October 31, 2016

DAVIES | E Minus Seven

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Don’t get complacent, Democrats. Donald Trump could still play an ace. Polls have tightened. Though many voters in states like North Carolina have already decided between Hillary Clinton and Trump, there remain high numbers of undecided voters in other battleground states, which could intensify Trump’s benefit from James Comey’s Halloween emails treat. Trump has, for once, resisted turning the attention back on himself. Or, rather more likely, someone has slapped The Donald’s tiny hands away from the publicity cookie jar, leaving Clinton, always weaker when in the spotlight, to twist in the wind.

I’ve said it, you might have read it, but a Trump victory would imperil the very continuation of the American system (to borrow his words “we might not have a country”). Trump is bad at doing things but he also wants to do bad things. He’s bad at organization (see convention; business record) but wants to deport every “bad hombre” in the country. He’s bad at speaking (see speeches; infuriating habit of dropping objects from sentences. On his tax returns, “I will release.” He hasn’t) but you had better get used to it because it wouldn’t be long before the bad man’s face would be on every telescreen in every home. If you could doublespeak a dog whistle, The Donald would do it. He may have the media dancing to his tune but I do not believe Donald Trump to be a clever man. He has neither the kindness nor the cognitive capacity to be president.

Beyond Trump’s comicalities there is however a deeper danger. He refuses to believe in positive sum games, which underpin long-term democratic cohesion and a liberal U.S.-led international order. In Donald Trump’s mind every interaction between two people, companies or governments produces a distinct winner and a distinct loser. It seems that he cannot bear the thought of someone else besting him. No one should have larger hands than he, and if they did, they would of course be a loser, a big, big loser — big hands are disgusting (if you wouldn’t let a columnist write like this, and I hope you wouldn’t, don’t let your next president talk like this).

A mind with no conception of win-win outcomes cannot understand the case for more open trade and international cooperation. Trump’s wish to expand libel laws and sue those who hurt his fragile feelings result from what appears to be a pathological need to be on the victorious side of every interaction, for to him there can be only one. If you’re not out there making those deals, then someone is taking those deals. And clever old Trump rails against trade as he seals deals for Chinese steel.

But likely, in one week Trump will lose and Clinton will win. FiveThirtyEight has her at around a 77 percent chance of winning, albeit based on polls taken prior to Comey’s letter. Even after passing the Trial by Donald, Clinton will still face a sizable number of Americans who consider her illegitimate. Trump latched onto a latent dislike towards Clinton and rallied the troops into calling for her to be jailed, or worse. He stirred a toxic cocktail of Clinton’s trust issues and her detractors’ political self-righteousness. By considering and labelling their acts political, the latter have made attempts at justifying the worst of Trump’s, and his crowds’, rhetoric towards Clinton.

In one week Trump may be gone (or maybe not… Trump TV — how about a little David Duke to spice up things on The Apprentice?) but much of the fringe (yet increasingly mainstream) right wing media are now sure of just how well Hillary hatred sells. When most of a radio host’s listeners cheer at rallies where speakers suggest Clinton should die in a fiery car crash it is all too tempting for the Rush Limbaughs of this world to use anger to buoy up their listener numbers (which are sinking). This presidential election will hopefully end with Little Donald moping in Trump Tower and licking his wounds, but the vitriol he nursed will hurt for a while yet.

Alex Davies is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at ajd253@cornell.edu. Have I Got News For You? appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

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