On April 30th, 2015 I bet $1 at 200 to 1 odds that Donald Trump would win the Republican Nomination for President. Back then Donald Trump hadn’t even declared yet, but that silly small bet as a joke turns out to have been probably the best bet I’ve ever made (even while also being horrified by the outcome). Now nearly a year later I am willing to make a new bet, I think Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. Here’s why I think so.
Donald Trump stormed his way to the GOP nomination with an ease that should make his doubters very worried. He beat some of the best career politicians an entire party had to offer. Governors and Senators alike with hundreds of millions of dollars between them in their war chests could not stop him. These are people who have achieved some of the highest positions in the American political landscape, and he went through them with a ruthlessness unseen. He didn’t just beat them, he broke them (example two). He beat an entire party, and there is no reason to question if he can do it again. I listened to Debbie Wasserman Schultz today in an interview and I’m sure the Democrats are substantially underestimating Donald Trump.
Populism is Popular + Trump Can Be Anyone to Anyone = Man of the People
Anti-Intellectualism is rampant in America right now and it’s political face is Populism. Look no further than the sustained anti-Obama rage that’s lasted almost his entire presidency, and Trump’s success in defeating the standard bearers of conservatism. Large numbers of people genuinely believe that neither political parties or major political ideologies support their best interests. The success of Trump and Bernie Sanders this primary cycle should be an indicator to anyone that emotion currently trumps ideological consistency or pragmatism. People don’t want parties, they want emotional connections to people they feel they can believe in and “elites and insiders” aren’t trustworthy.
In comes Donald Trump, the political outsider that everyone already knows and there is no more powerful combination. He’s made a career out of portraying himself as everyone’s rich friend. He’s a man who can have the Clintons come to his wedding, star in McDonalds commercials, while also have a stadium of people cheer him as he jumps into professional wrestling. Soon he’ll go a few months of acting presidential and people will believe it. He’ll also pivot away from far right-wing ideas and become far more centrist (he’s already doing so.) And he’ll hammer home that he’s not from Washington, and Hillary is. In an election between two highly disliked candidates, the advantage goes to the Outsider.
Hillary Clinton is Mortally Wounded
The struggles of Hillary Clinton have ultimately left her in a mortally wounded state. Donald Trump didn’t even have to do the dirty work in creating that wound in the Hillary Clinton campaign, Sen Bernie Sanders and Hillary herself did it for him.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: people will be writing about Sen. Sanders insurgent campaign for years and it fact those books will go hand in hand with books about Trump’s. Sanders and Trump are the same side of the same coin in there reliance on Populist emotional messaging and complete disregard for whatever happens to the party. Their goals where self-serving damage when the Democrats and Republicans were least prepared for those types of attacks to come on internal stages.
Let’s contrast the 2008 Dem primary campaign to 2016. Hillary was the front runner who fought the then Sen. Obama all the way to the convention, but they differences were over who would be better to lead. They battled positions on policies, records, the Iraq War, and experience. Sen. Sanders openly questions Hillary Clinton’s motivations and character, and it’s clear that no one in the Democratic party was prepared for that. Sen. Sanders has no problems with openly calling Hillary Clinton a crook, the Democratic Party full of crooks, and that he alone speaks for the people (a popular Bernie Bro meme). Sen. Sander’s ultimate lack of actual policy ideas was irrelevant, he effectively ran his entire campaign on anger at other Democrats and in doing so contributed to them likely losing the White House. And after the dust settles and we await the inauguration of President Trump, Sen Sanders and his followers will say it’s all because people are racists or crooks and shun any responsibility for their part in this vile turn of politics.
Hillary Clinton: She at times has been her own worst enemy. The fact that I don’t actually need to go into detail at all the mistakes that Hillary Clinton has made and their contributions to her general unpopularity should be concerning enough.
Last but not least is the Media. Donald Trump is as much a product of the medium as he is of his message. He shows an effortless ability to react with and win over the tides of media interests and opinions. Years of reality television and Trump brand crafting have created a perfect storm of symbiotic partnerships within the News Media. He gets his coverage (massive amounts of earned media) and News Media gets its views.
News Media stands to gain so much from drama that not only did it bend to the will of Donald Trump but also supported the Sen. Sanders insurgency. Hillary Clinton was not enough of a story so they covered the Sanders “Revolution” with zeal with near complete disregard to any investigative coverage and ignored real flaws in Sen. Sanders (like that he had no money, his wife drove a university into the ground, that he is a collection of catchphrases with no substance). In prior elections the News Media would meticulously pour over every trait and historical event in the lives of candidates. Gone are the days when New Media investigated John Kerry’s war record, today it’s all about the show, and the showman wins.
Here are some other thoughts on this election cycle.
Donald Trump will beat the Racist accusations with ease. He’s not a man who is afraid to kiss a black baby. And since he hasn’t done anything politically to harm Black America, he’ll charm and disarm a lot of people.
Donald Trump’s xenophobic message is not a bug, it’s a feature, and it’ll be damn popular too.
Republicans will be appeased to a degree by Trump (he makes deals) and they will ultimately support him.
Hillary better get a damn good running mate. She’ll need a surrogate to help her effectively present her message (Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not a good one).
Don’t trust polls. Right now there are a lot of people who would vote for Trump but not publicly admit it. Let’s get closer to the election before we start calling up Nate Silver.
I don’t want Donald Trump to be President.