Every respected poll currently shows Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. The Washington Post ran a story Monday entitled “The Presidency is Clinton’s to Lose.” Donald Trump has no real political platform except to say whatever needs to be said at any given moment – even if that changes daily with the different audiences he stands before and works to please. His wildly popular appeal is a strange mirage. Like someone staring into their own hazy reflection in a dirty mud puddle, observers see what they want to see. He’s a conservative, a moderate, a liberal, a hawk, an isolationist, a businessman, a leader, an outsider, an insider. He’s whatever you want him to be. At the end of the day he is a reality television star with massive talent for self-promotion.
And yet, in spite of the polls, in spite of what seems obvious, in spite of what seems rational, I believe Donald Trump will be elected the next President of the United States, not because he would be a good president but due to a unique convergence of the following seven points.
This is not to say that Hillary would not be a good president or leader. She is simply a horrible candidate. There is a reason why the Republican party contributed so many mediocre candidates to the race this election cycle. Everyone wanted to run against Hillary! The greatest surprise of the 2008 presidential race was not that Barak Obama won, but that Hillary Clinton lost. Her levels of incompetence as a candidate were shocking. She comes across as cold, corrupt, and dishonest on her worst day and disingenuous and distracted on her best day.
The reception of her proposals from the last week alone (no American will pay more than 10% of their income for childcare, and Bill Clinton will be put in charge of the economy) present as pleadings to “please love me” from a candidate who should be dominating. For an electorate seething with anger and discontent, Hillary is as bad a proposal for solution that can be imagined.
A lot of people think this is because she is a woman and reflects the sexism of our culture but that is not true. Carly Fiorina, Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, even Sarah Palin all have their own appeals but Hillary doesn’t. Women voters express greater appreciation and memory of the philandering presidency of Bill Clinton than they do for his wife who stood by him through each humiliating sex scandal. Try and explain that one! How did Hillary become the bad guy of the Clinton presidency?
The lingering of Bernie Sanders in the campaign in contradiction to basic math reflects a Democratic constituency that is begging to not be forced to vote for Hillary. Many voters who voted for President Obama might not vote for Trump but they insist they won’t vote for Hillary either. More voters on the Democratic side will simply not vote for either candidate rather than give their vote to Hillary. Conversely, many people who know Trump is a poor choice for President will vote for him just to make sure Hillary does not win. This reality is being under recognized in the media. As Bernie Sanders’ supporters become more agitated and behave like Trump’s supporters it is because the terrible truth that Hillary may be their forced option is beginning to hit home.
Donald Trump is a liar, a bully, a troublemaker, possibly a sexist, racist, panderer who has demonstrated no respect for the responsibilities of leadership. These issues are not relevant to this campaign however. In the late 1990s when former President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment for lying under oath about his extramarital affairs, the public debate about the importance of personal character in our leaders concluded it was not really that important. Competency, not character, was what mattered. “It’s the economy stupid” was a sign hoisted at the Democratic convention in 1992 as a means to counter all the talk about Bill Clinton’s character deficiencies. It appears history and shifts in social norms have consequences.
The anger among the increasingly stressed and shrinking middle class in America is about to spillover into protest. That protest, at least its first phase, is not with rioters in the street but with voters for Trump on election day. They don’t care if he is a liar. They don’t care that he doesn’t have any real plans. They are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore! Donald Trump’s appeal is not because he is appealing. It is because he represents the chance to vomit on a system which many feel has either abandoned them or cheated them. When President Obama takes political risks for the sake of transgender high schoolers to use coed showers by force of government blackmail to state budgets, he is feeding into the anger of this increasingly bitter and resentful constituency. We should not be fooled into believing that these issues are unrelated. The growing liberalism of the Washington establishment is helping to fuel an angry and scorned middle class among average Americans. That response is irrational, unethical, and 6 months away from becoming offialized at the ballot box.
One of the greatest accomplishments of Donald Trump’s campaign was not his defeat of rival Republicans and Conservatives but his ability to have them lay bare their own hypocrisy and opportunism. Donald Trump is not killing the Republican party. Its former leaders are doing that all by themselves. Once this election is over, the landscape of the Grand Old Party will be littered with the finished careers of people who betrayed values and principle based positions for the idea that at least Donald Trump was better than Hillary Clinton. Across the nation today values based social conservatives and Christian Republicans are trying to find a way to justify a vote for Donald Trump with the logic he is the lesser of two evils. These social conservatives seem to have missed how a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.
History and current events do not pause for the US presidential elections. They flow directly into this process. In 2008 as America was introduced to candidate Barak Obama his future presidency was not a sure thing. During the course of that summer a terrorist attack, a threat to national security, or something else along those lines would have emphasized Obama’s lack of experience against John McCain’s long track record with defense and national security. That did not happen though. Instead, a financial crisis struck and it struck hard – exposing McCain in his weakest light while Obama was seen in his cool professorial greatness. A lot can happen over the course of the next five months and when it does, expect history to emphasize Hillary’s weaknesses and Donald’s Teflon no stick response to crisis. That “something” may be issues that highlight corruption within Hillary’s ranks or insincerity in her platforms and agenda. Whatever they might be – they are coming.
At the end of the day and when all the votes are tallied we have to realize this election is not about the qualification of the candidates or their appeal to the voters. It is not even about the polarized state of the republic. This election is unlike anything we have seen in the past. This election is an indictment upon a system in which the will of the people, from one generation to the next, has finally led us to this place in history. Self-interest has won out over ethical responsibilities and moral obligations. When the options were presented to us one decade to the next to lead ourselves and the world responsibly we opted instead to be placated and entertained. This election is about the American democratic system imploding upon itself. The party of family values and conservative social imperatives has a reality tv star at its helm. The party of the little man and liberal economics has a candidate more closely associated with corruption and scandal than any vision for the future.
We have arrived at the end of the American Republic and have only ourselves to blame. This may not be the choice we specifically asked for but it is the choice our values and decisions have deserved and earned.