Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dems Still In Denial About the Election


In just three weeks Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and it is crystal clear that the Democratic Party still hasn't accepted that reality. Worse, it doesn't seem to have a plan with how to deal with the incoming administration.

This denial isn't just limited to Democrats. From what I've been seeing on social media, it's wide spread throughout the progressive community. From the ill-fated attempt at influencing electors to somehow switch their votes from Trump to anyone with a pulse - yours truly, I confess, was caught up in this hair-brained scheme - to insisting that because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote that meant she was entitled to win the presidency, to suggesting that Barack Obama would've beaten Trump if he had run for a third term, to outright blaming Vladimir Putin for stealing the election, it is clear that there is much to be done if we - and by we, I mean not just Democrats, but everyone else concerned with preserving this Republic - are to formulate an effective strategy going forward.

But let's clear the air, once and for all, and dispense with the above one by one. First, the electors. Can you imagine the Constitutional crisis that would've erupted had the electors chosen a different candidate than Trump? As I wrote in an earlier piece, "the uproar over such a scenario could destroy the Republic; and if not destroy it, damage it to such an extent it might take decades to repair." There was simply no justification for it and the electors were wise to reject it.

Then there's the popular vote issue. Clinton supporters, however, overlook the fact that most of the nearly three million more votes she received came from one state: California. The last time that state was in play was when George H.W. Bush was running for president while Reagan's VP. Since then, it has been comfortably in the blue column.

Moving on to Obama, I don't suppose it would make a difference if I were to remind the readers of this blog that he was prevented from running for a third term thanks to the 22nd Amendment? But for those so inclined to deal in hypothetical scenarios, I would suggest a piece by Bill Scher in Politico might quash that sentiment. To sum up, it's quite likely that Obama would've fallen to Trump and the wave of nationalism that appears to be sweeping most of the western world. Remember how unlikely the Brexit vote seemed a few months ago? Don't be surprised if Angela Merkel winds up being the next victim.

And lastly, there's Putin. I have no doubt he played a role in the election, as did James Comey. The leaked emails and Comey's politicizing of Clinton's server helped reinforce the impression that many voters had that Hillary was untrustworthy. But it was her poor strategy down the stretch that allowed Trump to overtake her, more than any outside influence. Put succinctly, the Clinton team took way too much for granted and was way too dismissive of warning signs that, in retrospect, should've been as clear as day.

I'm talking about the Rust-Belt region, where Clinton lost this election. The first hint that something was wrong should've been the polling they were getting out of Iowa. This was a state Obama won twice and yet, as late as September, Clinton was trailing and trailing badly. The second hint should've been the polling in Ohio. Again, this was a state Obama carried twice and at one point Clinton trailed by as much as six points.

But rather than take note of these two states, the Clinton campaign trudged on, confident in their belief that even without those two states, they still had Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the bag. They didn't and there were clear indications that their belief was misguided. For one, polls in Pennsylvania began tightening even before Comey's eleventh hour surprise; secondly, there was a dearth of late polling from Wisconsin and Michigan. In other words, team Clinton was relying on early polling that showed her up by five points, when in fact her numbers were going south fast. By the time they got wind of trouble, the damage was irreversible. Clinton's last-minute trip to Michigan was too little too late.

But what really did Clinton in was her decision early on to ignore the unrest that was going on among white blue-collar workers and instead rely almost exclusively on a mostly urban, minority vote to carry her across the finish line. It failed miserably. Michael Tomasky has an excellent piece on how Democrats and Clinton dropped the ball that is worth reading.

In our political-media shorthand, adjectives like white and church-going and suburban connote conservative, but it just isn’t necessarily so. Most are more middle class than working class, though some are the latter. They may not check every single box. They may squirm a little when the trans-bathroom issue comes up. They think political correctness can be kind of ridiculous.

But they’re solid, wonderful people, and they live in small towns in purple states. Millions are in fact liberals, to some degree or another, and many millions more may not be liberals but sure aren’t conservatives.

The Democratic Party needs to identify leaders who can connect with these folks. But more generally, liberals in New York and Washington and San Francisco and so on need to go talk to them, too, and see them as just as important a part of the gorgeous mosaic as the kinds of people we more commonly associate with the word multicultural.
And let me just say for the record I've been as guilty as anyone for being dismissive of these people. Trump may have gotten the racist vote, but his share of the white blue-collar vote was what won him those three damned states and if Democrats intend on turning them blue in four years they would do well to heed Tomasky's advice.

Pounding one's chest and proudly exclaiming a meaningless statistic like popular vote, or crying foul over the malfeasance of a foreign government isn't going to win back the White House in 2020 anymore than wishing I was six inches taller would've made me a better basketball player when I was young.

Nor is wishing that 2016 would just go ahead and die going to change anything if the same rotten attitudes persist in 2017. All it gets you is another year older and that much more embittered.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Running On Empty

Robert Christgau took the words right out of my mouth.
This situation is not conducive to anyone's coherence including my own, hence my decision to bullet-point a reaction piece that was going nowhere slowly. Of course, the end of the world as we know it isn't conducive to coherence either.
Several times over the last few days I've reached for the laptop, looking for the inspiration to write something, anything that could encapsulate what I'm feeling; indeed what we now know to be the majority of the voters' feelings. And I've come up empty each time. Christgau's "end of the world" was the best I could do. Because that's what it feels like.

Not that there haven't been topics to write about. From Tim Ryan's challenge against Nancy Pelosi for minority leader of the House (go for it), to whether Democrats should be open to negotiating with the Trump Administration (fuck no!), to abolishing the electoral college (way overdue), to the normalizing of Trump by the media (surprised? You shouldn't be), to whether or not President Obama should just go ahead and appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court during the coming recess (ballsy, but a bad idea), to Jill Stein pushing for a recount in the Rust Belt states (why is she spearheading this and not the Dems?). But every time I sit down and start to type, I hit a roadblock.

The simple truth is I'm exhausted and stunned. Exhausted at the events that have occurred over the last three weeks; stunned that this nation, allegedly the greatest in the world, could elect a man that embodies everything the Founders would've found revolting. These were learned men with principles and a vision, who went to great lengths to ensure that someone like a Donald Trump could never rise to power. To a man they must be spinning in their graves over what happened November 8.

Forget for a moment the obvious policy consequences - Obamacare, gone; the Paris Climate Agreement, gone; Dodd-Frank, gone; the Supreme Court, gone; Medicare and Social Security, gone - what has happened here is nothing short of appalling. Again, Christgau's words hit home: "The validated racism and xenophobia of Trump's coalition not only disgusts me, it breaks my fucking heart."

And the thing that hurts the most is the knowledge that a lot of people I know - some of them family members - voted for him. Not all of them, I hope and pray, are racists, but all of them, to a man and woman, had to have been aware of the dog whistles that permeated every aspect of his malignant and hate-filled campaign and yet chose to turn a deaf ear. Not everyone runs towards the flame; some try to dance around it in the naive belief they won't get singed. In the end, though, both are consumed by the fires.

All this week I have been under the weather with a stomach virus. I'm confident it had something to do with the election. Wednesday night, on my way home from work, I tried to brighten my mood by playing some Christmas music. Not even Linus and Lucy could lift my spirits, though You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch seemed strangely apropos. So under the weather was I that I was unable to attend the traditional Thanksgiving feast at my wife's family's place, the first time in my life that I celebrated the holiday alone.

I've never been one to believe that God takes a personal interest in who gets elected president; he doesn't care who wins the World Series or Super Bowl; he continues to allow countless wars and disasters which have claimed the lives of millions of innocent people; and no matter how hard you pray, that job you're looking to land will end up going to the person best qualified. Those who hold onto some misguided belief that God personally directs every aspect of human activity would do well to read up on their scripture. The evidence is overwhelming: Man often gets what he deserves.

Which is why I'm terribly worried about the next four years. Not only worried, frantic. Let's face it, we've had some doozies in the White House over the last couple of centuries, and we managed to survive them all - even Bush. Though to be fair, the citizens of the Middle East would probably beg to differ. The damage Bush wrought in that region will take decades to repair.

The point is we've never had anyone like Trump as president before. Sooner or later even the luckiest of nations runs out of luck. Just imaging him in the Oval Office is enough to turn my stomach. And the nuclear launch codes? Jesus, sweet Jesus! I feel as though my country died election night and I've been attending the wake ever since. The funeral is January 20, and the entire world will be watching.

I still can't wrap my head around how this country can go from electing a man like Barack Obama, the first African American, as president to electing someone like Trump. It not only defies all logic, but all human decency, as well. I am both outraged and embarrassed at the same time.

I don't know where I go from here. Like my friend Steve in North Carolina, I feel as though I'm done with this. The passion's simply not there. For the past eight years, I've written about politics, primarily Washington politics. Obama versus the GOP and, sadly, sometimes versus even his own party. And being the good wonk that I was, I feel I did a fairly credible job.

Now what do I write about? The final death knell of the greatest experiment in representative democracy since the ancient Greeks? Because that's what we're talking about here. I am under no illusions about the gravity of the situation. This is no mere presidential election. The nation did not choose Mitt Romney or John McCain or fucking Paul Ryan to be the leader of the free world; it chose the most ill-equipped, completely unhinged individual ever to run for public office. And there are consequences for such choices, profound consequences.

Maybe all this will pass in time. Maybe I'll rediscover that passion and start hitting the keyboard once again. But, for now at least, I'm signing off.

Peace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hey Dems, The Pity Party Ends Now


My dentist has this plaque on his wall that reads, "Ignore Your Teeth And They'll Go Away." It's funny, but true. As a salesman, I've often employed that very simple logic to my own profession. I know very well, as every salesperson knows, that if I'm not calling my customers, my competition is.

Politics isn't all that dissimilar. If you aren't staying in touch with your voters your opponent is. Of all the mistakes Hillary Clinton made during her run for the White House, none proved more costly than her decision not to actively campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, and to all but ignore western Pennsylvania and concentrate more on Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

The Trump campaign saw an opening and pounced. It filled the void that Clinton created through her indifference and it paid off in droves on election day. They not only took both Wisconsin and Michigan, but Pennsylvania, as well. Clinton's focus on Philly, as it turns out, didn't save her. The words on my dentist's plaque should serve as a warning to Democrats everywhere. There's no such thing as a gimmie vote. You have to earn it.

It's been eight days since the election and there's been a lot of soul searching within the Democratic Party, along with a lot of finger pointing. The Clinton campaign lashed out at James Comey for meddling in the election. His October surprise, they maintain, was the turning point in the race that allowed Trump to win. The supporters of Bernie Sanders launched a serenade of "We told you so" chants at Clinton supporters. Bernie would've beaten Trump, they insisted. Progressive Democrats are ripping the party for its close ties to Wall Street and ignoring the pain and suffering of millions of working-class people.

There is truth in each of these claims. We'll never know how the election would've turned out had James Comey decided not to involve himself in it. There is also a case to be made that Bernie Sanders might've beaten Trump; though to be fair, it's also entirely possible Trump would've still won. And the Democratic Party's decline among working-class people can be traced back decades. It finally reached a crescendo November 8.

But that is all water over the dam now. Spilt milk can never be put back in the glass. What's done is done. Finger pointing isn't going to change the results, nor is stealing the election from the rightful winner - as some are suggesting - going to fix the fundamental problems that the party has with working-class people. President Obama said it best: "You're allowed to mope for a week and a half. Maybe two if you really need it. But after that, we've got to brush ourselves off and get back to work. We need to come together and focus on a way ahead."

I would echo every word, except the week and a half part. A week is plenty of time. Losing sucks, especially to someone like Trump. But the pity party has to stop now, not next week or the week after. In nine weeks da Fuhrer will take the oath of office. Hell, he's already chosen his own Goebbels as Minister of Propaganda. It's time for Democrats to stop whining and to start mapping out a strategy to take back what they so willfully ceded.

So, if I may be so bold, I've laid out some steps that I think Democrats must put into place in order to ensure they don't have a repeat of 2016.

Step one: Reach out into all communities, not just ones of color, and find out what makes them tick. While it's wonderful being the party of inclusion, that inclusion should not come at the expense of excluding an important voting bloc. White working-class people fled the Democratic Party in droves this election. It's one of the reasons Trump took Ohio and Michigan.

While Clinton took the lion's share of the inner-city vote, her percentage of the vote dropped considerably the farther she got from those cities. Philadelphia was a case in point. In the city itself, she beat Obama's 2012 vote percentage but got creamed in the exoburbs, just 30 miles away from Center City. It was that way everywhere on the electoral map. Clinton met expectations in communities of color, but severely underperformed in the whiter neighborhoods. This suggests that  she didn't do enough to woo those voters.

It was Bill Clinton who urged the campaign to pay more attention to these voters, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. The next Democratic nominee cannot repeat that mistake. If the party wants to be known as the big-tent party, it needs to prove it. Ironically, Democrats have the same problem as Republicans, only in reverse.

Step Two: Craft a message that resonates with a broad spectrum of voters. Over the last several elections, Democrats have become known as the party of minorities. They have become the champions for disenfranchised voters like African Americans, Hispanics, gays and women. This has swelled their ranks but at the expense of the white vote. And while the party has come a long way from the days when segregationists in the South made up a significant percentage of it, it has had the unintended consequence of boxing it in to such an extent that many whites who would otherwise be sympathetic to its causes feel excluded.

I'm not suggesting that Democrats cater to the kind of xenophobia and racism that fueled the Trump campaign, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that some whites, frustrated by a lack of respect and a sentiment that they were ignored by the Democratic Party, went over to the dark side. The Black Lives Matter movement is a prime example. There's no doubt that embracing the movement was the right thing to do, but in so doing, Democrats unwittingly allowed themselves to be branded as anti cop. The party should've done a far better job explaining that both sides had a legitimate point to make. One can be pro cop and still be appalled at the scores of blacks being shot and killed by police officers.

Step Three: It's time for a transfusion of new blood into the party. Face it, Barack Obama was something of an anomaly. He was fairly young and very popular with Millennials in a way Hillary Clinton could only dream of. But beyond him, the cupboard is bare. Bernie Sanders is in his 70s, and Elizabeth Warren is in her late 60s. The rest of the party leadership could double for a Geritol commercial. For the Democratic Party to reenergize itself, it is going to have to groom future stars who can lead it back to the promise land.

Julian Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was on the short list to be Hillary Clinton's running mate. He is 42 and extremely popular among young people. Kamala Harris, the current Attorney General and soon to be junior senator of California, is a rising star in the Democratic Party. While Harris is 52, she's still considerably younger than most of the party's leadership. Tulsi Gabbard is a Congresswoman from Hawaii who won her seat in 2012 with 81 percent of the popular vote. Gabbard, you may recall, resigned as co-chair of the DNC and was critical of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's leadership. This has earned her high praise from many progressives in the party. She is only 35. And then there's Keith Ellison, a Congressman from Minnesota, who is also Muslim and is the current frontrunner to take over as DNC chair. He's 53 and, like Gabbard, very popular among the base.

I'm sure there are more rising stars out there, like Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand. The point is the Democratic Party needs to put them front and center for all the country to see. It was telling that the two best candidates the party could come up with as its nominee were both eligible for Medicare and Social Security. That is simply unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen again.

Step Four: Acknowledge the role that social media and rallies play in politics. As shocking as it might seem, Donald Trump rewrote the rules for how to run a presidential campaign. He had no ground game to speak of and was outspent by Hillary Clinton 10 to 1 in advertising; yet, through social media and rallies, got more of his voters to the polls than she did. Even if you discount the huge advantage he received in free advertising from the media - by some accounts as much as a billion dollars worth - his accomplishment is nothing short of amazing.

If the Democratic Party intends to make a successful run at the White House in four years, it is going to have to adjust to this new paradigm. I'm not suggesting that the party should abandon its long-standing and, until this year, quite successful ground game, but, as the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do.

Step Five: Get off the tit of Wall Street. Look, until Citizens United is overturned, big money is here to stay in politics, as are Super Pacs. But there's a difference between using big money and being owned by it. Hillary Clinton's coziness with Wall Street was a sore spot for her during her run against Bernie Sanders and, thanks to WikiLeaks, it became a thorn in her side during the general election. While I don't think it was a determining factor in her loss, it nevertheless left a bad taste in the mouths of many progressives who were still upset that Sanders didn't win the nomination. There's no way of knowing how many of them chose to stay home or vote for a third-party candidate. We do know that Jill Stein cost Clinton Michigan.

Going forward the party needs to do a better job at vetting its candidates so as to avoid a repeat of what we saw this year. Potential nominees should be encouraged to get the majority of their campaign contributions from smaller donors. The Sanders model should be the standard going forward.

This election will have profound consequences for millions of people. Medicare, healthcare, the environment, financial regulations, our prestige around the world, are all in jeopardy now that Trump is the president elect. While Hillary Clinton was certainly a flawed candidate, she was but a symptom of the disease that infected the Democratic Party decades ago. And that disease, more than anything else, was the principle reason for the ghastly outcome last week.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Why Usurping the Electoral College Results is Dangerous

Look, anyone with half a brain knows that Donald Trump is an embarrassment to this country and his upcoming administration poses a grave threat to American democracy. Know what else poses a grave threat American democracy? Two hair-brain schemes: one being concocted by a couple of Republican electors; the other involving a petition being circulated by supporters of Hillary Clinton that supposedly has 4 million signatures. The former is trying to persuade enough electors to switch their votes so the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives; the latter wants the electors in the swing states that Trump won to switch their votes to the winner of the popular vote, which just happens to be Clinton. In other words, deny Trump the presidency.

First of all, regarding scheme one: no way the House of Representatives would not elect Trump, given that he was the GOP nominee and Republicans currently hold a huge majority there. Second of all, either of these schemes, were they to be successful, would result in the worst Constitutional crisis this country has seen since the Civil War. If you think the electorate is polarized now, just go ahead and deny the presidency to the candidate that millions of people voted for and who won the election fair and square. The uproar over such a scenario could destroy the Republic; and if not destroy it, damage it to such an extent it might take decades to repair.

I agree the electoral college has to go. It is a relic from our founding years that has outlived its usefulness. The United States is the only democracy in the world where the candidate who gets the most votes can still lose the presidency. That in and of itself is an embarrassment. By all accounts Hillary Clinton should be assembling a transition team for her new administration. Certainly, if she had run for president in France or Britain, that would be happening as we speak.

But she didn’t run in those countries; she ran in this one. And, however difficult it might be for those of us who were shocked by what happened November 8 to accept, the electoral college has the last word. The fact is, Clinton didn’t get enough votes in the states that mattered to win the presidency. Trump beat her. It sucks to admit it, but the alternative isn’t just sour grapes, it would set a dangerous precedent that future losers of the electoral college could use to challenge the results. If you think the world is shaking its head at what happened last Tuesday, try imagining what the reaction would be if Trump had the election stolen from him. Our prestige might never recover. We would be a laughing stock.

It's time for Democrats and progressives to put in place a plan to retake the White House legitimately in 2020. The party desperately needs a transfusion of new blood if it hopes to capture the hearts of minds of the people. However qualified Hillary Clinton may have been, she did not have a message that resonated with enough voters to put her over the top. The fact that her supposedly impervious blue wall was reduced to rubble proves that. Rebuilding that wall must be priority one on their to do list.

The first step on the road to recovery is to acknowledge you have a problem. And Democrats have a pretty big problem on their hands. How they go about dealing with it will determine their viability as a major political party now and in the future.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

They Knew Exactly What They Were Doing




"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." — H. L. Mencken



There is a passage in scripture that Christians are quite familiar with. As Jesus is hanging on the cross and near death, he looks up at the heavens and says, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

I know it's tempting to say that most of the people who voted for Donald Trump Tuesday had no idea what they were getting; that they simply fell for his bullshit like so many of his investors have and were duped by his promises of restoring America to greatness. That once in office and fettered by the realities that affect every president, they will see him for what he truly is, and what all of us who didn't vote for him already knew he was: a con artist.

I call bullshit. I think these people knew exactly what they were getting; he couldn't have made it any plainer. The dog whistles that he used throughout his campaign, and which offended every decent American in the country, were a breath of fresh air for these people. Like manna from heaven, they ate it up and begged for more.

I'm sure there are people out there who genuinely believe Trump will bring back those golden years when the world trembled at the sound of American factories turning out automobiles and steel. In fact, I'm convinced that's what caused Michigan to flip and Ohio to turn a lovely shade of red. Blue-collar workers were desperately reaching out for any ray of hope. For them, my heart bleeds. They are in for one helluva rude awakening in a couple of years.

But explain Iowa to me. And while you're at it explain central Pennsylvania and western Wisconsin and the Florida Panhandle. Iowa's largest manufacturers in the state are in the food-processing industry, and agriculture is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy. Far from being devastated by cheap imports, the state has been buoyed by exports.

I've been to central Pennsylvania many times. My father had a trailer site in a town called Denver on the northern outskirts of Lancaster County right off of the PA Turnpike. There are a few factories in Reading just up Route 272, but whatever industry that existed there has been gone for decades, well before Barack Obama was a student in college. Today, outlets and strip malls line the county roads.

Western Wisconsin, home of the city of Eau Clair, which Trump visited a week before the election, has some manufacturing plants, but most of the industry in the state is centered around transportation and automation. Oh, and cheese, lots of cheese, as anyone who's ever been to a Green Bay Packers' game can attest to.

As for the Florida Panhandle, its chief industry appears to be tourism. It has become one of the more desirable destination spots for snow birds from the northern states looking to escape the harsh winters. Destin is one of the fastest growing cities in the state and gets 80 percent of the region's 4.5 million yearly tourists. If anything its economy is booming.

What do all of these regions have in common? They're loaded with white people, basketfuls, in fact. When we were kids, I don't recall seeing a single black person when we went down to the trailer site. Of course, growing up in Massapequa Park, Long Island, I didn't see any of them there either. What can I say? The inglorious results of a misspent youth.

My point is I don't think these people voted for Trump because Ford or G.M. closed down a factory and shipped all the jobs to Mexico. In fact, I'd bet my last dollar that most of them are doing better than they're letting on; far better than many African Americans in the cities who voted for Clinton.

For these people this election was never about jobs; it was about making a statement loud and clear. They didn't like the direction the country was going in. Obama represented a sea change not only in the political landscape of the country but in the cultural - and, yes, racial - one as well, and they'd seen enough. Trump's candidacy was a chance to, if not eradicate Obama's agenda, at least make sure it wouldn't progress any further than it already had.

They saw the encroachment of Hispanics and Asians as a threat not just to their jobs but their identity, in much the same way the citizens of the early twentieth century saw the Irish, Italians, Germans, Poles and Jews. They've never warmed to the idea of a melting pot; for them it was anathema to their heritage. And ever since LBJ signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts into law, they've been waiting for someone to come along and give voice to what they've been feeling for fifty years.

Donald Trump is that voice, as he so proudly said at his convention in July. Signs that read "Fuck that cunt" and "Hang the nigger in chief" were in full view and were no accident; nor were they simply exceptions to the rule. They were the rule. Period. Look at the picture of David Duke celebrating the election results when you get the chance. He hasn't been this ecstatic since the last cross burning he attended, which for him I suppose might very well have been last week.

Bill Maher referred to this as a right-wing coupe. Oh if only that were the case. That would be easy to defeat. The truth is this has nothing to do with right or left-wing politics; this is an uprising of some of the ugliest and most basest elements in our society. Elements we thought we had tamed, and some foolishly thought had been vanquished. Well they are out in full force in all their resplendent glory. Victory hasn't mollified them; if anything it's made them more emboldened. Like a drunk on a binge, they're painting the town.

The sad truth is there are more racists within our midsts than we would ever have imagined. And misogynists and nativists and, you can go on and on. Pick your poison. If everything this man said and did throughout the campaign didn't disqualify him, then the people who supported and eventually voted him into office knew exactly what they were doing. This was what they'd always wanted and this is what they finally got. A plain-spoken, race-baiting, sexist ignoramus who talked their talk and walked their walk. It matters not that he is filthy rich and on most days wouldn't even hire these fools to scrub the floors of the bathrooms of Trump Tower. All that matters to them is what he stands for and ultimately what he will do in office.

Some will say it's wrong to paint a broad stroke, like Hillary Clinton did, and brand the majority of Trump's supporters as racists. After all, many of those voters voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Doesn't that prove that racism wasn't the driving force in this election? Actually, it doesn't. That's because racism has always existed in the country. The problem is that we view racism only through the prism of men wearing hoods and burning crosses. Like an iceberg, though, that is only the tip of it. The biggest chunk lies hidden beneath the water, and, as we saw last Tuesday, that's the part that does the most damage.

What Obama did rather brilliantly in his two election victories was to steer around the berg. Yes, he was black, but he never made it a point to flaunt it. He spoke eloquently and respectfully whenever he was around them. Like Jackie Robinson before him, he was non-threatening and went out of his way to assuage the fears that many whites had of him.

But Trump preyed on those fears and frustrations and stoked the resentments that those very same people who voted for Obama always had. He went out of his way to rub salt in their wounds and promised them he would get their country back; the one that had been stolen by you know who. He awakened the racism that had been in them for generations and ginned it up to a fever pitch. In essence, Trump went where no Republican had dared to go - at least not on a national level - and succeeded.

The same thing happened in Germany in 1929. There had always been a deep-seated contempt for Jews in Germany; indeed throughout Europe. But Hitler provided the spark that lit the fuse which devastated Europe and resulted in the extermination of six million innocent people. All hatred needs is a catalyst to set it free. And once free, it consumes everything in its path. While Trump is no Hitler, nor for that matter is America a modern-day Weimar Republic, the parallels, nevertheless, are striking.

As proof of this just look at who Trump is eying as his chief of staff. None other than Steve Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart, one of the most offensive and racist publications in the country. And he's also considering naming Rudy Giuliani to run the Justice Department. Perfect. A man who started off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists might well bring two of the most divisive and vengeful people in the country into his administration. He ran on a message of divide and conquer and, now that he has conquered, he will likely go after any and all who had the nerve to challenge him, contemptuous of authority and without any regard for the Constitution, which in just over two months he will swear an oath to uphold. That's what despots do.

But the real victims in this tragedy are the children of these people who are now learning first hand that bullying is not only an acceptable form of expression, but that it evidently works, as Trump's election can attest to. This complete lack of a filter is presenting a tremendous problem for school teachers across the country.  Many of these children will be scarred for life because of what happened this week.

And speaking of children, what about those children whose parents could be rounded up and deported back to Mexico by a President Trump? How do you explain to a child that their mother or father might be taken from them? With the stroke of a pen, Donald Trump could rip apart the lives of millions of people.

But lest you think that all is lost, there are a couple of encouraging signs that can be taken away from this election. One, Clinton received more of the popular vote than Trump, meaning that more people rejected Trump's hateful rhetoric than embraced it. Two, according to Nate Silver, if only one person out of a hundred who voted for Trump had voted for Clinton, she would've won the electoral college, as well. I know it's a small consolation for some, given that we will be stuck with this man for four years, but it's something; and something is better than nothing.

Whoever runs against Trump in 2020 must bring a message of hope to the people who elected him. The way you defeat fear is not with more fear, as the Clinton campaign sadly learned. You defeat it with hope; not false hope, as Trump did, but with real hope. That hope can't come in the form of campaign stops every four years. It must be accompanied by deeds.

Think about it. If President Hindenburg had done his job and addressed the concerns and resentments that the German people had, Hitler would never have risen to power. Nature abhors a vacuum; if you don't fill it with something constructive; something destructive will inevitably fill it. This is the challenge that Democrats face over the next four years and beyond.

But right now, let's start by acknowledging that those who put Donald Trump in the White House were well aware of what they were doing and why, and if the Democrats have any plans on recapturing the presidency in the near future, it would behoove them to find a positive argument they can bring to the table that would persuade those voters to change their minds.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Glass Ceiling Collapses


The night started out so promising, didn't it? Hillary Clinton jumped out to early leads in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. And not just small leads, mind you, huge leads. At one point she led by as many as 250,000 votes in Pennsylvania. With likely favorable outcomes out in the Southwest, the word landslide was being uttered by pundits on both sides of the political aisle. Clinton's turnout machine was working and the map was reflecting it.

And then...

Then the unthinkable started happening. A sea of red began slowly rising up and those leads began to vanish. In the end, not only were the aforementioned states gone, but long-time blue ones like Wisconsin and Michigan, as well. As improbable as it seemed only a few hours earlier, Donald Trump had won the presidency.

Nobody saw this coming. Well, almost nobody. I seem to recall there was one person who, back in August of last year, warned that this day might happen.

Political pundits can say it's only August all they want. In a few days, it will be September. I guarantee you we'll be talking about Trump well into the fall, winter, spring and summer. The man is here to stay. He's running for president, he's loaded with cash (HIS OWN CASH, MIND YOU!) and he's got the ear of a lot of people who seem to think he can deliver them and the country from the elites who have destroyed it. 
His message, if you listen carefully, is not just a conservative message. In many ways, it's a far more blunt version of the same populist message Bernie Sanders has been delivering to sellout crowds all over the country. Yes, he's a racist, or at least he's pandering to that element. With Trump, you never know. But it would be foolish for anyone to believe that he is merely the fruits of the Frankenstein monster the GOP created. 
The truth is no one created Donald Trump. He's been making outrageous statements all his adult life. What he really is is an opportunist. And like all opportunists, he has seized upon this granddaddy of an opportunity. He's no flake; he's for real. And if both political parties don't start taking him seriously, in about sixteen months, Chief Justice John Roberts will be swearing him in as the 45th President of the United States.

Yeah, that person was me and, sadly, nobody took heed of those words; not the GOP nor the Democrats. And I suspect that the reason for that was that no one ever fully understood the movement Trump tapped into. The depth of the frustration that many people feel in this country came to the surface with a vengeance yesterday. Only last Friday, I was adamant that this election was not "in the bag" and that a Trump victory was still VERY possible.

If Clinton loses, it won't just be her failure, it will be an epic failure of the system as a whole. Put succinctly, the institutions that have been tasked with the job of running the Republic since its inception have been all but discredited. The Congress is hopelessly gridlocked; the Supreme Court a hostage to ideological divisions between both major parties, the FBI now apparently in cahoots with the Trump campaign. The antipathy and contempt many have towards the government is not limited to just one party or one voter demographic. Bernie Sanders ran on a platform that railed against a rigged system and some of his supporters, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still insist the nomination was stolen from him. 
What is abundantly clear is that a lot of people are pissed. And people who are pissed are often unpredictable and far more prone to act impulsively. There's no doubt that between the two candidates, Trump's supporters are far more enthusiastic about him than Clinton's supporters are about her. And that enthusiasm gap could prove costly next Tuesday. 
The rise of anti-intellectualism poses a grave threat to the nation and regardless of what happens next week it is not likely to cease. The normal checks and balances of democracy are under assault and an alarming percentage of the population is poised to hand over the keys of the kingdom to a man who praises a despot and has the temperament of a four year old.

So how did it happen? Well, first off, let's dismiss the ridiculous notion that somehow Hillary's base abandoned her. From the returns, we know that wasn't the case. Yes, there was a drop-off among African Americans, but without Barack Obama on the ticket that was to be expected. More Hispanics, though, voted in this election than in 2012, so it was almost a wash. Her ground team did its job; she got the turnout in South Florida, Philly, Raleigh-Durham, Detroit and Milwaukee that she needed.

The difference wasn't her turnout, but his. White voters came to the polls in record numbers in rural communities, turning blue counties red and red counties even redder. While Clinton was getting margins in the high 50s to mid 60s in the most of the cities and suburbs - she actually outperformed Obama's 2012 numbers in Philadelphia - Trump was getting margins in the low to mid 70s everywhere else. What he accomplished in western Wisconsin was nothing short of astonishing.

CNN contributor Van Jones correctly called it a "whitelash." The white population of the country rose up and, for lack of a better explanation, took back the country they believed had been stolen from them. It was a thorough rebuke of the free-trade, pro-immigration, multiculturalism and pluralism that is becoming more and more prominent throughout the nation, as well as the world. The surging Latino and African American populations that by the middle of this century will represent the new majority in the U.S. were seen as a threat to their hegemony, as I've said on many occasions. Trump had become a folk hero to many of them.

Donald Trump has said many outrageous things throughout this campaign, but there was one thing he said last year that many people dismissed but came to fruition yesterday. He said his campaign brought in millions of new voters who had not participated in the voting process. Well, let's just say for the sake of argument that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Maybe Trump's supporters weren't shy, but they sure as hell did a good job of hiding themselves from sight until election day. I've never seen so many pollsters get an election so thoroughly wrong in my lifetime. Only Dewey - Truman can compare.

But I go back to an argument I made months ago, namely that Hillary Clinton never did what every political candidate needs to do to win: make the case for herself. Yes, she spoke about bringing people together, women's rights, making college tuition affordable, rebuilding the middle class. Those are all good causes, to be sure, but Bernie Sanders could've said it just as well, and did. When push came to shove, the basic campaign theme of Clinton appeared to come down to shining a giant spotlight on Trump and watching him self destruct.

And for a while that strategy seemed to be working. Only a week after the Democratic convention, Clinton had an eight point lead on Trump, who seemed more interested in picking a fight with the parents of a gold-star soldier than winning the presidency. People in his own party started abandoning him while Democrats sat back and watched, giddy at the prospects of a November victory.

But the first signs that this strategy had its inherent risks were in early September. Trump had managed to go a couple weeks without making a fool out of himself, while Clinton stopped campaigning. Then came the now infamous "deplorable" comments at a fund raiser, followed by her collapse at the 9/11 memorial. Within a week of that fall, her poll numbers had plummeted to such an extent that the race was ostensibly tied. The RCP 4-way average showed her up by only a point.

She would get a reprieve during the first debate when, once again, Trump couldn't resist being baited into a back and forth over, of all things, a former Miss Universe winner. He engaged in a childish tweet storm over it and Clinton's poll numbers quickly recovered. Then came the Access Hollywood tape of him bragging about groping women and his sad performance at the second debate. By the time of the third debate, Clinton held an almost insurmountable lead. The only question that remained was not whether Trump would lose, but whether he would cost Republicans both Houses of Congress.

Then, with just eleven days to go before the election, FBI Director James Comey announced that the Bureau had found emails on Anthony Weiner's computer that he felt were "pertinent" and that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton's server. By that point the polls had already begun to tighten, primarily because Trump, once more, was behaving himself. No inappropriate tweets at 3 A.M. He stayed "on message." And the message was that Hillary was crooked and the system was rigged.

While he visited traditionally Democratic-leaning states like Wisconsin and Michigan, team Clinton began to sweat. They had the same data that the pollsters had and they knew this race was tight, way too tight. So they barnstormed Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, desperate to shore up a blue wall that was showing definite signs of cracking. Nate Silver, a couple of days before the election, gave her only a 65 percent chance of winning. Not even Comey's announcement that they had found no new evidence on Weiner's computer to warrant bringing charges against her helped. The perception voters had of Clinton was now thoroughly baked into the equation.

The spotlight that she had hoped would shine brightly on Trump in the final days of the race was now squarely shining down on Clinton, and it proved costly. Not even an impassioned plea from Obama in Philadelphia on election eve night helped. The damage was too great to overcome. Without a reason to vote FOR her, many decided to vote against her.

Yes, she won the popular vote, but that's mainly because of states like New York and California where she ran up the totals. If you look across the country, it was painfully obvious that Trump, and not Clinton, had redrawn the electoral map. Team Clinton thought they could pick off some traditionally red states like Arizona and Georgia; instead, it was team Trump that picked off traditionally blue states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

So now what? Where do Democrats go from here? Well for starters, they will not have the majority in the Senate, which means President Trump can pretty much do anything he wants, from appointing conservative justices to defunding the Affordable Care Act. Dodd / Frank? You can kiss that goodbye, along with the Iran deal and the Paris Climate Agreement. And if you thought George Bush's tax cuts were ridiculous, just wait until Trump implements his tax cuts. If you'd like a bird's eye view of how the U.S. economy will likely look like in about two years, go visit Kansas, where Governor Sam Brownback has thoroughly destroyed that state's economy. Yes, people, elections do have consequences.

As for myself, I think it's time I admit a painful truth. I was wrong about Hillary Clinton. Not about her credentials or her capabilities. By any and all accounts, she was the most experienced candidate in the race and, had she won, I believe she would've made a very effective president, perhaps even a great president. But she was the wrong candidate at the wrong time. And she had zero passion behind her. Yes, I voted for her, but I can hardly say it was an emotional vote. Like many people who voted for her, it was more about keeping Trump out of the White House than putting her in. I suspect some held their nose while they pulled the lever.

Bernie Sanders, by comparison, was a rock star. I had poked fun at him and his supporters throughout the Democratic primaries for what I referred to as magical and unrealistic thinking. At one point, after listening to him make promise after promise at one of his rallies, I remember asking if a pony came with that. Watching Clinton, though, was about as emotional as watching paint dry. Her politics may have been more grounded in reality, but it was equally banal.

Even before the WikiLeaks emails started coming out, few if any knew what Clinton stood for, other than winning the election. At the Democratic Convention, her husband Bill spent the majority of his speech explaining to the country who Hillary was. I'm sorry, but if you need your husband to make your case to the nation, that in and of itself is a bad sign. The leaked emails, far from defining her, simply reinforced what many people already suspected about her: that she was the prototypical politician who weighed every decision based on how it would be interpreted by the public. That might be smart politics, as it is smart business, but in this change environment, it was the kiss of death for many voters.

Look, do I think Sanders could've beaten Trump? His supporters would say yes, but I'm not so sure. I think Bernie would've presented a totally different set of challenges for Democrats, namely how he was going to explain to an electorate wary of higher taxes how he was going to pay for his college tuition and healthcare plans. And then there was the matter of his being a self-described socialist. My guess is in a general election, Trump might've eaten Sanders alive. Unfortunately, all we can do at this point is speculate.

For Democrats to retake the White House in four years, they must do two things, in my opinion. First, they must acknowledge the pain and resentment that is in this electorate, while at the same time admit that they had a hand in that pain. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, the Democratic Party became synonymous with corporate greed and corruption. In the eyes of many voters there was little difference between them and the GOP.

If they take the tact that Trump is some kind of anomaly, then they are going to be in for a very long and pronounced drought. Think 1980s, only worse. At least Democrats had control of the legislature back then. As of now, Democrats are a party on the run: outnumbered in both the federal and state governments by considerable margins. And their prospects in two years are grim, as five Democratic senators will face reelection in Red states. Knowing how poorly Democrats fair in midterms, it is entirely possible they could lose all five.

The second thing they need to do is come up with a nominee in four years who has something other than an impressive resume going for them. That person must be able to connect with the common voter in a way that isn't condescending and can offer hope. We may have laughed at Trump for the "simple" and blunt manner in which he spoke throughout this race, but he made a connection with the electorate that Clinton could only dream of making. Assuming he fails as president, and the likelihood is that he will, the Dems will have the opportunity of a lifetime before them. They must capitalize on it.

As Graham Parker once sang, "Passion is no ordinary word." In politics, as in life, it's the difference between winning and losing.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election Predictions


For the first time in my life, I not only have a horse in this race, I will be doing a shitload of praying on election night. It is not hyperbole to say that an awful lot is riding on who wins the White House. I've said all I can regarding who and what Donald Trump is, and yet Hillary Clinton only holds a narrow lead over him going into the last hours of this campaign.

Part of that is her own fault. She is a flawed candidate and there's no denying it. The email server has dogged her from the very start of her campaign, and the way she has handled it has allowed her opponents to have their way with her. The media, though, has been complicit in the way it has treated both candidates, opting for a "fair and balanced" approach, when it was clear to anyone with half a brain that their flaws were not even remotely equivalent. Whatever else you might say about Clinton, she is not a thin-skinned, misogynistic, racist, sociopath with a Napoleonic complex.

So, who's going to win? Let's take it from the top.

The Presidency: After a great deal of hand-wringing, I am ready to pronounce that Hillary Clinton will win the election, though not by the landslide that her supporters were hoping for. The reason should be clear enough. The nation is divided not only along economic lines, but along social and racial lines as well and they will play out prominently Tuesday night.

The way I see it, the states whose populations are mostly white will go to Trump; the states with much more diverse populations will likely go to Clinton. The reason I say likely is because North Carolina might be the exception. While it has a significant black population, there are huge swaths of the state that are about as white as you can get. While Clinton doesn't need it, it wouldn't surprise me if it went Red, especially in light of the fact that the early African American voter turnout is down five points from 2012 when Barack Obama lost the state.

As in past elections, the swing states will decide this one. Clinton will win Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida. See a trend? Trump will win New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa and Maine's 2nd district. One caveat regarding Pennsylvania: the tightening of the recent polls is a concern, especially in light of the transit strike in Philadelphia. If Clinton doesn't get the high turnout she needs here, she will lose the state. In that case, guess which state will decide this election? Yep, Florida.

One thing to look for election night: the returns from Ohio. I've said it before, but this state's demographics don't lay out well for Clinton. I still don't understand why she spent as much time there as she did. I expect that Trump should win it somewhere between 4 and 6 points. However, if it's too close to call, it will probably be a good night for her across the map.

Clinton 303, Trump 235

The Senate: What was looking like a slam dunk only a couple months ago, is now a crap shoot at best. The good news is that, thanks to a huge early turnout in Nevada, Democrats will keep Harry Reid's seat. Catherine Cortez Masto will beat Joe Heck. More good news is that Democrats are going to flip three states: Tammy Duckworth over Mark Kirk in Illinois, Russ Feingold over Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Katie McGinty over Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.

But that's where the good news may end. Evan Bayh, after taking an early lead in Indiana, is now trailing Todd Young. Dems were hoping to flip this state to help them retake the majority; now they have to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, pickens are looking slim. Kelly Ayotte is leading Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire and Richard Burr has pulled ahead of Deborah Ross in North Carolina. As for Florida, looks like little Marco Rubio is going to keep his seat. He gets another six years to accomplish nothing. And while the race in Missouri has tightened, I still think Roy Blunt will hold off Jason Kander.

I haven't totally given up on Bayh in Indiana. He could pull it out. If he does, Democrats will control the Senate by virtue of winning the presidency. Absent that, Clinton will be looking at both Houses of Congress obstructing her. And you thought this nightmare was ending Tuesday? Fat chance.

And getting back to Ohio, again, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Senate race - and that's putting it kindly - between Rob Portman and Ted Strickland. Portman is currently leading by 16 points in the RCP average, which tells you that either Portman is the greatest senator since Lyndon Johnson, or Strickland is the worst candidate ever to run for office. I'm going with the latter, and that's a sad commentary given that Strickland's the former governor of the state who just happened to lose his reelection bid to John Kasich in the Tea Party wave of 2010. I expect this race to be called ten seconds after the polls close.

Republicans 51, Democrats 49

The House. From the start, Democrats were pipe dreaming thinking they could retake the majority. There just aren't enough "swing" districts to allow for that possibility. The fact is that so long as Republicans hold the majority of state legislatures, they will continue their gerrymandering ways and the House majority will continue to elude Democrats. They'll net maybe eight seats; that's about it.

Republicans 239, Democrats 196

Friday, November 4, 2016

Why Trump Can Still Win This Thing

With four days to go before the election, Donald Trump has pulled into a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in the national polls and has made serious inroads in the all-important battleground states.  Yes, the RCP "No Toss Up States" poll shows her with 297 electoral votes, but look a little closer and you'll notice that some of these states - including Florida - are within the margin of error. Take away the Sunshine State and she's down to a paltry 268 electoral votes, two shy of winning the presidency.

In other words, we're in for one helluva ride next Tuesday night. She could win big, win narrowly, or not win at all, and as of right now, nobody knows which scenario will play out. Nate Silver puts her chances of winning at 68 percent. Two weeks ago, it was 86 percent. That is hardly reassuring news if you're a Democrat or even someone who isn't a supporter of a sociopath.

So how did we get here? How is this man still alive in this race, let alone within striking distance of becoming the leader of the free world? I believe it comes down to four factors.

First, the racist factor. It was clear from the beginning of his campaign, Trump was looking to court the racist vote, and he got it in droves. Without it, he would never have won the GOP nomination. The alt-right elements that have permeated every fiber of his candidacy have stoked the fears of a frustrated white population that sees a multicultural, racially diverse population as a threat to its hegemony.

While they by no means represent the majority of white people in the country, they are hardly insignificant. I have said this before and it bears repeating: while not all Republicans are racists, the vast majority of racists have found a home in the GOP and Donald Trump is their savior and deliverer. The endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan is not an accident. It is the natural culmination of policy stances that just happen to coincide with those of this and other racist organizations.

Second, the conservative evangelical factor. I say conservative because not all evangelicals endorse Trump and his hateful rhetoric. In fact, quite a few find him repulsive. But conservative evangelicals have taken to him, not because they think he's one of them - far from it - but because they have convinced themselves that he will appoint conservative justices to both the Circuit and Supreme Courts in order to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges and Roe v. Wade; the latter being a life's long mission for them ever since it was handed down in 1973.

But what these people don't seem to understand is that they're placing their trust in man who, for all intents and purposes, has no moral compass. There's nothing in Trump's resume that would lead one to believe that if given the chance he would be sympathetic to conservative evangelicals. Quite the contrary. For most of his adult life, Trump has sided with progressives on the issue of abortion, declaring himself pro-choice on several occasions. That he has suddenly found religion, to coin a phrase, is highly improbable. What is more likely is that Trump is playing these people the way he plays most of his partners.

Third, the anti-establishment factor. Face it: whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, it's pretty damn hard to defend what's going on in Washington these days; indeed for more than a decade. There's a reason why Congress's approval rating is just north of a serial killer and the electorate has just about had it with the bullshit that goes on day in and day out.

The crony capitalism, the career politicians whose only concern is getting reelected. Sooner or later this pimple was going to come to a head. And who knew that it would be Trump who would burst it. Bernie tried but didn't have the gravitas, or a big enough mouth. What these people want most of all is for someone to come in and blow the joint up and Trump is the guy they believe will do just that. His hatred of even his own party is proof of his so-called sincerity.

And lastly, the anti-trade factor. There's no getting around a painful fact. While most of the country is in better shape now than it was eight years ago, a certain percentage isn't. In fact, this percentage of the population has seen its standard of living steadily decline for almost twenty years and they're pissed as hell. They feel screwed by a system that stopped caring about them years ago.

Broken promises don't put food on the table or keep you from losing your home. Whether it's fair or not, or even whether it's true or not, these people feel that the pro-free trade policies of the Clinton Administration, which were continued under both the Bush and Obama Administrations, are responsible for the devastation that has been visited upon their communities. The reason Ohio is likely to go Red this election is because of that pent-up rage that Trump has tapped brilliantly. And like the great con artist he is, he has convinced them that he, and he alone, can bring back all those jobs that were lost to China and Mexico. Perhaps he can start by making the caps he distributes to his supporters that say "Make America Great" here in America.

I think the last two factors are now taking center stage in a, you'll pardon the pun, bigly way. While the racist factor is still huge, by itself it isn't enough to tip the scales in Trump's favor. Even if you agree with Clinton's earlier, and much maligned comment, that half of his supporters were deplorable, half of roughly 35 percent of the electorate - e.g., his base - would never win a presidential election. And as for conservative evangelicals, while they were instrumental in helping Ronald Reagan win and keep the White House, as a movement they haven't been nearly as influential in presidential politics over the last decade. And they are hardly unified this year. Some of them have openly called out the hypocrisy of their fellow Christians.

If Clinton loses, it won't just be her failure, it will be an epic failure of the system as a whole. Put succinctly, the institutions that have been tasked with the job of running the Republic since its inception have been all but discredited. The Congress is hopelessly gridlocked; the Supreme Court a hostage to ideological divisions between both major parties, the FBI now apparently in cahoots with the Trump campaign. The antipathy and contempt many have towards the government is not limited to just one party or one voter demographic. Bernie Sanders ran on a platform that railed against a rigged system and some of his supporters, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still insist the nomination was stolen from him.

What is abundantly clear is that a lot of people are pissed. And people who are pissed are often unpredictable and far more prone to act impulsively. There's no doubt that between the two candidates, Trump's supporters are far more enthusiastic about him than Clinton's supporters are about her. And that enthusiasm gap could prove costly next Tuesday.

The rise of anti-intellectualism poses a grave threat to the nation and regardless of what happens next week it is not likely to cease. The normal checks and balances of democracy are under assault and an alarming percentage of the population is poised to hand over the keys of the kingdom to a man who praises a despot and has the temperament of a four year old.

Not only isn't this election in the bag, I fear that Tuesday night could be the beginning of the saddest chapter in American history.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Will the Early Vote Save Hillary's Bacon?

It's come down to this: with one week to go before the election, the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is now a tossup. Yes, Clinton still holds a two point lead in the RCP average, but the latest polls ostensibly show the race tied.

Clinton still has a clear edge in the battleground states, but that edge isn't as sharp as it was a week ago. Her once impervious firewall is showing cracks. Huge leads in Pennsylvania and Colorado have eroded considerably. While both are still in the lean column for Clinton, neither is a slam dunk. North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Nevada are all within the margin of error and all could conceivably go to Trump. In that event, Clinton would win with 272 electoral votes, hardly the landslide Democrats were eying a few days ago.

While it doesn't appear James Comey's October surprise has had the devastating impact some thought it would, it has helped shore up Trump's support among squeamish Republicans who now appear to be coming home. That's the main reason for this race tightening. Trump is now polling around 43 points, up almost five points from just ten days ago.

So where does this leave us? Who is more likely to prevail next Tuesday? Before answering that, it's important to note that I don't think we're done with this trend. I suspect we'll see more slippage with Clinton. It's entirely possible that come election day, we could be looking at 45-45, or perhaps Trump with a one point lead in the RCP average.

This is what happens when your main message throughout the campaign has been to demonize the other side instead of building a positive case for yourself. Sooner or later, voters start to tune out. The saturation point gets reached and people go, "Been there, heard that, move on." P.S., that's also the main reason why Clinton hasn't tanked over the Comey announcement.  People are simply, as Bernie Sanders put it best, "tired of hearing about the damn emails."

So, to get back to the original question, who is likely to prevail next week? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that on election day both Clinton and Trump get an even split in the popular vote. Let's go even further. Let's say Trump gets slightly more votes than Clinton on November 8. Is that game over?

Not necessarily. That's because of the early voting going on in many states. At present, Democrats enjoy a 15 point lead in ballots that have been cast so far. Now it's uncertain whether all of those Democratic votes went for Clinton. It's clear she has struggled with blue-collar voters who have almost always voted Democrat. She is bound to lose some of them, especially in Ohio, which I would be surprised if she won. But Trump has had his own problems with moderate Republicans, especially in the suburbs, long a Republican stronghold. That's why he's still trailing in Pennsylvania. If I had to guess, I'd say both will lose an equal number of voters from their camps.

If you're looking for a ray of sunshine in this monsoon, you can take solace in what happened in 2012. Four years ago, Barack Obama had a slim .7 point lead over Mitt Romney in the RCP average going into election day. But Democrats banked a ton of early votes and parlayed that into a 3.9 percent winning margin. Obama ended up with 332 electoral votes, including 29 from the Sunshine State, which he won by less than a point.

Will history repeat itself? The odds look good. Team Clinton certainly has a huge advantage in the ground game. My only concern is turnout. Put succinctly, Hillary has to get her base to the polls, all of it. If she does, she wins; if she doesn't, Trump could steal this thing.

Democrats have a built in advantage over Republicans in registered voters. But, as we saw clearly in the 2014 midterms, it's only an advantage if those registered Democrats go to the polls. As of now, the percentage of African Americans voting early is down from where it was four years ago and that is very disconcerting. And then there's the lingering grumbling coming from the far Left. The Bernie or Bust crowd could still fuck things up royally before they're through.

I guess what I'm saying is I wouldn't go betting the kids tuition on what happens next week. Face it, we have two very unpopular candidates on our hands here. The winner will likely be the one the voters find the least repulsive. The heart says that's Clinton, but the head has had a major migraine for days now.

What I wouldn't give to go to sleep and wake up November 9.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Myth of the "Shy" Trump Voter


As we approach the final days of this gut-wrenching, stomach-churning presidential campaign, some Republicans are blasting the polls, accusing them of missing what they refer to as "shy" Trump voters. These are people who intend on voting for Trump but who are just too "shy" to say so in an opinion poll. To hear them put it, these shy folks will make their voices heard on election day and carry Trump across the finish line.

While I realize that there are some people who are reluctant to tell a pollster who they might vote for, the very idea that there is such a thing as a "shy" Trump voter is laughable. It is the very definition of an oxymoron. If there's been one constant throughout this election, it's that Trump supporters have been anything but shy. Indeed, they've been extremely outspoken in their support of the GOP nominee. Trump, himself, in a moment of candor, admitted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and not lose any of his supporters. If that's what shy looks like, I'd hate to see what brash looks like.

Face it, the polls, if anything, have been remarkably accurate throughout this campaign and for both parties. During the Democratic primaries, we heard some Bernie supporters complain that they were being under sampled. As it turns out, the sampling rate wasn't the problem for Sanders; it was a lack of votes.

The same was true during the Republican primaries. Trump, very early on, became the front runner in virtually all the polls. It was the pundits who didn't believe what the polls were saying, not the polls themselves, that turned out to be the problem. Even reliable statisticians like Nate Silver were taken by surprise over the popularity of Trump among his supporters.

But now in a general election, with a much more diverse electorate, Trump's poll numbers just haven't been as strong. He still has a solid base that has not abandoned him, even throughout all his scandals, but he has been stuck in the high 30s to mid 40s since the conventions. The closest he's gotten to a tie in this race was in mid September when he pulled to within a point of Clinton in the RCP average.

If you'll recall that was immediately after Clinton's near collapse during the 9/11 memorial service. Trump, for his part, had managed to go several weeks without a major mishap, thanks largely to the advice he was getting from his then new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.  For the first time possibly in his life, Trump was listening to someone who could help him and the results were clearly visible.

Then came the first debate against Clinton, which he lost badly, followed by his tweet storm against a beauty pageant contestant. Soon after came the infamous Access Hollywood tape and the wheels came completely off. His poll numbers tanked and he went into conspiracy mode, claiming the system and the election were being rigged against him.

The only one rigging anything in this election is Donald Trump. He has managed to make a mockery of the entire election process of this country. He has riled up his base to such a fever pitch that if he loses in November, he will have set the stage for the greatest Constitutional crisis this nation has seen in its history.

The truth is his supporters aren't shy; they simply don't represent the majority of voters in the country. In 1968, Richard Nixon was successfully able to employ what he called a Southern strategy to help him win the presidency. That strategy depended largely on ginning up fears within the white population that their country was being taken from them.

Donald Trump is trying to replicate the Nixon strategy. Unfortunately for him, this electorate looks nothing like the one in 1968.

James Comey's October Surprise


So much for drip, drip. FBI Director James Comey, with eleven days to go before the election, delivered a giant kick in the teeth to Hillary Clinton that might not cost her the presidency, but could severely undermine her administration before it even begins.

To be clear, what Comey did was stunning and beneath contempt. It's also clear from the statement he released and the additional information that has been learned, the emails in question are not from Clinton's server; indeed they're from Anthony Weiner's computer. And for all we know these emails may be duplicates of emails that have already been vetted.

Democrats are well within their rights to cry foul here. Comey can say this is about transparency all he wants, the political damage has been done. And the ironic thing about all this is that three months ago he made it a point to tell the world that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges against Clinton. Now with a week and a half left in the campaign, this supposedly reasonable prosecutor has decided to prosecute Clinton in the court of public opinion, and for a crime she may not have committed.

Former prosecutors were justifiably quick to pounce on Comey. Nick Ackerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York, was particularly critical of Comey's motives, calling them "totally inappropriate."
"It is not the function of the FBI director to be making public pronouncements about an investigation, never mind about an investigation based on evidence that he acknowledges may not be significant. The job of the FBI is simply to investigate and to provide the results of its investigation to the prosecutorial arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. His job is not to give a running commentary about any investigation or his opinion about any investigation. This is particularly egregious since Secretary Clinton has no way to respond to what amounts to nebulous and speculative innuendo.”
There's no way to tell how much damage this new revelation may cause. Hillary was already having a pretty bad week, what with the latest batch of Wikileaks emails concerning the Foundation and the spike in premiums for those enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges. But this much is certain: the timing could not have been worse for her.

At a time when most presidential candidates look to make their closing arguments for why the country should vote for them, Clinton will have to once again deal with the scandal that has dogged her from the moment she entered the race. And, to be fair here, it's a scandal she created all by herself with no help from the Republicans, the Russians or Julian Assange.

Look, it's possible that none of this will matter in the long run. Many pundits have concluded that her trust issues, like Trump's misogyny, are already baked into the electorate's opinion of both. And we know this because even with the Access Hollywood tape and the litany of women who have come forward to say Trump sexually accosted them, he still remains within striking distance of Clinton.

Likewise, with all the scandals that have rocked her campaign, Hillary continues to lead in both the head to head and four-way polling. This indicates that there may be a saturation effect at play here. Ironically, the very thing people hate most about her - her untrustworthiness - could end up being her saving grace.

But it's also possible that this latest revelation could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for some voters. Clinton has struggled with millennials throughout this campaign, and there are still quite a lot of Bernie supporters who haven't forgiven her, don't like her and are want to vote for her. If enough of them stay home November 8, this could be a very close election, perhaps a little too close for comfort.

Let's face it: Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner because she is up against the worst candidate in U.S. history. Had Ohio Governor John Kasich won the GOP nomination, it'd be a much different story, I can assure you.

And if you're looking for a glimmer of hope to hang your hat on, that might be as good as it gets.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bill Weld Does the Right Thing


Gary Johnson's running mate - the one who actually has a clue what day it is - did something incredible the other day. Bill Weld issued a statement that every "undecided" voter toying with the idea of voting third party or Republican should read carefully and take to heart.

No, it was not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, as many progressive websites are intimating; and no Weld is not stepping down as Johnson's running mate, nor is he urging Johnson to end his candidacy. But Weld did the next best thing: he made it crystal clear just how dangerous a Donald Trump presidency would be.
From the beginning of his campaign, Mr. Trump has conjured up enemies. First it was eleven million criminals in our midst, all bent on obtaining the benefits of citizenship, at our expense. Over time, the enemies became any trading partner of the United States. He says they are nothing but foreigners seeking to threaten our livelihoods. Now we have reached the point where his idea of America’s enemies includes almost anyone who talks or looks different from him. The goal of the Trump campaign, from the outset, has been to stir up envy, resentment, and group hatred. 
This is the worst of American politics. I fear for our cohesion as a nation, and for our place in the world, if this man who is unwilling to say he will abide by the result of our national election becomes our President. 
This great nation has weathered policy differences throughout our history, and we will do so again. Not in my lifetime, though, has there been a candidate for President who actually makes me fear for the ultimate well-being of the country, a candidate who might in fact put at risk the solid foundation of America that allows us to endure even ill-advised policies and the normal ebb and flow of politics. 
In the final days of this very close race, every citizen must be aware of the power and responsibility of each individual vote. This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining. Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected President of the United States.
I'll say this for Weld, he doesn't mince his words. He cuts right to the chase. And the fact that Weld has heretofore made no similar statement regarding Hillary, should imply that he does not view a Clinton presidency as a "lesser of two evils," as so many people have been foolishly saying. In fact, in an interview with Chuck Todd, Weld said, "I'm not sure anyone's more qualified to be President of the United States than Hillary Clinton."

Throughout this campaign, a number of Republicans have done the unthinkable: they've soundly rejected Donald Trump. It is an unprecedented move in American politics to have so many members of a major political party turn their backs on the party nominee for president. Not even Goldwater in '64 had such a defection.

To be clear, Hillary Clinton has many flaws and even more enemies, most of them Republicans. And you don't need to be a rocket scientist to conclude that there is no love loss between her and the GOP, or for that matter the vast majority of conservative writers and pundits, many of whom have spent the better part of the last quarter century trashing her. So it is nothing less than extraordinary that anyone within this lot would even contemplate not voting for Trump, knowing what that could mean.

What that tells you is that while they may hate her, they're terrified of him. In Trump, they see someone who doesn't just pose a threat to their party, but to the country as a whole. The fact that Bill Weld has now added his name to the growing list of conscientious objectors, hopefully will induce most if not all the fence sitters and third-party fanciers to wake up and smell the caffeine.

If the running mate of a presidential candidate who didn't know what Aleppo was and couldn't name a single world leader he admired could figure it out, no one has any excuses.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Why the IBD/TIPP Poll is Wrong This Time Around

By now you've heard that the Trump campaign is touting the recent polling by Inventor's Business Daily as evidence that they are actually ahead in the polls; and, further, that all the other polls are wrong. Their evidence? IBD has been the most accurate pollster over the last three presidential elections, according to them. And as of Monday, IBD had Trump leading 43 to 41 in a four-way race*.

And Investor's Daily, for their part, has proudly repeated this claim. So I decided to check it out for myself by going back to the 2008 and 2012 elections. Is the Trump campaign and Investor's right in their assertion? Well, not quite. Here's why.

In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 7.3 points (52.9 to 45.6). The final RCP polling average was 7.6 points (52.1 to 44.5). IBD had Obama up 8 points (52 to 44). On first look, you'd probably think IBD was spot on.

There's only one problem. Most of the polling was pretty spot on that year. In fact, the pollster that came the closest to the actual margin of the election was, oddly enough, Fox News, which had him up 7 points (50 to 43). NBC News/Wall Street Journal also had Obama up 8 points. The range was from 2 points (Battleground Tarrance) to 11 points (Gallup and Reuters).

In 2012, the polling was a bit more inconsistent. That year Obama beat Mitt Romney by 3.9 points (51.1 to 47.2). The final RCP polling average, though, showed Obama with a slight .7 point lead. (48.8 to 48.1). I remember going to bed election eve night thinking Obama might be a one-term president.

IBD had Obama up by a point (50 to 49). Not bad. Until you look at the other polls and find that ABC News/Washington Post had him up by 3 points (50 to 47), which, as it turns out, tied them with Pew Research as the closest to the actual result. Three pollsters had the race tied, including CNN, and Gallup had Romney with a one point lead.

So, far from being the most accurate pollster in both elections, IBD appears to have been in the middle of the pack. Good, but hardly the stuff of legends.

Which brings us to 2016. The RCP average, as of now, shows Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by 5 points in the four-way race (44.9 to 39.9) Included in that average are polls by Rasmussen and IBD, which show her trailing by 2 points and ABC News, which shows her up by 12. Apart from the LA Times, which shows the race tied in the head to head poll, but has been polling the same sample voters for the past three months, every other pollster shows Clinton with a sizable lead, including Fox News, which has her ahead by 6 points.

Either IBD knows something that everyone else doesn't, or their polling is flat-out wrong. I'm going with the latter here. The fact is that the RCP average corresponds with much of what we see in the state polling, including the all-important swing states, which show Clinton with a commanding lead in enough of them to get her across the finish line. Indeed, Clinton is polling better than Obama did at this point in 2012, and almost as well as he did at this point in '08. This puts her on track for an electoral college win somewhere between 330 and 365 votes.

How bleak are things in Trumpland? This is how bleak: Rush Limbaugh, the gas bag of the Right, won't stick his neck out like he did in 2012, when he confidently predicted Romney would win. You know your goose is cooked when you can't even count on Limbaugh to back your paranoid delusions.

Look, I get it. Anything can happen. We've still got two whole agonizing weeks to go until this race is over. And it's not like Clinton is FDR or something. As I've mentioned several times, she's a flawed candidate running against a sociopath. In the end that might just be her ace in the hole.

Then again, maybe IBD is right and we're all fucked.

* IBD now shows the race tied.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Unprecedented


When historians write about the 2016 campaign, they will likely look back on this third debate as the moment Donald Trump hopefully committed political suicide on national TV. His answer to one of the easiest and simplest questions ever posed by a moderator wasn’t just beyond the pale, as one Republican called it; it was unprecedented in American politics.

Donald Trump stood before the American people Wednesday night and not only reiterated that the election is rigged against him, he said he might not accept the results if it doesn’t go his way. His exact words were: “I’ll keep you in suspense. Okay?”

No, it’s not okay. It’s not okay for a grown man to behave like a four-year old who needs a time out, gin up centuries of racial bigotry for political gain, encourage violent outbursts at his rallies, scapegoat others for his own depraved conduct and, above all, cast into doubt a pillar of this Republic regarding the peaceful transition of power that its leaders have accepted for 240 years. And it’s certainly NOT okay to draw a false equivalence to the 2000 presidential election to justify such an absurdly offensive answer. That election came down to a Florida recount and a Supreme Court decision that many have questioned but that Al Gore ultimately accepted for the good of the country. To suggest that the two are similar is to add insult to a profound injury.

The truth is that there is only one presidential candidate who, from the moment he entered the race, has complained about the process being rigged against him. Throughout the Republican primaries, he railed against a rigged process whenever he lost a primary or caucus, but then praised it when he won; he has ridiculed the media for holding him accountable for his outrageous accusations, while at the same time conveniently forgetting he has received over a billion dollars of free advertising from that same media; he has attacked his opponents in the most juvenile of ways, belittled leaders in his own party - leaders he would need in the event he actually won the presidency - and managed to offend virtually every voter demographic in the country with the exception of white males.

He has made a mockery of the political system of this country, threatened its alliances throughout the world and so deeply divided the electorate, it will take years to repair the damage. Even now, a majority of his supporters, following in his footsteps, have vowed not to accept the results of the election if he loses. Some have thrown around words like revolution to describe what they'd do in that scenario. Such a prospect should frighten all of us.

Michael Tomasky's piece on Trump's "concession" speech, at first read seems humorous. And if this were simply the case of an ignoramus ascending to the top of his party's food chain, I might've chuckled along. But this isn't some Sarah Palin or George W. Bush spoof on Saturday Night Live we're talking about here. This man is the greatest threat this nation has ever faced, and now is not the time for lighthearted - you'll pardon the pun - banter. This is the time for responsible men and women, regardless of party of political predilection, to rise up and collectively reject his hateful and destructive rhetoric.

I cannot think of a time when the resolve of this country was so thoroughly tested and strained by the antics of a compulsive lying, race-bating, xenophobic, sexist, thin-skinned, narcissistic sociopath. How he won the GOP nomination is a question Republican leaders will have to grapple with in ernest if they ever wish to be taken seriously again as a national party. How the general electorate grapples with him November 8 may well determine the very future of the Republic itself.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Protect the Football, Hillary

It's come down to this: one last debate; one last opportunity for Donald Trump to humiliate himself on a national stage. And if the first two debates are any indication, this might be the ugliest 90 minutes the nation has ever seen.

Unlike the first two debates, where I thought Hillary needed to go for the knockout, I actually think the best strategy for her tonight is to play it cool. She's ahead by double digits in the head-to-head polls and ahead by nine in the four-way polls; she's doesn't need to take any chances. If the election were held today, she'd win convincingly.

It's clear Trump is going to do everything he can to drag her down to his level, like he did with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. She cannot let that happen. When he blows a gasket, which he will, she needs to do what she's been doing since the conventions: act presidential, let it slide off her shoulder. If she could keep her composure during the second debate when Trump "invited" four of Bill's accusers to sit in the front row, she should be able to handle the half-brother of the President and the mother of a Benghazi victim.

The moderator, Chris Wallace, may try to pin her down on the email server, the alleged quid pro quo regarding the FBI and State Department and the Wikileaks hacks. Her best course of action is not to try and deflect. Own what's hers and above all else avoid getting into a pissing contest with Wallace. Trump will do his best to help her out anyway, so there's no need to overreact.

When you're ahead by two touchdowns with two minutes to go in the game, you actually don't have to score; you just have to make sure you don't turn the ball over. Trump will do everything in his power to force a turnover. It's his only chance - assuming he has any - to make this a horse race.

So my advice is simple: Protect the football, Hillary. The floor is literally caving underneath Trump's feat. Let gravity have its way and you'll be the next President of the United States.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Why Trump's "Blame the Victim" Strategy Will Backfire


In a 1992 episode of Law and Order, titled "Helpless," Dr Elizabeth Olivett is raped by a gynecologist, Dr. Alexander Merritt. The ADA, Ben Stone, prosecutes Merritt, but cannot get a conviction because of Olivett's close ties to the detectives who were investigating the assault. Stone, however, has an idea. He decides to hold a press conference on the steps of the courthouse, and Merritt, with his attorney, shows up. Merritt looks at the camera, smiling, while his attorney lauds her client's innocence.

A couple days later, Stone has Merritt arrested and brought to his office. Both he and his attorney are aghast that Stone would do such a thing, knowing that double jeopardy was attached in the acquittal. Stone reaches for a case, throws it on the table and says to Merritt:

"Fifty-four women you either raped, molested or abused. In the future, sir, stay off the evening news."

There's an old saying in corporate America: Nothing kills a bad product better than good advertising. And for the last week, Donald Trump has been doing an awful lot of "good" advertising. Good to the extent that he has chosen to blame the women who have come forward in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape and accused him of sexually assaulting them. He has declared himself as the true victim in a giant conspiracy between the media and the Clinton campaign to get him.

It's the sort of strategy that will, undoubtedly, solidify his base, but I submit it will end up costing him whatever shot he has of winning the presidency. The reason could not be clearer. For women, sexual assault is not a made-up issue; it is one that many of them have dealt with throughout their lives. The sight of a man on a stage not only failing to acknowledge his transgressions, but then blaming the victims of the abuse, is triggering to them. It not only dredges up the hurtful memories they have - memories that many of them have suppressed - it has the unintended consequence of riling them up and providing the impetus to come forward and be heard. Michelle Obama's poignant speech spoke to these points.
It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. 
It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen — something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.
This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn't matter what party you belong to — Democrat, Republican, independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.
And I know it's a campaign, but this isn't about politics. It's about basic human decency. It's about right and wrong. And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer — not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now. 
Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.
The men that you and I know don't treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don't tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man.
As a man, I was deeply moved by the First Lady's words, but I was also ashamed; ashamed of the scars so many men have left on women over many, many decades and centuries. None of us can ever know the cross so many of them have had to bear. The catcalls, the whistles, the rationalizations of disgusting behavior that cannot be defended. But Trump and his surrogates defend it nonetheless. Without the slightest bit of remorse or empathy, he defiantly exonerates himself from any wrongdoing while shaming the wronged.

But like that gynecologist, who smugly mocked his victims on camera, the wrath that is coming for Trump, hopefully, will be just as definitive. My gut tells me that an overwhelming majority of women in this country are going to make their voices heard loud and clear on November 8. And it wouldn't surprise me if a large percentage of men do the same. Hillary Clinton may not get a majority of them to vote for her, but Trump's deplorable conduct will slice into his lead with them.

It is both ironic and sort of sad that this, of all things, should be the last straw in his pitifully depraved campaign. Over the last seventeen months, Trump has defamed and slandered Mexicans, Muslims, war heroes, the handicapped, African Americans, reporters, and every opponent who has gone up against him. And none of those attacks has been enough to bury him. But going after women - predominantly white women - has proven to be his Waterloo.

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. If that is true, I suspect Trump is about to find out just how hot the fires of hell can be.