A Political Disclaimer, 2016: I’m (Sometimes) Wrong
I’m seeing a fair amount of pushback, on the site and off it, to my suggestion the other day that in the wake of Hillary Clinton inevitably winning the Democratic nomination for President, a certain number for “BernieBros” will ragequit and find their way over to the Donald Trump camp. Well, two things here:
1. When Clinton does take the nomination and the first news stories about former BernieBros stomping over to Trump in a miasmic haze of disillusionment and sexism start cropping up, you know I’m going to feel smug as shit;
2. Hey, you know what? I could be wrong. And not just a little wrong but wildly out to lunch, in a profound and impactful way.
And in the case of number two there, that’s perfectly okay.
Folks, here’s the thing: When I’m writing about politics, I am (and this should be obvious) writing about it from my own perspective, which is limited both by the amount of political information I have coming in to the Scalzi Compound (and, not trivially, by the amount of time I have to think about it, considering I’m also currently writing a novel and have several other projects going), and by my own thought processes and biases. Stuff goes into my head, it rolls around in there a while, and then it comes out through my fingertips onto this page. Sometimes it might look insightful to you. Sometimes it might look like I’m snorting ketamine and cocoa powder at the same time. Sometimes it might be both!
This makes me, I should note, not better or worse than most people who comment on politics, all of whom have the same constraining factors as I do. And in politics, it should be noted, it’s not always the case that long standing in the field means one’s opinions are anything close to accurate — Shit, Bill Kristol has made a living being a pundit for decades, and he’s been spectacularly wrong on so many things for so long that it’s actually news when he gets something right. This is the open secret of being a political pundit: No one cares if you’re correct, they’re just happy when you agree with what they’re thinking. Pundits exist to ameliorate the political version of “buyer’s regret.” Yes! You did okay in falling in with Hillary/Trump/Whomever! I am a person of note confirming your choice! Well done!
I’m not a professional political pundit (at least, not at the moment), and even if I were I wouldn’t have a problem saying the following: In my political thoughts and opinions, I’m not going to always get everything right. Nor will others always agree with what I’m suggesting or how I developed my thinking process to get there. This political season I’ve already been wrong about Trump (who I expected to have peaked long before now), Sanders (who I didn’t expect to be as much of an influence as he’s had), Bush (who I assumed would be in the lead) and Rubio (who I expected to be washed out in Bush’s wake). I will be wrong again! Just you wait.
My only defense on these matters is that I’m no worse off than pretty everyone else who pundits, almost all of whom have been impressively wrong in any number of ways. I mean, show me the pundit who said three months ago that at the beginning of March, the size of Donald Trump’s penis would be a talking point on a GOP debate stage. I will follow that pundit to the ends of the earth, because he or she has a terrifying but true vision of the future, and I’ll want to know when to head to the bunker.
This doesn’t mean I don’t care if I’m wrong when I prognosticate politically. I really do try to make sense, and to reflect reality as I see it. But, again, I don’t know everything or project accurate from the data I have and I acknowledge that’s a thing. I’ve been wrong. I am wrong. I will be wrong again. I’ve also been right, am right and will be right again, too. Hopefully more of the latter than the former. We’ll see.
In any event, this is the disclaimer: My political crystal ball is cloudy, just like everyone else’s. Take what I have to say with the appropriate grains of salt, just as you should with everyone else. Be prepared for me to be wrong from time to time, just like anyone else.
And when you think I’m wrong, feel free to tell me why you think that in the comment threads. You might even be right.