Trump and the Convention and Where We Go From Here

Original photo by Gage Skidmore, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0). See original by clicking on image.

Some thoughts on Trump, and the GOP convention:

1. The convention, generally, was the worst-run major political convention in a generation, and that should scare you. How is Trump going to manage an entire country when he can’t even put on a four-day show? (The answer, as we found out this week, is that he has no intention of managing the country at all; he plans to foist the actual work onto his poor VP while he struts about as bloviating figurehead.) Trump lost control of his convention and his message twice, once with Melania Trump’s clumsy plagiarism of Michelle Obama, which ate up two days of news cycles before Trump’s people found someone to be their chump for it, and then second with Ted Cruz, that oleaginous lump of hungering self-interest, who rather breathtakingly took to the stage of a nominating convention in order not to endorse Trump, in the most public way possible. That bit of low-rent Machiavellianism ate up another day of news cycles.

In the end, all the GOP convention has coming out of it are two massive failures of message control and Trump’s cataclysmic nomination speech. With regard to that hot mess of a speech, Trump was always going to be Trump, and there was no way of avoiding that, but the other two mishaps were eminently avoidable — vet all your speeches for previously-used phrases (which is a thing that is commonly done in politics anyway), and don’t give your previous political opponent whose family you’ve insulted a primetime speaking slot when you know he’s not going to endorse your candidate, as Cruz never intended to, and which was a fact the Trump campaign knew. That’s the part that boggles my mind. Two unforced errors on the Trump campaign’s part, and they blew up his convention.

2. Not that there was much to blow up; the Trump GOP convention line-up was closer to that of a struggling MLM company sales rally hosted in Tulsa or Des Moines than that of a major political organization, and the messages offered to the faithful there were almost insultingly simple:

  • We’re all doomed by crime, immigrants and minorities;
  • It’s all Hillary Clinton’s fault, let’s jail and/or kill her;
  • Trump is great, Trump is the supreme leader, all hail Trump, details to come.

i.e., your basic fact-free racist appeal to authority, and at any point you might like to suggest a fact-based counter-argument (crime is near historical lows, immigrants are not major engines of crime, Hillary Clinton is largely not corrupt, as 30 years of intense scrutiny has shown, and Trump is mostly a scammy bungler who likes to screw over the people who go into business with him, etc), the rebuttal from the Trump folks is to just yell louder. YES HILLARY IS A CRIMINAL YES CRIME IS OUTSIDE MY DOOR RIGHT NOW YES THE IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING TO EAT OUR BABIES WITH CRUEL TINY SPOONS

Well, no —


And honestly there’s nothing much one can do to convince them otherwise.

Which means that even if Trump’s convention had gone off without a hitch (which is to say, to be clear, without the hitches that he and his people should have known better than to allow), it still would have been a factless embarrassment of bigotry and fear. The GOP convention this year was going to be a shitshow even without the unforced errors; the unforced errors just added farce to the tragedy.

3. So, let’s talk about that speech of Trump’s for a second, shall we. I didn’t watch it live (I decided instead to go see a Thursday night showing of Star Trek Beyond, which, trust me, from an entertainment point of view was the right call), but I caught it afterwards. I think if you were already in the tank for Trump, it was a fine piece of theater. If you weren’t already in the tank for Trump, though, it scanned as You’re going to die we’re all going to die you need me to save you you need me to save us all. And, well, no. I’m really not, and I really don’t. I don’t know that it will scan effectively for anyone else not in the tank, either. Things just aren’t that bad.

But that’s the Trump shtick: He doesn’t have policies or positions or plans (details to come!), but what he does have is the ability to yell and to confirm your opinion there’s something wrong. To paraphrase Aaron Sorkin (See! Look! Attribution! It’s not difficult!), whatever your particular problem is, Trump is not the least bit interested in solving it, he is interested in making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. In this case that’s Clinton, who it’s evident that he doesn’t actually hate (or didn’t prior to this campaign), but when he pressed the “Hillary” button his voters spun up into an excited froth, so why not. It’s also immigrants, which I also suspect he doesn’t hate or care about either, except as a lever, and it works because there are a lot of racists, overt and latent, in his voting pool.

Trump knows what got him this far, and like the unimaginative businessman he is, he sees no need to “pivot” away from it, to try to bring in other people not already in the tank for him. I know this works, he says, why fuck with it? Which, actually, maybe isn’t a bad argument! His recent predecessors as the GOP candidate didn’t benefit from all from trying to pivot, did they? They didn’t win! Like the proverbial boy who keeps digging because there’s got to be a pony down there, Trump is betting there are even more white people he can scare into voting for him. He and the GOP are all in on the idea that there are still enough white people out there to win an election. All he has to do is scare ’em hard enough and make Hillary Clinton look crooked, which has been a GOP hobby for a quarter century running.

So, that was his speech: Scare the white folk.

4. Now, a brief interlude with the Trump voters, aka the scared and angry white people of America.

We’re not scared! Hillary’s crooked!

Guys, no. She might be good at getting out of scrapes, but no one’s that good, and not at the highest levels of scrutiny that she operates on, and has for decades.

Benghazi! E-Mail! Vince Foster! Whitewater!

Dudes. They spent millions and decades trying to pin something on her, and the best that they got out of it was that she was stupidly careless with her email. Which is not good! But it’s not a thing she should be jailed for. Or hanged from a tree for, which was a thing when spoken that Trump’s people only rather half-heartedly distanced themselves from. I could have told you she was stupidly careless with her email and wouldn’t have charged nearly as much, or taken that much time with it.

It’s conspiracy!

It’s really not.

Well, I just don’t trust her.

Of course you don’t. The GOP, as noted, has spent the better part of three decades trying to make her look crooked and evil; concurrently the GOP’s modus operandi, thanks to Newt Gingrich and his followers in Congress, has been to demonize and hate their political opponents. You can’t just disagree with anyone anymore — you have to despise them, and fear them, and scream for them at your political convention to be thrown in jail. You’ve had decades of indoctrination and now you think that’s normal, and that’s kind of fucked up.

Oh, so you can’t criticize Hillary! I see how it is, commie!

Sure you can criticize her, and disagree with her policies and positions and even dislike her as a person. Maybe try to do it without visualizing her as That Horrible Bitch Queen What Belongs in Jail, and while you’re at it, maybe stop visualizing Barack Obama as That Terrifying Kenyan Muslim Socialist Who is Coming For Our Guns, which is not accurate, either. Both of them, as it turns out, are pretty much bog-standard liberalish Democrats. You don’t like that? Okay, fine! You don’t need to go the extra step of demanding to salt the very earth upon which they walk, so nothing ever grows there again.

And while you’re at it, think about why it is that the GOP’s m.o. since Gingrich has been to hate and fear its political opponents, and how it’s come down to this election. Folks, as a candidate for President, Trump has no ruling principles other than hate and fear. He wants you to hate and fear minorities. He wants you to hate and fear immigrants. And most of all he wants you to hate and fear Hillary Clinton. Why? Because those are the buttons he can press to get to the presidency and that is all. If there were other buttons to be pressed, he’d press those. If it were Bernie Sanders in there instead of Clinton, he’d make you hate and fear him instead. It’s all he’s got, but then again, it’s all he’s needed.

5. Which is entirely on the GOP. Make no mistake about two things: One, Trump is where he is today precisely because the GOP has for decades worked on a principle of “demonize and obstruct” rather than working across the aisle to get things done, making it possible for someone with no recognizable Republican principles to bully his way to being the nominee; Two, no matter what happens with the 2016 election, the GOP is pretty much fucked. If Trump wins, there will be a dangerous occupant in the White House, one that has no guiding philosophy beyond his own narcissism and whose own personal inclinations lead him to admire autocrats, and if the GOP thinks they can manage that, I invite them to think on the primaries and the convention. The GOP doesn’t have managers in its ranks anymore; the last one, John Boehner, flipped Congress the bird and went home, and now there’s just hapless Paul Ryan, aka Hangdog Reardon, Ayn Rand’s saddest acolyte, minding the store. They’re not going to control Trump; they can’t even control themselves. They don’t see the value of it.

And if Trump loses? Then you can rely on the GOP to do what it did in 2008 and 2012: To figure the problem was that they weren’t “conservative” enough — “conservative” in these cases means “even whiter and older and scareder.” I mean, shit. The reason Ted Cruz did his Wednesday Night Knifework on Trump was to set himself up for 2020 when Trump loses, and let’s just think about that, shall we. First, Cruz is such a howling vortex of personal regard that he sees someone else’s party as the perfect place to launch his next campaign; second, Cruz — smug, grasping Ted Cruz — actually is likely to be where the GOP goes next. That should genuinely terrify any GOPer who still has sense, or who wants have a Republican in the White House this side of 2024.

6. Trump is still not likely to win — after everything, he’s still trailing Clinton, even if that margin is as slim as its ever been, and in the next few days we’ll see what, if any, convention bounce he gets — and now it’s Clinton’s turn at bat, with her VP pick and the Democratic convention. But let’s not pretend he can’t win, or that he might not be correct that there are still more white people to scare into voting for him. Ultimately it doesn’t matter to the GOP that their nominee is manifestly unfit to be in the White House, because Trump wins them a Supreme Court seat and (if they keep both houses) legislative repeals of all sorts of policies they hate. Whatever mischief Trump gets into as President, they figure he’s not going to veto anything they send his way. They’re probably right about that; all that is detail work, and Trump doesn’t care about that stuff. That’s the silver lining to the upcoming GOP disaster.

Now, I suppose we could try to appeal to true conservatives or GOP folks not to vote for Trump — look! Gary Johnson is there and has actual positions! — but let’s not bullshit about this. Trump wins if everyone else who is not an anguished conservative flirting with Johnson does not show up at the voting booth in November, and, bluntly, does not vote for Hillary Clinton for President. And yes, you few remaining diehard Sandernistas, that means getting the fuck over yourselves for once in your lives, realizing that this is not an ordinary election, and acknowledging you pretty much owe the entire world not to consign it to the flames over your entitled fit of pique.

(But I’m in a safely blue state! Can’t I vote for the Greens/Peace and Freedom Party/Wavy Gravy/etc? Ugh, fine, but only after you’ve extracted a promise from at least three swing state pals that they’ll vote for Clinton. It’s important, y’all.)

7. But not everyone who’ll vote for Trump is scared and/or angry and/or white, you say. Sure. Some people just won’t be able to countenance Clinton in the Oval Office for perfectly principled political reasons, and figure that Trump is the only one with a chance to stop her. I understand that. I am sorry for them, who I suspect are largely GOPers, that their choice against Clinton this year is Trump, and that the GOP right now is in a place where Trump was able to become the nominee, because most of the rest of the candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination were an appalling clown car of Dunning-Kruggerands. Whether or not that’s on them as party members, it’s still a tragedy for the country.

All I can say to them is what I have been saying: Look at Trump. Look how he got where he is. Look how he plans to get to the White House. It’s not through policy or positions. It’s through anger and blame and fear, and screaming that those who oppose you are going to pay. Look how he’s run his campaign. Look how his convention went down.

You can’t vote for that and say you didn’t know that was what you were voting for. And if he gets into the White House, you won’t be able to say you weren’t responsible for what happened next. You knew, and you will be.

152 Comments on “Trump and the Convention and Where We Go From Here”

  1. The Mallet is out, of course. Please behave and be nice to each other.

    Also, a pre-emptive reminder to stay on topic. We’ll have lots of time to discuss the Democrats and Hillary Clinton in detail next week, I suspect. So for now please reserve your discussion of them specifically to the parameters of the GOP convention and/or the Trump portrayal. I thank you in advance.

    Also, as a useful thing, the LA Times has a transcript of the Trump speech, with annotation on the assertions it makes (and their relationship to reality) and other comments.

    Uh, I may add more notes up here if necessary. Stay tuned.

  2. There are times one should use other people’s words because they said it better.

    “Now the only moral value is courage, which is useful here for judging the puppets and chatterboxes who pretend to speak in the name of the people.” -Albert Camus

    He must be defeated, for this Republic to survive.

  3. I’m one of your northern neighbors and I’m feeling a wee bit concerned. Whatever the results of the election, where is all that hate and fear and rage going to go? It’s not going to magically dry up.

  4. Ugh. I have a headache from all this. I have two quick thoughts and then I’m going to go to work:

    1. I agree that Trump is racist, sexist and anti-intellectual along with a host of other things. The problem is that no one is going to sway his voters by pointing that out because they see that as a good thing. If someone views black people, women having rights and “elitist liberal ivy league snobs” as the problem then saying he hates them (and better yet, showing that he riles up people on the left) is just going to make them like him more.

    2. My money, as much as I hated to say it was on Trump to be President the second he started saying overtly racist things – and that was way before the worst of it. I didn’t have to like it, I’m just about to be proven right that, at it’s core, America is a sexist, racist, violent, anti-intellectual, isolationist wannabe hole that makes the non-hostile, unambitious stupidity of Idiocracy, as Cracked pointed out, look like a utopia. In my head he’s already won in all but name because he is appealing to the true core of what America is and wants. I say this as a Sanders supporter who does acknowledge that Clinton won the nomination because more voting Democrats wanted her despite that being, in my opinion, a bad decision. I think Trump is a bad decision, but I also think he’s what the majority of voting Americans want. And like the Brexit, my generation (if we survive) will get to pick up the pieces left behind by the people who have less time to deal with the consequences.

    Oh my damn head. Ow.

  5. Who knew, when I started following this blog, that my favorite posts would be your posts on politics? WHO KNEW?

    Your writing on the topic has invariably filled me with glee.

  6. I’d like to direct folk’s attention to the No toss ups map from Real Clear politics which shows us how things would go if the election was held today and the results were in line with current polling data and The Five Thirty Eight Forecast.

    Trump did get a slight convention bounce, but it’s super-slight, and will probably drop back down as HRC gets her convention bounce, and I expect the Democratic Convention to be vastly better than the Republican one.

    For one thing, Bernie Sanders is no Ted Cruz, there’s no shortage of Democrats who can give a good speech, and the nearly negative polling Trump has with everyone other than whites is going to be a big topic.

  7. Nice to know you’ve still got an outlet for your Ted Cruz epithets though, innit?

  8. I concur: Trump’s total lack of discipline in running a four-day convention bodes ill for his management of, say, nuclear weapons or the economy. The GOP had a great opportunity to put forth policy details and generally make a case for itself, and instead we got Scott Baio, Steve King, a bit of plagiarism and Cruz setting himself on fire.

    If you can’t manage a single event without it devolving into a farce, how can you run a nation? All we got was chaos and fear.

  9. You know, I started to read your rant, and that’s exactly what I thought about it, and then, I decided that there was just no way I was going to be able to finish it. So, I didn’t….sorry, John, I disagree with you, I disagree with the fact that you claim “Trump can’t even run a 4-day affair”, when it isn’t even HIS responsibility to run it…that’s what the RNC is supposed to be doing….your attack on Melania Trump was also a cheap shot, but nobody seems to have a problem with Obama lifting words from other peoples’ speeches, or the fact that Obama uses a speechwriter. One of the most eloquent speeches I ever read was delivered in November 1863. It was handwritten by the speaker who delivered it. Nowadays, professional speechwriters are the norm, even Obama’s 2009 inaugural speech was written by a 23-year old…..Sorry, I just couldn’t finish reading your rant…’s your page, you can say what you like, just as I’m free to disagree and not read it.

  10. I would posit that to really “Make America Great Again” the best start would be for decent humans who happen to be of a more conservative bent to take back control of the GOP.
    Somewhere along the line it was discovered that actually doing stuff leaves you open to attack and it’s much easier to get elected by just opposing everything the other person stands for while doing nothing of value.

  11. I don’t understand the GOPers who think that Trump can be managed and/or worked with. They probably figure someone so ignorant can be lied to and manipulated and worked around. I expect there are a number of wannabe-eminences grises maneuvering in the background.

    But a sensible person would look at what Trump is doing with regard to Hillary Clinton. As noted (both here and in videos recently aired by the Clinton campaign), Trump was a friend, or at least friendly with, Hillary and Bill. And I highly doubt that his current vitriol is based in something she did to him, some horrible break they had. It’s literally just he doesn’t care. Friendship is bullshit to him.

    He has demonstrated multiple times that he will (at least attempt to, usually successfully) fuck up anyone who so much as looks at him funny, and never mind if they were friends or colleagues or loyal employees or former wives. (I’m 100% certain there’s a reason we have heard not a peep out of Ivana or Marla, and it ain’t because they like him.)

    Why do the GOP mandarins think that they would be an exception? If Trump wins, they might not be first against the wall, but sooner or later they would feel the proverbial knife in the back, possibly literally.

  12. Fuzznose:

    For someone who didn’t read it, you seem to have gone into some detail about it.

    More generally: Guys, it’s okay not to read one of my rants (or not read to the end). In fact if you find my politics tiresome, I advise you not reading them (or to the end). Just, you know. I don’t care that you didn’t finish, nor is it necessary to tell me. Just.. stop reading and move on. Simple.

  13. I think the analysis is fine as far as it goes. The question is to go further and ask why Trump’s message works for so many flipping millions of people. It’s not like the GOP has not been mashing the race button for decades. So why did their constituency go looking for someone who gave better fan service? It begs the question whether the GOP created this situation or whether they tried to ride a major political wave and eventually wiped out. The wave is still out there. The wave is still dangerous.

    According to the statistics, a person with a high school education can almost literally not get a job anymore. I don’t think anybody has an answer for that which they are seriously floating in public right now.

    Hillary will become President and the GOP will keep the House, possibly the Senate. She won’t be able to fix all that’s wrong with the ACA or start any major new social programs. Maybe with luck she gets a shot in 2019 after the next Congressional elections. Maybe. The GOP or the Tea Party or whatever comes next riding the wave will sit and watch all of the current jury rigged structures fail and then blame it on “socialists,” “immigrants” and the like. Eventually they are going to get an opening because the same party does not keep the White House forever; something always derails that train after 3 cycles at best. FDR/Truman got 5 and those were pretty unusual circumstances, not likely to repeat and kind of a scary prospect in their own way.

    We are in for some interesting times. Pack your sentient luggage for the ride, Twoflower.

  14. jmazzolla: I choose to believe that most Americans are not like Trump and will not vote for him. I agree on Clinton’s ability to sway voters from him..not much of a chance. Who she has to go after are 1. The undecided, which right now are a fair amount of persons. 2. Those unhappy with Trump (Republicans) moving to Johnson. Yes, there is Stein but she is trending about 2% and holding while Johnson is gaining. She will need to capture those two populations in decent numbers to win this. I think she can win but this is going to be a rough ride.

  15. I worked in downtown Cleveland all week. Most of the businesses were closed with the employees working at branches or from home. Things weren’t as bad downtown as I thought it would be. It was relatively uneventful, traffic was surprisingly light, which was unexpected, and even people who normally hung out downtown, didn’t want to be around all the police. There was some flag burning, a little rock throwing one night, and a bit of pushing and shoving, but that was all.

  16. Thanks for the points on the Grand Ole Party’s convention and their nomination of Trump. I do agree with people like Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) that the best thing to do at this point is to vote, get your family, friends & neighbors to vote. If Trump is elected, wonder if he will be the High Holy One as in Heinlein’s “If this goes on…” needing his dose of virgins.

  17. Well said, as usual. I’m waiting for the debates where, if the moderators do their damn jobs, Hillary should tear Trump to shreds. Like a child that keeps asking “why” to every point, the mods should hammer Trump with “how” to every one of his positions. So far very few reporters have tried to hold him accountable for his statements or follow up on any of his bullshit answers.

  18. Scalzi Said: “And while you’re at it, think about why it is that the GOP’s m.o. since Gingrich has been to hate and fear its political opponents, and how it’s come down to this election. Folks, as a candidate for President, Trump has no ruling principles other than hate and fear. ”

    I have thought about it. After years of internet debate and trying to figure out why facts didn’t seem to matter, I looked into it. You know what I found out?

    Our brains are different. Hate and fear is trademark conservatism. Openness is trademark liberalism. If one takes a large sample of brain MRIs, one can’t tell a persons race. But with a high degree of statistical significance, one can tell if a subject is a psychopath, which may not be surprising. But they one can also tell if a person is likely to self identify as a liberal or conservative. Parts of the brain will be physically different. And when responding to test data, different parts will light up. Now the brain is to a large degree plastic so how we use it to some extent explains how it develops. But people are who they are and debating with them and trying to show them the truth may have the exact opposite effect.

    Understand, man is not some creature designed by God in his image to be a worshipful subject. Man is an animal that arrived via million of years of evolution including mass extinction events. The brain evolved. And it evolved to not only make things or solve problems but also to justify a POV of the person or of the tribe. When we discuss politics, all of us engage in motivated reasoning. We are more looking for justification than truth. But even more so with conservatives and so you get things like science denial and clinging to cultural norms.

    That’s why I don’t debate conservatives. It just drives them deeper into their delusions and it really isn’t anything they can help. The smarter they are, the better their motivated reasoning.

    There is a ton of peer reviewed articles on the difference between conservatives brains/personalities and liberal brain/personalities. If you have an interest, they are not hard to find.

  19. Assuming a Trump loss in November, I think there are two ways it can play out for the GOP. 1. Their internal analysis decides they lost because they didn’t fully embrace and unify behind Trump, and the party goes even further off the rails, or 2. They decide they lost because Trump was too extreme, and they return to their more moderate roots.

    I sincerely hope they go with option 2. there, and they tell the fringiest amongst them to pound sand. I don’t think it’s unlikely that if they go with option 1, that the GOP splinters, likely with the racists in one party and the religious right/more moderates in another.

  20. Interesting point of view, I must say. I am of neither (or any) Political Party. I am quite simply, an American Citizen. I DO vote, and I DO listen to the bullshit spewed from ALL candidates, especially when the Top Job is on the line. I do my best to keep an open mind, although that has been difficult in this race. I, like many Americans, am fed up with all of the “Sugar Coating” and “Political Correctness” that has been spoon fed to the “Average” American Citizen. They (career politicians) use the liberal media to put a “fluffy, happy, everything is o.k.” spin on everything from racial violence, to police shootings, to terrorism, to immigration reform, to war, and on and on. The fact of the matter is, WE, American Citizens are privy to the everyday Ugly, Grim TRUTH regarding the way things REALLY are in Our Great Nation. The bottom line? It’s F*&*ed Up . We cannot continue to pretend it’s not so bad, nor can we brush it under the rug by saying it’s his fault, or her fault, or their fault. The Buck Stops Where? Trump may be a belligerent, rude, outspoken asshole, (obviously). He may be full of shit. However, I have listened to what he has said over the course of his short time in the political arena and what John Q. Public may have missed (Due to Trump’s brashness and love of drama & being in the spotlight) are the most important things about his campaign. He has said that he clearly DOES NOT know many things that are of vital importance when running this Country. He followed up by saying that he will have the experts in those areas advising him as to the best way to handle those things. I believe that. He is a blowhard, yes, but behind the noise, is a man who is intelligent, and wise. In life, I believe the best way to learn about the character of a person is either through meeting their dogs, or their kids. Gruff old big mouth Trump’s true nature and character was well evidenced at the RNC by his adult children. They showed the Nation what (I feel) is Mr. Trump’s greatest and most successful achievement: His Children. All of them proved to be intelligent. All of them showed more decorum, than their outspoken Dad, and that is a good thing! At any rate, the fact remains: The Apple Doesn’t Fall From From The Tree!
    This is a crucial election. “H”, no matter what kind of spin anyone puts on it, has lied under oath, has been under investigation by the Federal Government as far back as her first lady of Arkansas days, has lied to the American People over and over, and on and on and on. This is not conspiracy theory, these are facts, with actual evidence (her own words ) to back it up. Trump may be a risky choice for POTUS, I will agree with that. He is NOT the P.C. “Norm” and that is a risk, for sure. “H”is not only a risk, but has proven herself (look at her record over her political career) to be lacking in integrity, at the very least. I, for one would rather take a risk on something with a chance at some REAL change, than simply vote for the way things have been: Corruption, Sugar Coating, Perjuring politicians. I have to suffer the consequences of my vote as an American Citizen, or who knows: maybe reap the rewards for taking a risk. Sorry about the lengthy commentary. Thanks for listening!

  21. Despite your despise of Ted Cruz, your closing remark greatly resembled his theme: vote your conscience so you can tell your kids you did everything you could.
    Sometime I’d like to try reciting Cruz’s speech with slightly different emphasis to demonstrate how fed up he was with the GOP when he wrote it. “You deserve a wall” can be taken a couple of different ways…

  22. Scalzi said, “But I’m in a safely blue state! Can’t I vote for…”

    I say people who think that are wrong, wrong, wrong. I live in an safely red state. The temptation is to not vote since the state almost certainly will go Republican anyway. I theoretically can not vote for Hillary and it won’t change the outcome. However:

    1) I just spent weeks watching Brit’s rue votes or lack thereof on the EU Exit because of having used similar logic.

    2) It is my duty to vote responsibly. If I believe Trump would be a disaster for the country, then it is my duty to vote to stop that regardless of the electoral math of my state.

    3) One of the only ways I can think of to stop the GOP from vigintupling down on the (Scalzi again) “weren’t ‘conservative’ enough” idea is if the popular vote strongly repudiates it.

    On election day I will probably dose myself with Dramamine and vote for Hillary. It is too important.

  23. “But I’m in a safely blue state! Can’t I vote for the Greens/Peace and Freedom Party/Wavy Gravy/etc? Ugh, fine, but only after you’ve extracted a promise from at least three swing state pals that they’ll vote for Clinton. It’s important, y’all.”

    I’ll respectfully disagree with you on this, John. Even in safely blue states, the recent Brexit example shows us that voting whimsically, or ironically, or whatever, has serious implications. “It’ll never happen” is actually a pretty risky place to stand. Every vote has value, and even if you hate both major-party candidates, you just might just have to grit your teeth and use your vote in the manner that does the most it possibly can to keep the greater evil from getting in.

    Or, more pithily, “There may not be anyone to vote FOR, but there’s always someone to vote AGAINST.” My suggestion is to vote against in the most powerful way you can, and that voting for a third-party candidate is not the best strategy, even in a safely blue state.

  24. I’ll be voting for Hillary this fall, because I think Trump is completely unqualified to be President of the United States, so in that sense, I guess I agree with you. But I have to side with fuzznose on this “rant” (although, unlike fuzznose, I did read it).

    In a post about how Donald Trump’s modus operandi is to scare people into voting for him, I count *ten* instances where you tell us that Trump (and the Republican party more broadly) should scare/terrify us, that they’re dangerous, that they’ll bring disaster/tragedy to the country, and so forth.

    I didn’t like it when he did it, and I don’t like it when you do it.

    You’re right that the immigrants & minorities are not waiting outside my door to murder me or destroy my life. In a similar vein, you’re wrong that Trump’s presence in the White House will “consign the world to flames” or create “a tragedy for our country.”

    Politics of fear, indeed….

  25. Fuzzynose:

    You’re right that he’s not directly responsible for running the day to day stuff in his campaign/convention. He IS, however, responsible for surrounding himself with the senior staff that will make sure that stuff gets done. If he can’t manage that now, how will he build a US Cabinet? They can’t all be sycophantic chode garglers that tell him he’s always right in his assessments.

  26. I’ve been politically active since the 80s (and was very interested before then). I’m a bit right of center. A lot of candidates have come and gone that I really dislike, think are wrong for the office. (Oddly enough, Hillary four years ago was one of them.) But in the end, none of them scared me. The country is strong, we’ve got good checks and balances, I might not like what happens in the 2/4/6 years they’ll be in office but they can’t do too much damage.

    Trump scares the shit out of me. Four years ago, I said the only way I’d vote for Hillary was if the Republicans ran the reincarnation of Nixon. Now, there’s someone so far worse. And he’s got a shot at winning.

    I’ve sat out on elections when I thought neither candidate was acceptable. This time, I can’t. Even though I’m supposedly in a safe state (California), I have to do what I can to keep him out of office.

  27. I have said it before, and I will say it again: We need more bread to go with these circuses.

  28. Brian Greenburg:

    “I didn’t like it when he did it, and I don’t like it when you do it.”

    That’s fine, and moreover, I think you’re wrong. When a man who says that our defense of NATO allies should be contingent on how paid up they are in their dues, as just one example, is in serious contention for the highest office in the land, the problem with the phrase “consign the world to flames” is not that it’s hyperbole, but that it is, scarily, not nearly as hyperbolic as it should be.

    Likewise, in my not-so-uninformed opinion, it would goddamn well would create a tragedy for our country to have Trump in office. He’s manifestly unqualified and not anywhere near the temperament for the job. Go look back at my opinions of the last three GOP candidates and you’ll generally see that while I had no intention of voting for them, I did not think they would be a tragedy for the nation (I was terrified McCain would die in office, leaving us President Palin, but that’s not the same thing).

    If you’re not scared of Trump being in the White House, may I humbly suggest you’re not paying attention. And what you are doing here, I would suggest, is a slapdish bit of political equivalence. It’s not equivalent.

    Please note, incidentally, I don’t think Trump is evil. He’s incompetent and narcissistic and opportunistic and a bully, but not evil. It doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous. It also doesn’t mean evil isn’t happily trailing in his wake, or that he’s not happy to leverage that evil, possibly because he doesn’t recognize the moral hazard it offers. I’m okay with suggesting I’m not as oblivious to it as he.

    That said: Yay for not voting for Trump. Thank you.

  29. As usual I find myself very much in agreement with your rant, and envious of your ability to rant so cogently.

    As an Indie, I’m voting for and supporting HRC with my resources, and I plan to vote Blue all down the ticket (something I’ve never done before) because I’m SO pissed about the lack of credible Republicans coming forth and stating that a vote for Trump is the worst thing you could do (the second worst thing being not voting or throwing your vote away on a 3rd party). So far, only a few republicans like Governor Suzanna Martinez (R, New Mexico) have refused to embrace / endorse Trump. Now that Trump is the official Republican candidate, I hope a few brave republicans will step into the national spotlight and speak plainly about how poor a candidate he really is and how potentially dangerous his election would be to everyone. Are you listening Mr. McCain?

  30. I really don’t want to go into deep political analysis or anything, but the biggest problem I have is the desire of the mob that hated on Hillary was to at least put her in jail, if not to murder her. This is intensely worrying. It is much worse than it was when Obama was running. It is horrifying.

  31. @aimzenu: “Our brains are different. Hate and fear is trademark conservatism. Openness is trademark liberalism. If one takes a large sample of brain MRIs, one can’t tell a persons race. But with a high degree of statistical significance, one can tell if a subject is a psychopath, which may not be surprising. . . . There is a ton of peer reviewed articles on the difference between conservatives brains/personalities and liberal brain/personalities. If you have an interest, they are not hard to find.”

    If you say so. Here’s my quick internet search turned up:

  32. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.

    — Joseph Heller, Catch-22

  33. @JohnScalzi – What do you think the likelihood is that the GOP will split and there will be a realignment of the political parties, or perhaps better, a new party or two to vie for a majority? Could we finally get a split of one or both major parties and a realignment glomming onto the pieces?

    The GOP has become something I no longer recognize. It wasn’t just Trump. But the idea of Trump as president, an America run by people so eager for hate and fascism, racism, sexism, etc., is just crazy-stupid bad.

    Is Hillary Clinton perfect? No. Was Bill Clinton perfect as president? No. But we had a real, functioning government that got within a balanced budget and a surplus, and other things got accomplished. The two parties managed to cooperate some then. When Ms. Clinton ran before, she presented ideas for what she wanted to do if elected, and these were, if not perfect, at least mostly workable. Would I like to see more of Bernie Sanders’ input and a focus on solving issues he raised? Yes. Do I think things in the Democratic party need to change / improve? Oh, yes.

    Would I like to se better choices for other parties, other candidates? Oh, absolutely.

    My personal economic situation is very bad, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover it. That’s scary. But I’ve been living with it so long, It’s become a dull ache, and I feel defeated. — Yet I’m trying to move on, to find some way to make things better for myself.

    Who we get in the Presidency and in Congress in the November elections could make a huge difference in whether I have a future, or what sort of future Americans, and people across the world, have. I want a future again, one I can achieve, by myself and with help and work. I do not want four or more years run by people who are so devoid of actual idea for what they’d do to solve problems, and who instead are so quick to hate others, to demonize others, or espouse fascist ideals or the tearing down of our American laws and Constitution, from within.

    How is it that this feels like one of those time travel / alternate reality tropes where our heroes arrive and see instantly that there has been some terrible thing go wrong to create such a distorted reality? But I have no handy time machine and no idea which butterfly it was that got stomped to create this present reality. I don’t know how to fix it or where the right one is. I can only hope somehow, we’ll manage to get things going right again.

    There’s good stuff out there. There are good people out there, resources, potentials. Sure, the situation is a big mess, but it’s not entirely broken, a lot is pretty good. But what’s broken in the system, in this country and in the world at large, really needs to get major problem-solving work done on it, not hot air and empty promises, and not fear-mongering against some “Us Versus Them” out there. — See, I know people with darker skin than mine. They’re fine. I know people who aren’t this religion or that one. They’re fine. I know people who speak something besides English. They’re fine. I know people who are not-so-straight. (Me too.) They’re fine. I like them. I do not need to be afraid of them. They are my neighbors and friends. There are plenty of people who are not from my country, but they are really interesting and do interesting things and have worthwhile ideas. I do not need to be scared of them for thinking and believing differently than I do.

    We need to remember to look at other ideas, try new solutions, and keep testing and modifying and trying again, until we solve things together. That’s what works. Not refusing to listen to the guy or girl on the other side of the political aisle. Not ignoring real problems out there. Oh, please, can’t we compromise and cooperate and try solutions until we come up with one that solves a problem again? Pretty please? At this point, maybe just for the sake of a novel approach?

    This is not where I ever thought I’d be or wanted to be, when I was a college kid 32 years ago.

    I’m reminded of two songs from back then: “Russians” by Sting / the Police, and the Talking Heads song with the line, “This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. Well? How did I get here?” and maybe, “My Hometown,” by Bruce Springsteen.

  34. What amazes me is that the speakers (including Trump) seem to think Brexit is a great success and that its a good marker for Trump winning this year. What Brexit has shown is:

    1. The “leave” campaign took control by telling lies and dog whistling to the worst underbelly in UK society
    2. The entire country has been in economic meltdown since the vote, just as the “remain” campaign said it would be (and were accused of exaggerating the effects of a leave vote at the time).
    3. The “remain” campaign overestimated the appeal of having a blowhard blond tv entertainer, which is what I’m hoping the democrats don’t do this time around.

    The RNC convention was a mess on TV but I wonder whether it was seen as a mess by most republican supporters? Somehow I doubt it.

  35. On Trump’s likelihood to win and voting in safe blue states: I’ve seen people I love and respect make that argument and I feel like they don’t truly understand how important a mandate of the people really is. Voting peculiarities aside, if either candidate only wins by a slim margin – like Bush did in 2000 – it’s going to fuel the fire of divisiveness. If Hillary Clinton wins by a technicality, because resentful democrats went out and didn’t swallow the bitter pill, she’s going to have the worst time trying to get anything done.

    And sure, maybe obstructionism seems like a great idea if the candidate isn’t all you hoped for (see evidence A: Ted Cruz) but that means that she is doomed to fail from the start. Giving her that handicap may seem like the right thing to do for someone who’s Bernie-or-bust or any of the people disillusioned with being ruled by the same four families of WASPs we’ve seen since the sixties (and I get you, I do!), but that’s where we have to be grown ups and consider not just our own interest but everyone else’s as well. Of course anyone has the right to vote their conscience (thanks, Ted Cruz), but they should damn well be asked to consider what that means for their neighbors, their friends, their family, their barista, their cub scout leader, their used car dealer, their veteran uncle, or the literal billions of people who depend on the United States government being not an entire shit show every day of the week.

    The question I keep asking myself is: do we want those people we’ve seen at the conventions, everyone we’ve run into online and even in meat space, who are so resistant to logic, do we want to give them the same righteousness many democrats had in 2000 and the years following? Do we want to give them reason to think – in some ways rightly – that *their* vote was stolen? Donald Trump has harnessed an angry mob, let’s not give them reason to believe their country was stolen from them. A lot of them are armed. They believe in the 2nd amendment in very different ways than the rest of society.

    There are no guarantees, if Brexit taught us anything it did that – every damn fool on that island thought they were safe doing a protest vote – and those numbers added up. Let’s not pretend it’s safe to vote your conscience in blue states just because everyone else is going to vote the right way. There are a lot of disgruntled democrats, a lot of “meh, Hillary” voters, and that’s going to be a very dangerous mindset going into November. If Hillary Clinton loses because blue states weren’t *blue enough*, the whole world is going to pay. And that’s not hyperbole. At least Bush Jr. had handlers.

  36. What the hell was Trump thinking insulting Cruz and family for months and then giving him the stage???? The level of stupidity it takes to do that just boggles the mind. Did he think everyone would just fall in line like Chris ass kissing Christie? This is not the level of idiocy one wants in the whitehouse, but it does explain how Trump managed to get several bankruptcies: he has no idea what he’s doing.

    The public, party level calls for Hillary’s death was just nuts. As was the racism and islamophobia and general bigotry. They’re not even bothering with dog whistles anymore, they’ve embraced unadulterated fascism.

    But I still see trump bumper stickers and trump signs in peoples front yards. Trump is correct that he could kill someone and his popularity wouldnt change. Its nothing but cult of personality.

  37. That was a thing of beauty. I read bits aloud to the Husband.

    I live in what should be a safely blue state. I’m still not taking any chances with my vote. Besides, there are state candidates and issues, and those matter too.

  38. Pedro says:

    “If you say so. Here’s my quick internet search turned up:”

    I do say so. The link you gave is not on point. The bit about psychopaths is well known and if you have an interest might I recommend….

    However that has nothing to do with being liberal vs conservative – at least to my knowledge. It just illustrates that one can use brain studies to identify personal aspects.

    If you are looking for peer reviewed studies on political differences then there is a fair number of those. Here is one of the first I ran across when I was first curious (both links refer to the same study). I think it has been cited a lot in other studies. Some of the more recent ones are really interesting.

  39. I actually worked for Newt at one point, as I was working at GOPAC before he took over from Pete du Pont. Even then I was wondering how long the circle could be squared by pandering to social conservatives and Neo-Rebs before they noticed that it was never about THEM; it’s a big part of why I never became a card-carrying Republican. Late in the day the angry people have finally gotten what they wanted, or at least they think they do. Those movement conservatives wringing their hands over these developments might note that they were happy to flirt for years with the forms of fascist discourse without ever considering that it might come back to bite them. So much for the “End of History;” smirk.

  40. Ted Cruz did the equivalent of the best man at a wedding saying that he thought the bride was a horrible person and then turning and proposing to his girlfriend.

    Like you, I am stunned that the Trump campaign allowed him to speak. This is Convention 101 stuff. I guarantee you that if Bernie Sanders says four words at the Democratic Convention then three of them will be “Hillary for President” (there also won’t be more than five consecutive words in anyone’s speech that have ever been uttered by a human being previously).

  41. I have one overriding fear this election and it’s Voter ID/Voter Limiting laws being passed in various states. The GOP has spent the last several years making it damn hard for people to vote under the specious argument that “voter fraud” is a thing that happens regularly.

    Trump can win this if the people who choose to vote HRC happen to live in an area where they need 2 forms of government issued picture bearing ID along with a bill from a legitimate utility establishing address with all documents procured the year before and all exactingly correct (hyperbolic, but still somewhat correct). The news coverage of voter ID laws being overturned is laughably light, so there are people who do not know that the voter ID law that was in place restricting them from legally voting has disappeared.

    And I know you mentioned this on Twitter, but a mass communication to the country about how to discover your polling station, your voting registration requirements, and other voting-related needs should be a priority for all people.

  42. Excellent summary of the election.

    As for the idea someone brought up that Trump’s cabinet could restrain him, one only has to look at Trump’s choice of that dictator’s tool Manafort as his campaign manager, or what Bush’s own cabinet led him into.

  43. I’m starting to think that Trump designed the RNC as a giant therapy session–group therapy with other scared and angry white Americans. Bringing in Cruz as a featured speaker proves it, and so does his decision to blare “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” over the speaker system. That was a cry for help.

    When I began typing this, I thought I was joking, but it makes more sense than any other explanation.

  44. Sloop, the ID law here in Texas got overturned by the conservative 5th Circuit. But only after a fashion. – not totally kicked out. I work the polls from time to time and I still don’t know what it means and what the “fix” will be.

    Yes, Republicans are trying to keep legitimate people from voting. It isn’t about voter fraud.

  45. iamzenu, i think the larger problem is that that knowledge makes no difference. If hate and fear is trademark conservatism, and openness is trademark liberalism, but theres no way to change hate into openess, then what? Its essentially the Cassandra myth, knowing the future but being unable to convince anyone.

    Sometimes, I am amazed the human race made it this far.

  46. It is much worse than it was when Obama was running.

    Not sure that’s true, though I do think the situation is very bad and may be as bad as it was for Obama. There have always been a hell of a lot of people calling for Obama to be assassinated. He needed Secret Service protection earlier than any other candidate (of those who weren’t already in a position to need it due to their status as cabinet members or whatever).

  47. nicoleandmaggie, the same thing happened when Tampa hosted the RNC (in 2012). The local restaurants were told to expect crowds, but the convention had plenty of food options inside, so no one left the convention location.

  48. I can’t say how grateful I am that, for whatever reason, there were not violent protests outside the convention arena. I thought there very likely would be, given the history of protests at/near Trump rallies during the primaries and the polarizing rhetoric that has continued in the meantime. That would have played right into his fear-mongering demagoguery. I choose to see this as evidence that the United States as a whole is not as divided, on the razor edge of breakdown, or ready to rumble as Trump wants us to believe. I remember the national temperature in 1968. We’re not even close to being there, IMO.

  49. I’m just here to read the latest way to describe Cruz using creative and colorful verbiage. Had to look up “oleaginous” this time.

  50. I have thoughts (more positive/feminist/annoyed than many people’s) about Hillary, but after seeing not just Trump but the GOP platform, they don’t matter anyhow. I would vote for the Democratic candidate this year if they were the sensei of Cobra Kai. Or Cobra Commander. Or an actual cobra.

    I got exactly a sentence into it (“we believe in American exceptionalism”) before saying “fuck that” out loud. On the eleventh page of a sixty-six page document, the platform advocates stripping civil rights from many of my friends; the thirteenth advocates denying bodily autonomy to half the citizens of the US (not me only because I’ve taken fairly permanent measures already, but five years ago it would have been me); and “fuck the poor” starts around the first page.

    Trump is a problem, but he’s not the problem.

  51. So apparently a vote against Trump is a vote for Clinton, and a vote against Clinton is a vote for Trump. If I vote against both, am I voting for both?

  52. Daniel,
    Yes. If you’re internally deciding between staying home and voting Johnson, by all means go vote Johnson. But either of those choices allows the sum of the votes for Clinton and Trump to decrease, thus increasing the efficacy of a vote for either of them, thus voting for both. There’s other subtle math going on with regards to blue/red state stuff etc, but essentially, yes you are.

  53. Greg said: “What the hell was Trump thinking insulting Cruz and family for months and then giving him the stage????”

    Trump is an entertainer. He truly believes there is no bad press. Cruz hating on him only makes his supporters more rabid, and look, here we are talking about Trump again, at length. I doubt there would be so much to say if this had been a convention to confirm Jeb Bush as candidate.

    Trump isn’t interested in being president. He is interested in being the center of attention. Getting into the White House would be the ultimate center-of-attentioning for him, but he doesn’t actually want the job. That’s work. He wants the perqs.

    Trumps bankruptcies weren’t an example of him not knowing what he’s doing. They are a perfect example of his particular brand of moral-free genius. His career has been to con wealthy investors into backing his grand plans for a new company or real estate development, having that new company fund his lavish lifestyle and channel money to his personal coffers, then have the company declare bankruptcy and fold. He keeps his house and plane and money, his investors get nothing except maybe a tax write-off.

    That’s a heck of a lot easier than actually working. It’s a secular-business form of megachurch grift. He only has to declare bankruptcy because unlike a megachurch, businesses do get asked to pay taxes.

    If Trump were to get elected, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he resigned in a couple of months (a la Palin as governor of Alaska). The only thing that would keep him there would be if he got more attention and more fawning worship, with no hassles. But even a do-nothing president who will hand the reins over to other people has to deal with hassles. There is no avoiding some crap.

    Not that I want to put this theory to the test, of course.

  54. Isabelcooper: Cobra Kai? Huh! Given the tone of the Republican Convention, there might be a place for someone standing in front of the Democratic delegates shouting, “FEAR does not EXIST in this PARTY, DOES IT???” :)

  55. As an alien [(c) RNC 2016], I don’t get a vote – though I do pay taxes…. whatever happened to that whole “no taxation without representation ideal?” – but I’ve been visiting USA since the 70s and following US politics since the late 70s. I’ve visited off and on since then and finally settled here last year. All I can say is: I don’t think American has ever not been great. That’s not to say it’s perfect, it manifestly isn’t. But it’s nowhere near as broken as Trump makes it out to be. His lack of policy is scary. His off-the-cuff threats and accusations are scary. His lack of understanding of separation of powers, of the constitution and (particularly) freedom of speech is way beyond scary.

    I don’t think Clinton is the perfect candidate either but at least the prospect of a Clinton presidency doesn’t scare the hell out of me. At the very least she has thought through some policies and we know what her positions are. Promising outcomes without mentioning methods is, in my opinion, dumb. And falling for those promises and voting for them is, well, choose your own adjective.

  56. John, I don’t think you get it. Trump’s popularity isn’t because he’s a fact-free windbag, it is because he is a fact-free windbag. Facts don’t matter, reality doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is the feels. This is why Hilary is going to lose. He’s speaking to those who are discontented with their lot and they will vote for him in droves, enthusiastically.

    The only good thing is that he is the only GOP candidate that Hillary could possibly beat. She’s the living embodiment of everything the frustrated and economically disposed hate, and even the majority of Dems appear to be voting for her in the absence of a better option (in the general election polls, the primaries don’t count). Her e-mail escapades just reinforce the arrogance and “above the law” aura she projects all the time. The accepted tin foil hat theory is that a bunch of e-mails will be released in October, claiming to be from her home server, showing that she went “pay to play” with donations to the Clinton Foundation. It doesn’t matter that these will eventually be shown to be fakes, the presumption will be that she did it.

    If the Dems had the guts to tell her to get out of the way, and came up with a decent candidate, they’d bury the GOP so deep they wouldn’t see daylight, take the senate back, and have a run at the house. Instead we’re stuck with a terribly flawed candidate who is likely to lose both the White House and the Senate to a sociapathic hairpiece.

  57. @John S: “The answer, as we found out this week, is that he has no intention of managing the country at all; he plans to foist the actual work onto his poor VP while he struts about as bloviating figurehead.”

    King Donald and Prime Minister Pence – overheard that one in the hall just now. . .

  58. @BW My worry is that it’s 1964, not 1968, and that 1968 is yet to come. (I wasn’t born yet, but have become convinced that Trump is Goldwater– his racism is the only thing that matters to people voting for him.) But along with the horrific stuff, a lot of really good stuff happened in 1968 (and the intervening years) too. So… I dunno. I just wish progress wasn’t so often violent.

  59. I also disagree that the people who support Trump are representative of our whole country. Everyone I am close to is planning to vote Hillary, even if, for some, it’s not an enthusiastic vote. My Dad is a fiscal conservative who normally, therefore, votes Republican, but even he is going to vote for Hillary.

  60. I just wanted to say that you did a really great job in summing up some of the lessons from the RNC. I agree that it was scary just from the perspective of how badly it was run. I’m hopeful, though, that this morass of ineptitude will come across clearly and work against Trump and his voter base. Surely everyone else will see how ludicrous this is, right? Surely?

    Oh, and I agree that “cruel tiny spooooons!” is one of your greater moments.

  61. nicoleandmaggie: I wasn’t born yet, but have become convinced that Trump is Goldwater– his racism is the only thing that matters to people voting for him.

    I understand (and even agree with) your point about what matters to people voting and the elections, but please: let’s not equate Trump and Goldwater personally. If Trump had half of the honesty and integrity that Goldwater had, I think he’d be–well, a halfway decent candidate, for a Republican. Maybe. Quarterway? Because I don’t think I’d have voted for Goldwater in 1964, and he took some stands that were genuinely disturbing even in the world of 1964 (let alone 2016), but in my opinion he was also a genuinely hardworking, consistently conservative and relatively sane politician. If the choice next November were between Goldwater Reborn and Trump, I’d go Goldwater Reborn any day of the week . . . hell, if the choice were between Goldwater Still Dead and Trump, I think I’d still vote Goldwater!

  62. 1. I’m with BW – I was here in 1968, I remember 1968, and this ain’t 1968. Not even close…yet.

    2. E pretty much nailed it on the head, as far as I’m concerned. My wife has been waiting for him to say “I don’t need this sh!t” and walk away for months, and it still could happen, right up to Election Day, if he tanks in the polls.

    3. How are we supposed to take seriously his wall (sic) keeping all Mexicans out when he couldn’t keep the Code Pink protester not only out of the hall but on the floor twice, including during his speech?

  63. To MVS — Massachusetts’s governor (a Republican) not only won’t endorse Trump, he has stated for the record that he won’t vote for Trump, either. (Won’t cross party lines to vote for Hillary, but won’t vote for Trump). One source among many:

    Of course, the way we ended up with Baker – a Republican governor in a state where our elected government is overwhelmingly Democratic – is because his opponent was such a “meh” candidate (Martha Coakley, who also lost the election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat — to Scott Brown, a Republican). These recent Republican wins here pitted a “meh” Democrat against a Republican that was, well, charismatic and attracted a strong loyal following that turned out to vote. Trump’s convention, for all of its flaws, *did* engage his loyal following and cement their loyalty. Even if John McCain and the Bushes and the ghost of Ronald Reagan rose up and spoke against voting for Trump, I don’t think it would sway those folks.

  64. At the risk of digression, I must say how amusing it is that there are apparently no Scotsmen running as Democrats this year. If only there were! A’would be well, an’ a’would be well, an’ a’manner o’things would be well . . .

    As far as the Trumpenproletariat is concerned, they don’t care about Scotsmen. They care about “getting their own” back–even if it was never really theris to begin with. They will vote for him and they will vote in droves. And the Democrats busily tearing each other down in the name of ideological purity will not even notice until the Reichstag is in flames behind them. And then they will happily blame soeone else for their own lack of unity and cohesion.

    It was a pretty nice Republic for a while. Pity it should dribble so pathetically down the tubes like this.

  65. As a Cutlery-American, I’m deeply offended by the portrayal of our dimensionally challenged brethren as being cruel!

  66. let me just, for a moment, pause to admire the phrase “Ted Cruz, that oleaginous lump of hungering self-interest”. That said…

    when you said

    “One, Trump is where he is today precisely because the GOP has for decades worked on a principle of “demonize and obstruct” rather than working across the aisle to get things done, making it possible for someone with no recognizable Republican principles to bully his way to being the nominee; Two, no matter what happens with the 2016 election, the GOP is pretty much fucked. If Trump wins, there will be a dangerous occupant in the White House, one that has no guiding philosophy beyond his own narcissism and whose own personal inclinations lead him to admire autocrats, and if the GOP thinks they can manage that, I invite them to think on the primaries and the convention. The GOP doesn’t have managers in its ranks anymore; the last one, John Boehner, flipped Congress the bird and went home, and now there’s just hapless Paul Ryan, aka Hangdog Reardon, Ayn Rand’s saddest acolyte, minding the store. They’re not going to control Trump; they can’t even control themselves. They don’t see the value of it.

    And if Trump loses? Then you can rely on the GOP to do what it did in 2008 and 2012: To figure the problem was that they weren’t “conservative” enough — “conservative” in these cases means “even whiter and older and scareder.” I mean, shit. The reason Ted Cruz did his Wednesday Night Knifework on Trump was to set himself up for 2020 when Trump loses, and let’s just think about that, shall we. First, Cruz is such a howling vortex of personal regard that he sees someone else’s party as the perfect place to launch his next campaign; second, Cruz — smug, grasping Ted Cruz — actually is likely to be where the GOP goes next. That should genuinely terrify any GOPer who still has sense, or who wants have a Republican in the White House this side of 2024.”

    I think you’re bang on target, on pretty much everything. This is really the Gotterdammerung of the Republican party as America knew it. One way or another they’ve screwed the pooch and sooner or later they’ll even stop calling themselves “republicans” because, well, they ain’t no more. Anyone who is still bleating about the “party of Lincoln” is kind of being precious about it. I truly do believe that the GOP is pretty much on the verge of a Fukushima-scale meltdown, win or lose this election. And dear sweeet GOD, the prospect of Cruz coming back like a bad ghost four years from now. It’s just… stop the world, I want off, now…

    And then you say,

    “Trump is still not likely to win — after everything, he’s still trailing Clinton, even if that margin is as slim as its ever been, and in the next few days we’ll see what, if any, convention bounce he gets — and now it’s Clinton’s turn at bat, with her VP pick and the Democratic convention. But let’s not pretend he can’t win, or that he might not be correct that there are still more white people to scare into voting for him. ”

    …I don’t know about that. I think Hillary is a SERIOUSLY weak candidate to put up against Trump at this point, if for no other reason that the country is obviously SCREAMING against the way things currently are and she’s the dyed-in-the-woll establishment candidate whom they see only as perpetuating the “status quo” (seriously, I’m staritng to hate those words). If she chooses unwisely in terms of VP – i.e. another establishmentarianist who is only seen as doubling down on her intentions to keep shoring up Big Business as opposed to the Little People – her polls might reflect that in a frightenng manner. The fact of the matter is that she NEEDS teh Sanders voters in order to carry this and she is basically doing not all that much to court their vote. People who feel jilted and cheated and disenfranchised and essentially sick of being overlooked as fringey uniportant idiots – well, they might not vote for Trump but they definitely won’t vote for Hillary.. I saw a dispiriting poll just yesterday asking who are you going to vote for, Trump, CLinton, or “I don’t know”. Even when you add the Clinton and the “I don’t know” camp together, they still come up some ten percent – TEN PERCENT! – short of Trump’s figure. I’m afraid that his brand of bullshit might well win the day over Hillary’s less than stellar rightly or wrongly seen as selfishness – even if he doesn’t mean a word of it and won’t do anything at all once elected Trump’s appeal to the crowds seems to be succeeding and Hillary’s lukewarm policy statements, trying to appease both big donors and big business and give a few crumbs here and there to the hungry voters who wanted so much more from a progressive candidate, aren’t exactly cutting the mustard in the demographics she needs.

    I saw a map a while ago, an all-blue America, with a caption “the results of the election if women do not vote Trump”. But the problem is that all too many women will – inexpliably, against every ounce of their self interest, but they will, if the convention crowds are to be believed. And a Trump win is not entirely beyond the possibility of coming true. God help us all.

  67. I’ve never really been frightened at the prospect of someone becoming president, but Trump is scary. Our country would suffer greatly with this man in office. It may be unlikely that he’ll win, but we certainly shouldn’t take it for granted. All it takes is for Clinton to lose 1 or 2 key battleground states and Trump has a path to victory. Vote, vote, vote!

  68. I couldn’t disagree more about the Ted Cruz thing. It was like masterpiece theater. The crowd BOOED HIM OFF THE STAGE. That’s how much they love The Donald. Heroes need villains, and Ted Cruz was the perfect villain. Trump then played the moment perfectly. It was like the whole thing was planned. At the end of the news cycle, we have Ted Cruz, the bitter loser, and Donald Trump, the clearly much-beloved winner.

  69. My problem with Mr. Trump is frankly he has never not been “The Guy In Charge”. Since age 23, he has been President/CEO of whatever company/entity we’re talking about. He has never been an “I report to someone” (not counting his father) Executive. He has never had to rise through the ranks. And it shows.

  70. Susan wrote, “These recent Republican wins here pitted a “meh” Democrat against a Republican that was, well, charismatic and attracted a strong loyal following that turned out to vote.” Yeah, and the Republican outspent the “meh” Democrat ten-to-one, and came up with a 48.40% to 46.54% victory.

    The Democrats have a, um, closer to equivalent campaign chest this time.

  71. We’ll have to agree to disagree, I’m sure, but here’s the thing:

    They called Reagan dangerous – they said he was poking the nuclear bear by calling the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire” and he would single-handedly start World War III. They called Bush dangerous – they said his “Axis of Evil” comment would provoke North Korea, Iran and Iraq into nuclear attacks and the like. They called Obama dangerous – they said he was nationalizing the finance, healthcare & auto industries, moving the country toward socialism, and stripping us of our individual liberties. Agree or disagree with any or all of these guys, the country is still standing (and prospering). Our checks & balances system routes around crazy. The President can’t unilaterally abolish NATO and (to Trump’s point), NATO will respond with changes at the mere mention of the United States pulling away, well in advance of President Trump convincing people to do so. Very few geopolitical topics are binary or simple.

    But more to the point, it amazes me that this seems perfectly sane to you:

    If you’re not scared of Trump being in the White House, may I humbly suggest you’re not paying attention.

    But this is crazy:

    Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.

    Both are fear-mongering, designed to drive the listener toward the political views of the speaker. Both are rooted in some very basic facts, and easily rendered moot by a mountain of mitigating circumstances which paint a more nuanced picture.

    It sound be enough that he’s wrong. It should be enough that he’s a racist, a bigot, and a liar. You shouldn’t feel the need to convince me that my family, my neighbors or my country will suffer physical harm if Donald Trump is allowed to lead the United States. No more so than Donald Trump should feel the need to convince me that my family, neighbors and country will suffer physical harm if immigrants are allowed to enter the United States.

    Equivalent? I know you disagree, but yes – I think so…

  72. Steve MC: The “someone” who brought up the approach that Trump’s cabinet could restrain him was none other than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    Because, yeah, Trump is widely known for selecting underlings who challenge his authority.

  73. @Susan “These recent Republican wins here pitted a “meh” Democrat against a Republican that was, well, charismatic…”

    I take exception to the word charismatic as applied to Charlie Baker Being more charismatic than Martha Coakley is like saying a live person is more charismatic than a corpse! Martha Coakely was The Worst Candidate in the History of the World!!

  74. Brian Greenberg, I take it you don’t consider Trump a demagogue? Perhaps that’s where the disagreement may come in. Putting a demagogue in office is always scary, IMO. I was no fan of Reagan, before, during, or after his presidency. I never considered him a demagogue, though. I was apprehensive, and it turned out I had good reason to be, but I didn’t think he had the instincts or sucking need for power of a demagogue. I’m not sure whether any of the people who considered Obama dangerous thought he was a demagogue. I don’t recall hearing that they did. To me, it’s clear that Trump is indeed a demagogue. If he can get enough votes to become president, it’s not just that he’s scary but the fact that enough people were willing to vote for him would also be scary. But if you think he’s a racist, a bigot, and a liar but not a demagogue, I can see where you might be coming from.

  75. Pfusand:

    Source, please, for that 10-to-1? I can find nothing to support it. For the Senate race, both sides spent about the same: . Governor’s race, the Republicans outspent the Democrats, but not by 10-to-1.

    I don’t think a Trump campaign will lack for money. Can he use it to gain new supporters, is perhaps a better question. The convention seems to have solidified his loyal followers against anything – even if the Democrats had unlimited money to bombard that group with anti-Trump messages.

  76. Thanks for a new word! (oleaginous)

    And everyone, everywhere: Vote down ticket! Vote the whole ballot! It’s not *just* about who is in the White House, but also who is in the House, and the Senate, and the Governors’ mansions and the state Houses and Senates and city councils and even school boards.
    We’ve got to work on the whole system, not just the bit at the top.

  77. “So apparently a vote against Trump is a vote for Clinton, and a vote against Clinton is a vote for Trump. If I vote against both, am I voting for both?”

    In US presidential elections, about 100 million people vote. That means your vote affects .00000001 of the outcome. If you vote third party, your vote affects 0.0 of the outcome. A third party vote also helps the main candidate you like *least* win by 0.00000001, because you dont vote for whichever main candidate is closest to your views, since your vote is discarded.

    So, normally, a voter has 1e-8 affect of the outcome if they vote for the main candidate. But voting third party actually has 1e-8 IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. It actually harms you. I.e. -1e-8.

    So, the main thing to know about third party voters is that they are lousy at math, and then they come up with magical thinking excuses to try and handwave away their bad math.

  78. It now appears that the ‘Melissa McIver’ person who emerged into public view to take the fall for the plagiarism gaffe almost certainly doesn’t exist.

    Just when you think the story cannot get more twisted, it does. The sock-puppetocracy awaits!

  79. “That should genuinely terrify any GOPer who still has sense, or who wants have a Republican in the White House this side of 2024.”

    In 2024, Gavin Newsom will very likely be halfway through his second term as Governor of California. His hat will definitely be in the ring, and in terms of institutions and political career, he’ll be a formidable candidate. And the demographics of the Republican coalition will be even less favorable in another eight years.

  80. I think the Democrats’ biggest problem is that they can write articles this long about Trump voters without once mentioning jobs, trade, globalization, or economic inequality. I say that as a Democrat. We better wise up or prepare to live in Trump’s America.

  81. OGH may have been channeling Ambrose Bierce’s “Devil’s Dictionary” on “oleaginous” —

    OLEAGINOUS, adj. Oily, smooth, sleek.
    Disraeli once described the manner of Bishop Wilberforce as “unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous.” And the good prelate was ever afterward known as Soapy Sam. For every man there is something in the vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it.

  82. “When a man who says that our defense of NATO allies should be contingent on how paid up they are in their dues, as just one example, is in serious contention for the highest office in the land, the problem with the phrase ‘consign the world to flames’ is not that it’s hyperbole, but that it is, scarily, not nearly as hyperbolic as it should be.”

    Not least because just two years ago, Russia occupied and annexed part of a neighbor whose security it had supposedly guaranteed, sponsors an ongoing war in that neighbor’s eastern provinces, and is so careless about its proxies that they shot down a Dutch airliner on its way to Malaysia.

  83. On a local mailing list, a cineaste offered a nice genre analogy (to a Locus-nominated 1980 novel): ‘Of course, the particulars are not the same, but, whenever I think of Trump, I can’t help thinkiing about Greg Stillson. Fans of early Steven King know what I’m referring to.’

    You know, it sort of works. Vote Stillson in 2016! Why settle for the lesser Armageddon?

  84. John:

    1. I share your opinion on Ted Cruz. However, I have to admire how he got up in front of a bunch of raving Trump maniacs and stuck his finger in their eyes. Magnificent political theatre. We will have to check back in about a year to see just how it played out with his political career.

    2. I really don’t like HRC. Haven’t since her Clinton administration performance spearheading his healthcare reform program. Left me with the impression of “Trust us, we know what is best for you. We will lead the village council in deciding what you need.” However, I will be casting a vote for her in the fall because I can’t think of anything worse than a Trump Presidency.

    3. I am really proud of Gov. Kasich’s refusal to be part of the Trump coronation. He has done in on a basis of personal integrity (as opposed to Ted Cruz’s self-centered performance). I had some doubts about Kasich when he became Governor, but I have grown to respect him as a pragmatic Governor and not the ideolog that I thought he would be.

    4. The real prize is the Supreme Court. There is 1 vacancy now. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83. Anthony Kennedy is 79. Stephen Breyer is 77. Whoever gets elected President has the possibility of nominating 4 Justices over the next 4 years, possibly (no, probably) changing the makeup of the Court for decades. This is something anyone thinking of sitting out the Presidential election or casting a ‘protest’ vote for a minor candidate who stands no chance of willing should keep in mind.

    5. I am very pleasantly surprised at how peaceful the crowds outside the convention (as opposed to those inside the convention) were. It was almost a love fest between the police and the demonstrators. Amid predictions of hundreds of arrests each day there were a mere handful, mostly for ‘failure to disburse’ (practically a parking ticket). Congratulations to the demonstrators and the police for keeping everything under control.


  85. I worked out east as in-house counsel in the real estate biz for about 15 years in the late 80s through Y2K. I never met Trump, thank God, but I met a few like him, since that world was infested with moguls with more money than honesty, charm or humanity. A bunch of different periodicals, ranging the political spectrum from the National Review and the Wall Street Journal, through the New York Times and USA Today, all the way to Mother Jones, all ran stories within the last 4 to 6 months about Trump’s dealings in the business world which provoked bad flashbacks for me. If you think of Trump as honest, or a plain speaker, or a good businessman, or even marginally trustworthy, you should read the articles. Just Google the words ‘Trump,’ ‘business,’ ‘suppliers,’ and ‘settle’ and read anything on the first results page. Even better, read them all.

    I dealt with guys just like him. You cut a deal, you sign the contract, then a year later they stiff you on your work. Then when you even start to make threatening noises, they 1) call you up and scream at you over the phone, 2) threaten to sue you, and finally 3) scream some more. If at that point you haven’t yet been paid, and you’re still asking for the contract price, they actually do sue you on some bogus claim, and then try to settle with you for 25 cents on the dollar, knowing all they while that they can bury you with lawyers, and any judge to hear the case will always prefer a settlement to going to trial, since that means they’ve got one less case on their docket. You end up walking away with less money that you were originally promised, because it’s easier than going to court and answering years of interrogatories.

    Trump stiffed small businesses and contractors, managed to short bondholders in his casinos and licensed his name to educational fraudsters. Hell, almost none of the big banks will deal with him anymore because they know he can’t be trusted, which says an awful lot, since those folks will help out international drug dealers. Leaving aside anything he’s said about immigrants, or women, or Black Lives Matter, he’s a perfect example of the type of lying scumbag in a thousand dollar suit who can’t be trusted as far as you can throw Pluto. I am not a fan of Ms. Clinton, but Trump makes her look like Mahatma Gandhi in comparison.

    I’ll stop ranting now.

  86. @Kelly: Hee! I would watch that.

    Also, in re: the “I’m not interested, I didn’t finish reading,” guy, it occurs to me that there’s only one situation in which you really need to or should tell someone you didn’t finish–and based on what we know of our host, that guy is unlikely to be in said situation with him any time in the future.

  87. “(But I’m in a safely blue state! Can’t I vote for the Greens/Peace and Freedom Party/Wavy Gravy/etc? Ugh, fine, but only after you’ve extracted a promise from at least three swing state pals that they’ll vote for Clinton. It’s important, y’all.)”

    I fear there are no safely blue states this year. Even California elected Republican Schwarzenegger governor.

    Freak show novelty has its own perverse appeal, and it’s powerful.

  88. Rick Moen: “It now appears that the ‘Melissa McIver’ person who emerged into public view to take the fall for the plagiarism gaffe almost certainly doesn’t exist.”

    No, she does exist. There are photos.

  89. I’m affirmatively excited to vote for Hillary, and I would be even if Trump were not the GOP nominee. The fact that someone as qualified and thoughtful as she is even wants to do this job, knowing better than anyone what sort of shitstorm is waiting for her on the other side as she steps up to work with people who have tried to find something to pin on her for a quarter-century and who have now publicly called for her violent death … well, if people can’t find something admirable in that then I don’t know what to tell them.

    And I’m sorry that people who found meaning in the fact that in 2008 we finally elected our first non-white president find nothing to celebrate in electing our first female one. Feminism is always both simultaneously considered radical and passé at the same time. We could have had a Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May-type for the first woman president (and historically that’s what I was expecting), but we’re not getting that. We’re getting an actual center-left president. But liberals seem to find it hard to take “yes” for an answer, and I say that as someone who’s been lefty my whole life.

  90. @Solar System Wolf
    Me too!

    And I’m looking forward to next week so much, especially as the stark contrast to this week.

    Love Trumps Hate. I have to believe that.

    I hope that after this week, even the mainstream media will have to admit that there’s no need for false equivalences and there really are lots and lots of people excited about HRC. So they’ll stop the lame narratives that everyone is holding his (not her) (white) nose to vote for her. I hope the contrast in conventions makes that obvious.

    … I also hope nobody gets shot…

  91. @Jon H wrote:

    No, she does exist. There are photos.

    It appears yes, e.g., her high school photo got found.

    MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid originally raised the question, perhaps puckishly, perhaps not.

    Still, it was a natural speculation, given the precedent of ‘John Miller’ and ‘John Barron’, which made even McIver’s credits on a couple of past Trump books worthy of doubt.

  92. It doesn’t look as if anyone has yet mentioned the 1991 gubernatorial election in Louisiana, where the ethically-challenged Edwin Edwards ran against former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. There was a widely-seen bumper sticker: VOTE FOR THE CROOK: IT’S IMPORTANT.

    I recommend that concept to the Hillary-dubious.

  93. Solar System Wolf: “We could have had a Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May-type for the first woman president (and historically that’s what I was expecting), but we’re not getting that. We’re getting an actual center-left president. ”

    Here is Thatcher:

    Here is hillary

    Hilary is practically directly overlaying margaret thatcher. Clearly she’s nowhere near left of center. The fact that Hilary never met a military intervention she didnt like pushes her quite a ways to the right.

    She’s relatively better than Trump, but she’s not a progressive, not by a long shot. My guess is a Hilary presidency will advance women’s rights while engaging in multiple military follies across the globe. A trump presidency will regress womens, blacks, gays, and every other minority right while engaging in dozens of military follies across the globe.

    And for those going on about how the president is limited to the damage he can do by the checks and balances in place: seriously? This aint the government described in the old School House Rock cartoons. The amount of power centralized in the presidency is more now than it has ever been. Bush’s folly gave us nationwide warrantless spying on Americans without warrant, war crimes in the form of torture that produced the false intel needed to justify an invasion of Iraq that had no connection to 9/11 and no active wmd program. That clusterfuck alone cost us thousands of american lives, killed hundredss of thousands of Iraqis, will cost the US a couple trillion dollars in the long run, and birthed the seeds of ISIS, a terror organization that we will likely have to deal with for the next couple decades. Sure, it wasnt nuclear armegeddon, but it was about as messed up as one could get without mushroom clouds.

  94. It’s called blizzard of lies tactics.

    Catch Trump in one lie and he’s already five lies ahead. Did that start with Trump? No. (And don’t tell me “they all do it” to the same extent) That’s how you create your own reality, it’s called the RAY-publican Party of my lifetime and I’m almost as old as Trump and I manage to go w/o clementine hair and spray on tan.

    The Romulan used blizzard of lies in 2011. His first official campaign TV ad had Obama saying “if we talk about the economy we lose.” Of course the clip was Obama quoting John McCain and the economy of 2008.

    Putin uses blizzard of lies when his troll farms use Twitter and YT to spread lies about explosions in the US South and US Ebola outbreaks in 2014 that were false(NYT). He especially uses it when turning out thousands of NWO Illuminutty mind control video with actors faking psychosis. (Can I prove that? No, close to impossible)

    The first two above events were in the run up to the Nov 2014 Congressional elections. Guess who swept? It wasn’t b/ c of Putin but he did his part. He’s got plenty of time between now and Nov 2016 to cause real or fake havoc and disruption either in the US or ME.

  95. @Brian Greenburg:
    There’s a qualitative difference between using “Immigrants are coming to kill you! Muslims are coming to kill you! Clinton is trying to repeal the 2nd amendment!” to scare people, and using “Donald Trump just said that the NATO treaty is not worth the paper it is written on, esentially inviting Putin to march into the Baltic states despite the NATO pledge; you should be scared of that.” One is scaremongering rhetoric. The other is rational fear based on facts.

  96. Thought I would hate, “The Purge, Election Year” movie. Way above average. Spoiler alert: The bad guy mole in the female Senators security team looked like a Cory Lewandowsky replicant. He was the Trump security staffer who was recently fired by Trump and hired by CNN.

    Well hey, it’s just a movie right? The fictional mole just happened to be on the Senators security team, who just happened to be a female running for President. Lewandowsky just happened to be handling security for Trump and they just happened to look like twins. As if Trumpet conspiracy politics wasn’t strange enough…

  97. I watched all of Trump’s speech and parts of the convention, and I’m less worried about him getting elected. (However, this does not mean I will be careless with my vote.)

    First of all, Melania Trump’s speech appears to be a canary in the coal mine indicating a disorganized campaign. If the voter turn out efforts are equally disorganized, then Trump’s election results will be lower than his early November poll numbers. Voter turn out will again be a major determining factor in the presidential campaign.

    Ted Cruz’s speech negated Mike Pence’s excellent speech. I don’t agree with Pence’s positions (but then again, neither does Trump), but he gave a solid speech that should have dominated Thursday morning’s news.Ted effectively wiped out the most authentically conservative message of the convention.

    Trump is working really hard to get votes from the Sander’s supporters. I think he spent more time in his speech courting Sander’s voters than courting Christian voters. However, the Sander’s supporters he will gain will be much smaller than the conservative voters he will alienate.

    Speaking of alienating the Republican base, it’s clear that Trump considers Christians as a voting block to be placated, and not people he has any affinity for. During he speech, he thanked “evangelicals and religious” and didn’t say the word “Christian”. He did say he wanted to allow pastors to openly discuss politics from the pulpit, but that was after an hour of him screaming and I think most people were in bed.

    Finally, I have no idea how Trump would deliver on his promises with out increasing government spending. Restoring law and order and wiping out ISIS sounds expensive. Someone has to put a price tag on his proposals, vague as they are, at some point.

    The Republican National Convention was a gift to the Clinton campaign. I fully expect the Clinton people to exploit it to the fullest.

  98. Very pretty grid but without any information on what data is used it’s meaningless. You can put dots anywhere and say “See! So-and-so is a fascist”

  99. This has been the most fun politically I have had in my lifetime. Listening to that speech is stunning when you realize that republicans are stupid enough to believe it. I can’t wait for the debates, Hillary to take drumpf apart like a cheap transmission. This is the end of the repukes, thank you mr. drumpf.

  100. Why would Trump allow Cruz to speak, if he knew what Cruz would say? Here’s my take:

    Trump knew the Cruz’ “Vote your conscience” would inflame the RNC audience. Reportedly, Trump’s response to that foreknowledge was to seed the audience with hate-fluffers to fan the fires of outrage to even higher levels than they would have been without the fluffers.

    How hot did the outrage get? Hot enough that Heidi Cruz had to be escorted off the convention floor for her own safety.

    And that, I suggest, was Trump’s actual end goal. What his response did was to tell Ted Cruz, “If you oppose me, I will place your family in peril.”

    That’s not political hardball, that’s mobsterism in action.

    (Full disclosure: This comment written under the influence of post-surgical pain meds.)

  101. Harold: “Very pretty grid but without any information on what data is used it’s meaningless.”

    when Solar asserted that Clinton is an honest to goodness center-left candidate, you didnt dismiss THAT as meaningless because it had no data.

    Clinton is better than Trump, relatively speaking. But she likes military interventions far too much to be center-left.

  102. Trump let Cruz have his say to prove to the GOP (and followers) that nothing that any other Republican says or does matters. He gave his internal opposition the best of all possible opportunities to say their say and then simply walked out of the hall, shedding every last bit of it. He pulled their teeth completely.
    He also signaled to any and all Cruz supporters that they’ll get the same cold shoulder when he’s got the reins (reigns, lol), so they best shut up now and during the campaign.

    Additionally: yes, GOP power brokers all seem to think that they’ll somehow be able to manage control of Trump once in office – despite the fact that Trump has been proving as much, if not more, to them and the rest of the country that he doesn’t “need” anyone – except possible as scapegoats and foils. In Trump’s calculus, you are ‘lucky’ to be considered a stepping stone, because it means you’ll get a little attention for a little while.But then you become as useful and desirable as used toilet paper.

  103. John, you didn’t leap on the “Red State” idea, perhaps because it wasn’t sufficiently sfnal. How about a different novel, in which the Republican party falls into a singularity created by their own density? From the outside, Democratic observers would see it as the right-wing rapture, and they’d be “left behind”. The title? “Red Shifts” *GDRLH*

  104. “He’s speaking to those who are discontented with their lot and they will vote for him in droves, enthusiastically.”
    Well, no. Pissed-off white people are voting enthusiastically but he’s not drawing anywhere near the same support from non-white people.
    A lot of people are discontented. Not all of them see Trump as the answer, thank goodness.
    “Our checks & balances system routes around crazy. ”
    Not so much. Prior to the Bush II years I’d have laughed at anyone who said the president could order the mass incarceration of people with no trial, no habeas corpus, nothing but his say so. The system can stretch a long way to accommodate crazy.

  105. Having just watched “Dogma” last night (great movie!), I’m tempted to propose “Redshits”, in which the movie’s fecal demon is summoned by current political events, but it seemed tasteless. But apparently, that wouldn’t stop me. *G*

    Hmmm… “Tedshirts”, in which Ted Cruz is the fecal demon? “Bedshirts”, a kiss’n’tell about Trump’s sordid sexual history? “TEDshirts”, an AU tale in which Trump is invited to give a TED talk? *GDR*

  106. It was a shit-show, that’s for sure. As much as Ted Cruz is a bloated cyst of sapient pus, he’s probably done the world a service here by making Trump look like more of a moron. Trump’s convention bump isn’t quite to three points, either, and he desperately needed that bump. If Clinton pulls off the convention properly (bring Bernie in to endorse her, have him say something like “we are in a race for the future of democracy in this nation, Trump is a fascist pig, do not let him win”, maybe?), which I think she can, Trump is screwed.

    I just hope he alienates more of the world and people realize what an idiot he actually is, because otherwise the entire planet is in serious trouble.

  107. @Chris Sears:
    “Finally, I have no idea how Trump would deliver on his promises with out increasing government spending. Restoring law and order and wiping out ISIS sounds expensive. Someone has to put a price tag on his proposals, vague as they are, at some point.”

    At the very least, I know that John Oliver put an estimated price tag on the wall.

  108. Greg, the problem with those sort of graphs, and the placing of people on it, is that it assumes a sort of political orthodoxy. If you believe one of these, you believe all of them and go here. Or you have a different set of beliefs and go here. Or you have a third different set and go here.

    No, Hillary is not a peace candidate. But in just about every other way, she’s center left (on many issues fairly far from center). If you broke it down with multiple graphs for different areas of belief, Hillary would be right of center on foreign affairs (though even there, she’s pro-refugee which should fall under foreign affairs). But in, say, civil rights, she’s definitely left of center. Worker’s rights, the same – not as far left as Bernie or Ms. Warren, but left of center.

  109. The demographics of the US are thankfully tilted against Trump. In this day and age. it’s an uphill battle trying to win a presidential election with only angry white male voters– and I doubt he’s up to the challenge.

  110. I agree with davevan on the Cruz speech – from the bits of it I heard on the radio, it sounded like he walked on, twirled his mustache like Snidely Whiplash, and said “Yes, I’m the bad guy, bwahahah”, and gave the crowd somebody local to boo at so Trump could be WINNING (especially useful after the caught-plagiarizing thing.) It was good theater, and it was also about the only way Cruz could contribute to the campaign; everybody actually in the GOP Establishment hates him about as much as they hate Trump, and he mainly came in second because he Wouldn’t Go Away.

  111. I’m pretty much the poster arguer for “Solid Blue State, vote your conscience if it’s for Libertarians/Greens/P&F/WavyGravy*” – I’m in California, where the right-wing haters in the GOP have alienated the Latinos and the immigrants who’ve made so much of Silicon Valley and LA.
    (And except possibly for one uncle, I don’t know anyone who’s not appalled by Trump, even long-time Republicans like my mom, who also voted against the Bushes, and most of them will be voting for Hillary, including the ones who voted for Bernie. My brother will probably vote LP in a reddish state.) We’ve also got the annoying “Top-Two Primary” system, which means I mostly voted for third-parties in the primary, and I’ll vote for Democrats in the general.

    Yes, California threw out a Democratic governor a few years ago and replaced him with Arnold, but that was a seriously special case. California’s Republicans, for the most part, are either angry law&order types who’ve been building the prison industry for decades and filling them with minorities, or else they’re business types who’ve been a distinct minority in their relatively incompetent party. I wish there were a way to improve them, but I’m not going to vote for any actual Republicans to make that happen, because the national Republican party is so corrupt that I’m not willing to hand it any more Congressmembers.

    *If we’re going to put a clown in the White House, let’s have a good clown, not a creepy one!

  112. From the other side of the pond, I watch the US coverage, and the FB feeds, and I have to say I’m feeling very wary about the possibility of Trump winning. I’d like to think “there aren’t that many stupid, racist bigots” but then we thought that about Brexit too. The trick seems to be that there don’t need to be that many, if they can persuade/scare enough of the simply gullible into siding with them…

  113. Our checks & balances system routes around crazy.

    This is wishful thinking.

    It also assumes that “crazy” will always choose to work within the system of checks and balances, which we know from history to be incorrect. When Andrew Jackson chose to disregard the Supreme Court, the Court had zero power to actually do anything about it.

    A malicious, incompetent president can do an enormous amount of damage, from appointing judges throughout the Federal judiciary to setting enforcement policy for agencies (have we all really forgotten decades of toothless NLRB non-enforcement of labor laws?), without even getting into disastrous foreign policy.

    Honestly, people trying to put themselves into a lofty Above It All intellectual perch by tut-tutting concerns about Trump remind me of the iconic character in horror movies – the one who dismisses the protagonists’ silly, overwrought concerns about weird noises in the basement or mysteriously shredded corpses, and then is surprised as all get-out when the monster jumps out and eats hi,.

  114. Just a couple thoughts

    1, If I were the Donald I don’t think I’d wave my hands around so much when I talked.

    2, From what I can tell and have read about 500,000 more Romney voters will have died since the last election than Obama voters. I always find this a comforting thought.

  115. I’m not sure this RNC was any worse than the last convention, or the one before that. I’m remembering how I felt watching those, and they invoked the same sick-to-my-stomach feeling.

    I’m pretty sure Trump himself is worse than either Romney or McCain (and even worse than Palin), but Republican Conventions have been this way for a while. Probably Democratic Conventions, also, in their way.

    I’m not sure politics in general are worse now than they were in the past. Every four years I hear how much worse it is than it used to be, but if it kept getting worse every time, for two centuries, we’d be living in a very different country than we are.

    I think what happens is that politics changes from a functional disfunction that we’ve become inoculated against to a not-yet-functional disfunction that’s strange and new. I found an old letter written by my father that talked about the (then living) President Kennedy in very unflattering ways. Thirty years later he wrote about President Clinton very similarly. If he’d lived to see Obama, he would have probably have had a likewise reaction. And none of it seems particularly worse than what I’ve read in biographies of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and the rest of the “founding fathers”.

    Politics is just ugly, and always has been.

  116. Solar : “Her voting record in the Senate says otherwise. ”

    You mean the time she voted for the Iraq war?

    gadgetdon: “Hillary is not a peace candidate. But in just about every other way, she’s center left ”

    Ok, but the question is how does one average that all out into a single score. I figure add each vote up, but multiply the war votes by the thousands of americans killed, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, trillions of dollars wasted, and throw in a fudge factor for creating ISIS. Then divide by total number of categories, which puts her right of center.

    Which is fine, because she’s still left of Trump, so the math requires that I vote for her. You dont have to convince me to vote for hilary over donald. That ship has already sunk. But the idea that Hilary is left of center? Absolutely not.

    I have said for years that Obama one of the best just-right-of-center presidents we’ve had in a while. Hilary is clearly right of Obama.

    If we normalize for American politics, obama is probably left and hillary is slightly left. But America’s numbers are just so out of whack that it doesnt line up with anywhere else on the planet. We have a military bigger than the next 10 countries combined. It completely screws up the numbers. Its like trying to graph whether you drink too much compared to everyone around you, but everyone around you is an alcoholic. And Hilary cant lay off the sauce.

  117. Interesting article from the Washington Post about Trump that’s worth sharing with friends, fence-sitters, and enemies:

    I tend to think that the U.S. political system is pretty good at routing around crazy. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty good at routing around sane and thoughtful, witness the last 8 years. It would take a pretty large Republican minority to let Trump run the U.S. the way he’s runs his private companies (i.e., ruinously and tyranically). But I’ve read enough history not to rule it out entirely.

  118. @CosmoTiger:

    The demographics of the US are thankfully tilted against Trump.

    It’s perilous to assume this is enough.

    Seems to me, absolutely everything will hinge on turnout (absent vote-suppression on an industrial scale). It’s not going to be enough to ‘get out the vote’; it’s going to be crucial to help as many citizens as possible verify their voting registration (well in advance of state deadlines), and preferably get them set up for vote by mail, make sure they receive ballots, and make sure those get back to the county election departments.

    Among other things, that makes vote-suppression more difficult. Imagine the improvement in Maricopa County, AZ if massive early voting had been used.

    Almost any state may end up being a swing state, this time. Even when the polls start becoming meaningful in mid-August, I doubt those will properly account for unusual turnout patterns.

  119. I have a question for you, John. I shared your post on Facebook and I had one person comment who flat refused to read it because he was so completely offended by your use of the word ‘Sandernistas’ in the quote that I included on my post.

    Now, when I read that word it made me think of extreme fanboys and fangirls, similar to Whedonistas. But the aforementioned commenter said that you were equating Sanders supporters with ‘Sandinistas’, from the 1980s Nicaraguan guerrilla situation. Essentially, he accused you of calling him a communist.

    So I’m wondering… were you going for either of these similar meanings or did you just make up a word? I was kind of hoping to know before I smack him down. :)

  120. @Mysteron

    Thanks to you, now every time I see that specific commenter’s name in one of these Whatever threads, I’m going to have the Scotsman song stuck in my head. “Lad I don’t know where ya been…”

  121. @paigevest: As a Sanders voters who thought the ‘Sandernista’ coinage quite funny, I find your friend’s persecution dance unimpressive.

    On the “swing state” matter I referenced above, dear commentariat members, visit that link to see for yourselves how huge a difference turnout anomalies could make in November. E.g., crank the turnout rate for the ‘non-college-educated white’ population up from 57% to 85% and Republican share up from (merely) 62% to 65% — and observe what happens: That’s an obvious Drumpf path to clearing 270 Electoral College votes, right there. (It would be even more interesting if the model included male/female breakdown, but it doesn’t.)

  122. I so agree with your comments. I still find it hard to believe people take Trump seriously as a possible President. He plays on fear and there is no substance there. His speech was frightening, a bit hysterical, and made me wonder if this was how it began with dictators in other countries. I just don’t think he is competent enough to actually pull this off. But, like many, I didn’t think he would get the nomination. The GOP appears to be imploding, but I think it will take another 8-12 years for a really different, perhaps more moderate, party to emerge and leave the old GOP to the far, far right.

    One more thought about the convention: It is appalling and sickening that Trump continues to use music from artists that have objected to their creation being used for Trump’s purposes/campaign. It is another example of Trump’s narcissism that he doesn’t know or doesn’t care that these artists are opposed to his campaign.

    The other comments about voting, even in a “safe” state, are right. It is still very important to vote the entire ticket. After the last census there was an especially appalling gerrymandering of congressional districts heavily in favor of GOP candidates. I suspect it still holds true but people move; people die; people change their minds. A suddenly close election in a previously safe district is a wake up call if nothing else.

  123. Paigevest:

    “Sandernista” is obviously a play on the word form of “Sandinista,” although like other iterations of “-ista” in use (eg, “Fashionista”) it’s less about the specific ideology of the Sandinistas and more about communicating the fervency of the followership.

    Incidentally, the Sandinistas themselves would probably argue they are Democratic Socialists rather than straight-up communists; of course, for many years Sanders marketed himself with the “democratic socialist” label himself, albeit a strain I suspect rather less strident than that of the Sandinistas. But, yeah, if your friend is upset because he felt there was an implicit comparison between two variants of Democratic Socialism, well. I don’t know what to say to him except: Fine, be offended, whatever.

  124. Paigevest: “equating Sanders supporters with ‘Sandinistas’, from the 1980s Nicaraguan guerrilla situation. Essentially, he accused you of calling him a communist.”

    So, the Sandanistas overthrew a dictatorship that had been in power for decades (Somoza family). They named themselves after one of the people who fought against the American interventionism from the early 1900’s banana wars. Once they took power they “instituted a policy of mass literacy, devoted significant resources to health care, and promoted gender equality” (wikipedia).

    So, from that angle, “sandernister” is fairly accurate.

    I assume the name is meant as a perjorative, though, and I’m not sure what specifically inspired that. They brought an end to a literal tyranny that had lasted decades. During that time, the Somoza family dictatorship had accumlated one-fifth of the country’s farmland. The sandanistas redistributed that land to the poor. Which was probably one of the things that triggered Saint Ronnie, Commie Killer, to arm and support a murder mob known as the Contras. Because supporting a group that became notorious for death squads, kidnapping, torturing, and executing civilians, is better than letting anything with a whiff of communism survive. Initial elections by the sandaistas had help and monitoring from europe and they saw no ballot stuffing going on. The sandanista party won by a landslide in the first election. They are now one of the two main parties in the country. I think by most accounts, anyone who isnt a laissez fair commie hating crack head would say that the sandanistas, overall, were a legitimate party that was legitimately making the country a better place for all its people. Not perfect, but far better than the somoza family dictatorship they overthrew, and eons better than the murder mob contras that the CIA hired and armed to try to take them down.

    So, yeah, actually, I’m not sure how being associated with sandanistas is really a negative unless it is trying to plug into the fear instilled by Saint Ronnie, Commie Killer, that anything with the slightest hint of collectivism is pure evil needing murder mobs to kill it. But this is america, and that might be enough….

  125. Thanks for the response(s), John (& Greg)!

    I pretty much told the guy, he’s a friend of a friend, that he was being overly defensive and that his accusation was a bit of a stretch. And yes, the fact that you were communicating the fervency of the followership is exactly what I tried to explain to him. He never responded, which didn’t bother me a bit, of course. But I found it ridiculous that he was so offended by that one passage that he refused to read the entire post, which I thought was pretty fantastic.

    I’m just so put off by that attitude because this election is at the point where it feels very much ‘us vs them’… where ‘us’ is every moderately reasonable person in this country, and ‘them’ is every ignorant, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, etc, person in this country. I’m getting really, really worried that ‘them’ will outnumber ‘us’ and that people I thought/assumed were completely reasonable are going to help hand the White House to this maniac.

  126. Greg said: “I have said for years that Obama one of the best just-right-of-center presidents we’ve had in a while. Hilary is clearly right of Obama.”

    That’s how I see it as well. I was an Obama delegate because I felt Hillary was more conservative than Barrack. I am proud to be a Hillary delegate this time although she is not as liberal as I would like. Sometimes you don’t get what you want but you get what you need.

    We really have one party that is center right and one part that is crazy. We don’t have a liberal party.

  127. “Goldwater”? Oh My! Perhaps those whom have made reference to Trump & Goldwater should look back into the past…Circa Goldwater Campaign. You may be surprised to see Mrs. Clinton nee Rodham Spouting the following words proudly: “I’m a Goldwater Girl!” Yikes. All these rants of praise for that woman, to each his/her own…but good grief, do some fact checking first!

  128. @ziggy
    What Clinton did back in 1964 when she was a teenager is about as relevant as the Republicans being the party of Lincoln. Maybe what happened in the last 50 years (including these two conventions) is just a little bit more important to voting in November.

  129. Paigevest, as someone who contributed a chunk of money to Sanders and voted for him in the primary, tell your friend he can either vote for Hillary or help trump win. Helping a third party is what the primaries are for. Think of it as a kind of multi-stage version of an “instant runoff” ballot. But instead of voting once and ranking all the candidates, you vote twice (primary and general) and only get to vote for a single candidate each time.

    This primary cycle probably did the most to signal that a lot of voters want a true progressive president, and it may have pulled Hillary to the left a bit. But in the general election, a vote for anyone other than Hillary will help Trump win.

    iamzenu: “Sometimes you don’t get what you want but you get what you need.”

    Joseph de Maistre said “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” Even the best democratic system of voting is only as good as the average person in the population. And it seems like the mean average american voter is split between an insane, incompetent, fascist that is Trump, and a socially progressive but international militant that is Hilary. And then I think of commissioner Gordon, and tell people I’m voting for Hilary because she’s the president America deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Its not exactly a compliment, but it does seem accurate.

    Maybe, someday America’s population will shift enough that America will deserve a true progressive president.

  130. @ Solar System Wolf

    Feminism is always both simultaneously considered radical and passé at the same time.

    Nice way of putting that, and very true: all standard and modest feminist goals yet to be fulfilled (closing wage gaps, for example) are maligned as unrealistic and extreme while all ambitions realized are dismissed as uninteresting and unimportant. “Why are you asking for your rightful half when we already gave you, after years of dragging our feet, nearly one-third? How tiresome, boring, and spoiled you are. Didn’t we solve this little misunderstanding in the ’60s? Why are you still complaining? So uncool and frigid of you.”

  131. If anyone voting for Trump really believes he will do even 1/10th of the promises he is making they have not been paying attention to any of his business history. Failed products (that he still tries to shine as great successes even after they are completely off the market), thin skin, multiple bankruptcies, a history of using suits as bully tactics to get his way and break promises/contracts…and so on.

    He is not an idiot. He is purposefully being very vague on how he will accomplish his tactics so when he does not even try to fulfill them, he can place blame on someone else. He genuinely is not a good leader or businessman for anyone but himself. He makes tons of money for his bank account,

    Everyone has likely worked with a person like this. He is the type of person who has an entire team of people work for him for months to close a detailed contract. Then he steps in to sign a piece of paper and takes all of the credit himself for the success having done no actual work on the deal. but he still runs incompetent businesses because his personality does not allow himself to hire competent people who can say “no” to him. So anyone who actually has a backbone he won’t hire.

    The rumors about his abdicating power to the VP position just further prove this. He wants the presidency title not for power, but to be left as a permanent part of history and to see his name in every single American history book going forward.

  132. One point about anti-immigration. It isn’t always racism. There is fear of losing our way of life. I think that’s a legitimate fear, but not a likely outcome. If you read the right wing news from Europe you might think it has happened their already.

    Broad brush equating anti-immigration with racism reduces the effectiveness of your arguments.

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