The Polls are Simply Missing the Trump Vote
As I continue my travails around the country, suspended in Bill Bonner’s eternal wilderness “between six feet apart and six feet under,” it is still possible on rare occasions to scale a dazzling Olympian pinnacle where all the world, past and future, shines luminously unmasked on the horizons of my mind.
Such a moment happened today high on a buxom swell of bare mountain above the Pacific in Malibu, California, in the company of the towering intellect of Professor Ted McAllister. The central figure in Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, he is a founder of its unique great books and American “roots” programs and a Socratic guide to the moral foundations of politics and American culture.
At an outdoor table at the summit of an emptied campus, populated chiefly by a furtive maintenance crew in masks, buffeted by a chill breeze from the Pacific, McAllister’s mind and extreme predicament fill time and space even more urgently. Asked to read a visitor’s essay, he says, “I don’t have much time you know. The doctor gives me only 12 hours a week.”
A titanic historian of complex and rigorous ideas, he now finds himself at age 59 in the harrowing grips of the double invasion of his body by malignant multiple myeloma and of his classroom by Los Angeles County healthcare beadles who mandate that he teach in a mask. They also rule that he must waste his time by dividing his classes into 15-person groups divided by partitions, social distancing, and facial coverings.
Yet McAllister’s students are at no risk from the disease. As Friday’s David Stockman post “Red Zone Malarky” punctilliously explains, “there is no health crisis in California in any way shape or form. The state’s with COVID death rates now stands at just 19 per 100,000 persons, and is one of the lowest in the country, topped only by Texas at 10 per 100,000 and similarly low rates in most of the 18 ‘red zone’ states” such as Georgia, Florida, and Arizona. In California, the death rate among student-age cohorts is zero below age 18 and near zero, and below ordinary flu, between 18 and 34.
McAllister is resisting the order on the grounds that the California legislature has never authorized such detailed state interference in his venerable classrooms.
Inheriting the Socrates Method
I see McAllister as a symbol of contemporary America struggling to survive the invasion of an oncogenic ideology of mutant and tumorous expertise. McAllister points to a book Wrong by David H. Freedman that documents decades of gross error and falsified predictions by healthcare experts. The Pepperdine professor explained that this pattern of expert misfeasance extends massively to urban policy consultants whose projections for the benefits, costs, and construction years of the “Big Dig” tunnel in Boston were off by a factor of seven.
If you know of Ted, it may be as the author of the Revolt Against Modernity (1992), an awesomely learned and profound exploration of the depths and dilemmas of modern conservatism as seen through the prismatic works of philosophers Eric Voegelin and Leo Strauss. But McAllister above all is a teacher — a direct inheritor of the dialectical methods of Socrates. His students revere him as no other professor.
Educated at Vanderbilt and teaching at Princeton, he left for Pepperdine in order to address the healthcare issues of his severely autistic son. His current book, Coming Home, written with co-author Bruce Frohnen, argues that American conservatism is an evolving tradition rather than an ideology. Americans are a conservative people who have been under assault by a progressive elite for several generations. The resulting cultural erosion has left most Americans “homeless” — lacking the sense of belonging and attachment that are the hallmarks of healthy societies and cultures.
McAllister seeks to reclaim America and its history and restore the familial and voluntary associations linking us to one another and to our common goals. Coming Home calls on us “to reclaim our most basic national identity as self-governing people from those who have foisted on us an administrative state to replace our republic and who are seeking to use their cultural and social power to change who we are as a people — to transform us.”
An authority on polling who has been writing a book on Walter Lippmann and his definitive Public Opinion and The Phantom Public, McAllister has been analyzing the poll data that seems to show that Trump is doomed in November.
His conclusion: Trump will win the popular vote by between 2-4% and will prevail again in the electoral college. Contending that Americans no longer trust the media or the pollsters, he cites the finding that the percentage of Trump voters who do not want to divulge their choice is 80%. “The polls are simply missing the Trump vote.”
As an example of hidden Trump support, he points to Israeli Americans who rarely vote in US elections but who have a sense of the fragility of civilization and will vote massively for Trump this year. He also presents evidence for a five-fold gap between Trump voters and Biden voters in the enthusiasm index.
He contends that the falsity of the expert predictions of the ravages of COVID will become massively evident and submerge the rise of expertise in an “ocean of anger.”
However, looking out at the blue reaches of the Pacific Ocean below and listening to the words of this wise and sagacious man, afflicted with a real deadly disease, I gained a new sense of peace.
The Sickness that is American Politics
He told us that his doctor gives him two years of remission fostered by chemo-therapy. Then the cancer is expected to return and he will be dependent on the advance of a targeted immune system treatment called CAR-T cell therapy. Other remedies also are in the offing from CRISPR and Israeli breakthroughs.
Living in a real life and death struggle, he calmly appraises the sickness of American politics and culture in the age of the COVID mania and brings us a message of faith and reassurance.
As I left the campus with McAllister’s former student and disciple Habi Zhang, my Chinese translator and advisor, I felt strengthened and inspired. I thought of Ted’s observation that “the mind of man, at one with nature has the laws of nature as part of its own being.”
In the end, the minds of free men will prevail against the madness of the times and bring healing to the world.
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy