If the election were tomorrow, Trump wins. This is reflected in nationwide polls and a comparative look at both party conventions. Last week in Cleveland it was routinely went from a full-blown madhouse of rabid fear-mongering to a massively star-spangled pep rally . Last night in Philadelphia more than half the delegates spontaneously, silently walked-out after Hillary was coronated. They were all still feeling the burn, but not as they’d envisioned, leaving the ashes behind for Bill to clean-up with his closing speech. Whether you see this as a good or bad thing, our situation has certainly reached a new level. How is it that Hillary could possibly beat Trump this November and save America from itself? To best understand my solution, we first need to break down the problem…
The democratic delegates, voters, and every Bernie fan in America feels cheated by Hillary & the DNC. And rightfully so. But it’s going to take a lot more than a few celebrities and former politicians singing her praises on TV to win those votes back. Thankfully, there’s still 3+ months left for her to figure that out. Her campaign’s efforts to produce videos that point out Donald’s endless character flaws are falling on deaf ears, if not empowering him more. Many of their demonstrated reaches toward millennials have come across cheap and phony. An acapella cover of “Fight Song?” Really? I’m all for C-SPAN if it means Washington will give up its attempt to make everything Hollywood.
It’s obvious Hillary is the most qualified candidate for the job, with enough political experience to run a second campaign against herself (in terms of the breadth of experience, not just issue flip-flops). Even if she were some unprecedented double agent for the Chinese or Russian governments, it doesn’t make her any less qualified for the POTUS job. She also won’t embarrass the nation (from outsider’s perspective) on the same consistent basis as Trump. Producing calculated campaign efforts that outline her as America’s bona-fide best option is the predictable, polished, diplomatic way of proving her worth. Well… about 240 years ago the British tried to win a war that way and they lost. Our founding fathers and the original patriots broke the mold, inventing guerrilla warfare with little to no experience, winning a series of battles they had no right in doing so. Think about it… Trump would have totally lead (well, ordered) that boat across the Delaware on Christmas morning. I still think Hillary can take the high ground here, but she needs to break from her conventional political wisdom to defeat this unconventional opponent.
I should have posted my predictions for Trump a year ago when he first announced his run. I had a strong feeling about him at the time, as I immediately recalled the night Trump made a very special appearance at WrestleMania 23. Yes, bear with me here. He was loosely involved in the final choreography of the match, attacking the antagonistic Vince McMahon to ensure his own fighter’s victory, leading to the embarrassing post-match shaving of Vince’s head. It was wrong, pervasive, and hilarious; hallmark qualities of pro-wrestling melodrama (and reality TV). The special guest referee for the match was former wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, who almost single-handedly turned the WWF into a billion-dollar enterprise in the late 90’s by drinking beer, flipping the bird, and unapologetically attacking the authorities whenever he wanted. The WWF internal story goes that Austin’s character was intended to be a villainous heel, but his anti-hero antics quickly won the fans over, who’d all been watching the same basic thematics and storylines recycled in pro-wrestling programming year after year. Fans loved the show already, but with this new edge they craved it. Sound familiar? Ratings went through the roof, often times even surpassing “real sports,” solidifying it as the hottest show on television for a few wildly entertaining years. In the decade that followed the rise of unscripted television content (including The Apprentice) and our news media’s crass attempts at dramatizing everything, during a strong polarization of our nation’s two major parties, turned American politics into an endless reality TV show. It comes as no surprise Donald is once again the star.
Trump is winning half the country over with absurd propositions anchored in the collective bitterness of a rigged political system that’s presented to us as a democracy, similar to some of Bernie’s own core messaging momentum. But Donald is doubling down on the fears and insecurities of an overworked, underpaid nation that faces constant cultural evolution; a United States too big to handle all of our recurring tragedies and societal issues with the same apparent ease that must have been felt before the internet kept us all readily informed. The only overnight cure for these cold fears about “something bad happening” is a shift into dictatorship, which is why such horrifying accusations of Trump and his unbelievable suggestions are impossible to ignore. Trump is the new anti-hero, a booming voice for the troubling, deep-seeded emotions (and cheap thrills) that everyone, both democrats and republicans, can all relate to. But so is porn, so I’m not at all suggesting this is the right option simply because we all “get it.”
Meanwhile, Hillary continues to run a deadpan campaign built on her infallible logic and blatant understanding that yes, she’s totally the best one for the job. Just let me do it already! But logic left this race a long time ago. Most Americans clearly aren’t in the mood for the most qualified candidate right now. It was the fresh spirit behind the Bernie and Trump movements that gave them such sudden potential and sweeping voter confidence. One of those camps is built on love and another built on hate, whether or not you allow yourself to see it that way. This isn’t some liberal jab at the GOP, but a warning of the dangerous case of mad cow disease that’s sweeping over your party. Having sat a bit left of the center for most major issues presented in my adult life, and from laughing long and hard at the satirical realities presented by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, I find it terribly ironic that such a bright progressive has torn down the democratic party in these last few weeks, despite the slow bleed of sanity that congressional republicans seem to have suffered over the last decade.
It may indeed be a bit boisterous to blatantly proclaim America as the certified, unrivaled, greatest country on Earth. That’s subjective enough to be rebutted by a slew of depressing statistics, though one thing is abundantly clear: we are worldwide superpower still held in tremendously high regard. Ask a foreigner, 9 out of 10 will insist we’re still plenty great, and that’s exactly why there’s a holy war against our way of life. It is much easier to maintain a positive reputation than repair a damaged one, which is a big part about what’s gotten everyone so worked up over this election. The bold battle cry to “Make America Great Again” is a generic plea for help disguised as a catchy patriotic tagline. “Again” itself is a reflective word, harkening back to the glory days of who-knows how long ago. Trump leaves it nice and vague like that, too… another key aspect of building a cult… so that anyone can project their own daydreams, fantasies, selective memories and embellished self-narratives onto it, sealing their November vote for Trump with great confidence. I’ll even bet most people regurgitating Trump’s goofy mantra have never actually lived outside the US (please notify me if you’re otherwise). It’s a lot easier to convince people their grass could be greener when they’ve never actually seen it grow from the other side. “Making America Great Again” is quite literally asking us to step backwards as a nation.
Worst of all, he’s actually framing himself as a messiah. It only perplexes me more that the political party far more accustomed to Bible thumping (or at least citing) would somehow choose to worship this orange, golden cow. If you’re one who often invokes the Bible on one stance or another, I would kindly remind you of the story of that cute little Bernie bird. The angel that chirped. At the height of Bernie’s rising momentum, during a major rally in Portland, a small bird flew onto the stage. Bernie broke from his speech and jested about the bird’s peculiar landing spot, to some chuckles from the crowd, which then prompted the bird to fly right up onto his podium! There it stood, face to face with him, time standing still as thousands watched on at home and cheered in the stands. If that’s not the kind of sign from God you would fondly read about then I guess I’m remembering the wrong kind of the message from Sunday school.
Flash forward to a Trump Presidency… and the next great mind who could discover interplanetary space travel, engineer the ultimate clean energy, create the next Facebook, or sink 3’s better than Steph Curry could very well be a Mexican or Muslim… but we just told them all to piss off. No entrada. And this comes from a guy who, despite being “the only candidate who created jobs,” has filed for bankruptcy SIX TIMES to protect his own personal wealth, effectively screwing his former partners and employees. This whole campaign is his ultimate scam on America. Trump University: Admittance for all. I won’t take claim for this next proposition, but it bears repeating: the best case scenario for Donald here is winning the popular vote and losing the electoral (a la Gore V. Bush, 2000), that way he quickly escapes the spotlight with a much higher value on his personal brand, but faces none of the responsibly that comes with running our country.
Going a little darker, one would hope that if President Drumpf does intend to summon the Fourth Reich, then somehow our disastrously grid-locked mess of a Congress will somehow buffer most of the impending damage. It may be better to be feared than loved on an individual basis, or in working for a business… but on the global scale, America is simply electing a bully. It only takes one deranged person with a vengeance to drive an 18-wheeler through a town plaza on Independence Day. There is no all-powerful leader we elect who can prevent that, just like there’s no end-all firearms bill that can fix America’s shooting epidemic. I could list out Trumps’s hauntingly similar tactics to that of Hitler and Mussolini, but I’ll spare it for those of you who probably know already. But if not, and you’ve made it this far, perhaps you’re also interested in real historical perspective. Go look it up. The reality may scare you.
So after all that, how do I propose Hillary beats Trump? Her impeccable political strategy is failing in the polls and has lost her the faith of millions still feeling the Bern. Whether or not there actually was a diabolical plot carried out through an unparalleled political network and primaries scheme to undermine Bernie’s campaign is irrelevant now; those tactics aren’t going to work against Trump. The Donald has changed the game, at least for one election. She needs to play into this and reveal some of her hidden humanity, some sense of weakness that she’s willing to overcome. The NFL has that humanity, reality TV has it, your church has it, classrooms have it. The longer she acts like royalty, the closer she’ll come to getting treated that way… and it doesn’t fly in America.
Clinton’s “I’m With Her” message needs to go a bit more both ways, because right now it doesn’t feel like she’s with all of us. Far from it. Hillary, we know you’ve done a lot for this country, far more than anybody else could hope to achieve in a lifetime, but the people simply don’t think you deserve it after all this chaos. They don’t like seeing the games you must play in order to reach your goals. You’ve lost touch with a massive support base that has no incentive to come back for you at this point. You need to truly reconnect with them. Half the population sees a real, brazen soul in Trump, misguided as it may be. It’s time to show us yours. Apologize to the American people… and maybe even put Bernie on your ticket.