Deciphering who will win the American election 2016
by The Hon. Joe Volpe, Publisher
TORONTO - The Trump phenomenon continues to “baffle” spectators and potential voters alike. Whether you think the Presidential race to replace Barack Obama is important to you personally or not, the contest will carry significant ramifications for us in Canada, and elsewhere.
After watching the now famous debate between Clinton and Trump, along with the estimated 85 million television viewers, some (not Trump supporters) are asking how was this guy allowed to enter the race?
Others are wondering how anyone, let alone 33% of viewers, could think of him as the winner of the debate. I confess to be one of the skeptics; but winning the debate does not necessarily mean winning the election. At least not yet, because no one has cast a legitimate, recognized vote.
The anticipation of that election is nonetheless focusing the attention of many in Toronto. In Toronto’s Italo-Canadian coffee bars, Trump is being compared to Silvio Berlusconi (fellow member of the multi-billionaire club, and, like the Donald, a “connoisseur of the fairer sex”). But, Silvio was actually capable of pronouncing coherent, cogent, grammatically correct statements of policy.
The electorate seemed to put up with his indiscretions until he “went overboard”. Donald is appealing to a different crowd. The one that is already “overboard”.
We didn’t just willy-nilly get here, explained Peter Hart, American Pollster, political consultant and advisor to those in position of power and influence in the USA. He was speaking to a lunch-time crowd of Business and Professional persons (overwhelmingly male) at the Fairmont Royal York, who had come to hear his insights into the post debate prognostications.
No-one can tell who will win the election, he said, offering three factors that should breed cautious predictions, no matter whom you support. Other pollsters in the room, who also double as “talking heads”, took notes feverishly.
Firstly, this is the dirtiest, nastiest most malicious campaign ever! It is reflective of a decline in collective sense of decorum. Nothing is out of bounds. Nothing said seems to offend any discernable sense of morality, common decency or compass of social responsibility.
Trump can and will say anything and it will only re-enforce his “brand”, because a segment of our [America]society plays out reality TV. Civility is absent. He can get away with lying shamelessly and refer to his opponent as “Crooked Hillary” with impunity.
Everything and anything is fair game. It will only get worse according to Hart, because his base support agrees with anything he says. The more outrageous his utterings, the more “liberated” his followers are likely to feel.
Secondly, the hollowing out of the Middle Class and the wage disparity resulting from the banking crisis and subsequent Recession of 2008-2009 has created an anger directed towards those in power (Clinton being one) – especially among those between the ages of 18 and 34.
Hart maintains that the key to understanding the politics of these Millenials is contained in the appreciation of the perceived lack of opportunity as a result of this wage disparity and the distortions in the economy once so successfully structured by their parents’ generation.
Now “the rich are getting richer”, the “poor are getting poorer” and the number in the middle is getting smaller.
That middle – the Centre – tends towards moderation. The “bookends” tend towards more extreme positioning on the eco-political scale. Curiously, Trump, an iconic representative of the uber- rich “1% ers”, seems to be immune from the anger of his polar opposites.
His intemperate statements are fodder for that anger. Clinton has the more arduous task of presenting “balance and hope”, while Trump feasts on messages of “blame and despair” - unless he emerges as “the Man”.
He may yet succeed for a third reason, says Hart: the decline of Professionalism, or rather the acceptance of amateuristic standards in the communications industry/profession. And, here there is a connection to the first consideration on the question of collective social responsibility.
I-phones, the internet, Facebook and twitter accounts have freed “posters” from any discipline or obligation to research and to provide “rhyme and reason” in support of opinion. Bloggers are today’s journalists.
Too often they revel in irresponsible attacks thanks to their relative anonymity. The public discourse is reduced to bite sized “tit-for-tat”. It is now acceptable to hear the equivalent of “oh yeah, well your mother wears army boots” and “up your nose with a rubber hose” as appropriate ripostes on serious issues of national economic and social concerns.
At this, Trump is masterful. The alternative is to consider him a total idiot. As tempting as that judgement may be to some, people still find him “interesting”, even attractive.
Hart ended his presentation with a simple provocative question: “if you found yourself stranded somewhere and had to share a room with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, whom would you choose?” In a room filled with professionals, overwhelmingly male in gender, the vast majority said Trump.
Why? Because he is more interesting, was the answer.
Clinton would seem to have one advantage, though. The Democrats are more united around her candidacy than the Republicans are around the Donald.
In democracy where “people still vote with their feet”, an organization that can succeed in getting out the identified voters will win in the end, pollsters and debates notwithstanding.
(Monday 3 October 2016)