Sunday, November 6, 2016
Okay, here's my prediction for the fun-and-games Tuesday; Hillary will win the presidency, but not by as big a margin as she'd hoped. The Democrats will fail, by a hair, to re-take Congress. A surprisingly large number of Libertarian, Green and independent candidates will wind up in the lesser offices.
First, why will Trump lose? Because he never intended or expected to win in the first place! He was supposed to be the protest vote, the spoiler, the "ideological candidate", and surely he knew that from the start. After all, he's never held any elected office, never been in the military, never worked for government in any capacity, never studied civil, federal or Constitutional law; he's totally incompetent to be President or even to campaign for the job. So why did he even bother?
Obviously, for the same reason he's done almost everything else in his life: to make money -- and fame. He jumped into the GOP nomination race promising to use his own money, so as to be beholden to nobody, which was refreshingly original. He also spoke his mind with no careful self-censorship, which a lot of people found refreshingly honest when compared to modern politics-as-usual. Also, which tells you more than enough about the current state of the GOP, once the honest-but-hopelessly-ignorant Ben Carson and the honest-but-hopelessly-naive Ran Paul were cut out of the race early, Trump actually was the most honest and least bigoted of the remaining candidates. Once he'd won the nomination he began accepting political funding, from small contributors and not-so-small, but his backers were willing to forgive him that. What no one seems to have mentioned in public is that the money he's raked in from contributions has far outstripped the money he spent on advertising his way into the nomination. And that's not counting the TV network he's in the process of buying, and the free advertising he got for it simply as a candidate. When he goes home the day after losing the election, he'll be crying all the way to the bank. Consider the money he put up to win the nomination as an investment, and a successful one at that.
But what did the GOP get out of it? A colorful "ideological candidate", that's what. A little-known secret of political tactics is that, in a year when a party realizes it can't win, no matter what it tries, it will put up a candidate who preaches one extreme of the party line -- loudly, often, exclusively, with no self-censorship -- regardless of whether or not that line is popular enough with the general public to win the general election. It does this in order to keep the loyalty of its idealistic young members and its curmudgeonly older ones.
That's what Barry Goldwater was in 1964. He called himself a "conservative" then, though he'd be called an obvious Libertarian now, and in the wake of the JFK assassination "conservatism" was unpopular. He had also criticized some bad legal points in the Civil Rights Act, which the Democrats handily used to claim that he was a racist -- though his supporters knew he wasn't. He was embarrassingly honest and loyal to his principles, which made him the perfect "ideological candidate". He lost by a landslide to LBJ, leaving his followers with the satisfaction of their ideological purity -- and, eventually, a grim joke: "People told me, 'vote for Goldwater and we'll go to war in Vietnam.' Well, I voted for Goldwater and, sure enough, we went to war in Vietnam."
But Goldwater didn't politely fade away after his defeat. He kept being re-elected senator from Arizona, sticking to his ideological guns, being embarrassingly honest, gaining a reputation as a maverick, a gadfly, and a conscience the GOP didn't really want. When Bill Clinton started his presidency with an attempt to clinch the loyalty of the idealistic young Democrat faction by abolishing the ban on Gays in the military, all the Republicans and not a few Democrats noisily swooned with moral horreur -- all but Goldwater. He made international headlines by supporting Clinton's bill with his legendary quote: "You don't have to be straight to shoot straight." That also guaranteed him his Senate job for as long as he wanted it, and gave him the reputation as the only really honest politician since Jefferson -- or at least Teddy Roosevelt.
Well, there will be no such problem with Trump. Indeed, he's presented Republican voters with a very different problem. The GOP has been slowly dying since it welcomed the racist reactionaries who deserted the Democrats after World War Two, and it signed its death certificate when it threw out the last of its libertarian wing -- with its shabby treatment of Ron Paul and his faction -- in 2012 (leaving his son Rand as the last persistent token). By then, of course, the Libertarians had founded their own political party and managed to get it registered in all 50 states, despite the best efforts of the Big Two parties to throw it off the books and keep it ignored by the media. The GOP, with its steady reliance on the NeoCon crowd, has gained a reputation as the party of the 5 R's: Racist, Reactionary, Religious-Right Rich. This is a shrinking population, a sinking political ship, which explains the presence of enough non-reactionary voters disgruntled enough to vote for Trump in the first place.
Now they're stuck with a serious dilemma: hold their noses and vote for Hillary, though they can't stand her -- for good reasons, such as her oft-admitted intention to to end-run the 2nd Amendment and her general tendency to wipe her butt with the Constitution -- or back a proven incompetent, or take a wild leap into the unknown, vote their consciences, and "waste" their votes on a third party (such as the Libertarians). The one way out of the mess is to let the chips fall where they may on the Presidential race and concentrate on electing intelligent candidates for Congress, who will hopefully rein in President Lesser-of-two-evils' excesses. With those vital races out of the way, one might as well continue to vote one's conscience and choose better candidates for the lower offices, in hopes that eventually they'll gain higher ones. It's a political Hail-Mary Pass, but that's what the Big Two parties have brought us to.
Is it really going to happen? Well, there are certain hints. This year, for the first time ever, the usually-Democrat mainstream media have not only been mentioning but giving air-time and regular poll statistics -- and careful denigrations -- to both the Libertarian the Green Party. Obviously voters have been asking about the third parties, enough to draw the notice of the political analysts and pollsters. I'm suspicious, myself, of the pollsters who smugly report that Jill Stein has the support of 1% of the voters, and Gary Johnson all of 7%. I've never been queried by a political pollster, have you? There just might be a lot more desperate Hail-Mary voters out here than anyone realizes.
--Leslie <;)))>< )O(