As 2016’s final days come and go, it’s a meaningful exercise for us to look back on the winners and losers. This is for two reasons. First, it’s part of Law 35: Master the Art of Timing. Knowing who’s in the ascendant and who’s on the decline is not only vital for self-preservation and positioning for your offensive moves, but it also gives you the crucial underlying information that isn’t so obvious but arguably even more important.
In this person’s triumph, are there seeds of a counter reaction? It’s often best to side with the coming wave, not the one that’s crested.
What does it cost you to side with one party or the other? What are the possible consequences?
How can you best reconcile whatever principles you have with the waves of power? It almost certainly is never a good idea to become a martyr, but keeping true to them is important for our cognitive self-respect.
All of these questions require you to see the board clearly in order for them to be answered. Here’s the board that 2016 gave us.
It’s just stating the obvious at this point. Donald Trump was the biggest winner of 2016. By using his amazing powers of persuasion and timing the market perfectly, he fought the world and won. Donald Trump is now in a position to remake the entire world in his image. He, and no one else, is now Poseidon, the wavemaker and earthshaker. What happens next will be influenced by his actions above all others.
The normal mode of operation after an election is that the incoming president has a “honeymoon period.” Trump will have his and more because his opponents are in no position to challenge him and are losing power by the day. More on that below. Combine that with Donald Trump’s persuasion powers and you can imagine what happens.
The Populist Right
I use that term to avoid word-think entirely. Those various grassroots elements on the right, the populists outside the ivory tower of Conservatism, Inc., revolted and won.
These populists vary widely, as do all big social movements.
The populist right consists of older, working class elements, social/Christian conservatives (who all came out big), and the younger elements that have seemed to rally around the “Alt-Right” and “New Right” camps. It was the latter two factions that acted as the intellectual powerhouses and the shock troops that reinvigorated right wing politics in a way not seen since Ronald Reagan, by ironically breaking the right out of the stultifying orthodoxy of Reaganism.
All of these factions were united in common purpose, but as is inevitable in coalitions, they are unstable. The younger, “Alt-Right” and “New Right” elements (and the “Manosphere” that straddles both but tends to fall more toward the latter) have begun to squabble. This is because those hardcore elements that are most devoted to the “Alt-Right” label have an end goal of a white ethnostate while the broader elements that became tagged with the label are nationalists but along more culturally-based lines. Their nationalism also often gets combined with a libertarian social and artistic outlook. This is the camp that some of the more influential voices, like Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich fall into, and it’s also the one that I fall into.
While the populist right won, the tensions within it are due to flare in 2017 now that the common enemy has been defeated. The battle within Trump’s coalition will be between the “Alt” versus “New” Right first. The working class that came out in such huge numbers to vote for Donald Trump probably falls into the New Right camp along philosophical lines as well but just don’t think of it in those terms.
Numerically superior, with more influential personalities, with the most important voters in Trump’s coalition in agreement, and facing a genuinely sloppy opponent (the “Alt-Right” doesn’t seem to understand that this is no longer a guerrilla war), I fully expect the “New Right” to win whatever internecine conflict takes place.
2016 was the peak year of the “real Alt-Right.” As I predicted in February, they are fast on the road to irrelevance. The label will still stay around because it’s a useful term for the left to hypnotize people with, but its actual influence will now be on the wane. The new nationalism on the other hand, will continue to grow, and with it, the broader populist right.
The New Media
As seen in chapter 7 of Stumped, the diffusion of communications was integral to the rise of Trump and the populist right. A new media network has arisen with the new technology.
Most of the big stories of 2016 weren’t broken by the old media. They were broken by people with phones. They were broken by the standalone complex of social media. Trump’s twitter was more influential than all the newspapers and TV “news” shows of the world. Sites like Return of Kings (for which I’ve written) and Danger and Play get millions of unique visitors a month with barely any advertising. Breitbart has become the new right wing center of influence, sweeping away ossifying husks like National Review and the Weekly Standard. Fox News seems to be quickly following the Breitbart mold with shows like Tucker Carlson’s. They see which way the winds are blowing. Jacksonian brawling politics came back big in 2016.
This organic network of outlets big and small democratized the news. Everyone is a journalist now. This network has now proven beyond doubt that it is more influential than “the networks.”
And the new media will continue to expand in 2017, benefiting the right more generally speaking. The left still has a lot of catching up to do.
The Republican Party
The party that was supposed to die in 2016 is now the strongest it’s been in nearly a century. Unless a recession happens, it’s poised to get even stronger in the 2018 mid-terms, perhaps even achieving a filibuster-proof majority of 60+ seats in the senate.
The danger lies in how certain players in the party act on these signals. Donald Trump’s “MOVEMENT” has put new pep in the party. Will its traditional elites that he defeated (but has by no means crushed) be cognizant of this fact or will they simply try to return to normal? In other words, will Conservatism, Inc. see Donald Trump’s unexpected victory as giving it a new lease on life that it doesn’t deserve, or will the GOP truly be remade in Trump’s American nationalist, populist image?
If the answer is not the latter, the GOP is doomed.
The populist right, particularly the younger elements, know this. So expect a further wave against the establishment if they act to neuter Trump. Already many figures within it are planning for a mass primary revolt in 2018 to defeat members of Congress in both houses within the party that were hostile to Trump.
This is the most obvious of the coming waves to ride, but its size will depend on how the establishment acts in the next two years.
No doubt about it, the Trump phenomenon and the Popular Revolt of 2016 was in large part a rebellion against the stultifying speech and conduct codes of political correctness. I would venture to say that at least half of the appeal of the Trump “MOVEMENT” was that it was the manifestation of a counterculture that had begun several years ago, most notably during GamerGate. As someone remarked on Roosh’s forum, “for the first time in a long while, rightists were the cool kids and the left were the squares.”
When any social force attempts to control the speech of others, countering it with free, perhaps even dissident speech, is automatically going to become cool. Nowadays, that means being right wing. We must learn to never make the attempt at control ourselves.
Though his victory wasn’t decisive, Bernie Sanders has emerged as the sole notable national leader in left wing politics for the post-Obama era and the sole light on the left as 2016 draws to a close. His “revolution” failed, but planted the seeds for succeeding waves for the long term.
His ideas and philosophy need work, and they need newer, younger vessels to carry them forward.
If I’m a young leftist, that’s where I’d hitch my wagon (more on that below).
The “Mainstream” Media
By far the biggest loser of 2016 was what people used to call the mainstream media. The media threw absolutely everything it had at Donald Trump and it did nothing except make him more popular.
Upset and frightened that its influence is declining and that less people trust it than ever before, the “mainstream” media went on a desperate blitz against “fake news” starting in the days after the election. This backfired also because the same media that railed against “fake news” was caught promoting “fake news” on multiple occasions. Everything from hate crime hoaxes to hallucinations about Russian propaganda blew up in the media’s face.
“Fake news” is also a term that invites blowback, and the media’s detractors pinned it onto its originators. 2016 was the year the “mainstream” media became the “hoaxing media” and finally the “fake news media.” It will never recover from this blow. It will still be around after 2016, of course. The media now essentially functions as a loss leader for billionaires. It will still do its business and make a great target to rally against, but it will never be as trusted or as respected as it was before 2016.
As a side note, the whole episode proves just how weak and ineffectual Conservatism, Inc. has always been. Their best offensive weapon against the media was to label it as “the mainstream media,” which gives the media more power than it deserves and implies it is the media, not them, who are “mainstream.”
The populist right came along and did what Conservatism, Inc. couldn’t – destroy the media by casting far more powerful spells. “Hoaxing” and “fake news” is obviously far more potent.
This clip above all others summarizes the media in 2016 best:
Social Justice Warriors
They shouted. They cried. They pouted. And in 2016 Santa Clause finally delivered them the hot lump of coal they so richly deserved.
The massive defeat the social justice warriors experienced in 2016 can not only be shown in how the regressive left’s identity politics backfired on them so spectacularly in the election, but is better illustrated in the recent failure of their infamous calling card: organizing witch hunts and online mobs to get people fired from their jobs.
Shortly after the election, Buzzfeed put out a post against the “Fixer Upper” reality TV couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Lambasting them for attending a church “firmly against same sex marriage,” Buzzfeed was probably confident that when publishing the post, the usual wheels would be in motion:
- Mob froths at the heretic.
- Mob mobilizes a social outrage and shaming campaign.
- Company gets nervous and backs down.
- Target of the mob is forced to grovel in apology or be outcast.
This would likely have been the result in 2013 or 2014, and perhaps even in 2015, but 2016 was a whole different ballgame. The effort went nowhere. HGTV, the host of the couple’s show, proudly stood by them. The family attended their church as normal, and even outlets such as Jeff Bezos’ blog (formerly the Washington Post), described the move as being dangerous.
This was remarkable. You’re seeing call-out culture coming to an end in real-time.
The social justice warriors haven’t learned a thing from their defeat. They will continue the same tactics, continue to whine, cry, and pout – but the space that they effectively dominate will continue to shrink in 2017, eventually centering on only a few holdouts like the universities.
And even the universities are under attack. First there was the success of Milo’s tour, then there was the University of Minnesota football boycott, and in recent days there was the Drexler professor being reprimanded for wishing for “white genocide” for Christmas.
The universities didn’t really lose in 2016, but a showdown is looming.
The Democratic Party
Democrats were supposed to win the presidency easily for the third time in a row, recapture the United States Senate, and put a big dent into the Republican House majority. Instead, the party collapsed spectacularly. Not only did they lose the election terribly, but because it was Hillary’s turn, the Democrats have no effective national leader to rally the party’s base or run in 2020.
Bernie Sanders represents a possible rallying point, but the party establishment still has beef with him, not least of which because he isn’t technically a Democrat.
Will the Party follow a more old school, FDR-type liberal line, as Bernie Sanders may point (somewhat) to, or will it continue to be the party of the Clintons with an identity politics grassroots and guarantee its continued losses? Or will it be something else entirely? Stumped may give you some of the answers. We’re currently seeing a proxy war between those two factions in the leadership fight between Tom Perez (supported by the Clintons) and Keith Ellison (supported by the Sanders-Warren wing). Neither answer is very satisfactory.
There will be no great counter reaction from the left against the right in politics for a while – at least until 2019, barring some extraordinary circumstances. The Democrats are going to get steamrolled by Trump, not least of which is because they and their media proxies seem hopelessly glued to fighting the last war (witness the hysteria about “fake news,” Comey, and those emails).
But if you are on the left, particularly if you’re something like a young Sanders supporter, now’s the time to build up your brand in left wing politics and culture. A big vacuum needs to be filled. The Democratic Party desperately needs new leadership and ideas if it hopes to recover in time to defeat Trump in 2020.
At long last, finally, and mercifully, the Clintons are out of public life. For basically my entire life, they’ve been on the public stage. It will be refreshing to finally not see them.
Yet, while the Clintons are losers in 2016, they didn’t lose as big as others did. They will continue to wield influence in the Democratic Party behind the scenes, as we’re now seeing in the leadership fight. On the public stage, they’re now irrelevant, but they will need to be reckoned with backstage.
This provides a good enemy for up-and-coming leftists to rally against.
He tried as hard as he could, showing the best side of himself (as he always does) when campaigning. Yet, no one wants a shit sandwich no matter who sells it, and his efforts weren’t enough.
As such, “his legacy,” much vaunted by the media – Obamacare, his executive orders, etc., is largely due to disappear, because it was built on a foundation of sand.
But Barack Obama remained popular in 2016, and as a cultural force his impact cannot be denied. Gifted with charisma, he will continue to stay relevant in a Democratic Party without leadership, and should he decide to break precedent and criticize his successor, or whether he decides to do more low-key things like being a rallying force to rebuild the Democratic Party from the grassroots, his actions will demand attention.
Barack Obama lost big in 2016, but his ability to create waves is still intact. They won’t be as high, but they will be there.
Hollywood & Big Entertainment
Though largely peripheral to the battlefields of 2016, Hollywood and the entertainment industry still suffered a defeat. Big entertainment came out big league in support of Hillary Clinton, providing her flagging campaign with the only signs of life. They still lost dramatically as people rejected celebrity culture in greater numbers than ever before.
The next post will be related to this topic, but Hollywood lost influence in 2016.
A great example of how pathetic they’ve become (and symbolic of its ossified establishment), celebrities released this widely-panned video as part of the hysterics to persuade the Electoral College to reject Donald Trump.
Personalized follow ups were sent as well.
It was a fitting end to the year.
The entertainment industry is leaving a big vacuum of influence – 2016 was simply the visible proof of this. 2017 will be very interesting as the battlefield shifts once again.
To find out more about what could come next – and how to take advantage of it, you’ll want to get your hands on the persuasion system and political analysis available in Stumped.