Saturday, March 26, 2016

Better Ted Than Dead?

Last night on his New Rules' segment, Bill Maher addressed the nagging question that Republicans are trying to answer: which of the two viable candidates should they support, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. After several entertaining and extremely funny comments, the choice was clear. Ted Cruz. The reason for Maher came down to this: "Ted Cruz will be our worst president, but Donald Trump might well be our last."

Well that's a comforting thought, having to choose between George W. Bush on steroids or Dr. Strangelove. I guess when you put it that way, yeah, I'd take Bush too. Shit, I'd take Moe, Larry and Curly over Trump. I may loathe everything Ted Cruz stands for, but at least I'll get the chance to see him become another one-term president. To Maher's point, with Trump in the White House, you never know.

Which got me to thinking, while the GOP is busy pissing its pants over the concept of Donald Trump being their nominee, how should Democrats be viewing this? More importantly, who would they rather run against in the general?

I know what you're thinking: There's been a lot of polling that shows Hillary Clinton beating Trump in November and most of it is due to his high negatives. Basically, he's pissed off and offended just about every voter bloc out there except for white males. Blacks and Hispanics can't stand him, women can't stand him and millennials can't stand him. Should be a slam dunk, right?

Wrong. I've been saying this now for months - since last August, in fact - and it bears repeating: Donald Trump can win. Let me say it again: Donald Trump can WIN! Not by a lot, mind you, but keep in mind Bush won the electoral college in 2000 despite losing the popular vote. Yes, he had some help from progressives who stayed home (more on that later) and the Supreme Court, but the point is a win is a win. To use a baseball analogy, they all look like line drives in the boxscore.

Presidential elections are decided, and have been for some time now, in the all-important swing states, which are: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. I don't consider Pennsylvania to be a swing state, though the way things are going this year, you never know. For now, let's leave it blue.

Okay, so Hillary wins Florida, Nevada and New Mexico because of the Hispanic vote. I'll even be generous and give Colorado to her, though that isn't exactly etched in stone, either. That leaves the rest on the table. Trump'll win North Carolina, no sweat, and possibly Virginia, but, seriously, tell me you don't think he has a shot in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Because he does and you know why? There are an awful lot of pissed off middle-class white people in those states and Trump is singing their tune. I would not be shocked if he swept the entire Rust Belt region.

To sum up, Hillary wins Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada; Trump takes North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Add it up and he wins the electoral college 273 to 265. Yes, this could really happen. Welcome to the new Mason-Dixon line of politics, courtesy of Donald J. Trump. The angry white majority against the emerging, multi-cultural minority.

Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that all white people feel this way. To be fair, there are a lot of white people I know who find Trump repulsive and are terrified at the prospect of him in the White House. But I've been seeing quite a few cars these days with American flags attached to them and I'm guessing they're not just gearing up for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. Some of those cars have Trump bumper stickers. I'll bet the ranch that each of you knows at least two or three people - maybe more, maybe a lot more - that will vote for Trump. And not all of them are racists or sexists. It would be a fatal error to simply classify his candidacy as some fascist uprising.

Don't kid yourself, while we may know that Trump is a con man with nothing up his sleeves, to the disenfranchised he has become almost God-like. Want proof? Go to a Bernie Sanders rally. Old Bernie is singing pretty much the same tune the Donald is, minus the misogyny and xenophobia. The message couldn't be simpler or more blunt: You've been fucked and it's time to do something about it.

Well, guess what? They're doing something about it, much to the chagrin of the Republican establishment. Frankly, even if they do manage to somehow take away the nomination from Trump, they're screwed. You don't really think that Trump supporters, after hanging on every syllable that has come out of his disgusting mouth, are suddenly going to fall in line and blindly support whoever the GOP picks as their nominee. Ignorant they are, stupid they ain't.

That's why, if I'm Hillary, I'd be very careful about saying anything that might piss off the Bernie crowd. If he wants to stay in the race till June, let him. Give him his moment, or more to the point, don't take it away from him. Hell, if he wants to hold a telethon, make a pledge. She may have the nomination in hand, but she's going to need every one of his supporters to vote for her to have a chance in the general. She should remember what happened to the last Democratic nominee who didn't kiss the progressive movement's ass. Right, President Gore?

I'm telling you, if you're a God-fearing person you should get down on your hands and knees and pray that Ted Cruz gets enough delegates to either win the nomination outright or at least enough to beat out Trump on the second ballot. Because Cruz is the Democrats' ultimate wet dream of a presidential candidate. His base is small, much smaller even than Trump's, and he has zero chance of expanding it much beyond where it is. Cruz appeals to that demographic that is hopelessly lost in some 1950s or '60s sitcom where father knew best, everyone left it to Beaver. and Sheriff Andy Taylor kept the peace. And he may very well be the least liked member of the Senate. There are almost as many Republicans who can't stand him as there are Democrats. As Maher pointed out, "he's learned to live in a world where everyone, everywhere, has always hated him."

In a head to head matchup against Hillary, it would be a landslide, maybe not as impressive as Ronald Reagan's 1984 win, but still very impressive. Not only would Clinton sweep all the swing states, she could conceivably take states like Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and Arizona. And Texas would be close, damn close, especially if she chooses Julian Castro as her running mate. The Senate? Think 53, 54 seats when the dust settles. The GOP will still retain the House, but they will lose enough seats to make Paul Ryan look over his shoulder every time he steps out onto the floor.

If Trump takes the nod and he actually wins the presidency, the GOP will likely hold the Senate, if only by a single seat. Don't believe all the pundits who keep insisting that Trump will kill the down ticket Republicans running in swing states. Maybe one or two will fall, but enough will survive to give him a majority in both houses to work with.

That's what'll happen if Trump is the Republican nominee. Think I'm overreacting? Perhaps; at least I hope so. And to those who say that maybe the Republicans couldn't deal with Trump but the Democrats will surely find a way, I would remind you that this is a party that thought Walter Mondale had a shot against Reagan in '84. Never underestimate the Democrats' ability to strike out with the bases loaded. It's in their DNA.

That's why I'm going with Bill Maher: Better Ted than dead. Who knows, maybe if he wins we'll get lucky and he'll pick Michele Bachman as his running mate.

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