There are a few things out there that have me struggling to find words for my thoughts, but none more glaringly so than the unfolding of our presidential election cycle.
How do you describe it? At first, when the Republican field was vast, and Bernie’s chances of stripping Hillary of her seemingly predetermined anointment were slim, it kind of seemed like we were living some intense, fictitious novel about a stagnating two-party system meeting its demise.
Then, as the Republican field began to thin, and Bernie started to close a gap he never should have, it began to feel like the backstory to some post-apocalyptic story set in the future. The moral of the story would leave readers realizing that, had there not been all the seeming predetermination on the part of the big money in the Democratic Party, so that Sanders had been the one to face the king of the Republican hill, Trump — an apocalypse could have been avoided.
Now, as it appears we’ll be faced with a Trump v. Clinton slugfest to the presidency, it feels too real. Real like when you are outside and realize that the birds have stopped chirping, and the air is still, and you look to the sky and think, I hope that storm isn’t coming directly this way.
The national media that, in my opinion, fed Trump’s candidacy by their constant, mob-mentality attention to his every antic have quieted their chatter regarding the Donald. The “Stop Trump” factions have moved quietly toward acceptance, both of his candidacy and the demise of their party.
Personally, if it is Clinton v. Trump, which seems like a foregone conclusion, I dread the denouement to this campaign cycle. Whether he’s acting presidential or not, Democrats would do well to take a long hard look at what Trump just did to the Republican Party. All the havoc. All the fallen. All the plates of crow.
All the money spent for naught.
He’s about to turn that focus singularly on one candidate for months. Given the wrong strategy, it could go very poorly. Again, personally, I wish the Democrats would put Sanders up against him because I think Sanders is a more difficult target for Trump’s attacks.
But, barring that, I hope Clinton’s team is strategically focusing on “knowing her enemy.” When it comes to head-to-head competition, it’s not enough to know your own game and to have a good team. You need to have a thorough knowledge of your opponents’ game and be ready to handle any aspect of it.
Trump plays an entirely different game than Clinton. His game is in the moment. Hers is carefully thought out (my polite way of saying that most of what she says seems so scripted), and while there is something to be said for giving things thought, she will have to figure out how to utilize her seemingly scripted stumping against Trump’s more random, anything-goes-in-the-moment style.
As for their actual policies, actual experience, and thinking styles, whether or not those things really matter is up to the media and us voters. Who knows how this will play out, though to imagine how our country might fare under the leadership of a bombastic “businessman,” need we look further than our own state?
I can’t help but think Clinton v. Trump will come down to which one has the most voters dead seat against voting for him or her, rather than which candidate has the most voters in favor of their candidacy. I used to talk to my kids about how sometimes voting is more about picking the lesser of two evils than choosing between two choices that instill confidence.
I long for those days. Our conversations this cycle make those cynicisms of yesteryear seem so hopeful. The central theme always has something to do with the question of how did we get to a point where this election cycle is our reality?