The Most Unnerving Line of Trump and Clinton’s Second Debate

It is unprecedented to declare that a political rival will be jailed, as has happened in the second Trump and Clinton debate.

Executive Summary

I wrote on our Facebook that I did not expect Trump to perform very well here. It turns out I was wrong in one major regard — Trump delivered red meat to his base constituency. Trump loving voters likely got riled up again, supposing that they can ignore the Trump tapes long enough.

Trump’s advisers have been hammering into him again and again, telling him to go on the attack and stop wasting time talking about himself. It seems he finally listened their advice, giving a ferocious and dark performance that relentlessly attacked Clinton, at the expense of rarely sounding coherent for more than a dozen seconds at a time. It succeeded as a really hard hit on Clinton — which is what Trump voters want. Nonetheless, independents, women, and Republicans who presently despise Trump will probably not attracted by this gambit.

At one point, we saw the absolute strongest, and alarming, soundbite to have ever come out of presidential politics. That exchange is in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKiBk3zG4CY

Analysis

Pundits and educated viewers alike were astonished at the threat, because that sort of thing is not supposed to happen in free liberal democracies. A free election is not free if, after the winner is chosen, the opponent goes to jail.

What motivated Trump into saying this line was his own state. The Clinton drama has been on-going for a long time now, and it was only when Trump saw his political chances become fleeting was he motivated into throwing that threat down.

It suggests his motivation is deeply personal and based on his present condition. I don’t think Trump would actually imprison Clinton, and likely such a maneuver would be catastrophically unconstitutional. It’s nonetheless extremely concerning because it is contrary to our government ideals. It also has connections to past threats Trump has made — against businesses, media figures, and politicians who have opposed him throughout his candidacy, with such threats that “when I win, they better be careful”, promises to change libel laws, among other things.

Right now, democratic ideals are not so popular. I’ll dedicate a post to this topic at a later datewhen the Trump/Clinton drama simmers down slightly.

Implications

Demographics that Trump needs will not look kindly on that statement. His diehard fans will love it of course, and that’s part of the election game — getting turnout. But polling on Trump’s chances demonstrate that he has a hard ceiling of support around 44% of the electorate — that’s the highest he’s ever had in the aggregate polls at RealClearPolitics. Clinton has been well above that ceiling, though some of her liberal base peeled off in favor of third parties. Likely that they will return, however.

What this batch of red meat does do is it keeps Trump in the race. It’ll be much harder for the top dogs in the Republican Party to urge Trump to quit now that his fanbase is kicking again.

Written by SocioPolitik.