Trump is going to have been useful in the end… I hope

I think that history will look back on Donald Trump’s presidency and smile.

That presumes, of course, that we survive Trump’s presidency, which I think we’ll manage; those who think we won’t are betraying a fundamental distrust of our resiliency as a society, and that distrust itself is a result of that very resiliency.

But I do think that we’ll be able to look at this presidential term and say some positive things, even though I don’t have any confidence that Trump’s presidency will be “successful” by most metrics.

Trump is us. He’s our guy – whether we’re willing to claim him or not, he is our President. If you’re American, he’s yours, like it or not. That’s the way it is.

He won the election by the rules agreed to by every candidate; he lost the majority vote, yes, but that’s the way the system is designed: it balances geography with population. If people wanted the rules changed, all they have to do is follow the process — but the election went by the rules in place and everyone knew the rules.

If you voted for him, well, he’s your President; I don’t know why you voted for him – I know of a few different reasons that I could intellectually accept and a lot of reasons that sound absolutely absurd but apparently people thought they were valid anyway. But if you voted for him, well, you asserted certain ideas about the Presidency and who you wanted in it, and who you wanted representing us on the global stage, in competition with the other candidates.

If you voted against him, well, he’s your President; I sympathize, but watching from the fence, I think you primarily failed in your mode of communication. Trump succeeded by arguing like a five-year-old, as one comedian pointed out, and that somehow resonated with voters. You failed because you didn’t rebut that very well; what I saw was condescension and arrogance, and that probably caused more people to swing Trump’s way than I think any of us would have liked.

(That’s not just an indictment of Democrats; it’s an indictment of Republicans, too. Trump won the Republican candidacy the same way he won the Presidency, and the Republican establishment did the same thing that the Democrat establishment did… and lost the same way, too.)

The failure to beat Trump was not only a failure in 2016; it was a failure in 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992… it goes back decades, because we haven’t done a good job of teaching our own people what values to, well, value. We’ve taught our kids to value spectacle, and what Trump gives us is, indeed, spectacle.

Thus, he’s like Bill Clinton, another presidency that history will smile upon; Clinton showed us (among other things) a model of ourselves in how we treat women as a culture (and laid the groundwork for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump, too.)

I don’t think we liked that model of ourselves- we definitely shouldn’t have. We elected someone who used his power for his own gratification. That’s our mirror from 1992 to 2000.

Hopefully we came away thinking to ourselves, “wait a minute… women are people, too.” (Was that ever a question? … unfortunately, yes. It was a question. We’ve gotten better about that, I think. We’re not Saudi Arabia, nor have we ever been, I hope.)

But as I write this, maybe Trump’s evidence that Clinton’s presidency showed us less about ourselves than I might have liked… or maybe we just refused to see it. Maybe Trump is the American people doubling down on the idea that character doesn’t matter…

And yes, being ever hopeful, I will say that I pray that we, as a people, look at what we’ve done, at what we’ve identified as a primary and central representative of ourselves, and say “… ew. We can do better than this.”

The Republicans just lost the Presidency for 2016.

Right now, it looks like Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. This will have the effect of punting the Presidency straight into the Democratic Party, even if they nominate Hillary Clinton – who is, for better or for worse, one of the less likable candidates they’ve tried to offer in quite some time.

I think this is a pretty solid assertion, and it’s based on my observations of some of the data out there. I’m not good enough at this to be on FiveThirtyEight.com, and they have far better research sources than I do, but I think my reasoning is pretty solid even so.

The way I see it is this: Trump is winning the Republican nomination with around 40% of the Republican primary votes. In caucuses, his numbers are generally close to that – he’s not winning a majority, he’s just getting better percentages than his opponents, for whatever reason.

The reasons make sense: with so many competitors, it’s easy to see how people split their non-Trump votes around, which allows his votes to coalesce around a man who is still an awful candidate.

Here’s the thing that kills his candidacy in the general election: most of the people who are not voting for him don’t see him as viable even as an alternative.

Consider this scenario: candidates A, B, and C are in the race. Let’s say each of them, for the sake of argument, has 33% of the voters in his or her camp. However, for candidate A’s voters, candidate B is an acceptable alternative… and for candidates B and C’s voters, they’d rather stick their childrens’ hands in active woodchippers than vote for candidate A. All of candidate B’s voters would prefer C to A, and all of candidate C’s voters would prefer B to A.

That’s close to what we see in the Republican party today: Rubio’s supporters are going to run to Kasich or Cruz, for the most part, with some deciding to settle for the “frontrunner.”

That doesn’t mean that Trump can’t win the nomination; he certainly can! After all, it’s not that every Rubio supporter will go to either Cruz or Kasich; many will choose “solidarity” over “ethics” or “sanity,” and Trump will get an even larger percentage of the Republican pie.

But in the general election? It doesn’t work.

Trump needs every Republican vote to even have a chance against Hillary or Bernie; he won’t get them. Too many Republicans have either ethics or memories.

With that “alternative” thinking – our discussion of candidates A, B, and C – not enough people, even Republicans, will see Trump as a viable alternative. They either won’t vote at all, will vote for a third party or write-in candidate, or will strike against their Republican brethren by voting for Hillary.

Add in the fact that he’s so polarizing – like Hillary herself – and his presence will motivate many Democrats to vote even if they wouldn’t have otherwise, and we’re looking at an electoral college domination that would blow Mondale out of the record books.

Mondale won one state against Ronald Reagan, for the worst electoral college loss (525-13) in the books in recent memory. Not, however, the worst electoral college loss ever – that looks to have been John Quincy Adams against James Monroe (231-1), although it’s worth noting that George Washington is considered to have been voted in unanimously – if we took the numbers from his time and projected them into the modern electoral college, he would have won every possible vote. Dude was a man.

It’s fully possible that Trump might change his tune after the nomination is settled; he might veer from his current brand of lunacy to gain some sort of “mass appeal.” That may even work for some people – because honestly, he’s run his campaign so far better than any such campaign I’ve ever seen.

But that’s a red herring. I mentioned that voters with ethics and/or memory wouldn’t be swayed, and they shouldn’t be. Trump can change what he says, but he can’t change what he’s said – and what he’s stood by saying.

It’s one thing to say “she has blood coming from her wherever” — but something else entirely to say it and not immediately see it as a brand. It says that the person who brings up that particular comment is a cretin, a cad, a person of low class no matter how much money he has. And that’s not the only thing like that that he’s said… never mind his other issues.

So for me, if I had been a likely Trump voter – and no, I never was one – I’d remember all of this stuff he’s spouted during this campaign, and factor in all of the other things he’s shown me through his life over the years, and I’d refuse to vote for him.

And that’s ignoring The Apprentice – I assume that was entertainment, where he was acting like a stupid boss for the purpose of creating theatre. I wouldn’t have been able to do it – I’d actually want to show my best at all times – but there’s apparently a market for such things.

I suppose it’s possible that enough voters could forget who Trump has been over his life and through this campaign – and maybe they’d actually elect this fool to the Presidency. I sure hope not… I want to think better of my fellow Americans.

But they could always change my mind.