Let me start by saying No. This is not going to be yet another article that complains about how terrible Donald Trump is, and how scary the proposition of his presidency might be. Not going there, and enough already with all the complaints about it.
Part of the reason I’m so sick of these types of complaints is that I really don’t think there’s much of a risk in Trump becoming president – I don’t even think it’s going to be close. I know it might sound unwise to underestimate the man, especially after he shocked everyone by clinching the Republican nomination. But the reason for my treating the national elections so differently from the Republican nomination process is because, sigh, they’re so fucking different, and I’m annoyed by how many people can’t seem to grasp this simple fact. The only thing that Trump has managed to take by storm is the nomination of a deeply divided, aging and largely declining political party. The Trump phenomenon seems like nothing more than a death spasm of a dying old elephant.
National elections are ultimately about snatching the swing-voters that mostly bob around the middle of the political spectrum. Pollsters and campaign managers have long known that the majority of these swingers are not all that educated about governance and policy matters, and tend to make up their minds based on less rational, and emotionally driven reasons (you might remember George W. Bush being considered by many as someone you could “have a beer with”). This is why speeches and campaign slogans are so simplistic, and presidential debates are centered on talking points, buzzwords and punchlines. The bulk of the electorate has long since made up its mind about which party to vote for (mostly before the electoral process even started).
The least susceptible to any mind changes along the way are the people on the extreme edges of the political spectrum, who would mindlessly vote the way they’ve always voted anyway. With this in mind, what chance does an over-exaggerated caricature of an extreme right wing reactionary have? It almost looks like he’s trying to parody his own supposed party by alienating as many people as he can from it. The swing voters have been disgusted away long ago, and as he kept on going, even most of the Republican establishment can barely keep its lunch down anymore.
On the other side of the ledger, the most common accusation that’s thrown at Hillary Clinton (quite rightly if you ask me) is that she tends to morph herself into whatever candidate can get more voters to swing her way. As detestable as many people think this is (I actually don’t think it’s all that much different from what pretty much any other politician does), it’s exactly the kind of thing that tends to swing those swingers towards you. Remember, a presidential candidate doesn’t have to swing any of the more educated or committed voters, just the ones who latch onto punchlines and zingers. In Clinton’s case, it seems like she barely even needs to do that, since all those people, along with many others who probably never swung before, are being blasted her way by the crazed trumpetings of the carnival barker that was just nominated to lead the Republican party.
Things should get pretty funny as November approaches.