Friday, April 22, 2016
by Reed Galen
Quote by a Smart Person: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu
Welcome to the American Singularity.
After his two worst weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump’s resounding Empire State victory helped put him back on a glide path to the nomination. And while he must win, and win and win again over the next six weeks, he appears to have firmly retaken the inside lane. And New York handed the new bosses of the Trump campaign credit and momentum that they neither worked for nor earned but will use to solidify their position with The Donald. Reshuffling is not unusual in presidential campaigns; it happens almost every cycle. I’ve been reshuffled. One day you’re in charge. The next day you’re moving back to California. The dynamics and stakes of a presidential run allow for few, if any major mistakes. If a candidate starts a run with multiple lines of independent influence, it is all the more likely that there will be a change as one faction lies in wait for the other to stumble.
Fight For Your Right (to Party)
As I write this, the Republican National Committee, the 168 elected Committeemen and Women and GOP state party chairs, are meeting in Hollywood, Florida, their last major conclave before the Cleveland convention in July. Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich’s loyalists are in the Sunshine State, glad-handing, convincing and cajoling party elites hoping to gain their favor in what will definitely be a contentious if not contested nominating convention. Chairman Reince Preibus has fought back any efforts by individual members to change Party rules before Cleveland - both to prevent Trump from continuing pounding on the RNC for playing a rigged game and from creating a truly chaotic situation when delegates gather in three months. This cycle has been a living example of fighting the last war. The cycle will out. It’s also worth noting that this week the RNC started making plans to shift money out of presidential target states and into contests where Republican senators will be fighting for their political lives this fall. That isn’t betrayal of a yet-to-be-chosen nominee, that’s a pragmatic look at the map come the General Election.
The Song Remains the Same
The three most likely party nominees; Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump carry historically bad personal approval ratings. Each of them has favorability flaws that in most years would be disqualifying in their own right. But in 2016, a former secretary of state, US Senator, First Lady, a political pariah and a real estate developer-cum-reality television star now vie for the Oval Office.
Regardless of whether Cruz or Trump ultimately wins the nomination, the electoral result in November is likely the same: President-Elect Hillary Clinton. Cruz is doctrinaire and rigid. Should he be the GOP standard bearer, Cruz will have difficulty making inroads with independent voters in swing states. Based on his career to date, he likely won’t try to make a traditional move toward the center. He will carry his purity chalice high as he marches from state to state and he will lose in spectacular fashion; holding the South and the empty Mountain West and losing everything else.
To say Donald Trump is a unique presidential candidate is an insult to being different. He may be making some traditional moves with his campaign now, but his race, already unlike anything any of have ever seen, will likely super-charge turnout and opposition. Swing voters, many of whom are likely as disaffected as the millions who’ve already cast a vote for Trump, will likely find themselves unable to support him. His rhetoric on immigration, be it with Mexico or Muslims, may be too much for them. The American psyche is still bruised and in search of one of two things: greater stability or a true tectonic shift in Washington. Trump is a wildcard. He may be entertaining but do you really want the Mil Aide walking next to him with the Football? That’s a legitimate question that Trump himself has not yet adequately answered. Being President of the United States is so much more than being head of state and government. It is a transcendent position whom billions of people around the world look to see how America will act, whether we will lead and will be a beacon, guiding the world ashore, or a buoy, simply bobbing along as the tide of history passes us by.