stop.

According to CDC data, the number of new cases per day peaked about July 23rd and started to decline.  It looks like deaths may be following. As unpopular as it may be, this good news. We are not over with the virus, and it certainly could mutate into a deadlier form.  But still, it remains good news. But many cannot seem to accept this.

Finally, it is irrational to only look at things from only one side.  COVID-19 is a serious problem that is killing people. But there are many other things, including the shutdown, that are also killing people. Some see only economic effects from the shutdown.  Yet, we know that economic downturns have a human cost beyond economics and these result in increased deaths.  Social Distancing and Isolation also take a toll on people’s well being and health.  The Washington Post reported in early May that,

Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, the country is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma. Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. 

For the third world, the problems of lockdowns are far worse, as they have interrupted normal supply chains. As Time reported on an Oxfam report,

Disruption to food production and supplies due to COVID-19 could cause more deaths from starvation than the disease itself…  The report found that 121 million more people could be “pushed to the brink of starvation this year” as a result of disruption to food production and supplies, diminishing aid as well as mass unemployment. The report estimates that COVID-19 related hunger could cause 12,000 deaths per day: the peak global mortality rate for COVID-19 in April was 10,000 deaths per day.

For those wanting to help, I would suggest a donation to Food For The Poor.

Yet as the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths decline, fear and finger-pointing dominate the news, and the whole issue is becoming increasingly political.  That will help no one, except those who profit off of fear.

Aug 7th, 2020

Can a Christian Vote For…

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

A common question these days is whether or not Christians can vote for a particular candidate.  While these questions have been around a long time, they have gained prominence with President Trump and his significant support among Christians.  An early example of this line of reasoning was an editorial in 2016 in the Dallas Morning News listing “10 reasons you can’t be a Christian and vote for Donald Trump.”  As this editorial put it,

Our argument is simple: A Christian who supports Trump either does not understand this person and his positions or supports him despite Christian convictions. In the same way that a person cannot love the Yankees and the Red Sox, follow veganism and devour a supper of Texas barbecue, or adore Joanna Gaines but hate shiplap, one cannot really love Jesus and wish to follow him and also vote for a person who so clearly embodies the opposite of everything Christ taught, died for and demands of us.

A more recent example comes from a recent editorial in the Baltimore Sun, where John A Ralph lamented,

“I am increasingly dismayed by the number of Catholics who support President Trump…  What I want to know is why? Why are many Catholics loyal to this president, a man who is so transparently not Christ-like? He lies, he cheats and he foments racism. He would do anything to support his own selfish interests.”

And of course, though not in the context of voting, Christianity Today editor Mark Galli, famously raised many of these same points in late 2019 when he argued for Trump’s impeachment.

Nor do these stories cut just one way.  As one recent headline claimed, “Top US pro-life priests: ‘No Catholic can vote for Joe Biden.’”  Another headline asked, “Why Do So Many Christians Vote Democrat?”  with a clear argument in the article that they shouldn’t.

In one sense, there is nothing wrong with any of these articles.  A quick search will return many articles like these, along with many rebuttals. These are simply the pros and cons one would expect in the discussion of who should lead this country. Many of these articles and their rebuttals raise valid points worthy of consideration. Still, in some ways, these articles miss the point and can lead to wrong and even dangerous conclusions.

Can a Christian vote for Trump? Can a Christian vote for Biden?  The problem with such questions is that they imply there is a Christian answer, a Christian way to vote.  Vote one way, and you will be on God’s side, vote the other, and you are voting against God. This way of approaching such issues is very dangerous for both religious and secular reasons.

If God has a preference in the outcome of the 2020 election, we do not know what it is.  Even if we assume God has a preference, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for us to understand his reasoning. God is omniscient; we are not.  Thus we are left with making the best decision we can, based on our beliefs and the information we have.

I believe that God does work in the world today and that he works through the Body of Christ, the church. This work does not happen from the top down, where God’s view is determined, and then all follow.  Rather it happened from the bottom up; the church as a whole starts with the individual.  God deals with individual Christians working out their faith as He leads them.  

Returning to the question of voting, can a Christian vote for Trump? Yes, and many will. Can a Christian vote for Biden?  Yes, and many will.  One reason to be cautious about grand pronouncements concerning how Christians can or cannot vote is the implicit, or at times even explicit, condemnation of those who do not follow the pronouncement.  I believe Matthew 7:3 applies here. We should be far more interested in questioning the correctness of how we vote than of those who disagree. When we see other Christians rejecting our candidate of choice, and voting for the other, rather than condemn them, we should be questioning ourselves.

In particular, we should be wary of explanations for the differing votes of other Christians that demonize them. It is far too easy to say the only reason they support the other candidate is that there is something wrong with them or their faith. Such “reasoning” is self-serving and thus very seductive. While condemning them, and thus making it easy to ignore them, you are at the same time patting yourself on the back for being such a good Christian and a good person.  If the Bible teaches us anything, we should be wary of any line of reasoning that starts with how bad the other person is and ends with how good we are.

Instead, we should start by questioning our own beliefs and listening to the reasons given by those who disagree. The question we should seek to answer is why would a good sincere, and faithful Christian vote for the other candidate.  We should ask honestly with at least the possibility that they may be right, and it is we who are wrong. In the end, there may still be disagreement, but hopefully, there will be more understanding and less dogmatism. 

The real danger in this whole Christians-can’t-vote-for line of reasoning is that such condemnations are damaging to unity.  In a religious sense, it is damaging to the unity of the body.  Throughout the New Testament, two consistent messages are 1) we are to be unified as the body of Christ; 2) this does not mean we will all agree on everything.  Our unity is for the Gospel, and condemnation of those who vote differently than we do hardly supports that goal.  We can disagree and debate about whom we should vote for, and that can be very valuable, but we must not let that divide us.

The same reasoning holds on a secular level. There must be some sense of national unity for a nation to exist.  Disagreement and advocation are fine, condemnation of “the other side” damages that unity and thus threaten the very foundation of the country. Following election day,  our government needs to function, and it has not done that very well for the last several Presidents.  We can point fingers and cast blame, but what is more important is what do we do today and going forward.

Finally, some Christians look at this and, rejecting the entire process, do not bother to vote.  I understand the attractiveness, but I consider it a blessing to be in this country and to live in a place where I have some say, however small, in the direction of the country.  I will not ignore the gift that God has given me.

We are to be salt and light. If nothing else, perhaps we can demonstrate that it is possible to disagree politically with our brother and sisters and still love them, still pray with them, still worship with them, and still work with them to spread the Gospel.

Aug 3rd, 2020

Why the Divide

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

There is little question that Americans are polarized now more than at any time since the Civil War, and it seems to be getting worse. There is lots of blame to go around.  Democrats point to Trump; Republicans point to the Pelosi and Schumer. Yet the frustration driving this polarization has been building for a long time, much longer than the current major players have been on the political scene. It is visible at least as far as the 1960s, with the roots going even further back to the turn of the last century.   

Rather than the cause, the current political leaders are themselves caught up in a much larger phenomenon and are often just reflecting the concerns of their constituents.  Neither political camp is very happy with their side’s leaders.

This dissatisfaction is the result of the general frustration among voters who keep voting for things that never seem to happen.  Candidates campaign strongly for various changes one way or the other, and once elected seem to do little or nothing.  There is a slow drift to the left. The right wants to stop it; the left wants it to go faster; both are frustrated. To be heard, both sides become more extreme, and the polarization increases. What they don’t realize is that this is how the current system was designed to work.

At the core is Progressivism, with its separation of administration and politics. On the one hand, Progressivism seemed very democratic, pushing for and achieving the direct election of Senators, along with the initiative and recall in many places.  Even today, their successors, the Democrats, still fight to make voting easier and more readily available to more people. For some, this even includes extending voting rights to those here illegally and reducing the controls to the point that fraud becomes a serious concern.

While lose voting rules and fraud are a problem, the other part of Progressivism, the administration part, is even more dangerous. While Progressives push more democrat political institutions, it also pushes for a greatly reduced role for those institutions. Progressives wanted everyone to have a say, but they did not think that say should amount to much.  According to Progressives, by the beginning of the 20th century, the world was becoming too complex to let common people have any real control. What was needed were experts, those with knowledge and skill. 

Thus the Progressives pushed to have the real power removed from the President and the Congress, transferring it to experts or what we would call administrators or bureaucrats.  Over the last century, the actual running government has become more and more removed from the people and those elected by the people and given to those who are not only unelected but actually insulated from the public.

Thus on several occasions, when the Congress “failed to act,” the bureaucracy had to step in to do what Congress would not do. At least that is how it is often present. It is just as legitimate to describe this as, when the people, through their elected representatives, said no, the bureaucracy ignored their wishes and did it anyway. The sad part is there is little the people can do about it.

Again, this is a feature of the Progressives system, not a bug. After all, Progressives did not think ordinary people knew enough to rule. Thus they looked to experts to act on the people’s behave. Experts were better than ordinary people because they were both knowledgeable and disinterested, i.e., they would be able to put the people’s interest first. In contrast, passions and self-interest would guide the people. There are problems with both of these premises.

The progressive idea of the knowledgeable expert was based on the false assumption that science would always be like physics, verifiable, and certain. It is not.  In fact, a hundred years later, there is growing debate about whether or not the social sciences are even science.  Disagreements and schools of thought are the norm. The verification of theories is often very difficult, if not impossible. As such, now the question is not an expert, but which expert?  This focus on science has brought about a politicization that is very damaging. Follow the party line and get funding, challenge it, and be suppressed or worse. Rather than the Progressive goal of bringing the best of science to public policy, the result has brought the worse of politics to science. It should not be a surprise that the falsification of results and the failure of the peer review system have been growing scandals.

As bad as the politicization of science has become, the other Progressive assumption is even worse, i.e., that the experts are disinterested. What Progressives ignored was that experts are still people. They are subject to all the same flaws and problems that caused the Founding Fathers to create the system of checks and balances that Progressives reject.  Thus it should be no surprise that over the last 100 years, as the administrative state has grown, it has become an interest in and of itself.  While the various departments have their subject area, they all share in common self-interest. The very thing the progressives were trying to avoid in the people still exists in the expert.  Yet rather than contained by checks and balances, the experts are insulated and largely unaccountable. As the saying goes, presidents come and go, but bureaucrats are forever.

Even when the people vote for change, the bureaucrats can dig in their heels and resist. They can slow roll policy changes demanded by elected officials, burying them in red tape until another administration can come along and reverse the policy.

The net effect is that the administrative state seeks first and foremost to serve itself; the people are second. Decade after decade, this has gotten progressively worse; people on both sides keep voting for change, and nothing happens. As a result, the frustration has built while public discourse has declined.

To fix this is conceptually easy. Rollback the administrative state and start putting more and more control back into the legislative branch.  However, in practice, it will be extremely hard.  It may even be impossible. For one, the spiritual successors of the Progressive, the Democrats, like the administrative state.  At the moment, the administrative state runs somewhat in their favor, and more importantly,  votes as a block for the Democrats. Another is that the administrative state can fight back. Over the last 100 years, this administrative state has built up a lot of allies who have a vested interest in the status quo to assist them.

Ultimately this will come down to who rules whom. The founders set up a government where ultimate authority rested with the people.  Some of that system remains. Then there is the Administrative state that rules with varying degrees of independence from the people. One side or the other will win.  We can move back to a system where ultimate power rest with the people.  Or we will have the progressive system, where there is an illusion of power from the people, but the real power rest with the experts.  The jury is out on who will win.

Jul 28th, 2020
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Defending False Narratives

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

We all believe things that are false. After all, none of us is perfect and all-knowing. Life is complex and complicated. In the steady stream of information that bombards each of us every day, there is a lot of truth, but also a lot of error.  Even within the parts that are true, there is a lot of nuance, complexity, and even seeming contradiction that can lead us to incorrect conclusions.   

This complexity and difficulty are seen when trying to determine the cause of an airline crash.  Given the ways these planes are built and maintained, the cause of a crash is rarely one thing.  It is a series of things that occur, any one of which the plane could have survived. Events in life are even more complex, which is why so many questions in history are still open to discussion.  That the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered World War I is clear. What caused World War I is still open to discussion.  

Such discussions occur even in dispassionate settings where participants have little or no vested interest in the outcome. It gets far more difficult when there is a vested interest.  There is no question that slavery was the key issue that led to the Civil War.  Without it, there would be no civil war.  For some Marxists, this was problematic. They have a narrative that sees economics as the driver of human actions. As such, they sought to downplay the issue of slavery to a pretext. For them, the real cause was in the economic differences of the industrial North vs. the agricultural South.

On the other side, some have a narrative that sees slavery as the only cause. The truth is more complex. While slavery was the essential issue in the conflict, not everyone in the North was fighting to end it, and not everyone in the South was fighting to defend it. There were a lot of other factors, such as Union vs. States Rights, to name just one.

When studying history, as a general rule, the farther back in time one goes, the less chance there is for vested interest, and thus a narrative, to interfere. Few today have a vested interest in the conflict between Rome and Carthage, or Athens and Sparta.  As such, it is easier to focus just on what actually happened. The reverse is also true. The closer we get to the present, the harder it is to set aside vested interests and focus on what is happening. Narratives dominate. 

Because of vested interest, much of the news is little more than current events politized into false narratives. What fits is accept. Information that does not quite fit is twisted and distorted to fit. If it cannot be made to fit, it is ignored.  COVID is a great example of this.

Even the name is politicized.  The standard practice leading up to this virus was naming diseases by the location where they were discovered, animal, or physical.  Thus we have Swine flu, Avian flu, West Nile Virus,  Hong Kong flu, and Lyme disease, named after a city in Connecticut, to name just a few.  This practice was not controversial. Thus when COVID-19 first appeared in the city of Wuhan China, it was called the Wuhan flu.  

When Trump started talking about the Wuhan flu and the Chinese virus, his critics applied their narrative that he was a racist. When they did, what had been Trump using the correct name became the latest example of his racism. The narrative must be preserved, so within a very short period, the Wuhan flu not only became COVID-19, but to say otherwise is now racist. This false narrative is now so enforced by the powers that be, that even my grammar checker wants me to change the name of Wuhan flu to COVID-19 or coronavirus. According to my grammar checker, “Phrases like Wuhan flu can encourage bias and misinformation.”  What was standard practice last year is racist this year.  Why?  Trump did it, and the narrative says it must be bad.

Does Lyme disease encourage racism again those who live in Lyme, Connecticut? Are we going to change the name of Lyme Disease? That is an open question.  It depends on whether or not the absurdity of the claim that the name Wuhan flu is racist becomes too apparent.  If it does such that the narrative is challenged, the name for Lyme Disease will be changed to protect the narrative. Those doing so will then congratulate themselves on how enlightened they have become. The people of Lyme, Connecticut, will be able to rest easy, knowing that the burden of racism has been lifted.

This narrative also appears in the issue of the travel restrictions imposed by Trump at the end of January. Predictably, given the narrative, this was condemned by his opponents as racist.  Later that day, Biden said,

“this is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia – hysterical xenophobia – and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.”

It is important to note, as the article reported, that the “science” at that time, i.e., the officials,

“insisted the risk to Americans from the flu-like illness is low. The outbreak has claimed more than 250 lives. None of the U.S. cases have been fatal, and all but one of the patients contracted coronavirus while they were traveling in China.”

Thus the narrative said for Trump to ban flights from China for a low risk was xenophobic.  It would be another month before the majority of people would become concerned about COVID and six weeks until the country was locked down. So at this point, Trump’s actions were seen as a xenophobic overreaction. 

Looking back, the facts cannot be changed, but the narrative must be preserved.  So now, Trump’s travel restrictions, and other actions, are mostly just ignored with the claim that Trump did nothing to stop the virus.  Given the narrative, not too surprisingly, when fact-checked about Biden opposing the travel restrictions saying they were xenophobic, that is fact-checked false.   

It seems that Biden didn’t directly say the travel restrictions were xenophobic. That inference, which was commonly made at the time, came from the fact that Biden’s comment about Trump policy came just after he announced the travel policy.  Silly us for assuming that Biden was talking about xenophobic policies just after policies restricting travel from China were announced. Silly for us for thinking there was a connection.  As for Trump’s policy itself, if mentioned at all, it is now downplayed as not all that effective.

While the narrative is defended, it is still false.  It has to be.  Something like COVID is too complex and complicated to fit a simple narrative like Orangeman bad.  If nothing else, there is still way too much we do not know, and we know a lot more now than we did just a few months ago.  Did Trump get every thing right? Of course not.  No one did.  Trump, the Governors, Republican and Democrat, and health officials are doing the best they can in a very difficult situation where there are a lot of unknowns.

A major problem is that the data is mixed.  Even now, anyone claiming they know for sure what we should have done, or what we should do is fooling themselves and probably following a narrative.  Anyone focused more on blaming opponents than seeking solutions is trying to impose a narrative.  In a few years, we may be able to assess heroes and villains, but not now. If there is a villain now, it is the media trying to force everything into a narrative, rather than giving us the data and letting the chips fall where they may.

This is not to say there is no room for disagreement. There is. Given all the unknowns, there must be.  Should states open or close? Should kids go back to school?  Do masks do any good, or do they make things worse? The data is mixed on these and many other questions.  There is plenty of room for discussion and disagreement. Condemnations and narratives do not help.  Unfortunately, too many people are answering these questions based on narrative and not on the data.  That is a sure way to be wrong.

Jul 21st, 2020

Early Polls and Trump

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

A constant theme in recent press coverage is how all the Polls show Biden winning the election. There are three main issues with polls.  The first is polls can be manipulated by how the question is phrased, and the ordering of the questions. But in this case, I think that is a minor issue.

The second is more significant. Polls track public opinion, which is strongly affected by press coverage, particularly for those who only casually follow events. Several studies have shown the coverage of Trump by the major media is about 90% negative.  Granted, Trump has a casual relationship with the truth. Still, the vast majority of his problems center around boasting and hyperbole. These are easy to adjust for.  The media also has a big problem with the truth, but it is much harder to adjust for.

For example, before COVID, Trump was fact-checked false, for saying the black unemployment was the lowest in history.  Ok, I thought, the truth is probably black unemployment is really low, which it was at the time.  I happen to stumble across something recently commenting on this “fact-check,” which was that Trump’s statement was considered false because the data have only been broken down this way since the 1970s. In short, he should have said lowest on record, rather than lowest in history.  Do you honestly think other politicians are held to this standard? Of course not. The same fact-checker declined to fact-check Obama’s and Biden’s absurd statements that they had a scandal-free administration. Why? Because what is and is not a scandal is subjective. Double-standard?

Then there are the three years of the near-daily falsehoods that were Trump/Russia hoax.  This hoax was the creation of the still-emerging Obamagate scandal.  You can add to this the press’s current ongoing attempts to hide Obamagate, which I believe is far more serious than Watergate. But the press’s lies go beyond that, and here are a few other examples, old and new.

Following Charlottesville, it was widely reported Trump said there were good neo-Nazis and white supremacists, a charge that continues to this day.  If you read the transcript or listen to the tape, he said, “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” He did say those words, but he was talking about the issue of should statues be taken down. I believe Trump is factually correct in this.  He then went on to say about removing the statuses,

“So you know what, it’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”  

Yet the media ignored this part of what Trump said and reported that he said there were good neo-Nazis.  In short, they lied.

This is not a one-off.  Recently there were reports of how the “peaceful demonstrators” were tear-gased so the President could have a “photo-op.” Yet the peaceful demonstrators sent eleven police officers to the hospital and did a lot of property damage.  Whether or not “tear-gas” was used depends on whether one classifies pepper spray with the more common forms of Tear gas. Meanwhile, Democrats taking a knee in the rotunda, is “a tribute” to George Floyd.  

Then there were all the reports that Trump said George Floyd would be happy about the recent job numbers. Like his comments following Charlottesville, this was the result of carefully editing Trump’s remarks to change the context.  He was talking about the unity in the country demanding equal justice under the law.  Again here is what he actually said.

Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, color, gender or creed, they have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, “This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.” This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality. It’s really what our constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.

In short, the major media will ignore completely anything Trump does or says that is good. If there is any ambiguity in his statements or actions, they will use that ambiguity to cast them into the worst possible light. When that isn’t enough they will just lie about what he says and simply make things up. Even when the story is not about him, they will twist it so that they can condemn him. And this is where most people get what they know about Trump.  It even catches me in at times. Several times, I believed the press and only later found out they had lied.

Granted, Trump is often his own worst enemy, and there are times the media does not have to make things up.  But frankly, he has gotten much better over his time as President. Meanwhile the media, and the Democrats,  have gotten much worse. So, of course, this shows up in the polls, which at the moment are still more how do you view Trump than who you will vote for.

This has been the case for most of my life. While it is far worse now, the press has always been biased in favor of the Democrats.  As such, the Republican candidate for President is normally behind in the poll at this point.  Bush was behind Dukakis by 17 points at this point of the race. The Polls always tighten the closer you get to the election, for the press becomes less important, and people focus more on the issues.  Again I believe the choice will become clear and will be binary. (Yes, there will be third parties, but they rarely matter, and when they do it is as a spoiler). Trump or the Democratic nominee are the only effective choices.  It will be Trump’s record vs. their promises. Trump’s record is strong and is much stronger than I would have thought when he became President.

Finally, one of the major fears today is fear of the left.  Fall into their crosshairs, and you can lose your friends, family, even your job, as the editors at the NY Times found out.  Thus, many Trump supporters keep it hidden, even from pollsters. I know, I have talked to them. For Polls, this is a well know problem sometimes referred to as the Bradley effect, named after a candidate for Governor in California.

The polls in 2016 showed Clinton easily winning, but she lost.  I do not believe many of the people that voted for Trump 2016 (or perhaps more correctly voted against Clinton) will now vote for Biden or any other Democrat they are likely to nominate. I do know of people who did not vote for Trump last time who will vote for him this time. Even some of the former Never Trumpers will vote for him. In short, his support has grown. He will win all the red states he did last time, and the election will come down to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. He only needs to win one.  It is very possible he will win all three and possibly a few more. 

After all, are the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and  Defund the Police, really winning campaign slogans?  Is setting up an independent country in the middle of Seattle going to inspire people? People normally vote economics, and the economic conditions are very likely to be in pretty good shape come November. The unemployment rate was suppose to still be going up, yet it is already dropping rapidly, and the Stock Market is nearly back to its pre-COVID Highs.  But voting one’s pocketbook assumes there are no security concerns, and the Democrats are on the wrong side of that issue at the moment.  After all, is it really just a coincidence that the majority of these problems are in areas that Democrats have run for decades?  

So yes,  I think Trump will win in November, and I don’t think the polls matter much at the moment. Could he lose, sure, a lot can happen between now and the election. But as things look now, it is looking really good for Trump.

Jul 17th, 2020
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