We are inside 100 days in our countdown to the 2016 election. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both held successful conventions and their campaigns are going at each other full force. The Pew Research Center did a poll, concluding that 80 percent of registered voters are following the race closely. The race has offered star power, policy statements, old ideas, and new ideas. There is only one thing the race has not included – inspiration.
Presidential politics is a contact sport. Things always get rough. But what is missing in 2016 is inspiration. There’s nothing in this election cycle that echoes Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America,” George H. W. Bush’s “thousand points of light,” Bill Clinton’s “man from Hope,” George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism,” or Barack Obama’s “hope and change.”
The Problem with Donald Trump
Mr. Trump, while pledging to “make America great again,” has essentially argued that the America we love is disappearing. Along the way, he has emphasized the need to keep illegal Mexican immigrants and Muslims out of America – though for good reason. He has added criticism of heroes like John McCain. He has lobbed insults at his own teammates (“no energy,” “small hands,” “not too bright,” etc.).
The Problem with Hillary Clinton
The FBI Director identified eight lies she told the American people. Two weeks later, she amazingly told Chris Wallace that Mr. Comey said she had only told the truth. The latest Clinton Foundation emails reveal 44 instances of rewarding those who gave to the Clinton Initiative. It’s no wonder that the American people have concluded Mrs. Clinton is completely dishonest and self-serving.
Road to 270
A recent Gallop poll showed that most Americans don’t like either candidate. An alarming 20 percent say they don’t want to vote for either Clinton or Trump. But someone has to win, and that means getting to 270 in the Electoral College. It comes down to two states, really – Florida and Ohio. If Clinton wins either of those, she gets to 270. If Trump wins both of those, he has a chance.
Voters are turned off by the intense negativity of the campaign. The Republican convention featured constant shouts of “Lock her up,” while the Democratic convention shredded Trump as a racist bully unfit for the White House. Both candidates offered “change.” For Trump, that meant bashing Clinton. For Clinton, that meant bashing Trump.
So who wins?
At this point, Clinton leads by 7.2 percent according to Real Clear Politics. That is big, but not insurmountable. The view here is that voters want change, as 70 percent say we are on the wrong track. The election is Trump’s for the taking. He must do two things. First, he must quit saying inflammatory things every other day. Second, he must win the first debate – decisively. If he does those two things, it will be a toss-up. If he fails at either task, he has little chance.
Sadly, on election day, neither candidate will really win. One of them will just lose more than the other. And for a country starved for inspiration, the real loser could be America.