Schadenfreude, an Alaskan political reverie

White House photo.


It has been an interesting 15 months in Alaska and America from a political standpoint. I think that period of time deserves a bit of musing.

But first, let’s examine the emotional response called schadenfreude. Originating in Germany, the word means to take pleasure in the misfortune of others.

I think it is fair to say that the feeling would be intensified in the case of the misfortune of an adversary. In general, this emotion is seen in a negative way, grouped with its sister emotions of envy, greed, and jealousy.

I would posit, however, that there is a form of good schadenfreude and that is when your adversary suffers misfortune because of his own doing.

So it is that I am enjoying a feeling of good schadenfreude when contemplating the misery of Hillary Clinton and her adherents here in Alaska.

Fifteen months ago, Alaska Republicans gathered to conduct our Presidential Preference Poll, which is the beginning of the process used to select delegates that are sent to the national convention. (Cruz won, remember? Trump came in a strong second.)

I helped staff the Juneau polling station. My role was crowd management but there were others performing very careful election functions, the most crucial of which was registering non-Republicans who wanted to vote.

The only people allowed to vote in this poll were registered Republicans. Anyone could register Republican on the spot and then participate in the poll.  Nearly 1,000 Juneau residents voted that night and many of them were not registered Republicans when they walked into the building. But they all were when they walked out.

I knew a lot of these people, and I knew that some of them were flag-burning Democrats who were there to vote for Trump, and that they would re-register as Democrats the next day.

I discussed this with others working that day, and in the days that followed it was our collective conclusion from the whispering, our knowledge of our neighbors, and some outright sarcastic comments we overheard from people waiting in line — these were Democrats trying to throw the election.

I wondered if this was a uniquely Alaska-based Democrat behavior or if there was more to it. If you are looking for character differences between the two major political parties, the willingness to mess around in the other party’s business is decidedly un-Republican and very much in the Democrat Party’s toolbox.

The most lamentable example was in 1982 when there was no restriction on who could vote in the Republican Primary. The Democrats had picked their man, Bill Sheffield and his victory at the primary phase was well-enough assured that hundreds of Democrats voted on the Republican ticket rather than their own and caused nomination of Tom Fink rather than the more moderate sitting Lt. Governor, Terry Miller.

It is widely believed that this was a deliberate tactic that was conceived and directed by the Democrat Party leadership. Fink was seen by most political observers as too far right to win and sure enough, we know the outcome. That event is why the Alaska Republican Primary is closed to just registered Republicans, nonpartisan, and undeclared voters.

I watched the 2016 campaign unfold and I started some research to see if there was evidence of a national Democratic Party tactic to encourage the Republicans to pick Trump. The Democratic leadership would never admit it now, but it sure does look like they wanted Hillary to face Trump and they were giddy when he got the nomination.

That is basically the conclusion in a Politico article by Gabriel Debenedetti published on November 07, 2016, a day before the general election.

Titled They Always Wanted Trump, it is a pretty interesting review of the Clinton campaign effort over the preceding year. The subtitle is “Inside Team Clinton’s year-long struggle to find a strategy against the opponent they were most eager to face.”

What is not so clear is whether there were plans made, money spent, aides dispatched to interfere in the individual state Republican convention delegate selection procedures, but the fact that the Clinton campaign wanted Trump is enough, I believe, to enjoy a warm feeling of schadenfreude without any guilt at all.

All are welcome to join me. It’s more fun to bask as a group.

Murray Walsh owns a government permitting consulting company and has been involved in land use management and planning for more than 40 years. He lives in Juneau.



  1. Stuff we’ve heard a hundred times before from a guy we never heard of before?

    Why, Suzanne? Why?

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