She’s come undone
She didn’t know what she was headed for
And when she found what she was headed for
It was too late.
Undun, The Guess Who
For the first time, a national poll by Fox News shows Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton among likely voters in November.
Now, you can discount Fox News as a right-wing propaganda machine — which it certainly is — but the truth is that their national presidential polls have proven pretty accurate. Not always, of course, but often enough.
Admittedly, this poll is an outlier from nearly all others, and we’re still in early days, but here’s the thing: Hillary Clinton is running like she’s interviewing for Chairman of The MacArthur Foundation. Donald Trump is running for President.
Hillary Clinton continues to run on her experience and qualifications, as if those things matter to most voters. As if most voters are deliberative and analytical in who they choose for the top job. Donald Trump is running on his instincts about what the voters are thinking and feeling. He’s proved himself quite prescient and perceptive. Now, at least one national poll shows him winning.
Team Hillary failed to predict the left-wing insurgency led by Bernie Sanders and failed to predict the youth insurgency that followed. (I predicted both, but nobody cared because I got no chops among the cognoscenti). She’s failed so far to put Sanders out of the race and to lock-down the nomination, regardless of her admirably crafty move to gather up superdelegates early on by buying-off the state parties.
The Donald® has blasted though 16 other GOP candidates to become the presumptive nominee, even though for most of his life he’s been anything but a Republican. He’s deep-sixed far more qualified candidates with impeccable conservative credentials, guys with fearsome Sugar Daddies and semi-trucks full of cash money, guys with armies of fevered devotees and well-designed ground games. He’s whipped them all handily, like Jesus among the Money-changers, and mostly without breaking a sweat. And he’s done it by understanding clearly that voters are never analytical, never rational, and hardly ever even deliberative when voting for President.
Trump understands what Hillary does not — that voters vote their emotions. And he has shown a talent for how to read those emotions and how to use them to win.
Right now, the voters are insecure economically. They’re afaid that America is losing ground against China, India, and others. They feel that American power and prestige in the world is waning. They want to feel a renewed sense of economic vitality and a greater sense of financial security. They want to feel that dick-stiffening hormonal sense of raw American power again: that pure, natural cocktail of testosterone, adrenaline and a belly full of red meat that makes us all the Cock of the Walk. They want to believe that a New American Prosperity is just around the corner. And they don’t.
A recent on-line article in The Atlantic magazine entitled ‘The Secret Shame of the Middle-Class‘ showed that half of all Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. It quickly went viral. Let that number sink in for a moment: Half of all Americans would have trouble coming up with $400 for an emergency. Think brake job on your car, a replacement oven, a new water heater, or a leaky roof, and you begin to see the real significance of that figure. At the 2015 median income of $53,657, $400 is just a little less than two days wages, before taxes.
While the Obama Administration can rightly take credit for rescuing the American economy from imminent collapse and driving unemployment down to 5%, it’s this feeling of a lack of economic vitality in our economy that underlies a general lack of confidence both in the future and in the direction the country is going. Polls show that most voters continue to think we are headed in the wrong direction. Voters on the right have rejected wholesale both the GOP and its establishment politicians at-large as the kind of lying, obstructionist, racist, no-jobs-bill, shutdown-sequester-shutdown, ineffectual ideological bums they’ve repeatedly proven themselves to be. The flaming death-spirals of Eric Cantor, John Boehner and Jeb! illustrate their deep contempt. At least they got that part right.
The 2016 electorate is gearing-up for a national referendum and mandate on the State of the Nation. Trump instinctively understands this and he’s mining the deep veins of voter discontent to power his campaign. Hillary is still waiting for a PowerPoint presentation that explains it.
Hope in the future and confidence in a candidate is a part of what drives every presidential election. But to instill in the hearts of voters a belief that, as President, you can and will lead them to a better, more prosperous, more peaceful, more secure future you first must be able to articulate a vision. Trump has been articulating his vision from the very outset of his campaign with a claim that he can “make America great again.” He’ll fix the immigration problem by building a wall. He’ll counter the threat of Islamic terrorism by barring Muslims and carpet-bombing Syria. He’ll make the middle-class prosperous again by bringing back good high-paying jobs from Mexico and China. Instantly, magically, he can accomplish all these things for the simple reason that he is Donald Trump and that’s a very fine thing to be. While Trump’s vision may not be workable, nor even reasonable or logical, it is a vision nonetheless. And it has been resonating with voters who want something, or someone, to believe in.
Hillary’s argument for why she should be President seems to be that she’s worked really hard for many years to amass the kind of credentials that will stand her in good stead to be President. Oh, and she’s a woman. Let’s not forget that. Unless you’re some kind of Male Chauvinist Pig, you can’t deny that it’s way past time we had a woman president. Because women, you see, are every bit as talented and capable as men. You need to know that.
That line of argument ought to work for her about as well as it worked for Gloria Steinem a couple of months ago.
When it comes to “the Vision Thing,” as BushOne liked to call it, Hillary’s got bupkis to show voters. That’s why Bernie Sanders continues to sail along in the primaries, holding her nomination hostage to the intransigence of the Wild-eyed Left. That’s also why Bernie Sanders tops Hillary in beating Trump in every national poll. Because Bernie Sanders, too, has a vision. It’s a socialist vision that involves massive tax increases on banks, corporations, Wall Street, and the über-wealthy … but it’s a vision nonetheless. And it could actually work, unlike Trump’s vision, which is mostly a childish concoction of imagination, sham and make-believe.
Still, what’s Hillary got? A big goose egg. While The Donald® intends to “Make America Great Again” and Bernie is offering “A Future We Can Believe In”, Hillary Clinton is “Fighting for us.” Big fuggin’ deal, Hill. Who the hell else would you be fighting for … ISIS? That slogan alone should tell you Hillary either has no vision for restoring economic vitality to America, or she has no interest in articulating one. Shee seems to be more interested in the international scene than the domestic one. But you should vote for her because … well, because she’s a woman and … it’s time.
Either one of those shortcomings dooms her campaign. But, beyond that, constantly touting your experience and qualifications without explaining why you want to be President can too easily be seen as a sense of entitlement. If that’s her message, she may as well fold up her tent now and hand the nomination to Bernie, who would at least have a chance of beating Trump.
While Trump is far from stupid, his single pre-eminent talent is that he can read the emotions of the voters — hence, their motivations — with what seems like telepathic clarity. An undoubted narcissist, he also understands that everyone to some degree is a narcissist, too, although it’s always far easier to point out the mote in your neighbor’s eye than your own. We all do much of what we do out of self-love, or self-interest, or even just the orifice-stretching, limbic-switchboard-lighting, sheer existential joy of busting a nut on someone you like. Trump knows this. As a consummate salesman, Trump understands how to move people, how to manipulate them, how to get them to willingly do what he wants them to do and be grateful for the opportunity. He’s willing to give some to get some. That’s the fundamental contract between people that motivates anyone. Some for you, some for me. Trump understands that. He understands how to sell and he understands how to lead by selling.
Hillary understands none of these things. She just thinks it’s time to have a woman be President and she thinks it ought to be her. Because, who else? She’s lived in the White House and she likes it there. If you have a different view, you must be sexist, or stupid, or both.
Once again, we Democrats are in the process of choosing a candidate for President who cannot see past his/her own sense of entitlement, self-righteousness, or moral superiority. Everybody understands that about Hillary, if only subconsciously, and that’s a big reason people dislike her. Once again, from that great elevation on the moral high-ground, our candidate will appear to be looking down on the voters. And, once again, our candidate will have their ass handed to them in the general with a warm smile and a friendly nod.
Trump, as the presumptive nominee, has already begun re-inventing himself after pushing out the other fledglings in the GOP nest. He’s co-opted many of his former enemies, brought the RNC chair under his supine control, made peace with Megan Kelly and other newsies, hired a bunch of talented consultants and image-makers, begun broad-scale fundraising, and is cutting deals with the money guys in New York and L.A. to finance a national ground game, post-convention. Like any good executive, he is executing-executing-executing relentlessly and he expects his team to do likewise. Like any good executive he knows exactly what he needs to do between now and the election, he’s knows exactly what needs to get done and what doesn’t, and he knows exactly how much it’s all going to cost. Like any good executive, he isn’t revealing any of his plans, to prevent the competition from countering or obstructing them. But rest assured, Trump is planning his campaign between now and November 8th to the quarter-inch. His people are executing, too, relentlessly, like their careers depend on it, which they do.
In the meantime, Trump is brilliantly relegating Hillary to the role of a sad, aging, ’70’s militant feminist with a case of chronic constipation and a bad crop of ‘rhoids to go with it. His first shot across the bow was accusing her of playing the “woman card” and Hillary compulsively took the bait. Trump will draw from that well often between now and Election Day and slowly, like a master wood-carver, shaving-by-shaving, he will cut a face into her public persona that will strip away her support and undermine her campaign.
You can bet that Hillary will continue to tout her experience and qualifications in response, all the while sneering at the bumbling, clueless amateur sans resúme who has never held public office and yet dares to believe that somehow he could be elected President of the United States.