Friday, July 29, 2016

President Hillary Clinton

That is what we will be hearing in January after she takes the oath of office.

The reason for this is she just has too many advantages over Donald Trump for him to overcome.

Her first advantage is her experience in presidential elections.  Essentially this is her third one.  She knows what it takes to come out the winner at the end of the final sprint to the finish line because she has already lived it twice.  If she forgets she can ask her husband because he did it twice and if that does not work she can ask the current President because has done it twice as well.  That is before considering that she has assembled an very good election team.

Donald Trump has no experience on how to win the final three months of the campaign.  In fact he has very little political experience at all.  That was glaringly obvious when he publicly suggested a sometimes hostile government hack the e-mails of an American citizen and interfere in a US presidential election.  That was just dumb and the attack ads during the next three months pretty much write themselves.

Politics is a game and like all games if one opponent has tonnes of experience playing it while the other has very little the one with experience almost always wins.

Her second advantage is the Democratic Party is united behind her.  The media has played up the dissidents from the Bernie Sanders camp a great deal in the last few weeks. However, what they forget (willfully I might add) is Bernie Sanders and most of his followers were not members of the Democratic Party 18 months ago.  Although Ms. Clinton would certainly welcome them she does not really need them because the "old" Democrats, the ones that helped Barack Obama get elected twice, are firmly behind her.  Further, they know that they have a golden opportunity to elect two different Democratic presidents back to back, something that has not happened since FDR and Truman.  As well, the election apparatus that the Democratic Party has spent the last four years building just for these next three months is also firmly behind her.

Donald Trump essentially blew up the Republican Party.  He can count on his own supporters but he cannot count on the support of the Republican "old guard".  Some will certainly support him out of habit but many others will not.  Further the election apparatus that the Republicans have been building for the last four years is in tatters.

That leads to Hillary Clinton's third advantage.  Anybody who has ever participated in an election knows that elections are won on the ground.  It is the GOTV efforts of those low level operatives and volunteers at the local level that decide elections.  Ms. Clinton, with a united Democratic Party and election apparatus behind her should be able to count on a much more successful GOTV effort than Donald Trump with a fractured Republican Party behind him.

Her fourth advantage is she is out fundraising Donald Trump.  Donald Trump has the personal resources to run a campaign but it is an open question whether he wants to spend that much of his own money.  Mr. Clinton is spending other peoples' money, she has more of it and she will not hesitate spend it all for the campaign.

Advantages three and four are going to be crucial in those tight races in the battleground states.  In state battles where the margin of victory is often only a few thousand votes having the most successful GOTV effort, to identify and pull the vote of your supporters, while having the money to campaign hard right to the very end to convince independent and non-aligned voters to support you could be the difference between receiving that State's electoral college vote or watching your opponent walk off with them.

Her fifth advantage is this is the first time a woman has a legitimate chance at becoming President.  In 2008 when Barack Obama was nominated the voter turnout of African Americans on election day hit record highs.  They came out in droves and contributed greatly to what became a landslide for President Obama.  The same is probably going to happen this time.  Even amongst women who do not like Ms. Clinton she will probably receive their votes.  I am certain that the women of the US realize the historic potential of the moment, that it might not come again for a long while and they will come out in force to try to make history.  That 103 year old women from earlier in the week who stated she is really exited that she will be able to vote for a women for President is only the tip of the iceberg.

Her sixth advantage is she is the only candidate that the "establishment" can really back.  In past elections the two parties have always nominated presidental candidates that were acceptable to the "establishment" so it divided along partisan lines and no one candidate received a clear advantage.  That is not the case this time.  The "establishment" craves continuity and Hillary Clinton virtually guaratees that.  This advantage will manifest itself over the next three month as Conservative and Liberal think tanks will publish op-ed pieces in major publications, on line and on TV talk shows warning of the dangers of a Trump presidency and extolling the virtues of Hillary Clinton.  It will be subtle and relentless.  What will not be so subtle but still just as relentless will be the treatment of Donald Trump by the MSM.  It is all owned by representatives of the "estblishment" so they will do what they can to prevent a Trump victory.  This advantage will really frost the balls of those on both the left and right who want to see the status quo changed, who want nothing more than revolution. However, it should be noted that revolutions never come from the ballot box so you should not expect it to be any different this time.

Her seventh advantage is she is competent.  She will probably be able to do the job. Despite the hype we see in the US media I am certain that the majority of Americans are like the majority of Canadians and citizens of other democracies. They want leaders who they believe will not wreck their country and/or make life more difficult for them.  It is a safe bet that Hillary Clinton will meet those two criteria while it is an open question as to whether the same can be said about Donald Trump.

The one aspect where she is equal to Donald Trump is her level of unpopularity.  Americans do not seem to like either one.  In the end it will probably be a wash.

Her one disadvantage is that there is a desire for change in the United States.  You can ask Stephen Harper (if you can find him) what that can mean to a politician.  However, you can also ask Tim Hudak if that was enough when he tried to bring down the Ontario Liberals. The desire for change can be a strong motivator but if voters do not like the change that is presented to them they will play it safe.  Again, I will point to Stephen Harper.  He won two elections, in 2008 and 2011, despite the fact there was a desire for change and the fact he was not well liked even by many who voted for him.  However, enough Canadian voters decided on both occasions that he and his government were competent enough and that the change represented by the other guys was too much of a risk to change the government.

Donald Trump would be hard pressed to overcome even one or two of Hillary Clinton's advantages.  To overcome them all is probably an impossible task and that will likely result in Hillary Clinton being the next President of the United States.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Setting Fire to the Ashes

Yesterday I wrote a post stating that Donald Trump needs to mend fences with the many factions that the Republican Party has fractured into in order to increase his chances of winnning the November election.

Having seen his acceptance speech it can only be said that he did the exact opposite.  He burned many bridges to win the nomination and the speech he gave yesterday did nothing to reverse that.

Unfortunately for him his convention speech was the best chance of him starting the process.  He could have began the real campaign for the US Presidency by sounding presidential.  He could have used the speech to reach out to the supporters of the other Republican hopefuls from the primary season.  If he could not bring the actual candidates on board he could at least have begun convincing their supporters that a vote for him was a vote for their values.  He could even have begun the process of expanding his appeal beyond his own supporters and the Republican Party.

He did none of that.  He stuck to the script that got him the nomination.

Time will tell if that was a mistake but my initial thoughts are he seems to believe he can win this election as a one man band and he could be in for a very big surprise if that continues. As well, the next few months are for the Presidency not just for the nomination.  He should have used his acceptance speech as the pivot from the nomination battle to the battle for the Presidency and he did not do that either.

If he loses the election many will point to that acceptance speech as the point at which his remarkable run began to go off the rails.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donald Trump has the same problem as Stephen Harper

Donald Trump has won the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States. He should be congratulated for that achievement.  However, that was the easy part.  The next thing he has to do is create a coalition of American voters big enough to put him into the White House.  On that score he has a very steep hill to climb.

As I have stated a few times on this site, during the last Federal election in Canada I found Stephen Harper was throwing an inordinate amount of red meat to his base.  At no time during the election did he attempt to expand the appeal of the Conservative Party beyond his base.  In fact, I would say he did the opposite.  I suspect the reason why is because the Conservatives were not certain that they could count on their base to come out and vote for them or to just vote at all.  In the end the Conservatives did hang on to their core vote but only after two months of effort.

Donald Trump has the same problem.  The Republican base is fractured.  Party stalwarts, including the last two Republican presidents have come out against him in this election and his greatest opponent during the primary season just jammed a political sword between his ribs during the current Republican convention.  Those high profile Republicans that have endorsed him have not exactly been effusive in their praise of him.  They have said the minimum necessary and then retreated back into the woodwork.

This all means that Donald Trump is going to have to spend a great deal of time and resources over the next few months repairing the rifts in the Republican Party.  For him to have any chance of winning he needs to expand his base from those who absolutely love Donald Trump to include those Republicans that think he is the worst thing to happen to the GOP since Barry Goldwater.  In short, he is going to have to do what Stephen Harper did and shore up support from those voters most likely to vote Republican.

It is an open question whether he can accomplish this task and even if he does he then needs to expand his appeal beyond the core Republican vote.  Mitt Romney won that vote in 2012 but failed to expand beyond it and it cost him the election.

The second part of his task will be the hardest part.  He has managed to alienate virtually every demographic in the United States except old and middle aged, poorly educated, angry white men.  He is going to find it very difficult to walk back alot of what he said about the different demographics in the last few months.  Most will not believe him and a large segment of those who have supported him from the beginning may feel a bit betrayed if he does begin to pander to them.  As well, the amount of time to do it is short. The election is only four short months away and although that is many lifetimes in politics it is still a very short timeframe in which to repair the rifts in the Republican Party and expand his appeal beyond it.

All this has to be done while taking on an opponent who will have a very popular sitting President campaigning for her and a still very popular former President campaigning for her as well.  The only saving grace for him is the fact that Hillary Clinton is not very well liked either but she at least can count on maintaining the core Democratic vote going forward.

My guess is Donald Trump faces a nearly impossible task.  He does not have the time, the charisma, the political smarts or the temperment to be able to mend all of the bridges he burnt to win the nomination while running against an opponent who will be actively trying to prevent him from accomplishing that feat.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Police Shootings in Dallas

The police shootings in Dallas are tragic and they should be condemned on so many levels.

However, no one should be surprised by them.  There have been countless instances of white police officers shooting mostly unarmed black men and not suffering any consequences for their actions.  Are people really surprised that in the racially charged atmosphere of the US that some angry blacks would not seek revenge?

The fact it took this long surprises me but not that fact it happened.  As well, my guess is this was probably not the last of such attacks.  There is great potential for things to get very nasty in the United States.

As well, I have read some media commentators, both here in Canada and the US, and I am surprised that they now seem to have just realized that there is a problems between the black communities of the US and law enforcement.  For the many times mostly young black men died at the hands of most white police officers these media commentators did not see a major problem but when a black gunman decides to specifically target white police officers there is SUDDENLY a huge problem.  

It speaks volumes to the blindness (and perhaps just a little racism) of much of the media to the real problems facing society and the world. It is the same blindness that caused them to declare 9/11 as a world changing event. Islamic terrorism had been a scourge on the world for many decades before that but until those Saudi citizens flew a couple of wide bodies jets into the sides of the World Trade Centre and the Pentigon very few North American media commentators noticed.  They finally did notice and we have been living with the consequences ever since.

Mr. Kenney goes to Calgary

Jason Kenney has decided to leave Federal politics to attempt to win the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and to unite the right in that province.  What can I say but "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Much has been said about his chances of success and most of it has been of the nature that he has a very tough mountain to climb.  I could say more but that just about sums it up so I will not add anything.

What I will mention is that many media commentators have taken this to mean that really serious Conservatives believe that the Liberals cannot be beat in 2019.  My only comment about that assertion is it was true before Mr. Kenney decided to jump into Alberta provincial politics.

I have written in this space before that the next Conservative Prime Minister of Canada is not on anybody's radar right now.  All of the current crop of hopefuls for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada are trying for the job of placeholder and nothing more.  None of them or any others that might throw their hat into the ring have much of a chance of becoming PM in 2019.

It is a simple fact that after a long serving government loses power it is destined to wander the political wilderness for at least two election cycles.  There have been exceptions but they are very rare.  Liberals, including me, forgot about this fact in 2006 and their belief that the first minority Harper government was just going to be a short recess between Liberal governments was a great contributor to the profound downturn in their political fortunes in the next ten years.

Many people in Conservative circles seemed to believe the same thing about the current situation and it took the departure of Mr. Kenney to begin making them think otherwise.  I guess that should not surprise me but it does.  

Barring something really big derailing the Liberal machine they are probably a shoe in to winning the 2019 election.  Conservatives had better accept that.  Then again, if they want to do what the Liberals did after the 2006 election and miserably fail to do what was necessary to renew the party until after a crushing electoral defeat then I would have no problems with that.  It would only guarantee a Liberal win in 2019.