Friday, October 21, 2016

Trump Lost The Election The Day He Announced His Candidacy

The election is almost here, and barring something very unexpected, Hillary Clinton will be our next President.

That is pretty surprising, given that at the outset of the nomination process a year and a half ago, a generic Republican easily beat Hillary in a hypothetical match-up.

But then Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring.  The very day that Trump made his campaign announcement, he both won the GOP nomination and lost the general election.  As soon as Trump made his now infamous statement about Mexican rapists and criminals, he vaulted to the top of the GOP nomination heap.  Unfortunately, there is a sizable portion of the Republican base that delights in overt immigrant bashing and racism, and by saying it bluntly, Trump made himself the darling of these voters.

At the same time (and I said it to a friend at the time, while sitting in Trump's golf club in Sterling, Va.), he lost the general election, even to a candidate as unpopular as Hillary.  Bigotry is not a popular position in the US, and, thankfully, the larger electorate will generally shy away from a candidate who expresses himself or herself in a bigoted way.

It's too bad, because our country could use a vigorous debate on POLICY issues, rather than personality.  We benefit from such debate, as it often helps us to get to a moderate, middle ground position that is usually better for the large majority of citizens.  (This is the what our founders envisaged, with their system of checks and balances.)

As one example, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (a fairly conservative Republican), recently had the courage and intellectual honesty to defend free trade--which neither Trump nor Clinton will do, although Clinton probably favors free trade.  Free trade provides our country with numerous benefits, including lower cost (not quality) goods, and vigorous markets for our exports.  The idea that we are somehow going to go back to being an industrial manufacturing economy is pretty ludicrous.  Moreover, we wouldn't want to.  Manufacturing jobs are increasingly becoming automated; we are better off that our economy has already moved on.

In any event, let's hope the Republican Party can right its ship.  I fear otherwise--Trump has basically written a playbook for future campaigns. If you want to distinguish yourself in a large field of Republicans, be a bigot (and try to mask it by saying you're just not being "politically correct").

Perhaps a new, centrist conservative party will emerge--one that embraces fiscal and economic conservatism, libertarianism, AND ethnic, religious and sexual diversity.

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