We seem to have survived the RNC, which was in some doubt last week. I’m pretty sure most of us were expecting riots and wars in the streets outside the convention center, but we appear to have made it through all right. Trump thinks it was beautiful, at any rate.
Last night was Trump’s big acceptance speech and um… it was pretty dire, folks. Both the New Yorkerand the Washington Post have opinion pieces describing the speech as “dark” and lamenting the lawless, nigh-apocalyptic picture Trump painted of America over the course of an hour.
None of that really matters, though, because at the end of the day, a political campaign is just marketing, and marketing is easy. Marketing is only telling people a really good story. And Trump has a great story to tell you.
Which is why his campaign concerns me mightily, especially compared to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Clinton does not have a good story. She’s banking on the whole “first woman president” thing. And not to knock that or anything, but that’s not going to stand up to the Trump phenomenon. Not in this country.
Clinton lacks charisma and passion. She doesn’t inspire or energize her supporters the way Trump does. And, if all the reports are true, she’s about to go ahead and pick Tim Kaine for her VP, adding a milquetoast old white guy to her ticket. I cannot imagine that’s going to help her cause any. I mean, there’s nothing exciting about Tim Kaine, people. He’s the dictionary definition of “safe pick.”
FiveThirtyEight has a bit of “post-game analysis” up at their site that’s worth a read, and it lays out a couple of strategies that Clinton might follow after the RNC. Nate Silver thinks Clinton could go for either a “1964 strategy,” like Johnson portraying his opponent Barry Goldwater as unfit for the job, or a “2012 strategy,” like Obama turning out the vote based on a swell of enthusiasm and hope.
Judging by the feel of her campaign and her possible VP pick, it sure looks like Clinton’s leaning 1964, to me.
This was a weird RNC, folks. None of the GOP celebrities showed up – the Bushes, Romney, none of the rising star governors. Losing candidates who did show up to give speeches were stilted in their support or stuck to bashing Clinton, at best, and at worst, hostile to Trump (Ted Cruz).
The crowd started out half asleep on Monday and ended up weirdly fervent and chant-y by Thursday. And they suffered from the oddest disconnect from reality I’ve witnessed in awhile. They nominated Trump for President while extolling the good fortune of their various states – jobs numbers increasing, business is good, exports are up – and then spent the whole RNC agreeing with this wasteland vision of America as a Mad Max-style race war zone. It was bizarre.
I don’t know what to make of it. I mean, on one hand, I get it. It’s a cult of personality. Trump has a genius for sweeping people up in his ego. On the other hand, Trump’s tactics are designed to sweep up the desperate and I guess I’m just curious as to what’s going on that has so many people so convinced that things are as bad as the picture he’s painted.
Populism and nationalism, two hallmarks of Trump supporters, are driven by fear. What are they so scared of? Brown people? Is this just racism? Change? The world is changing faster every day, and that can be unsettling even to a dirty old liberal like me. Economic disparity? All of the above?
I don’t know. What I do know is that FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast has Clinton sitting at about a 60% chance of winning this election, and I am not comfortable with that margin. So whatever else they end up doing next week, the DNC better have a hell of a good story to tell.