Over eight months ago, August 19, 2015 to be exact, I wrote the following:
We’re still over five months from the Iowa caucuses and — astoundingly — it’s increasingly looking like the 2016 presidential election, not just the nomination, is Donald Trump’s to lose.
It’s not only the polls, which are swinging his way. He has changed the nature of our electoral politics into a reality show with himself as star. Read his interview in Wednesday’s Hollywood Reporter if you’re looking for confirmation. Everybody else in both parties looks boring by comparison. We pretend to be interested in the others but Donald is all we really care about, even bourgeois liberal critics when they try to dismiss him. (The WaPo’s David Ignatius is now likening Trump to Putin, as if Donald were about to invade the Crimea. Well, he might put a hotel there.)
That seemed a bold prediction at the time — that the presidency, not just the Republican nomination, which he now has, was Trump’s to lose. But it really wasn’t so courageous. It was almost obvious, if you would let yourself look. And equally obviously, it still holds true. With all the sound and fury, nothing has changed.
Donald Trump did alter the nature of American politics, possibly forever, but at least for the foreseeable future, the moment he came down that Trump Tower escalator to announce his campaign. And he will, most likely, be the next president of the United States.
The only one who can defeat Donald, then as now, is Donald, by shooting himself once too often in the foot, although, at this point, I’m not sure that is possible. He is particularly fortunate that his opposition, Hillary Clinton, besides still being under threat of indictment and still not having defeated Bernie Sanders (go figure), is a truly uninspiring, almost soporific, figure who is starting to resemble the old Helen Hokinson cartoon characters from The New Yorker. It’s hard to pay attention to what Hillary’s saying for more than a minute. She’s not a star. Trump is. All attention will be on him in the general election. The primaries have shown us what an advantage that is. What that means for American politics may not all be good, but it’s true.
Trump also has in his favor (James Carville should be shaking in his boots) an economy that has been worse than anemic for nearly a decade. The number of Americans not even trying to get a job is approaching a hundred million. Household incomes are down and home ownership is down. The current administration and their media lackeys like to lie about this, putting out periodic reports of revival, but the people know better. They’re maxing out their credit cards at the grocery store — and then voting for Trump and Sanders. The reality of fixing this never-ending recession will clearly be more complicated than just “making great trade deals” in a static global economy where trade appears to be diminishing by itself. But I imagine if I know that, Trump does too. At least I hope he does.
So I disagree with pundits like Charles Krauthammer who said Tuesday evening on The O’Reilly Factor that the split in the Republican Party would assure Trump’s defeat. That split will start dissolving in a matter of weeks and will be gone — except for minor holdouts — by the Republican National Convention, where there will be a relatively conservative platform. You already could sense this détente happening in the hours after Trump’s Indiana victory, a full ten weeks before the GOP convenes in Cleveland and half a year before the election. Donald not only won big, he won early. Why not use this time to try to influence him, rather than take him (and the rest of us) down?
Newt Gingrich may even be right when he said, also this evening but on Hannity, that Trump is, ironically, the one Republican presidential candidate with the moxie to finally put a stake in the American left wing. If not Trump, who?
I wouldn’t want to be Mrs. Clinton at this moment. Her dreams of justifying her years of personal humiliation with a presidential victory are about to be thrashed as thoroughly as were those of the fifteen other Trump competitors on the Republican side.
Roger L. Simon is an award-wining novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of Pj Media. His next book — I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already — will be published by Encounter in June 2016.