Sunday, October 23, 2016
Saturday Donald Trump delivered a much ballyhooed First One Hundred Days speech in Gettysburg, billed as what he would do in that time period if elected. Instead, it was a case in point of why Donald Trump is failing as an agent of change.
His speech was to be a pivot to issues away from the sensational last few weeks where the focus has been on his alleged predatory sexual behavior. However, he buried his own intended message by dwelling on the sensational news with his promise to sue all ten women who came forward to testify to his unwelcome advances. Bully good? A few hours later, an unintimidated #11 went public. He began his speech by relaunching his claim that into the “system is rigged,” followed by a riff on familiar refrains, “the FBI is rigged, the press is rigged”, and everything and everyone opposed to his views are rigged. He continued with charges and grievances, citing some statistics that had been debunked by independent fact checkers earlier.
His issue discussion was finally reached and it drew together familiar themes, but much more fleshed out and specific. This deserves coverage and debate, but waiting until less than three weeks to election day and burying it as nearly a sub point in sensationalistic news making, an opportunity was missed. A skilled candidate would understand how to direct media attention by not highlighting diversions, but that takes self-discipline, which Trump lacks.
Issues are important, especially in the context that this is a change election and that a large segment of public opinion believes the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Nonetheless, looking at a recent history of polls, Trump has not benefitted by the change sentiment, at least not enough to stay ahead of Hillary Clinton in the polls consistently over the campaign from start to near finish. To turn a Trump ad phrase on its ears, if this is such a change election, why isn’t Trump far ahead of Clinton in the polls instead of constantly running behind her?
There are some good reasons. While his issue message resonates with many, the problem is the messenger himself .Trump takes personal offense at barbs and gets hung up on a compulsive need to respond. He undermines democratic traditions by threatening not to honor the vote, or ignoring facts, legal due process, and standards of proof. Major turnoffs are his hostile comments directed toward women, immigrants, and minorities such as “build the wall”, “nasty woman”, “ban” those from certain countries, practitioners of a religion, ,and promising wholesale deportation regardless of individual constitutional rights, individual circumstances, or family concerns. The implied response from those groups offended by him is, “yes we want improvement, but no, no, not that kind by that person.”
Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, but with an improved version, advocating stronger Wall Street regulation, a no fly zone in Syria, improving Obamacare, and more. She is indeed a political operator, but she still looks better to many more than the Trump brand of replacement. Even fact finders conclude she is far more factual than Trump. Likewise, Pres. Obama’s popularity at 57%, extremely high for a last term president, is another indication that there are more content with the status quo than the Trump camp counted on.