by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jim Geraghty of National Review Online looks ahead to a November election that could produce “the most unpopular president since 1948.”
Bad leaders and bad times probably create a vicious cycle. If you feel like America’s in worse shape than it was four years ago — or eight, or twelve, or sixteen — you’re probably skeptical of the next president’s ability to make it much better. And a choice between Clinton and Trump isn’t likely to ease your worried mind.
Is there any reason to think a Clinton presidency would represent a big change from the Obama years? Maybe she’s a bit more hawkish than Obama, but she would still be the head of a fundamentally isolationist, anti-war party. Perhaps she’s instinctively inclined toward the center — too far right for an increasingly liberal party, though still much too far left for conservatives — but she is also a Clinton, acutely attuned to the political winds and willing to do anything to keep them at her back. When it comes down to it, she’ll maintain Obama’s policies if it means keeping her base happy.
Ordinarily, in a country that voters overwhelmingly believe is on the wrong track, the prospect of electing Hillary Clinton to maintain the status quo would be enough to throw the White House to Republicans. But the prospect of electing Donald Trump to burn the status quo to the ground may ultimately prove even less appealing.
If we basically know what we’re getting with Clinton, ugly as it is, we have no idea what to expect from Trump, a man who is all too eager to tell you what he thinks, even though he’ll likely think the opposite ten minutes from now. True, in this he’s much like Clinton, willing to say or do whatever he must to win. But Clinton has a basic policy knowledge, which Trump doesn’t even pretend to have. Clinton fights dirty, more or less, within the established norms of American politics. Trump has risen, in no small part, by destroying those norms with the utmost glee.