Sorry for the delay in today’s Jolt; for some reason my computer just decided to not work this morning. You would think it had been up all night celebrating the Jets win instead of me.
The Fallout (Non-Nuclear) from a Donald Trump Victory
For anyone with reading comprehension issues, THE FOLLOWING IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT. Some folks chose to see Conrad Black’s last column as him speaking on behalf of National Review as a whole, because they’re hacks and/or stupid. Black has been supportive of Trump all along.
But with Trump having a really good stretch of polling lately, let’s contemplate what would happen if he beat Hillary Clinton.
1. It would be a political earthquake, as big a cultural impact on America as the election of Barack Obama. Many corners of American society would be apoplectic with rage, disbelief and despair; magazines like The Economist, Time, The New Republic, The New York Times magazine will probably run cover essays on “The End of American Democracy” or “The Failure of American voters.” Or maybe simply, “When Evil Triumphs.” A dozen movies featuring sinister and/or bumbling egomaniac presidents would be green-lit by Hollywood. Cultural voices would declare that McCarthyism is back in full force, that Bull Connor racism is thriving, and that World War II–style internment-camps are just around the corner.
2. It would be the most awkward presidential transition in American history, because both Obama and Trump detest each other personally and their staffs almost certainly do the same.
3. The Obama legacy would suddenly shift overnight. American conservatives have argued for a while that Obama is, if not a failed president, something close to it. The Left might suddenly find itself agreeing, at least in part. A prosperous, confident, thriving, and secure America does not elect someone like Donald Trump. He’s the figure a country turns to when they’re desperate and increasingly think they don’t have much more to lose.
The Obama administration has been eight long years of officials insisting things aren’t as bad as they look. “Recovery Summer” is just around the corner. Janet Napolitano assures us, “the system worked.” Of course Obamacare will work; “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan; if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” ISIS is a jayvee team. We’re taking care of our veterans. Our secrets are secure. Obama declared in May, “By almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even eight years ago.”
Nobody believes the happy talk anymore.
4. Hillary Clinton would become one of the most hated Democrats of all time. She would rank not merely as a loser, but as the woman who managed to lose the most winnable presidential race in modern history. Forget Mondale, forget Dukakis, forget McGovern. Trump is probably the worst Republican nominee in history — little or no message discipline, little organization, hates fundraising, isn’t convinced television ads or data analysis is needed, tons of scandals and baggage, can’t carry his home state, the media loathes him with the raging passion of a thousand suns going supernova . . . and somehow he’s still in it, and seems to be gaining strength as the race progresses. She has no excuses. She has unequaled resources. The party is reasonably unified behind her. She had a great convention. If Tim Kaine is making mistakes, no one is paying attention. Her commercials have dominated the television airwaves.
If Hillary Clinton loses, Democrats will hate her. Overnight she will go from the inspiring role model for all of America’s children to a selfish, deeply flawed candidate, blinded by ambition and obsessively secretive. Everything that Democrats now insist is inconsequential — her e-mails, the shady deals surrounding the foundation, Benghazi — they will suddenly realize was extremely consequential. The recriminations will be epic.
5. The Left might just learn a needed lesson. Perhaps this is a wildly optimistic expectation, but the American Left might have to examine why so many Americans were willing to roll the dice on Trump rather than continue the status quo.
Political correctness really has become petty bullying, an attempt to enforce economic consequences for what is a social faux pas. Yes, we’re all supposed to be respectful to others, courteous, and to avoid giving unneeded offense. (The Left would be wise to start practicing what it preaches, to “do unto others as you would have them do.”) There’s nothing inherently wrong with someone declaring, “Hey, that really offends me.” But the Left wants to go further; they want a person who offends their sensibilities to be punished for it. Oftentimes the enforcers of political correctness want the person to lose their job. They want that person to become a pariah and feel constant social ostracization. They want to enforce the most serious of consequences for hurting someone’s feelings. Sometimes they even want “some muscle over here.”
The Left would have to recognize that most of their our political and cultural elites demonstrate epic hypocrisy on a regular basis. Tim Geithner and Charlie Rangel set tax policy while not paying all the taxes they owe. Al Gore runs up a giant electricity bill while telling everyone else they need to reduce their carbon emissions. Obama declares, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say ‘okay.’” And then, in the words of David Axelrod, Obama keeps the Oval Office so warm in winter that “you could grow orchids in there.” Hillary Clinton denounces greed and selfishness while collecting six-figure speaking fees. Bill Clinton gets a free pass from feminists as the sexual-harassment and womanizing allegations pile up. They talk about the importance of equal opportunity while Chelsea Clinton gets a $600,000 part-time gig at NBC News. Mike Bloomberg and Rosie O’Donnell travel the country with armed security guards while touting the need for stricter gun-control laws.
Ordinary Americans look at the elites and conclude they don’t actually believe anything they say, or at the very least, they don’t think they have to live under the rules they want to enforce for everyone else.
The Catch . . .
Some might ask, with all of that as consequence, why not vote for him? Almost all Republicans and many self-identified conservatives will. Trump has maybe a 50–50 shot at nominating good, strict constructionist Supreme Court justices, while Hillary’s odds are roughly zero. I’m #NeverTrump, but I’m not giving much grief to my friends who are voting for Trump as the lesser of two evils.
From where I sit, Trump offers a lot of the same flaws as Obama, just with a different party affiliation. Trump promises the world with little details on how he’s going to get there. In 2008, Obama promised the best of both worlds — the end to the war in Iraq and the elimination of al-Qaeda. This year Trump promises to be less interventionist and to bomb the you-know-what out of ISIS. Both men did this because the American people want both simultaneously, no matter how contradictory those desires are. I think a true leader has to force the public to come to terms with hard truths instead of playing along with their fantasies.
I realize I’m in the minority here. Obama did nothing on entitlement reform, and Trump won’t, either. At some point, when the voting public punishes the people who try to solve the problem and rewards the people who ignore the problem, people stop trying to solve the problem.
Trump is no more interested in the Constitution and limited government than Obama is, and seems every bit as petty and vindictive, every bit as likely to bristle and lash out at the slightest criticism. I just wrote about the insane pretzel-logic of the blind partisans, forgiving every sin on their side but furiously denouncing the same things on the other side.
ADDENDA: Great edition of the pop-culture podcast this week: trying to enjoy sports in the hyper-politicized era, the chilling ads for ABC’s new drama, Designated Survivor; dissecting why the podcast Welcome to Night Vale falls short, why we’re watching Rick Perry dance and Ryan Lochte get attacked in prime time, and what you would bring to a desert island.