Clinton vs. Trump and the Democratic end game …

I admit that the end game of this campaign (Democrats, 2016) has been fascinating. I was one who thought it would be boring.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is going to win and yes, she remains the favorite for the general election, though the odds have crept back from 1/3 to just over 1/2 (in some books).


There is some worry that the “slash and burn” tactics from the Sanders campaign might hurt us against Trump. Gin and Tacos has a nice summary of the denialism that is going on among Sanders supporters. Paul Krugman provides a summary of the types of Sanders supporters that one encounters: Genuine Idealists (don’t realize how hard genuine change is), Romantics (e. g. hippies), Purists (e. g. Nader voters in 2000), Clinton haters, and “Salon des Refuses” (policy wonks who couldn’t make the varsity (Clinton) team but now found a team (Sanders) where they could become starters; think of the frustrated division I (FBS) football player who finds that he can start for a I-AA (FCS) program). Krugman concludes

So how will this coalition of the not-always disinterested break once it’s over? The genuine idealists will probably realize that whatever their dreams, Trump would be a nightmare. Purists and CDSers won’t back Clinton, but they were never going to anyway. My guess is that disgruntled policy intellectuals will, in the end, generally back Clinton.

The question, as I see it, involves the romantics. How many will give in to their bitterness? A lot may depend on Sanders – and whether he himself is one of those embittered romantics, unable to move on.

Interestingly enough, Charles Krauthammer has a better understanding of the situation than many Democrats. He makes some interesting observations. Here are his comments on what Hillary Clinton is trying to do:

The Trump and Sanders constituencies share one stark characteristic: They are both overwhelmingly white. In the Rust Belt, the appeal is to middle- and working-class voters who have suffered economic and social dislocation. The question is whether Trump can win a sufficient number of those voters, erstwhile Reagan Democrats, to flip just a few states that, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, have gone Democratic for the last six elections.

Which is why Clinton is treating Sanders so (relatively) gently. She wants to be rid of him but cannot alienate his constituency – especially after the ruckus made by his supporters at the Nevada state convention and after his string of recent victories in West Virginia, Indiana, and Oregon, along with the virtual draw in Kentucky. She needs him.

Normally, endorsements don’t matter in American politics. But the Sanders constituency is substantial and very loyal. And rather angry now as they can see the Clinton machine winning the nomination through superdelegates.

She needs his blessing and active support in the general election. If not carefully cultivated and appeased, say, on the party platform and/or vice presidential choice, Sanders could very well disappear after the Philadelphia convention and leave her to her own devices – which are much lacking, as demonstrated in her recent primary losses.

She needs to keep his legions in the game through November. At the very least, she needs him to warn his followers away from a Trump temptation.

And here is what he says about Donald Trump:

Right now, Clinton has the distinct advantage. Flipping reliably Democratic states, as well as lowering Trump’s high negatives, are both very difficult.

But there’s one wild card: events – unforeseen, unforeseeable, yet near inevitable. We are highly unlikely to go the next six months without a significant crisis. In September 2008, the financial collapse cemented Obama’s victory when he, the novice, reacted far more calmly and steadily than did John McCain, the veteran.

This time around, Trump reacted to the terror attack in San Bernardino with a nakedly nativist, shamelessly demagogic, yet politically shrewd call for (temporarily, allegedly) banning all Muslims from entering the country. Roundly denounced by Democrats and leading Republicans alike, Trump watched his poll numbers go through the roof. Turns out that GOP voters supported the ban, 2-to-1.

A candidate with the tactical acuity to successfully deploy such breathtaking, bigotry-tinged cynicism is not to be trifled with. Under normal circumstances, Clinton wins. But if the fire alarm goes off between now and Election Day, all bets are off. Clinton had better be ready. Trump has shown that he will be.

In short: how well will Donald Trump’s simplistic nativist, xenophobic, isolationist attitude sell with the general public? I really don’t know, though I think that I do. And don’t underestimate his charm; he really does have some.

Ending snark: These are two well deserved shots at the more clueless Sanders supporters.




May 24, 2016 - Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: