“Jack moves. Context, with Donny, seemed to indicate that these were either deliberate but extremely lateral, thus taking the competition by surprise, or, more likely in Donny’s case, simply crazy, same result. He’d never said what jack move, exactly, in a given situation, he was contemplating, and maybe that was because he didn’t know. Maybe it had to be improvisational and completely of the moment.”
-PATTERN RECOGNITION, WILLIAM GIBSON
Donald Trump, on stage at the first Republican convention for the ‘16 election, was considered a joke, something to make fun of regarding how bad the choices were for the conservative branch of American politics. Against all predictions, he ended up sweeping aside the other nominees while rushing headlong into the nomination. As he got closer and closer, more and more pundits predicted that groups such as #NeverTrump would prevail, saving all of us from the monstrous idea that is Trump.
But Republicans didn’t seem to want to be saved from Trump, and indeed to have been relishing his rise in the fight against Clinton that seems to be coming this fall. They pulled a collective Jack Move, and it seems to be working for them. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of conservatives who want nothing to do with Trumpism, including a few of OT’s writers and commenters.
But the Republican Party doesn’t seem to want those voters anymore; it may be happier without them. For they are the voters who brought out McCain and Romney, two candidates that the Democratic party and its friends in the media were in many ways designed to defeat. The candidates that the establishment wing was trotting out this year, Bush and Cruz, would have been destroyed in a similar vein. And when presented with a possible choice that obviously set off the nation’s elite, with cries of “How Could They!” and “He’s Vulgar!” -- the right jumped at the chance, swarming en masse toward the billionaire with the funny/cheesy hat. Why? Why did they feel that they needed to do this? Well, let’s take a look.
Varsity Blues is an average teen movie, with average actors and a banal plot. But the above scene perfectly illustrates the jack move. The second string QB brought in at the last second needs to do something — and proceeds to stop the clock in a most unexpected and unplanned way.
There are also some good examples in history, such as D-Day. Because the most logical thing is to go right at your enemies’ strongest fortifications. Or in real sports, like the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. With possession just before halftime and only seconds to go, instead of going for the field goal as expected, Seattle went for a touchdown, tying the game. As for a jack move that failed, we have the unexpected pass that didn’t work at the very end of that same game.
Conservatives believe, rightly or wrongly it doesn’t matter, that the media is biased against them. This shows up in such ways as: how any opposition to the ACA is painted as racist; accusations that even when the job they have is legislating, they aren’t governing; or, claims that if the branches of government that the Republicans have just taken back use the checks and balances that the constitution provides them, it must be because they aren’t serious senators. Couple this with accusations that every Republican running for President is akin to Hitler, and that opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants being solely motivated by racism. (A claim supported by the one of the party elite no less!)
Is it any wonder that the party rank and file would jump at a solution that both those very same party elites and the media (which contains very few members of the political background that motivates these non-elite Republican party members) find abhorrent? That the talking heads of our media couldn’t see nor believe the rise of it? That the rank and file instinctively know that the left have no real ability to counter? Finding someone who the media couldn’t counter was of utmost importance, for all the reasons listed above, along with the most salient reason of all: the simple fact that if they want to win, they cannot play the game as set out by a media who say things such as What’s the matter with Kansas?
A jack move allows the player to stop the clock, bust a fortress, get a touchdown instead of a field goal. It can also cost you a game. Different from a Hail Mary, it attempts to change the rules, to force everyone to accept a new paradigm.
A New Paradigm
To say that the Democrats have the Republicans’ number on the national level, in national politics, is to state the obvious. As linked to above, there are four Democrat reporters for every Republican. To keep playing a game that you are set up to lose (in your own eyes at least) is a fool’s errand. So you change the game.
This game is supported by so-called data--driven journalism, supposedly pointing out unequivocal, non-moral truths about how the world works. Often backed with statistics taken from polling data, it is exemplified by Jonathan Chait’s essay Fact-Finders, and Vox which “explains the news.” As Emmit Rensin said of the Chait piece:
In other words, Liberalism isn’t an ideology, it’s just an adherence to Good Facts. In other words, what’s wrong with conservatism is that it has a moral philosophy. Not that its moral philosophy is wrong. In other words, liberals have a monopoly on reason. Liberalism, according to Chait, has no ideology. Only a desire to use data in order to produce “beneficial outcomes”. How do we know what outcomes are good? Unanswered. Irrelevant.
How does one fight that, how does one overcome such obstacles? Especially when there is an issue with the polling that makes so much of this journalism possible:
Over the past two years, election polling has had some spectacular disasters. Several organizations tracking the 2014 midterm elections did not catch the Republican wave that led to strong majorities in both houses; polls in Israel badly underestimated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strength, and pollsters in Britain predicted a close election only to see the Conservatives win easily. What’s going on here? How much can we trust the polls as we head toward the 2016 elections?”
To say this is but a game belittles those whose lives are affected by politics. Those who have felt the sting of NAFTA personally, someone who didn’t get a job for being too conservative, or a fraternity falsely accused of rape. Those are the people whom the Republicans feel they are helping, that they are standing up for. Whether or not you agree with them on issues such as these, the right feels that the stakes are high enough not to trust to the old system.
Frankly, I understand why they don’t trust that system, for all the reasons pointed to above, and also the simple fact that the old strategy got them Romney and McCain. Both of whom lost. Strategy gets you Rubio, whom the party saw as being wrong on immigration, strategy gets you Cruz, far too religious even for the right. Strategy is the old way of thinking, in which your opponent can deduce your moves the same as you can. Inspiration is what bedevils competition, gives them nothing to work with.
Inspiration is what gave the Democrats Obama.