Trump’s 2016 election win and the preference cascade that followed

Sometimes people don’t reveal their true feelings and opinions for fear of being ostracized by others whom they assume hold different views.  Some, myself included, thought the polls before the 2016 election weren’t giving a true picture of the vote percentage Trump was likely to get, while overstating the likely vote for.…what’s her name? I can’t remember.

Well, anyway, if some people were telling pollsters they were going to vote for what’s-her-name but really were going to vote for Trump, and did this because they feared disapproval from the poll taker, then this was an example of preference falsification to avoid criticism. People not inclined to disagreeable arguments might keep their true feelings or preferences to themselves to avoid conflict with other people. This is most true when we believe other people will not agree with our views and may ridicule us for our “incorrect” judgment of the political landscape. This might be called private truths, public lies. There’s even a very good book which uses that as its title.

A close cousin of preference falsification, or perhaps the actualization of preference falsification, is the Bradley Effect, also known as the Wilder Effect. It occurs in elections between a white and a black candidate and people tell pollsters they intend to vote for the black candidate giving him or her a lead in the polls. But on election day the white candidate wins. Fear of being called a racist is powerful because it’s hard tar to remove.

There is an excellent book that is probably the origin of the whole concept of preference falsification: Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification, by Timur Kuran. I keep my copy in the safe now, the paperback is up to $39, $48 for the hardcover on Amazon. Acceptable used ones are no cheaper, some vendors are asking a lot more.

Preference falsification is dangerous because it causes everyone to believe that other people don’t agree with them when, perhaps,  they secretly do. A preference cascade occurs when something happens to let people know they are not alone in their opinions. Once they come to believe a signifcant number of others agree with them, it is safer to be honest about what they think and believe.

The Brexit vote in England in which a majority of “leave” won over the minority of “remain” was just that sort of a preference cascade event.  All the polls before the vote predicted “remain” would win. Remain lost. Leave won handily. Now it’s safe for Brits to say they want to leave the European Union. It’s no longer thought to be a whacko fringe opinion because now we know it never was. It’s just that nobody knew it until the polls closed and the votes were counted.

The recent overwhelming victory for Boris Johnson and the tories is the culmination of that very preference cascade. It’s now certain that the UK will leave the EU on January 31st.

Trump’s big win in 2016 came as a surprise even to those who voted for him.  Many thought what’s-her-name was unbeatable. FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were flabbergasted. James Comey, John Brennen and James Clapper were speechless. Friends and acquaintances told me to brace myself because I was in for a disappointment. Boy, what a disappointment that would have been. It could have meant that many of the precious freedoms we enjoy as Americans would have vanished, not to be restored within my remaining lifetime.

The clouds have lifted and the sun is shining bright again (figurtativey speaking). The Supreme Court will be back in the business of upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. It won’t be staffed by cheer leaders in black robes rubber stamping every vacuous bromide and politically correct restriction on liberty or social outrage against established norms that liberal politicians send up to it.

The Supreme Court will be a real court of federal and Constitutional law and not a private club of so-called “justices” more resembling unelected stooges for the elite establishment. In other words, we desperately need and now may get more learned and honorable justices like Clarence Thomas, Samual Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and hopefully Brett Kavanaugh. It won’t mean we will all agree with every decision they render; but there is reason to hope their decisions will be sound and reasonable and within the limits of their Constitutional powers.

Even after a clear preference cascade there are always some who don’t get it and refuse to believe it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House clearly don’t get it that Trump has accomplished much for the American people in the last three years and the American people are grateful. The whole idea of impeachment couple with the clear facts that he did nothing wrong completely escapes them. It ’s to their detriment and they will likely pay a price for their crazy schemes on November 3, 2020.

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