How to win an election in America today: Provide positive proof that you are mentally unstable


This is from The Guardian, which sort of has a vested interest in this American story:

Greg Gianforte has won a special election for Montana’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, just one day after he was charged with misdemeanor assault for “body-slamming” a Guardian reporter.

The Associated Press called it after 522 of 681 precincts – or 77% – reported. At that point Gianforte had 163, 539 votes, or 51% of the vote, compared with challenger Rob Quist’s 140,594 votes, or 44%.

Speaking at the G7 meeting in Sicily on Friday, Donald Trump called the victory a “great win in Montana”…

Well, of course he did. It was yet another instance underlying the fact that all you need to do to get elected in this country today is provide positive, unassailable proof that you are mentally unstable. Trump looks at this and thinks, “See? I’m not a fluke.”

Oh, by the way, the candidate apologized during his victory speech for attacking the reporter, although you could be forgiven for missing it because his supporters were laughing as he did so.

Anybody have any ideas about what we can come up with to replace this democracy thing, which clearly isn’t working any more?

49 thoughts on “How to win an election in America today: Provide positive proof that you are mentally unstable

  1. Claus2

    The reporter likely deserved it, having watched several press conferences I’m convinced that there are reporters out there who have the IQ of a doorknob. “Let me ask the same question that’s been asked and answered 7 of the last 8 questions asked.” Reporters aren’t in control of the room just because they’re holding a microphone or pen and pad.

      1. Claus2

        As you just proved that reporters believe they’re superior to everyone else in the room. I view journalists in the same light as lawyers and used car salesmen.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Likely deserved it [a physical assault] because he was asking questions?

      How about answering the question with a brush-off answer and letting that be that?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        To Trump supporters, questions are intolerable. Stop to think: They might lead to answers — perhaps true answers — and if you insist on the Trumpian view of reality, you can’t have that…

        1. Claus2

          No it’s not just Trump supporters, have you ever watched or been involved with a press conference? If the question has been answered, why keep asking the same question? I’m surprised more people don’t tell reporters to STFU or just ignore them.

          1. bud

            Actually Gianforte didn’t answer the question and it was an important one about the healthcare bill. It would have been very bad if he had merely brushed the reporter off. But he took it a step further.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              It wouldn’t have been “very bad” if he had said something like: I haven’t had time to fully read the report, review the methodology. When I do, I’ll get back to you.

              That’s all he had to say.

              1. bud

                Ok, just garden variety bad, not very bad. Is that better.

                Just because many politicians do this political dodge and draw no attention shouldn’t exonerate them. This bill was important and he was running for congress and may get the opportunity to vote for something similar in the near future. He certainly could have offered some answer to let the voters know where he stands, at least in a general way.

          2. scout

            I have watched a press conference. Reporters pretty much ask the same question when it is repeatedly not answered. That is just part of how it works. If a person running for office can’t handle that, they probably shouldn’t run. Has he watched a press conference? It really should not be a big surprise to him how it works.

            But backing up a bit, your basic premise appears to be that when you are frustrated in a verbal exchange with someone, it is ok to physically assault them.


            Personally i would like an elected official who was a little more resourceful in responding to frustration, particularly in the Realm of using language. If he is so easily flummoxed by frustration in verbal exchanges, I’m sure he’ll do great in Congress where lawmakers never meet with frustration and speaking and writing are not integral parts of the job.

        2. bud

          To Trump supporters, questions are intolerable.

          Make that – To Republican supporters, questions are intolerable.

          1. Richard

            “At this point, what difference does it make?” That’s how you answer a line of questioning.

  2. Dave

    Okay, the reader comment that the reporter deserved it is insane.

    But if you want a systematic explanation that may make you feel better about democracy…the vast majority of voters in Montana voted before election day and it appears that Quist did much better with election day voters than he did with the early voters. Of course the latter is not evidence that Quist did better on election day because of the assault. It might well be that Democrats in Montana are just more likely to wait until election day to vote. This election, though, is a pretty good argument against having early voting.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “the vast majority of voters in Montana” — what’s that, like nine or 10 people?

      Seriously, though, yes — early voting is a terrible idea…

      1. Claus2

        Joke all you want, but living in Montana is preferable to living in this inbred sweatbox of a state.

              1. Burl Burlingame

                Don’t know. But the last Republican attack on a human being in Montana was yesterday.

          1. Claus2

            1. If you grew up not going to the beach it’s not all that big of a deal. I prefer mountains over beaches anyway… but being of Scandinavian heritage I don’t like laying around attempting to catch a good case of melanoma on vacation.

            2. Yeah, because you can’t get BBQ, make pimento cheese, or have fried chicken outside of South Carolina.

            3. Mind winters are nice, but some people like snow and cold weather… to the extent that they spend thousands of dollars to vacation in places like Montana and Colorado. Personally I think there are maybe 3-4 weeks total out of the year where it’s comfortable to live in this state (excluding the upstate where it’s typically 10 degrees and 20% points less humid).

            4. “Warm summers”… it was 90 degrees and 90% humidity in April… just warming up for June – October. People aren’t supposed to pass out from heat exhaustion at football games.

            1. scout

              “2. Yeah, because you can’t get BBQ, make pimento cheese, or have fried chicken outside of South Carolina.”

              Thats right you can’t, if you want any of them done well.

              1. Richard

                Oh dear, not a best barbeque argument. Nobody cares about pimento cheese and everyone’s grandmother makes the best fried chicken.

                1. scout

                  Well i will tell you what my father has said all of my life in response to comments like this. I now know he is not actually talking about a goose.

                  “De gustibus non est disputandum”

        1. Bart

          The distance from Columbia, SC to Billings, Montana is a little over 2,000 miles and if you drive straight through, you can be there in about 29 hours. Hint, hint.

          1. Richard

            You’re supposed to say, “You ain’t from from around here, are you boy.” Then turn and spit.

      2. bud

        No, no, no! A thousand times NO! This isn’t about early voting. That is ridiculous. Early voting is a very good idea because it minimizes minor indiscretions that come along over the course of a campaign. Let’s please not go down another path of irrelevant things to worry about. Just remember the three headed hydra: voter suppression, gerrymandering and the electoral college. THOSE are the issues with our electoral process.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “Early voting is a very good idea because it minimizes minor indiscretions that come along over the course of a campaign.”

          How about major indiscretions, such as physically assaulting a journalist for asking a rather routine question on the last day of the campaign? (What is this guy going to do if someone asks him a tough question?)

          We should all go to the polling place with the same information, on Election Day. Period.

    2. Claus2

      So only Republicans vote ahead of time? Did Democrats send out some sort of e-mail telling their members not to vote until May 25th? I will agree with you on early voting, it’s not like they don’t give you reasonable advanced notice of when you can vote.

      1. Mark Stewart

        The point is more Republican voters would not have voted for the D-bag on election day had they not already cast a mail-in ballots. Nobody moved their vote TO Gianforte on election day. Well, I am sure there were a few addled cases, but not anything worth worrying about. We all know those people exist in the margins.

        Does that clear it up for you?

    3. scout

      Too bad that there is not a feasable trackable secure way to change your vote if you voted early and something like this happens. All those early voters must be judging types; I need every last minute to gather information and refine my assessment.

      1. bud

        Stuff can also happen after Election Day. Should you be able to change your vote then? I maintain a rolling election gives a broad range of last impressions. Isn’t that a good thing? Besides, just because one persons idea of ideal patriotism invlolves Election Day voting that shouldn’t mandate others who may value a souls to the polls approach. This same day voting only screed smacks of elitism.

        1. Scout

          ” I maintain a rolling election gives a broad range of last impressions. Isn’t that a good thing?”

          Why? What would make it a good thing? I really don’t think I understand the point.

          It’s nothing to do with anybody’s ideal of patriotism. It’s about voters being adequately and objectively informed. Would you want to take a test early before the professor had finished giving all the lectures. That would give a broad range of last impressions too – many of them wrong.

          I realize that the voters themselves are more the barrier to their being adequately and objectively informed; if they don’t choose to pay attention to the available information with an attempt to discern some truth from the cacophony of conflicting interests, then making sure everyone has the same access to the same information doesn’t make much difference.

          Things do happen after election day, but at least at the time of the election, voters should be on the same page. If what happens after election day is significant enough, the system will deal with it.

  3. David Carlton

    Brad–Does this remind you of a certain historical event in your former newspaper’s history? When founding editor Narciso Gonzales got gunned down on Main Street by the Lieutenant Governor, who then got acquitted, basically because the jury (in Lexington County) decided that Gonzales had deserved it? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  4. Dave Crockett

    As a one-time reporter, I attended MANY news conferences. Sometimes, yes, a question would be asked more than once for clarification or as a response to perceived obfuscation. Unfortunately, it also happened occasionally when a TV reporter with only one shooter wanted to have A-roll of both him/herself and the newsmaker from both directions at editing time.

    As fer all this here fereign chatter: “Imber en Hispania en campo saepe cado,” as I loosely interpreted by Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Only thing I remember from two years of high school Latin. That and the declination of piggo, piggeri, squeali, gruntus.

    Now what was it I had for breakfast this morning….? 😉

  5. Doug T

    The reporter probably deserved it? WHAT??

    Early voting is a bad idea? WHAT??

    It would be interesting to know voting-day breakout. The Dems put up a flawed candidate. Why wouldn’t Trump supporters vote for Gianforte after the assault? They are Trump supporters, remember.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Early voting is a bad idea?”

      Certainly. Why should even one voter vote without the same information available to those who wait until Election Day?

      This is actually sort of related to my personal work habits. A highly organized journalist like Cindi Scoppe will sit down and write something as soon as she is satisfied that she has the relevant facts, even if the piece isn’t going to run for a week or two.

      I tend to wait until the last possible moment before publication, because I have this neurotic fear that something will happen that will cause me to change my mind, or at the very least, have to entirely rewrite the piece to reflect more recent events.

      In actuality, Cindi’s stuff was seldom, if ever, outdated. But I almost always ended up rewriting anything I wrote ahead of time — not so much because I changed my mind but because given more time, I had new ideas about the best way to write the piece. Or — and this happened a LOT — I’d lose interest in the topic, scrap it completely, and write something I had decided was more compelling.

      I don’t ever like to decide anything until it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

      I think this is related to the P in my Myers-Briggs type (INTP). “Judgers” tend to make up their minds about something, and that’s it. “Perceivers” tend to keep taking in information and keep adjusting what they think up until the moment the decision must be made — and beyond.

      I had a major falling-out with a boss who was an INTJ over that difference. He and I had both bought into a big idea. I later decided the idea was deeply flawed, after he had fully committed himself to it. I spoke my mind about it, repeatedly. He took exception to this. We could not agree…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Some of you will object: NO! Brad never changes his mind about anything, no matter how much corrective information we offer!

        But here’s the thing: Most of the issues on which I seem so inflexible are things I agonized over years ago, and tested a monotonous number of times over the years. If you’d caught me earlier in the process you might have seen me as more mercurial…

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Back to the topic at hand.

    This is not just me projecting my own habits onto others.

    Regarding others… I see far too many people making terrible electoral decisions, apparently on the basis of a lack of information, or an incomplete understanding of the information they have.

    Therefore, I want them to have all the time that they can possibly get to study and consider…

    1. bud

      This is not just about me projecting my own habits onto others.

      Yeah it is. You’re suggesting that people can’t make an informed voting decision unless they vote in person on Election Day. I call bs. But bs is ok PROVIDED the bs doesn’t ultimately manifest itself into law. That is the real danger in bs of this nature.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, it isn’t, as I just said.

        My concern is that far, far too many people are making horrific decisions as voters now, and it is dangerous to encourage them to make their electoral decisions based on even less information, and less reflection.

        I’m trying to defend the country here from more Trump/Alvin Greene decisions…

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