Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Next President of The United States of America

In the aftermath of the Republican and Democratic conventions, one thing is clear…our two party system is FUBAR. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. This too shall pass and when it’s all said and done, more will be said than done. Which is probably a good thing. But the next four years will be interesting. If Trump keeps shooting himself in the foot or his tax returns reveal some bad stuff, Clinton will win in an epic landslide. If Trump can get his mouth and his campaign under control and there are no ugly skeletons in his financial disclosures, he’s got a puncher’s chance. If Clinton keeps getting hammered on the Clinton Foundation, emails and Benghazi; Trump has a chance. And if there are more negative revelations about Clinton shenanigans, Trump has more than a chance.

But, my money, not necessarily my vote, is on Clinton. Trump is starting to scare too many people. And Trump is starting to anger too many people. Clinton already has a lot of people mad at her and the idea of Hillary Clinton as President, scares some folks as well. But those columns are pretty much filled out. Trump is rapidly adding to his detractors. The negatives for him are going up faster than the positives. It’s not looking good for The Donald.

People mostly vote in their self-interest. And they usually base their political leanings on a very select and limited number of key issues. Once they’ve dialed in on the candidate or party that is most likely to support their position on their most important issues, then they are inclined to agree or at least not strongly disagree with their candidate or party’s position on all of “the other” issues. Trump and Clinton have their core supporters. The key to winning the election is the undecided “moderate middle”, those who’ve not yet decided who to vote for or whether to even vote at all.

If Trump is smart he will focus National Security, “Big government” and the Economy. He needs to be careful with immigration and trade. The undecided moderate middle isn’t as concerned about immigration as the far right. “Building The Wall” isn’t going to get Trump many new votes. To the extent that immigration is about protecting us from terrorism or violent felons, it’s a point worth discussing. Otherwise, drop it. Same with trade. Sure it plays well in certain pockets of America where folks think their jobs have been unfairly exported to other countries. But the reality is that we live in a global economy and a lot of people’s jobs depend on participation in the global economy. We probably do need tougher negotiating on trade deals and have given up too much in the past. But, I don’t think it’s an issue that’s going to move the “moderate middle” votes to the Trump side. Trade is an important part of the economic discussion, but the way it’s being discussed now is not very productive.

Instead talk about National Security, which really means dealing with terrorism, mainly Radical Islamic terrorism. Now you’ve got people’s attention. The Obama track record, and by association Clinton’s, is one that Trump should hammer on. This whole issue of what to do about terrorism is of major concern to most Americans and there is a strong sense that the Clinton/Obama approach has failed. This needs to be a part of every Trump message and he needs to stay on point with it. And he should be careful not to overplay the “you can’t trust Hillary” card. Let others beat her up over emails and Benghazi. Trump needs to move to higher ground and stay there for awhile.

Secondly, Big Government. Most folks NOT on “the left” tend to see government as NOT the answer to their problems. The idea of “tax and spend” , more regulations, more government programs and more “free stuff” for certain groups does not find much favor with hard-working, tax-paying citizens. Trump needs to go after the track record of Obama (Obamacare for example) and the Clinton proposals which include several planks from the Sanders “free stuff” platform.

Lastly, the Economy. Trump doesn’t have to say much here other than to point out the anemic economic recovery under Obama and that we are just keeping our heads above a recession. Over-regulation and failed programs such as Obamacare contribute to it. If you must talk about trade, do it here and in the appropriate context. This is also the place to talk about education, training and infrastructure. All keys to economic performance. Those hard-working, tax-paying citizens in the “moderate middle” will listen.

But, alas, I don’t see Trump getting “on message” and certainly not staying “on message”. The Donald has proven himself to be a loose cannon. And then there are the tax returns. If he doesn’t release them, it’s over. If he does release them, it’s probably over. No telling what sort of snakes and spiders are crawling around in those returns. We get the leaders we deserve and by the Republicans allowing Trump to become their presidential candidate, they have handed the crown to Hillary Clinton. The real question is can they recover by 2020?

(And as you may have guessed by now, I am in the undecided moderate middle, sort of. I will not vote for Clinton. So that part is decided. I probably won’t vote for Trump. I may vote for Gary Johnson as a protest or I may not vote at all.)

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