Back in the distant days of 2016 when most people imagined that normality would more or less continue indefinitely, Hillary Clinton was running for the Presidency as the most well-qualified candidate in decades. She was running on a mix of reasonable policy and personal competence.
Unfortunately for Clinton, neither of those things mattered very much. Her luck and her judgement were both bad.
For bad luck she was torpedoed by a dull-witted FBI chief (they don’t call the FBI “the feebs” for nothing…) who likely couldn’t stand the idea of a female President and thought this possibility was much worse than having a blustering infantile liar whose primary support came from the Kremlin.
But much, much worse was her own error of judgement. Clinton believed she needed to convince people that her policies made sense and that she’d be a serious and reliable President.
In other words, she had no idea of the game she was really involved in.
Trump was (and remains) a pathetic flabby buffoon. He said stupid and offensive things every time he opened his weak pouting little mouth. As a result the media adored him. He could be guaranteed to pull in eyeballs as the American public were alternately horrified and amused by his feeble posturing. He was a baby-man clearly unfit for even the office of dog catcher, never mind President of the United States. That’s what made him so much of a media magnet. So he got billions of dollars of free publicity. He normalized stupidity, venality, incompetence, and lying. The media loved him for it and faithfully repeated his every brain-dead comment.
Clinton meanwhile failed to grasp that politics has become merely a sub-branch of the entertainment industry. She genuinely thought competence and policy mattered.
In consequence Trump won over all those on the unfortunate end of the IQ distribution. They loved him because he used simple words they could understand, told them lies they wanted to hear, and repeated everything multiple times so they could chant along. Trump, who’d entered the race in the hope of boosting flagging ratings for his trash TV show, discovered he could rouse the drooling dull-eyed mob. He loved the attention so he kept doing it. He’d say a bunch of stupid things and repeat whatever made the crowd cheer. This was policy formation by mob approbation.
By the time Clinton and Trump met for their televised debate, Trump had a solid bloc of low-IQ voters who’d support him even if he ate babies on camera. Clinton, meanwhile, never aroused much enthusiasm among the various Democratic blocs. She didn’t know how to entertain. But even this wouldn’t have been a fatal flaw if only she’d understood the nature of the contest she was in.
Sadly, she never did.
She thought she could reach undecided voters by reason and persuasion. There were no undecided voters. As the election approached I heard many Republicans say the same thing: “If she was the Republican candidate I’d vote for her. I can’t stand that guy Trump.” But she wasn’t the Republican candidate so they did vote for Trump. In other words, she was wasting her breath throughout the debates.
What happened in those debates was critical. Trump was clearly revealed as being utterly clueless, utterly stupid, and utterly vile. But this was in fact an advantage. He stood behind Clinton while she was speaking, scowling and muttering “bad” and “evil woman.” His dull-eyed supporters thought this was “manly.” Clinton ignored Trump, imagining she was taking the higher ground, never realizing that she’d ceded control to the orange halfwit.
The only way Clinton could have caused Trump to shed support would have been to turn on him and scold him until his weak little mouth began to tremble. Clinton needed to slap Trump down hard, and keep slapping until he either cried or lurched off the podium to ask someone to change his diaper. Trump is a baby-man with no capacity for real conflict; he merely bullies those he knows won’t fight back. Like all bullies, Trump has no center. He’s a sack of orange pus waiting for someone to burst him with a pin.
Slapping Trump down and making him cry would have resulted in many Trump supporters, slow-witted though they are, seeing him for what he is: a weakling. Some would have voted for him anyway but enough would have abandoned the rotting hulk that Clinton’s three million vote superiority would have carried her into the White House.
Has any Democrat learned the lesson of 2016?
Clearly not. Biden is a confused, amiable, non-entity. Warren is too policy-focused. Perhaps Kamala Harris could slap Trump down hard and make him cry and wet his pants but she’s unlikely to become the Democratic candidate because she’s inexperienced and her policies are non-credible to too many Democratic voters.
So that’s why Trump will win again in 2020. He’ll re-run the 2016 election, hectoring and bullying whoever debates him, safe in the knowledge that his opponent will be too civilized to give him the slapping down he so richly deserves and that the USA so desperately needs.
Perhaps one day the Democrats will understand the nature of today’s political contest, but there’s no sign whatsoever of that realization today.