Ambiguous Prediction

I’ve changed my mind again. I agree with my original assessment from back in February: Donald Trump is going to win the United States presidency in November.

This makes me neither happy nor sad, optimistic or afraid. I think I’m resigned to the idea more than anything. While one part of me wonders what would be so great, or special, about a Hillary Clinton presidency — answer: very little — a larger portion sort of hopes Trump just wins the fucking thing. Just so I can tell everyone I was right all along. And show them that this is what they all wanted, so congratulations. Look where it’s gotten us.

No one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American people.

The Republican National Convention was this past week, mostly what you would expect from the GOP, er, Donald Trump Party. The message was that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have ruined the United States, and only Trump can fix it all. Be afraid of immigrants from Mexico. Be afraid of Radical Islam. Basically: be afraid.

The sickest part is that it probably worked, and probably will work, over the next three months. Because while Trump’s message is largely xenophobic, partly racist, and blatantly untrue, it’s at least perceived as truth. Since the truth is dead and people no longer give a shit about minor details such as “facts,” or “data,” it’s going to turn out a large section of the population — those who have either given up on politics altogether, or don’t pay enough attention to make informed decisions.

Hillary, meanwhile, has no message. If her biggest weapon over the next three months is to tell everyone that Trump is dangerous, or unfit to be Commander-in-Chief, it isn’t going to be effective. People crave a vision, something they can believe in over the next four-to-eight years. Clinton doesn’t have one.

The only candidate who had a message for real change was Bernie Sanders, and he’s out of contention.

So it shouldn’t come as a real shock that, once Bernie feigned an endorsement for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump swooped in to rail against the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that outsourced American jobs overseas. He came out against Wall Street, noting Hillary’s close-knit association to the corrupt bankers. Trump basically echoed Bernie’s talking points during his campaign.

While Clinton sits back and just assumes the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party will fall in line behind her, Donald Trump is making an actual effort to court Sanders supporters.

This should be troubling to the DNC, as last month Bloomberg Politics conducted a poll surveying which candidate Sanders’s supporters would vote for during the general election:

A June 14 Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters in November’s election found that barely half of those who favored Sanders — 55 percent — plan to vote for Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, while 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The unknown is just how much that will change over the next 4 months. On the one hand it would be easy to assume conscience will come into play and a bigger piece of the pie will go to Clinton. But this author finds such a worldview as optimistic, if not blind. There’s a real chance that Clinton’s support has already plateaued, as much of her following are older Democrats and minorities — the latter of which tend to vote Democratic, anyway.

Not only that. We’ve recently seen an increase in Islamic terrorism around the world, and Clinton fails to call the spade what it is. The Democratic Party could very well lose the general election because they won’t call it “Radical Islam,” or “Islamic extremism,” or “Islamic terrorism,” in fear of offending “moderate” Muslims.

The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are about 1-in-20 million. According to Deadly Statistics, “A person is as likely to be killed by his or her own furniture, and more likely to die in a car accident, drown in a bathtub, or in a building fire than from a terrorist attack.”

But Americans don’t feel this way. They watch the news and assume there are three Muslim goons around the corner toting automatic assault rifles and suicide vests ready to annihilate an entire neighborhood.

Set aside for a minute that the corporate media does everyone a disservice — which is why only old people (and occasionally I) still watch the news — but what’s important is people vote based on how they feel, their gut, rather than boring old statistics such as I mentioned a couple paragraphs above this one.

The more terrorism between now and November, the better the odds Trump becomes president. Because then his us vs. them message will resonate more. Strike fear in the gut, and profit, basically.

So it should come as no surprise that, in wake of last week’s attack in Nice, or this week’s attack in Munich, Trump has shaved about 4 points off of Clinton’s national lead in the last month — from 7 points down to 3. Throw in a couple more terrorist episodes, especially if one or more occur in the United States, and Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric will only grow louder and gain more traction.

Do I want Trump to be the next president? The answer to that should be obvious. But at this moment, following the hate-filled speeches at the Republican Convention, I’m done lying to myself and pretending like this will be another Obama-esque landslide win.

Clinton is playing not to lose right now. She’s in her prevent defense. She believes all she has to do is show up opposite Trump to win the general election, and that that will be enough.

I don’t think it will. If she acknowledges Radical Islam for what it is, it neutralizes one of Trump’s biggest strengths he has moving forward. If nothing else, that will be a start.

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