May 6, 2016 by David K. Sutton
Yes Trump Can Win. Democrats Are Deluded If They Think Hillary Is A Lock.
The normal state of mind for the average Democratic voter is despair. Democrats and liberals fear their candidate will lose, always. But as it turns out, at least in presidential years, this fear of loss is a catalyst that gets Democrats and liberals to the polls. That has led to popular vote wins for Democrats in five of the last six presidential elections. The only exception was in 2004 when George W. Bush won the popular vote, giving him a second term as president. Unfortunately that pesky electoral college (and a controversial Supreme Court ruling) led to Bush, a Republican, winning in 2000 even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore, a Democrat. For some reason this fear of loss doesn’t fuel Democrats to the polls during non-presidential years, a topic we’ll bookmark for another day.
The anxiety and dread routinely experienced by Democrats in presidential election years seems all but absent this year, and that should be cause for concern. Many on the Left feel Hillary Clinton is a lock against Donald Trump. Some are even saying Hillary will win with a electoral college landslide. If this was a normal election year, with normal candidates, the electoral math would indeed favor a Democratic candidate, as it has for the past few presidential election cycles. Even with that advantage, a Democratic win is not a guarantee, and that is no less true for this bizarre election year. Hillary Clinton might be a relatively normal establishment candidate, but Donald Trump is anything but. America’s celebrity worship could throw a wrench into the works, possibly derailing a Hillary Clinton inauguration.
The design of our presidential election system is for maximum entertainment value, with little left over for democracy. That’s because much of the process is left up to political parties that are influenced by big money, and there’s no shortage of big money when it comes to the American media empire. Its not election law, but the rules of the two major political parties that steer our elections. Nowhere in the constitution does it say anything about a two-party system. Nowhere in the constitution does it say anything about how to run the state-by-state primary process. Most Americans probably believe this process was long ago hammered out by the Founding Fathers, but that simply is not the case.
As it turns out, our not-so-democratic presidential elections make for great television punditry, newspaper opinion pieces, blog fodder, and social media banter. That should tell us something about where this election is going. If American celebrity worship and media cult of personality does anything for this election, it will be to level the playing field, chipping away at the experienced candidate, while lifting up the reality TV star joke.
Right now Donald Trump can’t get any respect among Republicans outside of the rabid base who empowered him. Hillary Clinton, even with high unfavorable ratings, is clearly the more qualified and experienced candidate. Even people who hate Clinton would have a hard time trying to persuade anyone that Trump is more qualified. On the precipice of the primary season, heading into the general election, we have one candidate who is the safe choice, and another candidate who is a dangerous wildcard. If the election were held today, Clinton probably would win with a landslide, but this process has not yet played to maximum entertainment effect.
Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, has demonstrated a basic level of competence. She understands how policy and government work. She’s not openly racist; she hasn’t encouraged street violence. There’s no risk that she would disrupt the international order or cause an economic crisis out of pique.
That’s a really, really low bar. But it’s the only bar she has to clear in this contest. Almost irrespective of what you think of Clinton’s politics or her policies, she is manifestly more prepared to run the federal government than Donald Trump.
The number of people who recognize this elemental fact about the election, however, has probably already reached and passed its peak. It will decline from here on out. The moment of clarity is already ending.
Hang on, the road is about to get bumpy.
The media loves a good contest. Networks salivate at the idea of an evenly matched contest between two teams. But when it comes to sports, the media has no control over the contest or the outcome, and sometimes one team simply dominates the other team. It might be entertaining to watch your team trounce an opponent, but ratings usually drop off during such contests. When it comes to elections, however, the media not only broadcasts the contest, they play an active role in shaping the outcome. And there’s simply no way the media will sit on the sidelines during a lopsided affair.
[T]he US political ecosystem — media, consultants, power brokers, think tanks, foundations, officeholders, the whole thick network of institutions and individuals involved in national politics — cannot deal with a presidential election in which one candidate is obviously and uncontroversially the superior (if not sole acceptable) choice. The machine is simply not built to handle a race that’s over before it’s begun. (Vox)
The “Never Trump” movement will likely be singing a different tune on November 8th. After initial hand wringing, Republican voters and conservative-leaning independents, fed a steady diet of rhetorical moonshine, will soon find a Trump candidacy palatable. The media will do their part, especially conservative media, to keep the masses inebriated, and outfit beer goggles where prescribed.
It’s true that the media has been uncharacteristically blunt in its criticism of Trump during the primary, mainly because almost every source it considers legitimate hates Trump, including the Republican establishment. To date, the anti-Trump position has been safely inside the Washington consensus.
That will change once the GOP apparatus inevitably swings around behind Trump and begins accusing journalists who write critical stories of bias. If there’s one thing the GOP apparatus knows how to do, it’s ensure that there’s always another side, that reporters get smacked every time they move past “one hand, other hand” coverage. (Vox)
So what does this mean for Democratic voters?
Well, if you haven’t felt the twinge of doubt running down your spine yet, prepare yourself for the pounding headache and profuse meat sweats of a Trump-steak-seared existence on January 20, 2017. Because that will be our reality if Democratic voters already believe this election is over.