Sunday, October 09, 2016

Playing the Futurist after Trump's Latest Gaff

I think Donald Trump may have finally delivered a fatal shot to the foot of his presidential aspirations.  The video tape of him admitting that groped and kissed women that he was working with, to the level where the term “sexual abuse” is not inappropriate, has caused such an uproar in the Republican party and such a hemorrhaging of support from elected officials, that it seems impossible for him to recover. There is even talking of the GOP forcing him to step down and have his running mate, Mike Pence, take his place.  
What I also think is very likely, given our nation’s propensity to vote for divided government, coupled with the strong negative feelings held by some voters toward Trump’s opponent, Hilary Clinton, that most people voting “against Trump” will turn around and vote Republican for an down-ballot candidates they have to choose from.  The Senate and the House were supposed to be vulnerable this cycle.  The one silver lining for the GOP in this debacle over their candidate for President is that it may help them retain control of Congress for the next two years, or maybe even four.  
Which leaves us with the same situation we were in that started the push for change seen in both of the two major parties.  A Democratic President, strongly hated and unpopular by many on the other side, with Republican controlled Congress very unwilling to enact just about anything this President may propose.  We may be looking at another four years of stalemate.  
Before I proceed forward, a moment of full disclosure.  Personally, I am registered Non-Partisan in my state (California).  I have been registered Non-Partisan for decades, since I was in college an came to the conclusion that neither party represented me, or had a vision of the future I could fully support.  
My ambivalence toward the two major parties stems from me being fairly progressive when it comes to social issues, while being very conservative when it comes to fiscal policy.  In my voting career I have leaned toward Democratic candidates, but I haven’t been exclusively so.  I voted for Bill Clinton the first time he ran, not the second.  I voted enthusiastically for Obama the first time he ran, reluctantly the second.  I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, not “even though,” Hilary Clinton was clearly about to be come the presumptive nominee, but BECAUSE she was clearly going to become the nominee and I wanted to vote my conscience.  I feel the desire for change as strongly as most of the electorate this year and Ms. Clinton represents to me a continuation of the last several years of deadlock and partisan sniping.  
But that still makes her a cut above what the Republican Party has offered us in Donald Trump.  Several cuts above, in fact.  His supporters have posted how the media has unfairly focuses on him and his negatives and given Hilary Clinton a pass.  To them I say, I haven’t had to rely on the media for my opinion on Donald Trump.  You can remove all the media coverage, watch the videos of what he says and does, read the tweets he writes late at night, and see the behavior of his supporters through social medial and know with certainty that this man is not someone that should be trusted to take out the trash, let alone lead our nation and represent our nation to other countries.  This latest send-up over what he said in the Access Hollywood video is the most recent example. What is so telling about it isn’t that it’s huge major surprise and shock that he claimed to doing such disrespectful and atrocious acts.  This is not a sudden left turn as what happened to Gary Hart on the Monkey Business years and  years ago to derail that rising star of the Democratic Party’s presidential aspirations.  What makes this latest event in Trump’s political career is that it draws a straight line from his past beliefs and behaviors to what he has been saying to the American people for the last year and a half.  
It’s isn’t a “controversy.”  It’s “confirmation.”  
If my perspective on this election is accurate, and there are no more “October Surprises” to come, then the Republican Party will spend the next several years, maybe two, maybe four, maybe even eight, licking their wounds and trying to figure out what what went wrong.  
The first and most likely course of action will be to make tactical changes to their process and campaigning gameplay.  Put in new rules to prevent an outsider from hijacking the primary process.  Vet potential candidates that proved to have some traction with conservative voters, like Ted Cruz, and give him a script that will appeal to them.  Maybe even more underhanded tactics such as changing voting laws in the states they control to help confirm a majority of voters that support their basic policies.  This way may help to regain the White House a couple of terms from now, but will only exacerbate the political stalemate our country is in.  
Or…  They could do something else.  
I’ve heard Republican strategists lament on the Sunday talk shows that the “Trump Phenomena” (my quotation marks, not theirs) was due to the fact that their party offered nothing to their constituents.  No vision for the future.  No policies to help or support their dreams.  No encouragement that they were speaking for them, or any other voting group they wanted support from.  
What if, this time, after this embarrassing debacle, they finally get the hint and do that?  
If, for instance, they start by formulating a fiscal policy that is truly conservative.  One that insists on a balanced budget.  One that really does give middle class families a break and asks all people at all levels to pay their fair share.  Just as Nixon was the only President that could go to China, the Republican Party would immediately grab the interest of people of many political stripes.  
It would need to be a deep, abiding reexamination of what their values really are and how they work in the changing social landscape of the twenty-first century.  One that was truly inclusive.  One that expressed what they’ve claimed to stand for, but for all brands of Americans.  Given the nature of what looks like the average Trump supporter, or those that have been most vocal in supporting him, this may be too hard a change to make.  
But if they were to reach down and look at who and what they are and express that in a new political agenda, then they will not only revitalize their party, but may very well create a political engine that will not only allow them to regain the White House, but maybe even put their stamp on the political outlook on this country from now through the middle of this relatively new century.  
The Democratic Party won’t be making the same introspective journey.  Victory in the presidential race will wash away any inclination for such examination under a wave of self-satisfaction.  This is a pity, because the Democrats could use the same sort of soul-searching I believe.  Bernie Sanders would not have been such a competitive candidate as he was if this was not so.  

I will be very glad, and very, very relieved, if Donald Trump loses this election.  If his impact goes beyond this November, and induces a tidal change such as I’ve described above in the party he took over to achieve his own desires for power, political this time instead of financial, then I may end up being grateful to him in the long run for what it ends up doing for this country.   


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