The US Presidential election is getting to be extremely entertaining and well beyond my expectations. It looks like it is going to be Trump (85%) versus Hillary (98%) in November. An additional and quite unexpected source of entertainment has emerged as Republicans become contortionists to escape from their previous criticisms of Trump and find a convoluted way to align themselves behind him.
(I note also that many of Trump’s critics in Europe are beginning to realise that it might not be very healthy to be too loud in their criticism and disdain of somebody who could be the next President of the US. The Pope has already backtracked. Some Scottish Nationalists are also becoming intellectual contortionists.)
The Republican “elite” are in abject disarray it seems (but they have been in disarray ever since the Tea Party gained ground). As an opposition they have been pathetic. Even with a resounding majority in the House their establishment chinless wonders (guess who I mean?), have been remarkably ineffective. “Stop Trump” is their new game, but they can’t. They can – possibly – dislodge him from being the GOP nominee but then he goes independent and then the GOP disintegrates.
For a Trump – Clinton battle in November, all conventional thinking is going to be of little use. The play-book for that game does not yet exist. It will be written from now on. It would, I think, be quite wrong to assume that the Trump then (in the mind’s eye of the electorate) will be the Trump we see now. It will be the perceptions he creates from now on, not those he has created so far, which will turn out to be decisive. Trump is turning out to be a rather smart – and clever – operator, in a clown’s clothing. He is becoming the champion of common sense and seems immune to attacks from “liberal McCarthyism” and from the tyrants of “political correctness”.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that Hillary Clinton would beat Trump easily. Her grass-roots organisation and the “Clinton brand” would, it is thought, rally the hordes to her cause and Trump would be wiped away. But I think conventional wisdom will turn out to be conventional folly in such a battle. Even on the feminism front, Clinton does not appear to have any decisive edge over Trump’s over the top support of being “feminine” (as opposed to feminism), which is sexist only to the most ardent of feminists. Clinton versus Trump will not be about ideologies but will be a battle of perceptions engendered and the emotions that are aroused. Clinton versus Trump will be black-and-white TV versus colour, it will be Blackberry versus the iphone, it will be – put simply – boring but known versus exciting if unknown. Normally unknown would be frightening – but not if the status quo is even more hopeless.
I have a sneaking suspicion that in a Clinton – Trump match-up, Clinton will defeat herself. Boring but known has its attractions when things are going well and the voter wants the status quo to be maintained. But for an electorate wanting “change” there will be little enthusiasm for Hillary. She projects the antithesis of “change”. She represents the worst of the establishment entrenched in their towers of elitism. Even adopting some of Bernie Sanders’ socialist ideas does not lift her up from “boring”. Obama promised “change” and “hope” and delivered neither. “American values” which made America “great” seem to have been diluted by too many years of wishy-washy liberalism.
“Oh God! Anybody but Hillary” and an anti-establishment tsunami could make Donald Trump President of the United States.