For those of us not working on a dissertation in political science, it will take a while to discern what happened on Nov. 8. This is said more as an intellectually curious, “Wow, what happened?” fashion rather than an apoplectic “Oh my God, what happened?” exhortation.
And while the election of Donald Trump to the presidency will fascinate PhD. candidates for generations to come, we have little interest in doing that much work. Instead, we’ll take the easy route and go straight to an expert to glean a little insight.
So, what happened? “Trump won,” Jim Moore said.
OK, OK, we knew that. But a bit of time on the phone with Moore provided some pearls of wisdom, as it always does. Moore, you see, has a PhD. in political science from Northwestern University and is director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. More important, he’s always thoughtful, engaging, entertaining, and more than willing to talk when some dumbfounded reporter calls him out of the blue.
So I asked Moore about the common narrative that Trump won, in part, because voters were seeking a Washington, D.C., outsider to, as Trump succinctly put it, “drain the swamp.” There is nothing trendy about that trend among voters. President Obama was largely a D.C. outsider, having served in the U.S. Senate for a scant 46 months before he was elected president for the first time; George W. Bush was a D.C. outsider, having been a governor; same with Bill Clinton, and same with Ronald Reagan. Among the past seven people elected to the presidency, only George H.W. Bush could be deemed a D.C. insider — and he was riding Reagan’s coattails into the Oval Office.
“In the presidential election, the issues barely move the needle,” Moore said. “It comes down to personalities and ‘Who do I want to have a beer with?’ ”