It’s an asymmetry that may determine the election: in contradistinction to the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump has hammered away at the electorate with a few controversial ideas. These ideas have been castigated, ridiculed, and discussed so much that the main 3 or 4 of them are easy to reel off. Trump has a gimme cap that says ‘Make America Great Again.’ He ‘wants to build a wall.’ He favors: 1) establishing inviolable national borders and radically altering US immigration policies; 2) ending ‘unfair’ trade deals; and 3) radically reducing US commitments overseas.
Trump has been careful never to disavow these ‘unpopular’ ideas. He has articulated them with intense discipline for more than a year, through countless interviews, debates, speeches, and rallies. No matter how odious, these are the main ideas he stands for. To the mainstream of both parties, any one of these goals is anathema. So, American politics has been furiously warring over Donald Trump’s ideas for almost two years.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has run a far more sophisticated and decorous campaign. Suddenly, though, commentators and allies are noting that her campaign is singularly empty of goals and ideas. The bland sameness she offers is meant to be reassuring, premised on the assumption that most of the country ‘feels okay.’ But what does Clinton stand for? Where would she lead? What, in a nutshell, is her vision of our future?
Public intellectuals friendly to Clinton are prodding her to zero in on something. But the asymmetry already established may continue to weigh heavily on her campaign.
Image: Aerial of Florida,
© 2016 Susan Barsy
Albert R. Hunt, ‘Hillary Needs a Better Slogan’ (Bloomberg View)