This election shouldn’t be hard for Democrats to win. Trump commands a base of support that is exceptionally zealous, and partially for that reason one that is also exceptionally small and hard to grow. The ceiling on his approval seems to be somewhere below 45 percent, and it has been hard to imagine him getting that up the few points he needs to even possibly win. Everybody whose hair gets blown back by his shtick is already on board, I’d speculate. Twitter bluster and crazy pronouncements and proud trolling and fanatical devotion to immigration restrictionism are apparently appealing to some Americans, but those people are already on the Trump Train. I wonder if you can track this in bumper sticker sales. I suspect his are weak, because the Trumper bumpers are already covered. And it’s hard to imagine him branching out to raise his numbers into winning territory. The president is probably not keeping anything more broadly politically appealing in reserve. He doesn’t keep anything in reserve. He’s a let it all hang out kind of guy. So winning this election should be like hitting in tee ball for the Democrats.
But! But, but, but… There’s another way for Trump to win other than by expanding his appeal. Namely, Democrats could give people generally inclined leftward reasons to fear or disfavor them. If they generate enough negative partisanship, voters will pretzel their way into justifying voting for Trump or not voting. Trump could squeak out another win without a majority, remember. Sure, that doesn’t seem likely in the abstract. But it didn’t seem likely Democrats would find a way to miss the slo-pitch 2016 election either. Still, they dreamed up a way: nominate a crook on the theory that political skill is one of the things you can catch by sleeping with Bill Clinton.
And now it isn’t abstract anymore. We have seen the debates, and we have seen what the Democrats are bringing. Some of it is appealing to me. Some of it isn’t. And I still don’t plan to vote Trump unless the Democrats nominate the Ba’athist blowhard Tulsi Gabbard. But to the American public at large, it’s about as off-putting as I can imagine.
What did they bring? Kamala Harris, who is a cop, accused Biden, who will likely be the nominee, of being a racist. Why? He worked with segregationist Democratic senators. Of course he did. The entire Democratic party worked with segregationist senators. An elderly Robert Byrd of West Virginia was an early booster of the Obama presidential candidacy. He is also the longest serving senator in U.S. history, and he launched his political career by founding a KKK chapter of which he held the high ranks of “kleagle” and “exalted cyclops” (racists are nerds too). Good job, though, Kamala, you bully. Good strategy for the good of the party and country to make this unanswerable and also unfair attack on the most likely nominee. I’m sure Trump is grateful.
Kamala also later said: “This cannot be an intellectual debate; We have to take it seriously.” That about sums up how the entire field seems to approach intellectual debate.
Marianne Williamson is an actual insane person, the hippy who believes in Reiki and Jesus and crystals and auras and astrology all at once. Everybody knows one. They call themselves “spiritual” and they smell like way too much lavender and their kids have measles.
Perhaps the most transparent, simpering failed attempts to pull off a simple ethnic pander came in the form of candidates speaking in Spanish to appeal to the important and growing (and especially Texan/Floridian/Nevadan) Hispanic demographic. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke really does appear to want people to erroneously think he is Hispanic. I find this prospect disgraceful, myself, but not as disgraceful as the fact that, if my suspicion is true, he would not be the only Democratic candidate with phony ethnic credentials. Looking at you, Liz.
What else? Democrats have been offended to be accused by the right that they support the fringe position of open borders, which abolishes any distinction between a citizen and a noncitizen. Can there be a politics without a polis? Apparently the Democratic party wants to find out. Asked about whether crossing the border should be a crime, every one of the frontrunners to go up against Trump said no. And asked about whether the healthcare they all agree should be paid for by the taxpayer should be extended to brand new immigrants, they said yes. Open borders may very well be the morally or philosophically correct policy, but it can only be understood as a radical idea. It is not politically popular. Internal argumentative coherence and moral radicalism cannot be exchanged for votes. Ask a libertarian.
The single most absurd moment of the debates came from former Housing Secretary and walking definition of the word smug Julian Castro.
Here’s a transcript:
Lester Holt: Secretary Castro, this one’s for you. All of you on stage support a woman’s right to an abortion. You all support some version of a government health care option. Would your plan cover abortion, Mr. Secretary?
Castro: Yes, it would. I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice. And, as you know, what that means is that just because a woman — or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female — is poor, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I would absolutely cover that right to have an abortion.
Look, there are two things wrong with this, and I don’t know which is dumber and wronger and more off-putting. First, if you want to shoe-horn in trans issues in order to use trans people to score points, get it right. Trans women do not have uteri. Trans men can be pregnant and might need an abortion. If you actually give a damn, maybe give a damn, eh? Second: Julian Castro is clearly gunning for the Latino vote and Texan money that was supposed to be behind one-time media darling Beto O’Rourke. The media and the money look set to move on now that he’s not gunning for Ted Cruz. Funny that. And if Castro wants to appeal to Hispanic opinion, especially foreign-born Hispanic opinion, he should probably give a damn about what that opinion actually is, too. Most of them think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. (I disagree with them, and that’s why I’m not running for president. More Democrats should emulate me.)
The mere fact that there were 20 Democrats in the two nights of the debates should show that the system is not working effectively. It feels like every registered Democrat over 35 is in the race. The conditions for qualifying to appear in the debate were set very low because the party got spooked last time around by the kvetching about unfairness and rigging coming out of the Bernie Sanders camp. Bernie is not even a Democrat. He has spent decades making sure he distinguishes that he is not a Democrat. And still the Democrats let him cow them into screwing up their debates so badly that the anonymousish Twitter ubertroll and chaotic agent provocateur Comfortably Smug seems to have been able to get a few cranks like Marianne Williamson into the debate by deploying his horde of “minions” (followers).
Should non-Democrats and social media in-jokes be determining how the fight to unseat Donald Trump gets waged? Is this a sign that things are going well? Does this make you optimistic? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you’re an idiot or you’re crazy.
So the big takeaway is: Mike Judge was right. Idiocracy reigns. And what happens when idiocracy reigns? We know what happens.
Trump is gonna win.