Update – The Trump campaign meltdown

Watching this contest between a juggernaut and a naught is much like seeing one of those B-movies set in the Coliseum where a squadron of highly trained, organized, and motivated gladiators is taking on a gang of rough, ill-equipped bumpkins. We all pretend to dislike the professionals and their cold, powerful Blue Queen, but we secretly love seeing the over-matched underdogs go down in horrible agony one by one. We don’t feel guilty because we know that just in time, a Hero will emerge among the shabby band of Red outsiders and rebels, and, with amazing feats of swordsmanship and sheer noise, provide a free ride to doom for the brutally efficient forces of Empire, thus saving the day for freedom and justice.

In the present case, all the parts seem well cast, except for the over-aged Red Hero. After Sir Donald’s frankly stupid remarks over the course of just ten days, doubt as to his establishment-overthrowing skills is setting in again with a vengeance. Worse, as his yoooge self-appraised strength as a counter-punching warrior for the people has come even more into doubt, we now learn that his Treasury is, to be charitable, empty, in part thanks to his and his children’s habit of dipping into it.

With no money, no significant battleground state ground game, no supporting surrogates, and no discernible rescuing cavalry on the horizon, Sir Talksalot seems a long way from defeating the Queen and her steely-eyed team. We’re therefore sticking with our forecast of 347 Electoral Votes for Clinton and 191 for Trump, but the way he keeps stabbing himself in the foot makes that estimate of 191 EVs downright shaky. We see 27 to 37 EVs possibly switching to the Queen, with another 49 close to slipping into toss-up land, and thus becoming vulnerable.

Guns and Mutter

1

The tragedy in Orlando has brought the issues of gun control, gun safety, Islamic terrorism, refugee immigration, and LGBTQ hate crimes back up to the top of America’s election issues list. It is the number one media topic because after Saturday night it is the number one concern to the great majority of Americans. All of us are muttering about one or another aspect of the event and its likely aftermath.

Others will debate the many elements making up these issues; we’re only concerned here with the potential impact of them on the November election. With so many differing views being presented about one or more aspects of this particularly complex mass-murder, we want to try and put the entire episode into the context of what, lest we forget, will likely prove to be the most critically important general election since 1932, or even 1860.

If our attempt to maintain analytical objectivity seems heartless, cold, or unsympathetic, we apologize. We of course thank the true heroes and the caregivers for looking to the human victims. But after all the death and suffering in these episodes, the next victim is very often the truth. We choose to focus on that.

2

If anyone stands to benefit from this horrible attack, it’s Donald Trump. He already had the upper ground when it comes to mass fear of Islam-inspired terrorism. Ditto with his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants–even though none were involved in the shooting.

Similarly he’s consistently shouted his untruthful claim that Hillary Clinton intends to take away everyone’s guns. Finally, the awful event lets Trump once again blame the President, Trump’s target whenever anything goes wrong.

The National Rifle Association also “wins” in its sick way from all this AR15-wrought death and injury, and the accompanying devastation of innocent lives. The gun manufacturers, the NRA’s partners in political manipulation, will also benefit, as they do after every American mass killing.

The advocates for gun safety and restrictions on sales will “lose”, as they always do now, meaning they will not be able to do anything. President Obama, Senator Clinton, and all their colleagues will once again appear weak and powerless to overcome the gun lobby’s killing-business-as-usual choke hold on the U.S. Congress.

Meaning in turn the vast majority of the American people, who support Senator Clinton’s rational proposals for gun safety and regulation, will not see these measures come into being. Even should she become our President.

Clinton and her supporters will also “lose” potentially significant support by refusing to deal openly and forthrightly with the Islamic theological undercurrent in this barbaric act, and similar mass murders in California and Paris. The truth is that Islamic dogma and cultural practice is homophobic, against girls’ and female rights, against education, against evolutionary science, and opposed to “Western” political ideas, like, democracy, gender equality, free speech, and the rule of non-religious law.

We will not see a national consensus soon emerge from this latest appalling rampage. The people who lost their lives and health and sense of personal freedom were the main losers in this event, but the rest of us will also suffer in the long term by our refusal or inability to deal with these issues.

3

Here, then is the harsh truth as we struggle to put our daily lives back together after this awful tragedy:

The difficult truth is that there is no simple and quick “fix” for the situation in which we’ve unwittingly placed ourselves. As a Progressive advocate, I’d love to be able to tell readers that if we elect Hillary Clinton, these vexing issues will be resolved with her typical plodding, determined, fair program development and implementation techniques and team leadership. But I cannot say this. It’s not going to happen so easily, or ever, unless we accomplish the political goals needed to support her.

To regain credibility with millions of potential swing state voters, Clinton must walk the fine line between defending Americanized Moslem residents and citizens, and the millions, not thousands, of Islamic fundamentalists in dozens of countries who applaud any attack on any symbol of Western individual freedom. Calling those who understand the history and realities of Islam “Islamophobes” is mindless name-calling, which, in the eyes and hearts of potentially millions of voters, can bring the Clinton campaign right down in the gutter of ignorance currently occupied by Trump and many of his supporters.

We can, we must, grieve, but all our sympathy and grieving; all our coming together as a grand Progressive community; all our rational proposals to reduce gun violence, while dealing with home-grown terrorism, all this is not going to bring about change.

4

To resolve these conflicts will require legislation, and then a Supreme Court that will uphold the law.

As all know by now, when we defeat Trump in November, we must also retake control of the Senate.

But to resolve the gun issues, the immigration issues, the public safety issues, and the counter-terrorism issues, we must in addition defeat enough sitting Republican members of the House to oust the feckless Paul Ryan and ensure a majority for the Clinton agenda.

Only by wresting the control of the House of Representatives from the die-hard Tea Party faction and their spineless Republican allies and retaking the Senate will President Clinton be able to complete the work of President Obama and begin the implementation of the Progressive agenda.

5

After a national tragedy, Americans always resolve to work together to ensure it won’t be repeated, or to make sure we never forget the sacrifices of our fellow citizens, whatever their race, origin, ethnicity, or sexual identity may have been.

In the wake of this most recent hateful attack on our free and open society, we must not allow the fear-inspiring hatred of Donald Trump to replace our native kindness, our Constitutional tolerance, our selfless public spirit, and our will to re-make our country as the leader and inspiration of freedom-loving people everywhere.

“The People Have Spoken”

Or so says Paul Ryan on this Thursday the 9th of June, fully four weeks before the meltdown of his Party in Cleveland. Which we are sure was not said in jest, because the Speaker has no detectable sense of humor.

Not a problem since none of his Ayn Rand-inspired legislative agenda is a laughing matter, either.

Unfortunately, though, Mr. Ryan also seems a bit weak when it comes to election math.

The truth is only a small percentage of “the people” voted for the Donald as the Republican nominee.

In the coming election, we estimate that about 140 million people will vote. Only 10 million or so of these voted in the primaries for Trump. So actually, just 7% of likely voters have said they want to be represented by the Donald.

If we measure the number of Trump supporters against the total number of about 215 million U.S. citizens 18 and over who will be eligible to vote this year, then the percentage who’ve voted for him as nominee this spring was less than 5%. Ouch! Or as the Donald would say, “Pathetic!”

OK, but let’s do something most Republicans seem to think is stupid, and be fair. What about just the Republican voters? How do they feel about having a shallow TV celebrity as their standard bearer?

Roughly 30% of Americans are Republican, or tend to lean that way. Meaning about 65 million eligible voters would have a credible opinion on who should be the GOP nominee. Meaning in turn less than one in six has actually walked into a polling station and cast their vote for Trump. That’s sixteen percent, Mr. Ryan. Not even one third of the way to a 51% majority of the folks who tend to see the world through the same sort of blinders you do.

Is Trump really “the (Republican) ‘people’s choice'”? Hardly. Is it really too late to stop him from plunging into an electoral abyss and taking the Party who never selected him with it? The answer is no. Or would be, if Mr. Ryan dared be honest with “the people”. Which he won’t.

Instead of trying to find more weasel words to support Trump without actually supporting Trump, Speaker Ryan would do better to work with his colleagues and deny the Donald his coronation in Cleveland.

The choice is now very clear:

Acting as an honorable party of American patriots, the Republicans can pull the plug on Trump and take the consequences in November. Mr. Ryan, you can stop Trump now. Or watch us do it later.

Beware of the underdog

Thanks to Donald Trump’s precision-guided aim when he shoots himself in the foot, he is very close to becoming a figure of national ridicule as well as the greatest man in the known universe.

All clever critiques aside, the progressive coalition forces need to remind themselves every day of every week until November 8th that this charlatan is a successful mass-audience TV entertainer, capable by nature of turning any given event or setback to advantage.

We must all be extra careful not to allow the wounded warrior to re-package himself as the presumptive underdog of the Republican Party. Americans love their anti-establishment rebels, which is a major reason Trump has managed to eat the withered, elitist, unfeeling heart of the GOP and turn it into a plush red robe for his coronation as its king.

As the weeks roll by, and Trump stumbles over one stupid pronouncement or outrageous slur after another, it will be tempting to treat him as the clown he is. As he demonstrates to all his utter ignorance of the issues and realities a President must face, many will start referring to him as the brainless know-nothing head of the country’s new Know-Nothing Party. As he lashes out in rage when his past is laid out before the people, we’ll see him for the small-minded, arrogant, vindictive, greedy little man he is. And as he continues to insult women, Latinos, African Americans, the disabled, the new immigrants to our great country, and his opponent, we’ll be reminded again and again that he is an immature, unfeeling beast of a person.

The shift in public sentiment is already underway. He’s become the biggest target in U.S. history for satirists and late-night comedians. Already he’s a yoooge disappointment to the Party he’s made into his fawning pet. Already he’s a dangerous threat to our national security in the eyes of the military and other professionals we trust to guard us.

It’s become tempting to treat him not simply as a TV buffoon and snake oil huckster, but as a contemptible pig, the very essence of the white male chauvinists we mocked mercilessly in the 70s and after until that type of man became a cultural cartoon character.

We’ll stop fearing him and start to attack him. It’s already begun, with his supposed BFFs among the Republicans now openly questioning his fitness for the Presidency, even suggesting the Convention might need to pull a bait-and-switch on its own nominee.

Why, before long, we’ll even see reporters and interviewers actually asking him real, tough, challenging questions.

It’s OK to hate Trump; he’s more than earned it. But it’s not OK to risk turning him into an underdog. Americans love underdogs. We’re an emotional people, easily swayed by a cleverly orchestrated thirty minutes of national TV exposure. This can quickly become Trump’s turf we’re playing on, with him as the put upon people’s hero instead of the sleazy con artist he’s shown himself to be.

Others have warned many times in the past year of observing — and being trampled by — the Trump parade: do not underrate him!

Let him paint himself as a mad dog; but do not let him become an underdog.

How to lose a landslide

Huh? One wins a landslide, right? Or loses to a landslide. Right?

Yes, ordinarily. In this wacky election however, the conventional notion may well end up being redefined. Consider: at this moment, Senator Clinton is leading the TV buffoon by an estimated electoral vote tally of 323 to 215. If the election were today, and this estimate holds up, that would probably not qualify in the judgment of most commentators as a landslide.

But analysis shows she could very likely carry Colorado and North Carolina, adding 24 more votes, for a total of 347, versus 191 for Trump. Landslide territory.

OK, so what does my title mean?

I’m suggesting that in this specific year, we must recognize the Donald’s ability to mesmerize a large audience. About fifteen million people have fallen under his spell so far, and we have months of campaigning ahead of us. No one can predict with a high degree of certainty that the Trump Train will be derailed. It would therefore be foolish for Senator Clinton to campaign as if this were a normal year.

Should Clinton fail to make her case against Trump effectively, and then, should some outside event occur that would inspire a sudden mass switch of independent voters to his side, and persuade a large number of the presently disaffected Republican women and moderates to suddenly see him as the safer alternative, we could see several swing states come into play. Chief among them would be Florida (29 electoral votes), but Ohio (18), North Carolina (15) and Pennsylvania (20) could also be at risk. That could mean 273 votes for Trump, or three more than needed to win. Wham bam, thank you Madame Secretary; you’re fired.

Add to this unpredictability the (still) unknown posture Senator Sanders will assume once he is forced to concede the Democratic nomination to Clinton. If he decides to rant on about being “cheated” by the nominating process he was completely aware of a year ago, and fails to push his supporters to Clinton with sincere enthusiasm, it could potentially work to put as many as 80 electoral votes in play come November.

Specifically, we see this possibility in New Hampshire (4 electoral votes), Colorado (9), Virginia (13), and Wisconsin (10), along with Florida (29) and North Carolina (15).

The result?

Clinton with 267 vs. Trump at 271. Talk about being Berned…

Not one, but two ways to lose a landslide.

Not one minefield to cross, but two, with the tripwires for each all mixed together.

How can Senator Clinton find her way through this complex mess?

With respect to dealing with Agent Orange, most of the wise men and women inside the beltway seem to be urging her to wage an all-out personal war on him, even before he is formally anointed as the golden gasbag and bad boy of the Republican Party. “Define him before he can define you!” they demand.

With respect to Bernie and his supporters, it seems half her critics and the pundits are advising her to tread lightly, while the other half are saying she should just ignore him.

Two separate mindfields strategies, both of dubious merit in our judgment. And, oh yes, both of these must be executed together, never mind the possibilities for creating even more confusion and frustration in the minds of the voters.

We think there’s a better way.

No.

We insist there must be a better way, since the present suggestions seem likely to help bring about the negative results we itemized above.

To her credit, Senator Clinton made a stupendously good start on a new, strong, effective strategy against the unending rant of Trump today in her foreign policy speech at San Diego. The singular strength of the solidly reasoned, tough, scathing speech was to mount a thorough assault on the Donald that detailed his weaknesses in the context of her strengths.

We’ll build on her accomplishment, outlining an alternative path through this double mind field in the coming week or two.