He won’t even be the Republican nominee in 2016.
Yes, I know, the New York Times just published a poll that has Trump high atop the GOP field and gaining strength as the one candidate who will keep us safe. He’s everywhere on cable and network news and is a constant topic of conversation on social media. Even Hillary Clinton has stopped dismissing him as a joke and is responding to his absurd claims. This is necessary for now because Trump will not go away on his own. He has to be shown the door and that will happen. It will be messy, but it will happen.
Why am I so sure about the Donald? Because he’s essentially an excellent salesman but a political fraud who knows how to sell himself, and he’s attached himself to a message and a persona that insulates him from criticism for saying outrageously xenophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and just plain wrong things on a daily basis. What he has done marvelously well is to tap into the country’s fears about terrorism and he has accused the president of not only not doing enough, but of purposely allowing us to be vulnerable.
Trump doesn’t need to repeat the lie about Obama not being a citizen because he has better ammunition: the president is the problem, the other, the un-American, them. He’s also been able to reduce Jeb Bush to a quivering mass of jello, make fun of Marco Rubio’s youth, calls Ben Carson a know-nothing, and says that of course Chris Christie knew about the GW Bridge lane closings despite the fact that not one shred of evidence has been credibly produced that he did.
My question, then, is this: Is this what we want in a President? The answer is no.
The simple reason is that not even Donald Trump can continue to run his campaign this way. As soon as Trump stops saying vile things, he’s finished, because the truth is that he really has no platform, no singular idea other than hate, no economic plan, no foreign policy, no domestic policy and a lifetime of conflicting views on issues on which most Republicans will not ever compromise.
Right now he gets a pass at the debates because of the sheer number of GOP candidates still in the race. Come January, the real campaign begins and I’m assuming that Trump is not going to be prepared for it. Voters will want real answers for their economic problems and they’ll want details as to how Trump is going to carry out his plan to throw out 11 million people from this country and what it would take to barricade us so that other people can’t come in.
They’ll want to know what he wants to do with taxes, legal issues, health care and business policy. He’s said some things about these, but the media and the people will demand answers. And he either won’t have them or he’ll give vague answers or he’ll do what he’s doing now about national security–he’ll try to fake it. This isn’t the midterm or the early semester quiz. It’s the final exam and Trump is going to fail.
In addition, as the GOP field narrows, Trump is going to need to say even more because there will be fewer voices to take up precious airtime. This is where he will falter because he will need to become less radical and say fewer provocative things. Trump has built his campaign on those two pillars. Once he stops, his reason for running will be gone. The Republican Party is hoping that this happens in January before he can do real damage. I’m not sure the party will get its wish, but ultimately the balloon will deflate.
I’ve certainly been caught off-guard by Trump’s durability and political stamina. It’s delayed the ascent of a viable candidate and will only hurt the GOP for as long as his campaign lingers.
But rest assured my fellow Americans, Donald Trump will not be elected president in 2016. And for that, we can be thankful.