In an article posted to this blog in November of 2015, I outlined how Donald Trump could become the 45th President of the United States. At that time, he was one of sixteen Republican candidates, most of whom had better qualifications, organizations, and support from the party than him. Now, he’s the Republican nominee and will face Hillary Clinton in the general election in November. Despite his current shortfalls in support, and numerous missteps on the campaign trail, he still has a very strong chance of being elected, and wishing this wasn’t the case won’t make him go away. The same arguments which were used to demonstrate why he wouldn’t get the nomination are now being used to show why he won’t be elected. They are just as false now as they were then. In a nutshell, the people who want to see Trump as president are united; the people who don’t are not.
The problem is painfully familiar. Every time the Democrats become overconfident, they lose — every time. People are quick to point to polls that show Clinton ahead by a significant amount but these polls are meaningless and hurt more than help Clinton’s chances. If we get to November with Clinton still holding a comfortable lead, many in the electorate may conclude Clinton has the election in the bag and won’t need their votes. Once these voters check out of the process, Trump’s chances skyrocket. People simply don’t like Clinton. It may not be logical for people to feel that way, but guess what? People aren’t logical. If Democrats focus all their efforts on getting Clinton elected they will lose and lose big. The Democrats need to shift the focus away from electing Clinton and instead focus on retaking the House and Senate. If the electorate can be convinced they have a stake in the election, they’ll be more likely to turn out and Clinton will benefit by proxy. Clinton’s biggest challenge is to not make any missteps between now and the election and to give Trump plenty of leeway to make a fool of himself.
Clinton is very predictable. Her record as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State is there for all to see. If she’s elected, not much will change. She may be more militaristic than Obama, but from a policy standpoint, she’ll toe the party line and everyone knows this. If the Democrats manage to take back one or both houses of Congress, she’ll be in a position to accomplish quite a bit, but the Republicans will oppose her just as rabidly as they have Obama and her husband before her. A number of Republicans have already raised the specter of impeachment with the election still more than two months away.
Comparing Trump to a certain German chancellor from the first half of the twentieth century is misguided. That individual was focused and had a very specific agenda. Trump is not focused and has no discernible agenda. He says whatever people want to hear and nothing more. The trick Donald Trump has been able to pull off is to fool his supporters into thinking he’s anti-establishment, when in fact a wealthy real estate mogul is the very definition of establishment. Trump is dangerous because he’s unpredictable. No one knows what he would do as president, not even him. We can’t believe anything he says, not even when he’s making fascist or racist statements. He’s the ultimate frat boy, a dittohead who’s made something of himself in spite of himself. He says outrageous things because he can get away with it. When the Clintons were in power in the 90s he was their best friend. Now, he sees an opportunity to expand his brand, and he’ll ride it for as far as he can, even into the White House.
If Trump gets elected, the Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves. It’s not the Sanders supporters, nor the people who might vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein who’ll be at fault. It will be the Democrats, who put forth yet another problematic candidate who doesn’t speak to the needs of the constituents. For all of her qualifications, which admittedly make her the most experienced person in the race, Hillary Clinton is not perceived as a candidate for the people. In many ways, she’s the new millennium’s equivalent of Ted Kennedy and faces an uphill battle to win the White House. No, this doesn’t make sense, but when have elections in the US ever made sense? At this point the only person who has a realistic chance of stopping Trump is Trump himself and that doesn’t seem likely to happen, though with Trump, anything’s possible.