The primary season is ending, with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominees. Current polls show Clinton with a comfortable lead. But polls this early in the game are notoriously unreliable.
Trump's best bet is to gain enough votes in the Northern "rust belt" states that went for Barack Obama in his two contests. Working class white males are his most likely audience. Trump feeds on discontent and there is plenty in those states among those voters. Another factor working in his favor is voter suppression laws coming into effect courtesy of imprudent decisions by the Supreme Court that invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act passed in 1968.
These suppression actions, and the absence of the charismatic Obama on the top of the Democratic ballot may have major effect. But if Clinton loses some minority votes due to voter suppression laws and closure of polling places convenient to minority voters, Trump rides into battle with many Republicans unwilling to vote for him because he is — are you ready for this? — too liberal. They cringe when he promises universal health care for all Americans.
Trump accused Sen. Ted Cruz of being "Lying Ted Cruz." Trump is himself a frequent liar, but this is perhaps a good thing. I hope when he threatens to use nuclear weapons he is just telling a lie to please the crowd.
Worse than lying is Trump's penchant for making up policy positions on the fly in response to a question. He took three different positions on torturing prisoners of war on three successive days. He had two positions on punishing women who have abortions, positions taken in rapid succession.
He reminds me of the old joke about the clothing store manager who said, "Heinrich, the man wants a blue suit; put a blue light in the window."
But Trump's faithful care not whit about the above. They are like a young person who has fallen in love; no factual arguments will sway him or from their affection. Reasonable persons of any political stripe will not fall for him. The danger is that too many voters will fall in love his charm, eloquence, and willingness to say or do anything to satisfy the crowd.
But the real danger to our nation lies in the continuing deadlock between the president and the Congress. The days when President Reagan and Speaker Tip O'Neill could sit down in private and work out reasonable compromises are long gone. In my view the fault lies not on the presidential side but the legislative side. The Republican Congress has but one goal, destroying the Obama legacy. The only cure will be a resounding victory by Clinton which may also change the complexion of the senate at least. If she wins by a narrow margin that won't help.
If Trump wins then chaos will ensue. His lack of conservative credentials and his off-the-wall positions will ensure that. At some point he will need to get rid of his supporters, just like the first leaders of the French Revolution ended up on the guillotine and Hitler had to get rid of the leaders of the Brown Shirt Stormtroopers on The Night of the Long Knives.
Historical analogies are never exact, but the parallels are nevertheless scary.
I invite those who view the coming elections differently to respond either directly to me (see below) or by letter to the editor. I need to be proved wrong. I hope I am proved wrong by the facts as they occur.
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John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.