The increased gnashing of teeth among various leftists over the last week or so is indicative of fraying nerves. As we head into the debates, Hillary Clinton has had her substantial summer lead at the very least dwindle in most polls, and outright flip to a Trump lead in others. Officially, the election is currently a dead heat, but my feeling is that the tide has turned for Trump.
I suspect some on the left are starting to feel this as well, and they are not happy about it. It possibly starts all the way at the top, with Clinton herself. Consider this video today, which went viral:
I’m not sure what that video is from. I suspect it was some sort of private message to a group of donors, perhaps unions. Whatever it is, it obviously wasn’t meant for public consumption. That said, even if it wasn’t it isn’t a good showing for Clinton. She starts out speaking in a normal, if elevated tone when speaking about Trump and his aversion to unions. Then, out of nowhere, she starts screaming, wondering aloud why she isn’t ’50 points points ahead.’
The random escalation in tone, when she is speaking in a room by herself as opposed to a rally crowd, is absurd looking on its face. It just screams ‘crazy.’ That, combined with her subject matter, her disbelief that she hasn’t blown Trump away, is telling. It suggests that she expected this election to be a cakewalk. She thought that all she had to do was show up to a few events per month, talk about how ‘racist’ Trump is, sit back, relax, and prepare for her coronation in January. That isn’t how it’s gone, and she is clearly upset about it.
Of course, she still might be right. At the very least, however, Trump has made things too close for comfort for Clinton and her supporters on the left.
Some, like Charles Lane in the Washington Post article seeks to take an more measured approach to understanding why Trump is maintaining his appeal:
Why do so many Americans support Trump despite months and months of negative, truthful coverage about him?
To be sure, there has been too much media puffery about Trump, whether unfiltered live coverage of his rallies by cable networks or Jimmy Fallon’s sickeningly friendly tousling of the Republican candidate’s hair on “The Tonight Show.” Journalists were slow to take him seriously at the beginning of the Republican primaries.
The fact remains, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted in an interviewwith the Times published Sunday: “Nobody is confused about the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. . . . Is she perfect? Of course not. But you’ve got enough information to make the choice.”
What must be going on is that people — an alarmingly large number of people, it seems — back Trump even though they know, or could easily learn, that he is a charlatan, clueless about policy, bizarrely sympathetic to Russia’s dictator, disturbingly prone to offending women and minorities, and a serial liar to boot.
Note how he states, matter of factly, that Trump is a racist and sexist, implies he has fascist sympathies and has no idea about policy. In reality, these beliefs are merely a list of opinions. Incorrect opinions at that. However in the mainstream, they have been elevated to a level of truism right up there with mathematical identities such as ‘1+1=2.’ To those with this very left leaning, mainstream worldview, it defies any sort of logic that someone could even think to cast a vote for Trump.
Lane goes on to explain that Trump is benefiting from a sort of ‘jury nullification’ writ large. Since the electorate feels the system is rigged, he reasons, they are more than willing to forgive Trump of the ‘crimes’ that system itself has alleged, particularly because Trump is promising to smash that system. There is some truth to this.
Lane ends by expressing a sort of sadness, that the journalist industry he is a part of has lost its ability to influence and guide the discussion.
Drew Magary has a quite different take. He took to GQ to deliver this delectable screed. Here’s a sampling:
As I’ve discussed before, this election is starting to erode the power that screaming ‘You’re Racist!’ has had over political discourse over the years. This is behind a lot of the skittish behavior apparent in the commentaries by Magary, Pierce, and those who are so brutally critical of Jimmy Fallon.
They are starting to notice that repeating racist/sexist/bigot/whatever over and over again isn’t moving the needle the way it once did. This is largely because of the fact that those terms have come to describe more and more things, to the point where this saturation has completely rendered these terms meaningless. When correcting someone’s grammar can be considered a potentially racial offense, we have reached the point at which people will instinctively start to tune out when wailing ‘but he’s racist!’ is the main argument presented.
A more nervous group of individuals over Trump’s strength is the media, as well as the pundit class. Their consternation is revealed in the reports of Trump’s campaign spending, or relative lack thereof:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign and its allies are outspending their Republican counterparts by a factor of about five to one, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.
But the former secretary of State has failed to put away Donald Trump, and many anxious Democrats are baffled as to why the race remains so close.
Yet another dynamic that is being exposed during this election is the deterioration of the legacy media, and by extension legacy politics and punditry. Hillary Clinton is running a campaign from the 80s and 90s – pandering, carefully crafted, focus group tested phrasing, accumulating a big warchest to spend on huge ad buys, etc.
Similarly, the punditry is from years gone by. Countless times I’ve heard pundits on various cable news channels going on about how Trump needed to ‘pivot,’ how his ‘ground game’ was lacking, and things of that nature. Those are chapters straight out of a conventional campaign playbook.
Trump has completely thrown that playbook out the window, and perhaps forever changed the way campaigns are run. Instead of doing huge ad buys, he interacts with his 20+ million followers on Facebook and Twitter. Because of the increasing move from TV to social media among the populace, these impressions are likely to have more of an impact than any ad buy would. It is well known that more and more people get their news from their Facebook feeds rather than the 6 o’clock evening news.
This means that in going directly to the people, with a much more robust message, Trump can circumvent the media and its gatekeepers. This, combined with the fact Trump has a more concrete message has meant that his campaign is having a much more profound impact on people. In comparison, the Clinton campaign’s traditional strategy of 30 second ads full of regurgitated soundbites are easily dismissed, if they are even seen at all by a public which is watching less TV in the first place.
To be sure, there are a few Trump-specific features to his campaign that make his robustness possible. The bottom line is that the public is starting to tire heavily of the DC class in general, which renders the hundreds of millions the Clinton campaign has and will spend utterly meaningless.
If Hillary loses, the fact that she is a walking stereotype of DC politicians will be the biggest reason as to why. Moreover, being that way for the best part of 30 years in public life, Hillary Clinton can’t change. That is simply who she is, a dying breed of politician. Even if she does manage to scrape by, she will probably be the last of her kind.