Saturday, October 15, 2016

Why Such a Close Election?

The latest polling at realclearpolitics has Trump down to Clinton by 6.7 points.  If the election were today Trump might win 20 states.

Mondale won 1 state and lost to Reagan by 18 points.  Dukakis lost to Bush by almost 8 points and won 10 states.  Does this make sense?

I don't think it's especially controversial to say that Trump is the worst human being and candidate that has been nominated for President in my lifetime, at least in terms of his moral character and temperament.  I think it's pretty obvious he's incompetent, but some might debate that.  On the issues opinions will differ.  Overall on non-issue related categories he's unbelievably bad.

It truly seems unreal to me.  You have the genital grabbing, the inappropriate talk towards 10 year old girls, saying his accusers aren't attractive enough to be groped, admission of imposing himself on naked teenagers in a dressing room.  Hillary is running against a true monster.  A dangerous abusive sexual predator that should be locked up to protect women.

And yet he's doing better than Mondale, Dukakis, or McGovern.  He's going to win more than one state, which is more than some nominees could say.  How is he doing so well?

I think Democrats should think about this question right now.  If they can't put away a candidate like this, what does that say about them?

In my discussions with Trump supporters and in my own mind I can think of several reasons Trump gets this level of support.

1-Some just feel that strongly about the issues.  Abortion is one.  True, Trump may not be genuinely pro-life.  He probably doesn't even care about the issue.  But he'll nominate a pro-life Supreme Court justice anyway.  At least to please the base.  Hillary of course will not do that.  Some people continue to believe in trickle down economics.  He will cut taxes for corporations and wealthy people and a lot of people continue to believe this is how you improve an economy.  A lot of people think illegal immigration is a serious threat to their life and livelihood.

Progressives should think about it this way.  What if our candidate was the sexual predator?  What if we nominated Bill Clinton and the worst said of Clinton and his treatment of women was true?  But his opponent thought climate change was a liberal conspiracy, wanted to torture the children of terrorists, wanted to cut taxes for the wealthy, wanted to strengthen rulings like Citizen United to maintain the corporate control of government?  I'd probably vote for Clinton anyway.  I wouldn't degrade myself as Trump's supporters are doing and make excuses for the behavior (it's just locker room talk, people talk like this all the time, he's telling the truth now even though we have audio of him saying the opposite, he asked for forgiveness so we should let it go).  I would own it and just say the issues are too important.

2-Hillary is this bad of a candidate.  I don't think she's the monster she's portrayed to be.  But she is an insider.  So was Obama.  That doesn't have to mean she's a terrible person.  She might have simply concluded that there's no way to win without the support of billionaires, so you have to do their bidding to some degree or lose forever.  That may be what she and Obama concluded.  On the other hand they may genuinely be insiders that care more for the interests of the wealthy than ordinary people.  Regardless of what they think deep down they actually do the bidding of the wealthy first.  They do not punish bankers.  They do push trade deals the billionaires want.  Their tax increases on the wealthy are half measures.  Not even.  They have sustained for-profit health care, which is killing thousands of Americans every year.  They do it because the owners want it.  They go to war for reasons that have nothing to do with our national security, but really either the security of Israel or for the interests of money.  People are sick of this.  I know a Muslim that intends to vote for Trump and he says "I know Trump hates me and people of my religion, but I'm sick of the corrupt insider government we have here."  That's how tired people are of the cesspool Washington has become.

3-Citizens United.  Some billionaires want their tax cuts and regulation cuts, so they will pump money into elections to help Trump win.  This is part of the reason Hillary can't put Trump away.

4-Some people are really racist and misogynistic.  They don't even mind the revelations.

Personally there is one major issue that causes my support for Hillary to be very tepid.  I think she could provoke a nuclear war.  Russia is taking steps that indicate they fear this outcome.  Hillary is such a committed hawk, such a committed apologist for Israel's aims, that she's risking a nuclear confrontation.  Trump talks about getting along with Putin.  I think he's quite right about that.  We are the ones arming what was Al Qaeda in Syria.  We have played a critical role in provoking the devastation in Syria, which is all the more reason I think Americans have an obligation to help the refugees.  Sexual harassment is terrible.  But nuclear war is worse.  So there are going to be some on the left that might prefer Trump despite his unbelievable behavior towards women.  I'm not saying I'm in that camp.  I think Trump is even more dangerous with nukes at his disposal than Hillary.  But there are reasons Hillary is not trouncing him right now, and some reasons have merit in my view.