Being a nobody political junkie, I’ve been following the presidential polls and campaigns, and as we get down to the last few days I’ve been totally devoting my attention to this. After the Oct 8 release by the Washington Post of the Access Hollywood Trump conversation with Billy Bush regarding Trump’s ongoing sexual exploitation of women, Ms. Clinton’s lead in the polls rapidly climbed, reaching a peak of 7 points over Trump on Oct. 19 according to Real Clear Politics. The equally prestigious FiveThirtyEight web site poll averages gave Clinton a 6.6% advantage on October 20. After that, however, the race started to tighten (even before the infamous October 29 letter to Congress from FBI Director James Comey about continuing investigations of e-mails related to Ms. Clinton’s use of a personal server for all of her State Department business while Secretary of State). This tightening trend indicates that support levels for Ms. Clinton have leveled off, while Trump has picked up uncommitted and third-party voters to increase his voting base (as support for the most significant 3rd party candidate, Gary Johnson of the Liberation Party, slips away). As of tonight, Clinton still maintains a 2.0% lead at Real Clear Politics, and a 2.9% advantage on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site. (The Huffington Post poll analysis blithely reports a 5.5% lead for Clinton, although that’s down a bit from 7.5% on October 9 . . . talk about seeing what you want to see!).
[SIDENOTE: I find it a bit ironic that Clinton thought that her attacking a man for his sexual crudities could end his Presidential prospects . . . I mean, her husband Bill lowered the bar with his shenanigans before and while President, and Ms Clinton then helped to defend him and keep him from being disqualified from national leadership. And now Ms. Clinton has to live the consequences.]
Unfortunately, some of the recent polls from Ms. Clinton’s Electoral College “firewall” states have also shown movement towards Trump also, especially in Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Nevada. The latest polls in the critical states of North Carolina and Colorado seem all over the place, but two recent polls from New Hampshire are a bit disheartening for Clinton supporters, showing Trump with a small lead (up to this point, New Hampshire seemed fairly secure for Clinton). Michigan and Wisconsin polls still mostly favor Clinton, but some Trump outliers are now being seen. And the early voting reports hinting that African American turnout may significantly decline from 2008 and 2012 levels weaken Clinton’s prospects in those two states, especially Michigan. Just two weeks ago, the betting odds and the odds shown on the FiveThirtyEight site gave Clinton an 80+ percent chance of winning. As of tonight, that’s back to about 66%. Not too much better than 50-50. Is this Trump’s last hurrah, or are a lot of angry or otherwise unsatisfied American voters really going to pull the lever or push the button for Trump?
I’ve always had faith in the American electorate. It seemed to me that the great majority of people who take the time and trouble to vote do it very responsibly. They diligently think through the choice and balance both their own interests and the well being of the nation in making their decision. They don’t vote simply on an impulse such as anger or fear. That’s why I still find it really hard to believe that a majority of American voters, white non-college male and otherwise, are actually going to declare next Tuesday at the ballot that Donald J. Trump should really be our next President. I still trust the good faith and common sense of the American electorate, despite a few questionable choices here and there over the years (and even those situations stemmed more from a lack of sufficient information than any sort of bad faith). I still can’t believe that they are going to commit our nation’s guidance to someone who is so obviously unqualified to run the most powerful nation-state in the world.
I certainly understand why so many people have been excited by many of the things that Trump says and what he claims to stand for. I could write more than 20 pages about that, but I will defer to this video by filmmaker Michael Moore. When I first saw the video, I honestly thought that Moore was endorsing Trump. Turns out that Moore is still in the Clinton camp, but he clearly understands what Trump has meant to a whole lot of people who have been quite upset about how “the system” seems to have been treating them and their families over the past 25 years or so. On his web site, Moore says “Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: ‘PRESIDENT TRUMP’.”
Moore’s video and his words really put a chill down my spine. No, it can’t be. I still don’t believe it. Yes, Moore clearly enumerates the anger powering the Trump wave. But to actually vote for him . . . as of tonight, we have an increasing number of people telling pollsters that they intend to vote for Trump. But what you say to a pollster or click on a website or push in response to a robocall is still different from actually going into that polling place amidst your fellow citizens and exercising your sacred rights as an American citizen.
I’m hoping and thinking (perhaps wishfully) that people are venting their anger with our modern economy and political system when asked by someone, but when they actually stand in that enclosed booth in the hall with the big American flag on the wall, and see those names and buttons or levers before them . . . they will calm down, take a deep breath and say to themselves: “well, I really don’t like Ms. Clinton and what she represents and the system that backs her up . . . and I’m glad that Donald spoke up over the past few months for people like me and made the big powers take notice . . . glad that someone with his kind of money and power finally had the guts to give the system the finger, like I’d love to do . . . but yea, he’s not really the guy who can steer the ship. So I guess that it’s gonna be Clinton and more of the same, despite all her untrustworthy words about fighting for people like me (and then acting to protect the rich and hoity-toity, and then making darn sure that she’s one of them). Don’t think it’s really time for any big changes until we get someone who knows how to keep it all from falling down while you’re changing things.”
So America, I’m keeping my faith in you. Sure, a lot of the pro-Trump electorate will stick with their guts and vote for Trump. But I think that just enough will re-think the situation once faced with the true responsibility of being an American voter, and give the system some more time to try to right itself. The nation has been warned — really bad stuff is eventually going to happen if our economy and society doesn’t create more opportunity for those who have been left behind by the techno-internationalist socioeconomy. Empires have been brought down in the past when trends like what America is now facing are not adequately addressed. Nonetheless, I’m still predicting that common sense will prevail for now and that Hilary Clinton will be the next President.
NOT that I’m particularly happy about that! Personally, I don’t want to vote for Ms. Clinton. I don’t agree with a lot of her current policies (I liked her and her husband back in the days of their ‘triangulation’ centrist thinking and pragmatic governing). I feel that her true character is split somewhere between the idealistic younger Hillary and the power-greedy older Hillary, with the latter now eclipsing the former (bolstered by her canny ability to keep using the voice of the younger Hillary to maintain and grow her power over a widening network of believing supporters). And to be honest, I don’t think that I need to vote for Clinton. I live in New Jersey, and the polls here give Clinton a very solid and unquestionable lead. Whatever I do or don’t do with my vote won’t matter practically in the selection of our next President. I’m basically free from the duty of being responsible for the short-term consequences of my vote. If I lived in North Carolina or Nevada or Ohio or Florida (or now New Hampshire and Wisconsin), I would certainly need to push the Clinton button so as to help prevent a Trumpian disaster.
However I don’t, and so I have the luxury of considering how my vote could be used to say something about the long-term prospects for our American political system. I am as MAD AS HELL right now at the so-called “Two Party” political system. I mean, Trump and Clinton? These parties passed up how many other capable politicians as to arrive at this choice? I’m sorry, but I’m starting to wonder why we need a Two Party monopoly over American political power. We’re living in a age of instant information and communications and “disruption”. Why shouldn’t our political structure also be disrupted? I can understand how in the era of printing presses and messenger pigeons and small cities with large numbers living on farms, politics had to be kept simple and centralized. Then we entered the 20th Century with its many technical innovations and its trending toward urbanization, suburbanization and a more educated public. You would have thought that third political parties might have gained some footholds because of that, but most of the 20th Century was spent dealing with economic downturns or wars.
Well, we still have economic problems and wars, but we also have our social media instant communications, which the political monopolies have been exploiting in not such good ways. But all the organizing capability of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and information conveyance ability of the rest of the net should theoretically make the threshold for starting an effective political party lower and lower over time. If the Democratic and Republican Parties were replaced by 15 or 30 smaller “splinter” parties, would the fighting and lack of ability to reach compromises only grow worse? Or might it improve, if the many small parties realized that they could only have an effect on the nation via working together with others?
Contrast this with what we are heading towards today — each side trying to ram its righteous opinions down the throats of its unenlightened opponents. Interestingly, “Founding Father” James Madison hinted at this in Federalist Paper No. 10: “… the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority . . . the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens”.
I’m going to bet on the vision of an “extended sphere” of political parties. Sure, it’s not a vision that can happen anytime soon. But maybe someday . . . As such, I’m going to use my vote next week as a vote AGAINST the Two Party System. I’m going to search the New Jersey ballot for a third party candidate for President who might reflect what I feel to be a reasonable stance on important national and international issues. In fact, I’ve already taken a preliminary look, and I’ve read a few interesting things about Rocky De La Fuente and his “American Delta Party“. I’ve also been impressed by what Evan McMullin is saying out in Utah (regrettably, he is not on the ballot in New Jersey). He dares to use the word “compromise” in his discussions on what he would do if elected President.
Which isn’t going to happen, of course. BUT, if you are like me and live in a state where the fix is already in for either Clinton or Trump (polls averages exceeding 8 or 9%), and you just don’t like where either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party have been going of late . . . you might also consider taking the “prophetic route” with your vote next Tuesday. You might also want to say “I’m TIRED of this TWO PARTY MONOPOLY over who our leaders will be, and what they can or can’t do or say”. I’m going to exercise some judgement and find the person who I believe best reflects the intellectual, social and personal moral qualities that I feel are needed to be President.
But if you are in a swing state — Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, probably Wisconsin, Michigan and even Arizona — then OK, get out and vote for Hillary Clinton, full stop. Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the least of all evils. Leave the political system prophecy in the hands of a few oddballs like myself, who live in the locked-in states. What I’m doing is just a spit in the ocean, but hopefully still a spit in the right direction. There will be plenty of time for the rest of you swing-state idealists to join in with this in the future. And for those of you who believe in Ms. Clinton and feel that she really is going to be a wonderful President, then we can peacefully agree to respectfully disagree about her qualities and character and ideas and actions over the next 4 years. So long as enough of the pro-Trump poll respondents aren’t really going to help to tear the nation down!
P.S., conservative writer Charles Krauthammer just posted an opinion column complaining about the choice between Trump and Clinton (entitled “Final Days, Awful Choice“). I respect Krauthammer’s writings (even if I don’t always agree with him), and I think that he summarizes the Trump/Clinton dilemma very well. He does NOT come out for third party options (for that, check out this piece by Ramesh Ponnuru, another thoughtful conservative). But he does finally hint that Clinton is probably the better choice than Trump; even though her inter-related improprieties as Secretary of State regarding her foundation and her e-mail server have not been resolved and will greatly upset her Presidency, Trump’s extreme incompetence regarding international affairs will endanger the nation even more, given the growing threats from China, Russia and Iran. Give Krauthammer a point for sticking by one of the fundamental values of principled conservatism: HONESTY.
Oh, but how would Rocky do in the international arena? He certainly doesn’t have anywhere near Secretary Clinton’s expertise in foreign affairs. But he would appreciate much better than Trump the need for America to maintain respect and yet get along in the modern world, given that his parents came from Mexico. And furthermore, even though De La Fuente was born in San Diego, he spent a portion of his childhood in Mexico (recall how Obama’s childhood years in Indonesia allegedly helped to turn him into a foreign policy guru).
NOV 9 FOLLOW-UP: How wrong we all can be. But I still don’t regret my vote for Mr. DeLaFuente. I still feel that a political system with a multitude of parties of roughly equal strength that would field candidates such as Mr. DeLaFuente would be better and less dangerous than a two party system that can sometimes go so far off the rails. But OK, I’m going to be open-minded about President Trump; I’m going to believe that he can grow and learn and change as he faces the incredible challenges of Presidential leadership, challenges that he probably hasn’t even thought about yet.
Mr. Obama came to the Presidency with enormous intellectual capabilities, but in a way, they became a liability to him. After 8 years, I don’t feel that Mr. Obama had grown very much in the role of President, as he probably was not open to that, given his self-perceived “smarts”. I’m hoping that Mr. Trump, despite his enumerable faults, will not suffer from this character flaw. We shall see!