Clinton vs. Trump: Thoughts on the Presidential Race

Bob Neuman






Following Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia and her self-punishing “Basket of Deplorables” comment, it was no surprise to see her polling numbers stagger. Equally unsurprising the faint-hearted Cassandras of the Democratic establishment scream in terror pounding their chests calling for instant remedies.


These polls showing upward movement by the barely competent Trump campaign reflect Clinton missteps yes, but also some political and demographic truths that many have escaped attention in the wake of her stumbles and his incredible flip flop on the Obama birthplace lie, her health and his tax returns.


It is becoming clear as the election nears that the Clinton base is relatively narrow and getting narrower. The stubborn “Berniecrats” and distrustful independents are a problem with a neat solution in doubt as the election nears.


Yet another problem is the early assumption of solid support from non-white Americans has shown to be weaker than expected. The vaunted Clinton ground game may have been limited in key markets by the distraction caused by a much stronger primary campaign that drained assets meant to be used in the massive run-up to the November election.


Further complicating the original strategy is the unexpected, until the turn of the year, Trump phenomenon that has taken both the establishment GOP and the Democratic brain trust caught with their pants and pantsuits down. What has emerged is the most unsettling and startling event in modern political history. The consequences of 2016, no matter who prevails, will change traditional politics and how we perceive American attitudes and prejudices.


Let me consider some of the troubling truths emerging from this election cycle.


It is impossible to understate the racial tension between Americans of color and European Americans, especially those in lower income and lower educational levels. The establishments of this country are guilty of universal sweeping this matter under the rug of indifference.


The mistrust of the racial minorities of every color for law enforcement, the makers of law and the basic financial system is at a very high level. Efforts to bring a fairer and more equitable social system have largely failed, principally because of the Republican and Democratic leadership’s failure to restrain their rank and file in Congress from fierce polarization and partisanship that make compromise, as envisioned by the White House.


A system of political campaign financing furthered by the Supreme Court’s disastrous decisions have removed any doubts that the system is hopelessly skewed in favor of the financial powers (i.e. Wall Street). Legislative efforts in California and other states are pathetically weak and the climate for reform is lukewarm at best.


The demographic realities of concentrated clusters of Democrats in the cities East and West and a more dispersed white and rural Republicans and independents makes the drawing of legislative districts more favorable to the GOP. That, coupled with a redistricting system that has been traditionally self-serving to both major parties, makes the fair distribution of voting power weak and uncertain.


Another issue that is hard to ignore in the 2016 Presidential is the prevailing attitude among United States males of every color and economic and educational level to deal with the concept of a woman as President.


The media treatment and public perceptions of Hillary Clinton as an intelligent, diligent, honest public figure has been marked by a clear and continuous prejudice. Certainly her long and contentious career in public life has heightened awareness of her strengths and weaknesses. But the attention to her health, friendships and family is bizarrely unfair.



The emergence of social media as a determinant of public attitudes is a hugely important revolution in American politics. The 24-hour news cycle has lessened fact checking and careful research into issues to the extent the media is widely distrusted by those Americans who are increasingly skeptical of newspapers, magazines and the television and radio news organizations.


The bias of social media platforms on both liberal and conservative bent is staggering. Even more traditional media like Fox News and to a lesser extent MSNBC foster further distrust in fair news coverage. Add to this the is the matter of political polling, its conflicting methodologies and polls questionable use by the media to heighten public interest in the “horse race”.


All this media turmoil and hurried reporting has allowed Donald Trump’s campaign a license to deceive and twist the facts.


Despite all this grim punditry on my part, the outcome of the election will still rest on the American electorate’s bottom line as to who is qualified to lead the United States in a period of unprecedented tumult in the world. There is a clear fear of basic security in the US from terrorists and the mentally unbalanced who have unfettered access to murderous weapons and materials in this country and throughout the world.


The international community faces unique and immense issues like climate change and religious wars that are prolonged and seemingly intractable. Refugees have muddled European society and a Russian regime intent on disruption in every sphere is hindering solutions.


In our country, we have profound domestic inequities, economic and educational, that will require careful and effective leadership in the White House and the Congress and the activism of an informed public and financial establishment.


Who is best to handle these issues? Who best to find progress in compromise?


That is easy for me, but the outcome is highly uncertain as the Clinton and Trump ugly battle continues with just a few weeks left to go. The debates will be, as usual, highly determinant of the ultimate outcome. It is too bad the lesser campaigns cannot be included in some way, but it is too late to lament over that.


As flawed as our political system is–it remains the best game in town.


Author Bio:


Bob Neuman served as a speechwriter and administrative assistant to Rep. Morris Udall. He is a former DNC communications director.



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