Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trump Half of General Election in Place. . .What About Hillary?

Badly written?
Much of the 2016 election cycle has played out like really, really bad writing. If this had all been merely a story, in a book, movie, TV show or even a comic book series, it would have had to have been as satire, or outright absurdist comedy. Trump's campaign alone plays like Springtime for Hitler from The Producers: an accidental runaway hit.

You've got an egotistical, eccentric, absurdly rich reality show TV star, who threatened to run for president for decades. Nobody took him seriously, and nobody thought if he ever called our bluff he'd amount to anything more than a curiosity. Even his handlers think it's an ego trip, a way to get even more famous/notorious/rich. Said celebrity finally goes ahead and does it, and begins by being as offensive as is possible to multiple groups of people. He manages to commit many, many "fatal" campaign flaws, any one of which would halt the ambitions of any and all presidential contenders.

But not Trump. Not only is he impervious to the ordinary rules of campaigning, his followers are willing to give up their bedrock issues to continue supporting him. They can even be "single issue voters" where Trump is wobbly at best, and they don't care. They  love him. They forget (or again, don't care) that many of the complaints they lobbed at Barack Obama ("arrogance," "celebrity," "narcissist," "inexperienced" and more) Trump embodies much more accurately. They ignore his obvious ignorance on crucial issues, they ignore that he has the extemporaneous vocabulary of a 5th grader, and the temperament of a 2nd grader. They ignore his utter disregard and contempt for political correctness ("manners"), his lack of diplomatic skills. They rechristen Trump's natural tendency to spout off as "telling it like it is," and "truth telling," when it is really braggadocio and a knack for bullshitting. And unbelievably, they ignore the fact that Trump is clearly irreligious (and religiously ignorant) at best, and very likely simply  atheist or agnostic.

Bernie and Hillary, early draft?
His supporters, again and again, love him even more. And he now has effectively won the nomination against sixteen other candidates, most of whom were far more likely candidates, Senators and Governors among them. See? Bad writing. The worst.

On t'other side, things are a little more toward normal. One Star Candidate, one Dark Horse, and a couple of extraneous nobodies. The Dark Horse started gaining some momentum, against-all-odds. That itself may be a trope or even a cliche, but it's not bad writing if done well. The Dark Horse's intended mission was to drive the star politician further to his aims and goals, and he did that. That's not bad writing. The Red Shirt candidates fell away, the special guest star (Martin O'Malley) finally dropped out, and our Dark Horse started catching up. There are two possible outcomes: Tortoise and Hare, with the star candidate getting lapped by the Dark Horse, in a major upset, or the happy ending, where the Dark Horse imparts his wisdom, and makes the Star Candidate a better candidate, and winner.

But somewhere toward the end of our story, the Dark Horse started to lose, but insisted it wasn't true. Occasionally, he'd surge, but not catch up, and would insist he was catching up anyway. He started to allege shenanigans and fraud. He complained about the pre-set rules. He continued to insist he was winning, while either losing, or facing increasingly poorer odds. All the while, the Star Candidate is taking on damage, and being criticized for becoming a better candidate for the Dark Horse's influence. That isn't to say that on its own, this couldn't become a good story in the hands of a decent writer. But it keeps getting more implausible. And we're quickly getting to the point where it would take a deus ex machina in order for the Dark Horse to somehow win.

Ted Cruz finally dropped out in our first storyline, setting up the final act, where our stories will converge. But despite having been written into a corner, Bernie Sanders vows to fight on to the convention in our other storyline, preventing a clean segue. His only play, by staying in, is to commit his own shenanigans, do the things he alleged the other side was doing, in order to usurp Hillary's almost certain nomination. Both sides are fractured, both sides are hoping against hope for someone to write them out of this mess.

Where's a dark and stormy night when you need one?

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