I have a problem. A big problem. I am one of those who believe that the election of Donald Trump has the potential to become a national, no make it a global “disaster”, to quote the Donald. But if so, then why does the mere thought of you drive me into a tizzy? Why do I now refuse to read the New York Times and Washington Post, a lifelong habit, in an effort to avoiding hearing the latest news about you? Why have I unsubscribed to the DNCC email list? After being a long-term supporter of you, why does the simple act of hearing your name in a casual conversation engender feelings of rage? And finally, why do many of my long time liberal friends feel the same way?
As with most things, especially those things political, the answer to this emotional reaction is complex. I agree with our American born president (Thank you Mr. Trump for clearing that up) that you would likely be a stellar leader of the free world. Your political resume is untouchable; your life of service is a living example to our youth; your determination and grit is truly mind blowing. My intellect tells me you are the one. But then, why do I have these feelings of profound anger and disappointment?
Let me take a deep breath, step back from the miasma of my emotions, and take a look at the data. Until a few weeks ago I would glance at my cellphone, whose web browser was permanently glued to the fivethirtyeight.com website, as a form of meditation. I would see the blue and red curves as reminders of the underlying sanity and good sense of the American public. The blue line approached the 90% mark, meaning Nate Silver, statistician extraordinaire and founder of fivethirtyeight.com, believed that you had a 90% chance of winning the election. Or put more correctly, that the unemotional algorithms developed by Nate put you at that level.
But after August 15, the blue line started trending down. Then the slope increased. Extrapolating, the trend was clear. Donald Trump was going to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Or, to quote the banal mantra of many of your supporters, you were on a path to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Amid the tumult of emotions that swirled inside my mind, my intellect asked a simple question.
Let’s look at the thin blue line and try to spot a trend, I told myself. Hillary generated an enormous post-convention boost. The boost continued past the usual convention bump but then it gradually started sloping downward, and then plummeting downward. I tried to correlate this empirical data to my own emotional state of being.
What happened during the convention that led to the Clinton explosion of popularity? As I pondered the data a glimmer of an idea and a glow of calmness started to form, like a struck match inside a pitch-black room.
The consensus reaction to the Democratic Convention was that it offered the vision of a bright, positive, optimistic view of America. Forget about “Make America great again”. America was, and still is, great. In fact we are greater now than we ever were. The DNCC offered up a vision of hope and optimism, while the RNCC conjured up a nightmare of darkness and failure.
I remembered my own reaction to both conventions. Trump and his supporters painted an America where everything was a “disaster”. Trump must have used the term a billion times in his final speech. The RNCC left me feeling depressed and without hope. But, as Trump stated, “ Trump can fix it, only me.”
I had a completely different reaction to the Democratic convention. Speaker after speaker spoke of hope and optimism. The DNCC left me feeling good about America and good about our future. The message wasn’t that it’s up to me, Hillary, to fix things, but rather I would help us move forward together.
The little blue line of Nate Silver’s algorithms appeared to mimic my own psychological drama. Apparently large swathes of America appeared to agree, as least subliminally, with my own assessment. Let’s continue down this path.
Your speeches, and especially your commercials, leave me with a feeling of dread and depression. Trump is a “disaster”, to use his favorite word. You sound just like Trump, but not as good. He is better at creating feelings of doom than you are. You are second best at this game. And why vote for someone who is second best? Crazy logic to be sure. But logic has nothing to do with how people vote. People vote their feelings. He has maneuvered you into playing his game and I despise you for following in his trail, and doing so in a second-rate fashion.
I get bombarded by depressing emails stating that Trump is going win unless I send money to you, your campaign, the DNC, a Clinton PAC. According to the emails, the world is collapsing. I feel played. My reaction is not to send money but rather to unsubscribe to anything and everything Clinton or Democratic.
And so, Hillary, I would ask you to change your message. Forget about disparaging Mr. Trump. Let him make the disparaging remarks. Like you and the other speakers at your convention, shower this great country with light and hope. Point out our shortcomings for sure, but then show how your positive view towards life, your experience of helping and public service, your vast political experience, and most importantly, your leadership, can harness the enormous energy and goodwill of the American public to make this great country even greater. Generate a feeling of light, an emotion of hope, optimism, and success to contrast with the feelings of doom, darkness, and failure that emanate from the Trump campaign. To quote Michelle Obama from her memorable DNCC speech, “When they go low, we go high.” I believe America demands this of you.
With great respect (I don’t really despise you),