It’s a well-acknowledged precedent that American voters would rather vote for something than against something. If given the chance, they choose hope and optimism over fear and pessimism. In spite of this, the Trump campaign seemed determined to insist the sky was falling in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. While doom and gloom may have been a boon in muddled primaries where he only had to appeal to the GOP Base, Trump is seeing significant fallout from his Convention’s dour premise.
That is not to say that the Democratic National Convention was not without its controversy. The opening day saw much more protests than their RNC counterpart after it was revealed DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, repeatedly put her finger on the scale for Clinton’s benefit in the primaries to the detriment of Bernie Sanders. The lack of unity only continued as delegates, primarily the California delegation, continued to heckle and jeer DNC speakers, regardless of their connection to Clinton or Shultz. The vitriol became so impassioned that even Bernie Sanders was booed during a delegate breakfast when he suggested party unity over purity. While holdouts remained throughout the event, when Bernie Sanders ceded his awarded delegates to Clinton, effectively surrendering in good faith, the symbolism of two political opponents coming together to face a far greater threat was not lost on the majority of the cheering audience. What started as an uncomfortable friction, a mar on a well-rehearsed stage presentation, allowed the American audience a glimpse at reconciliation and compromise, at a family coming together, proving their total to be greater than the sum of its parts.
While Trump enjoyed a slight bump after the RNC, around 3-5 points in the polls, his lead was neutralized after the DNC numbers came out. With Clinton taking a commanding eight and nine point lead according to new CNN and NBC polls, respectively, Trump responded in form by criticizing the networks on Twitter for unfair coverage. Trump then turned his attention to the grieving Gold Star parents of Humayun Khan, a solider that had given his life in Iraq in 2004. Know your battles. It’s harder to select a more sympathetic target than the Khans, but Trump is incapable allowing a slight, whether real or imagined, to pass without comment. For four days in a row, Trump attempted to defend his position against the Khans, despite the national rebuke coming from both sides of the aisle.
This is indicative of a trend I chronicled in past Weekly Politics. You can lead a Trump to a silver platter but you can’t make him eat from it. Trump has consistently squandered potential bombshells against Hillary Clinton because he is too consumed with the relentless maintenance of his own image. When FBI Director Comey explained that, although no charges would be filed, Clinton was being willfully dishonest in reporting how she handled her emails, Trump hit on the report for all of five minutes before descending into a hour-long free association rambling diatribe that focused more on MSNBC’s “Sleepy Eyes” Chuck Todd than his opponent. After Wikileaks revealed the DNC/Shultz scandal, Trump was too embroiled with accusations that he was rolling over for Vladimir Putin to make any lasting headway. After openly calling for Russian hackers to further pillage DNC files, Trump then theorized that the Ukrainians actually enjoyed their Russian occupation, this, after he was forced to admit that the Russians were in the Ukraine to begin with. In addition, the only change the Trump ticket insisted on making to the GOP platform was to remove lethal weapons aide to the Ukraine against Russian incursion. Considering that the files leverage against Clinton and the DNC were believed to be hacked by Russian Intelligence before being handed to Wikileaks via Julian Assange to disseminate, much of Clinton’s culpability has already been forgiven by the American public via Trump’s own proxy self-incrimination. At the risk of working blue, the man can do nothing but shit the bed time and again.
While post-convention bumps tend to settle, Clinton’s lead may remain steady as Trump continues to prove himself incapable of running a functioning campaign. To this end it is not surprising that he is already needling the details surrounding the ensuing one-on-one debates. Despite being scheduled over a year in advance, before either candidate were their party’s nominee, Trump argued against the debates being up against NFL games. This comes from a petty business tactic of never agreeing to anything without first winning some sort of nominal negotiation to assert a modicum of dominance. It is as obvious as it is pathetic and only underscores the notion that he will be picked clean once he’s locked in the Thuderdome with She of the Many Pantsuits. As to the big finish, the writing must already be on the wall. Trump is already quoted as claiming the General Elections results will be “rigged” against him. While an insurance policy to pad his ego after the crushing loss he sees coming in less than 100 days, it has the potential to lead to riots or worse. The fallout, if any, must be laid at his feet in the form of criminal charges if he willfully incites panic or violence in the streets.
His concerns may be warranted, however, if the electoral map continues its blue trending pattern. Trump’s path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency is resting upon taking, in some combination, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina. At the time of writing, Trump may take North Carolina and still has a fledgling chance in Ohio, but Pennsylvania and Florida are out of his reach. When you factor in Clinton’s lock within New York, California, Virginia, (presumably) Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc, it is hard to see any viable path for Trump to win. This, not even counting the deep red states that are on the verge of turning for Clinton including Utah, Missouri, Nebraska, and potentially even Texas!
Donald Trump still has a very potent campaign and can still pull out an unlikely win, but how fitting would it be that a humble Muslim American couple in the Khans will be looked back upon as the straw that broke the orange camel. A landslide victory for Clinton would say less about her and more to the nation’s willful rebuke of Donald Trump and his campaign’s malicious, nationalistic and vapid ideology.
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