Despite a week passing, Donald Trump’s performance at the presidential debate remains seared into my mind. That he consistently failed to meet the absurdly low expectations facing him was astounding. In contrast, Hillary Clinton did what she needed to, working like an assembly line robot to slot pre-rolled phrases together. They were so catchy (“trumped up, trickle down”) that even her stilted, android-esque delivery, with its slightly-too-long pauses and forced smile-grimace couldn’t sink her chances. However, most eyes were on Trump (they certainly stayed glued in his direction thanks to his odd, shifting facial expressions and constant sniffing).
The technical possibilities of tomorrow are just as incredible as those of the 1950s because they are real. Simultaneously everything is within reach and nothing. We use new technologies but few people understand their function. Machines, programs and devices on the horizon, rushing towards us, will be far less widely understood than would those of the 20th century, had they come to pass. It is conceivable that most people, with a modicum of study, could understand the functioning of a color TV or a flying car depicted in a pulp science fiction book.
Donald Trump may have tried to appear more presidential during his recent trip to Mexico but Hillary Clinton’s strategy remains one of painting her opponent as mentally unfit for the presidency. Clinton’s ads have used Trump’s words against him to attack both his temperament and his opinions. One memorable spot saw children gaping at television screens as Trump spewed increasingly offensive lines. Clinton’s team is merely replaying The Donald’s words, a man who once said that he’d date his daughter if only she weren’t his daughter. Portraying Trump as mentally unhinged and needlessly offensive may play well in 30 second digital ads but such a strategy is vulnerable.
Even if Hillary Clinton wins a crushing victory in November, she will enter office as one of the most disliked presidents in history. She is seen as untrustworthy and untruthful, treating the law with haughty disdain. Many on the right, encouraged by today’s political echo chamber, believe her to be a criminal deserving of the sharp end of a firing squad. Calls for politicians to face execution used to be a mark of the insane. Now one hears them routinely.
Much has been said about the risks a Donald Trump presidency poses to America, the world and the continued existence of human life outside of subterranean bunkers. From wrecking the U.S. economy by deporting illegal immigrants (an important source of labor, ironically particularly so for the Republican big business base) and threatening to default on U.S. Treasury bonds to using nuclear weapons against states whose leaders question the length of his fingers, the world would be far worse off with The Donald in the White House. But hey, at least Latin American dignitaries would finally learn just how to properly make taco bowls (incidentally, the only dish with a handy built-in wall). The Democratic Party, suddenly offered the opportunity to retake the Senate and possibly the House, should use this fear to their advantage in down-ballot elections. Democrats in competitive states like Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania should emphasise the wide latitude that a GOP lock on the executive and legislature (and, most likely, judiciary) would give to Trump in pursuing his racist and illiberal fantasies.
Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) have agreed to coordinate their efforts to prevent Donald Trump from securing the Republican nomination. The Donald’s insightful eye was quick to see this “collusion” for what it was — “DESPERATION!” (his caps). Although one may lament its author’s ineloquence, the truthfulness of the claim is evident. Cruz, despised by the upper echelons of Republican command, may have the upper hand over Kasich, no establishment darling but no firebrand, but their political fortunes are entwined — both have pinned their hopes on a second ballot at the Republican convention in July, a showdown which will come to pass only if they can prevent the Trump juggernaut amassing those hallowed 1,237 pledged delegates. The pact sees Kasich agree to “give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana” and Cruz ceding New Mexico and Oregon.
No one likes ties. There is something excruciatingly underwhelming in accepting the defeat of competition inherent in a draw. One would almost rather the opponent won, if only for a sense of closure. But no, the competitors slink away, licking their wounds and polishing their weapons, plotting their next encounter. The American spirit does not easily suffer such lack of resolution.
Separating a goal from the methods employed to achieve it — distinguishing between an end and its chosen means — may at first appear to be a rather academic distinction. However, mixing and muddling of the two has serious consequences. While the exact natures of both ends and means are frequent sources of disagreement, it is important to separate the two, a fact which is increasingly neglected by our society. Public structures and organizations have become de-instrumentalized — rather than serving as means for achieving society’s goals or representing supporters’ interests, Americans today consider national institutions as ends in themselves and acknowledge the primacy of those institutions’ self-interest over their role as means of achieving ends. Institutions and collectives at any level have always sought to further their own goals and concerns, for disregarding their self-interest prevents institutions from orienting themselves within society and presenting a coherent agenda for action.
Having in recent years charted a presidential trajectory from intellectual, old-guard conservative father to boisterous, compassionate neoconservative son, today’s Republican party looks set to fracture along deep-seated fault lines. The impetus and animus felt among the Trump tribe towards the GOP’s landed gentry has brought another of those rifts into sharp relief. Frankenstein’s monster bears more than a passing resemblance to the ideological mutant that is the Republican Party. Since the Reagan era, fiscal conservatives have shared the mantle of the right with their more socially concerned brethren, a group that, before Trump rustled many of its members into his more nationalist fold, found its electoral darlings in Tea Partiers like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Wedded to these strange bedfellows are libertarians — the last few stops on the line east from the aforementioned more moderate, more Bushy candidates.
Mere hours after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead two weeks ago, the Washington machine was alight. The two parties were mudslinging in the halls of Congress, with Republicans vowing to reject any Obama-nominated replacement and Democrats excoriating them for such barefaced politics. Around the country, public sector unions and women, among others, rejoiced at their salvation — Scalia’s death dissolved the Court’s conservative majority. As the Supreme Court considers cases involving religious freedom, state marijuana laws and legislative districting rules (which could have large effects on parties’ electoral strength in some states), conservatives have lost control at a precipitous moment. The aforementioned unions are watching Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a First Amendment case which, if the Ninth Circuit’s decision is upheld, would imperil public unions’ funding.