The next president of the United States will not be Donald Trump.
It will likely be Gary Johnson – or, possibly, Hillary Clinton. I’ll explain.
The Trump campaign, if not clinically dead (although “brain dead” has long been suspected), is in its death throes. He’s down in the latest polls in New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada. He “fired” another campaign aide this week.
Donald Trump has insulted just about everybody and seems intent on getting around to the rest by November. He has irretrievably alienated women, immigrants, Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, soldiers . . . even decorated war heroes.
[When I recently delivered a preview of this piece as a talk, I was interrupted at this point, by a Trump supporter. “What’s a war hero?” he asked with a bit of a smirk. A 27-year old U.S. Army Captain, a Muslim, the son of immigrant Pakistani parents, who was killed in action in Iraq and posthumously awarded the Bronze Star qualifies as a war hero, in my view. John McCain, too, while I’m at it.]
One need not predict Trump will get zero votes. Yes, he has a hard-core following. But there are not enough angry whites, mostly men, for Ivanka to allure into Daddy Donald’s fold. He will not win but for a few, if any, of Mitt Romney’s states, because he has splintered and squandered any vestige of a majority. He hasn’t a shadow of a “ground game” organization to perform the mechanics getting voters to the polls.
Trump has exasperated the most stalwart of Republicans, who are fleeing: Mitt Romney, George Will (“George Will Leaves Republican Party”), Bill Kristol, Peggy Noonan (Republicans and Democrats will split off and try to form their own party and “The Week They Decided He Was Crazy”), Mary Matalin (leaves Republicans, enrolls Libertarian), Matthew Dowd, Richard Hanna. He’s spurned prominent Republican donors, Charles and David Koch and antagonized Meg Whitman. The Wall Street Journal has suffered serial apoplexy ( The Donald J. Trump Referendum, The Trumpian Purge). There’s at least one Republican refugee camp formed at Republicans for Johnson/Weld. There will be more high-profile Republican defections, and then a deluge.
After inducing frustration, then exasperation, revulsion and disgust . . . Trump’s coup de grâce will be ridicule – just wait for SNL to do a “Sarah Palin” on him. (“I can see Russia from my jet!” or “We eat Russian caviar at Trump Tower.”)
But that will only confirm what the country already knows: Donald Trump as President is ridiculous. Voters won’t vote for ridiculous.
We won’t hear any of this from the Hillary campaign. Hillary needs Trump alive and well and loud – and scary.
Hillary knows that less of her vote is “for-Her” than “against-Him.” Hillary is capitalizing on this. “Lesser of evils” is the mainstay of her campaign. She no longer tries to sell her vaunted achievements, the alleged nobility of her Sanders-inspired Government spending platform. Instead, she spends a whole sarcastic news cycle over where Brand Trump manufactures ties. Better for her to point to the hypocrisies of others.
Yet, day after day, playing into her hand, Trump provides more instances for Hillary and surrogates (including Prez Obama) to step to a podium to question his mental stability (his ignorance already established) and declare him “unfit” and “dangerous.”
Donald Trump is now the Clinton campaign’s life support.
So long as the election is a referendum on Trump, she can win. But once the election becomes a referendum on Hillary, it’s not so sure. As she well knows, most voters don’t trust her.
This has profoundly-positive implications for the Libertarian ticket, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.
With Trump out, the Hillary campaign loses it principal rationale. She can no longer scare voters into voting for her, out of fear of getting Trump.
Voters can get back to what the campaign should be about –
- Hillary’s “reckless carelessness,” in using an unsecured email server for State Department business. (It would certainly be ironic, and not a small piece of poetic justice, if – and it’s only an “if”– whoever hacked Debbie’s emails discovered the pathway to them through Hillary’s unsecured server.)
- The Clinton Foundation. Last Wednesday night on the CNN Town Hall, Gary Johnson began to take the fight to Hillary, pointing out – as the New York Post picked up – that the Hill ‘n Bill Foundation, smacks of a pay-to-play scheme. So, is that what Hillary explained in her “Shakespearean” speech to Goldman Sachs?
- Bernie Sanders’ supporters need no longer swallow the stab in the back by the Democratic Party and the added insult of Hillary’s appointing Wasserman-Schultz “honorary” (sic – Orwellian, actually) chair of her campaign.
- The economy remains unacceptably weak. The GDP is anemic, jobs creation is tepid and erratic and lopsided toward the low-skilled, low-paid. Hillary would prefer not to reprise James Carville’s famous “It’s the economy, stupid.”
- Voters will examine the Sanders-Clinton free college tuition plan, decide whether creating another large entitlement program won’t further interfere in the economics of higher education, by disincentivizing savings by middle class families while incentivizing inflation in college tuition. (See Sheila Bair’s observations at “Paying for College Has to Be Easier Than This” – Government policies discourage parents from saving for their children’s education,” and “Damming Student Debt: One Liberal-Arts College’s Approach“ that the plethora of government-backed student loans are already creating a student debt bubble, just as government-backed mortgages fueled the housing bubble.)
- Voters can hold Hillary to account for her hawkish foreign policies which have sacrificed too many young Army captains like Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan – Americans representing all of a pluralistic America – in an unnecessary, ill-conceived war which is accruing no benefit to this country.
With Trump gone, not voting for Hillary is not so dangerous. Her grudging and reluctant voters are now “Liberated.”
They can elect Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Although they’re running on a Third Party line (sure, the conventional wisdom is those never win), they very much occupy the political center:
- fiscally responsible, committed to making the federal Government smaller and smarter, what Republican candidates have long said they’re for, but the opposite of what they’ve done;
- tolerant and accepting on social issues, letting people choose to live how they want without government interference. As Weld likes to say “Get the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom.” Most people – except for the “adamant fringe” who demand the government take up their side in “culture wars” – want to be allowed to live and let live;
- a foreign policy grounded in discipline, restraint, and collaboration among our allies, a defense impregnable enough to keep the country safe, without the hawkish military adventurism the other two both promote; and
- scandal-free, temperate, and candid. With 16 years of combined executive government experience (that’s 16 more than Trump’s and Hillary’s combined), these two former, two-term governors demonstrate by their records their pragmatic approach to building across-the-aisle coalitions which really solve real problems.
“Most people are Libertarians,” Gary Johnson likes to say, “they just don’t know it.” Watch for a rise in his internet fundraising, seeking small contributions to get him into the presidential debates ($15 to hit 15%).
Johnson and Weld can bring together the exiled Republicans, the grudging Hillarians freed of their fear, the humiliated Sanders contingent. They can comprise a majority. They can win states and electoral votes.
That would truly be the “Change Election.”
Ron Litchman, Chair, The Manhattan Libertarian Party. RonL@manhattanLP.org.
(My own views, not necessarily the Party’s or any other individual’s)