Tuesday, 08 November 2016 22:57

Donald Trump will not win the US election, worse still, he'll be a sore loser


Washington: On Wednesday, Americans will awake from a nightmare. Donald Trump will not be their president.

But relief will be short-lived. It will be more a "ha, ha, gotcha" moment appropriate to a lingering Halloween mood; because Trump is likely to be a sore loser, ready to inflict serial new nightmares on the US before he's done with politics.

What's all this based on? The losing part is a gut feel, supplemented by the late polling and high turnout numbers in early voting, especially on a Latino surge that is especially ominous for Trump.

And those nightmares to come? That's based on what I suspect will be Trump's inability to walk away from the crater of his campaign, without attempting to make it into something else – remember his claim that he always makes success from failure?

Even before FBI chief James Comey reversed away from his bizarre intervention in the campaign, which was a body blow to Hillary Clinton, national polls had begun edging back to the Democrat, as were the local polls in swing states. A Gallup poll out just a week before election day was most telling – after 16 months of intense exposure, Trump had failed to convince 67 per cent of registered voters that he had the personality and leadership qualities for the White House.

As a man with a need to be acting a role, but who doesn't seem to know his real self, Trump will be desperate for an immediate new gig and a new spotlight after Tuesday's vote.


The Trump that greets America on Wednesday, actually, he's more likely to be snarling, will not be the slightly less objectionable candidate on view in the last week of the campaign – that guy was a product of the fact that he was up because Clinton was down; and his advisers were keeping him dosed up on political tranquilisers.

That being the case, there's no guarantee that an angry Trump will tend to what ought to be his first essential duty as a losing candidate – to make clear to his many supporters who have threatened various stages of uprising if he is defeated, that violence is not an acceptable response.

A dog urinates on a graffiti of Donald Trump at a laneway in Melbourne.

The American electoral process doesn't anoint the loser in a presidential race as a Westminster-style, leader of the opposition.

But with his "I-alone…" bravura amped up by a campaign that seemingly started in a fit of pique, Americans are likely to find themselves living through a sequel to The Apprentice, in which Trump has director's prerogative to designate himself as he likes.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by three percentage points among likely voters ...

Some of the anti-leadership qualities that he will bring to bear in that self-appointed office are – selfishness, a lack of discipline, vindictiveness, intellectual sloth, mendacity, greed, bigotry, misogyny and racism.

We've heard that in contemplating defeat, he's been mulling a new "super PAC", with vengeance as its core mission.

In defeat, Trump will have much to get even about.

This is a man who went all the way to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg , ostensibly to make a campaign-saving speech on good governance, but was unable to resist the indulgence of devoting a big chunk of his speech to how he was going to get even with the dozen women who complained of him sexually abusing them.

That's what you get with Trump – asked about great feelings in life, his response was "I love getting even…if you don't get even, you're just a schmuck."

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a Donald Trump mask during a campaign speech on Monday.

In defeat, Trump will have much to get even about.

Losing spectacularly before the eyes of the nation and the world will be a severe psychological blow, probably prompting a "wounded animal" or "cunning rat" response – or a mix of the two. The fall from would-be leader of the Western world to feather duster will take a considerable adjustment.

The former secretary of state was leading Trump by about 45 per cent to 42 per cent in the popular vote.

The former secretary of state was leading Trump by about 45 per cent to 42 per cent in the popular vote. Photo: AP

Already Trump has refused to commit to accepting the election outcome, despite his efforts to qualify his refusal by throwing in the word "reasonable". He will challenge the outcome at the slightest opportunity, for these reasons:

  • Trump didn't invest all that campaign energy in claiming the election was rigged against him just to prove that he could be a victim of the rigging, without attempting to capitalise on that victimhood
  • Presenting himself as a victim in challenging the outcome would serve as a platform on which Loser Trump would build his post election political career
  • Any challenge would help to cast doubt on the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency and pose more questions about her mandate

Trump must win North Carolina to have a realistic chance of winning the White House.

Much of Trump's "it's rigged" argument is based on the Democratic Party's control in predominantly black communities in Pennsylvania – that's where he's demanding that his supporters mount vote 'watching" operations.


Politico magazine sets out a troubling scenario: "Suppose on Election Night, Pennsylvania's secretary of state announces that Clinton has won the state, and with it the presidency, but Trump says, 'Prove it.' The secretary of state responds, 'That's what the machines tell us'. Trump responds, 'Well, how do I know that the machines weren't hacked?' What is the secretary of state supposed to say then?

Donald Trump arrives to speak to a campaign rally on Monday in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"So who will resolve the conflict if Trump loses Pennsylvania and insists on seeing proof, and the state can't provide it? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, despite being dominated by Democrats? The US Supreme Court, despite being hamstrung by a vacancy and thus at risk of a 4-4 split? Congress, paralysed by partisan gridlock?"

The extent to which the GOP establishment backs any trump challenge will be the first post-election measure of how seriously the GOP establishment will be in fighting to regain control of the Republican Party.


A natural segue from a Trump challenge to the result would be for him to assume a leader-of-the-opposition role, to become a freewheeling face and voice of all opposition to the Clinton presidency – its existence and all that she might do.

When Trump was not running his "rigged" argument in the last days of the campaign, he was crying "constitutional crisis" – warning of back-to-back congressional committees investigating Clinton and likely efforts to impeach her.

Loser Trump will be deeply conflicted – wait for the Twitter storm.

On the one hand he's not the kind of guy to hang around after he's taken a beating.

As we've learnt in this campaign, he'll take the business losses he's inflicted on others and claim them as a billion-dollar tax write-off for himself; he doesn't pony up half of what he's promised for his own campaign; and he'll scam his own charity foundation

So if there's no money to be made, why keep skin in the game?

An option that reportedly is being seriously massaged at Trump Tower is a media operation that would leverage Trump's vote, his millions of Twitter followers and his supporter's email list, who conceivably could be cajoled into paying subscriptions for cable or internet-based programs packaged around Trump, his policies and his family.

The campaign is already doing a crude version of what Trump TV might look like on its Facebook page. But a long term TV operation would be predicated on cannibalising existing TV audiences, especially that of Fox News, which would not happen without the Murdochs putting up a fight.

Any TV operation will be dictated by myriad variables – the extent to which Trump controls it; the extent to which his brand is damaged by an election defeat; who ponies up the probable hundreds of millions in investment and start-up costs; and the extent to which it absorbs all or part of the internet-based Breitbart News established by Steve Bannon, who is chief executive of Trump's presidential campaign.

On the other hand, Trump is the kind of guy who wants to keep fighting, who says that the best feeling in life is getting even; and who, some argue, would prefer the arm-to-arm combat of perpetual campaigning over the enormity of decision-making in the Oval Office.


For now, at least, Trump owns the Republican Party. With millions of primary and general election votes in the bank, his hostile take-over is complete and it's up to the GOP establishment to wrestle it back – if it can.

That prospective political terrain suits Trump's bullying style, notwithstanding his self-billing as a "deal-maker". The nature of the party's post-poll implosion will be more akin to the primaries in which Trump was more comfortable, making his pitch to party diehards than to the breadth of the general electorate.

But in pitching to white voters, Trump is up against a demographic brick wall – it's an electoral sector that shrinks at each election, as Hispanics numbers in particular grow and, in the face of GOP candidates like Trump, become more likely Democratic voters.

In an internal struggle, or in the event of a party break-up, Trump would pick up white supremacists and neo-Nazis and maybe, for a time at least, Christian Evangelicals. But all are demographic groups that are on the wrong side of that demographic wall.

The party risks finding itself as gridlocked as the congress.

The party that traditionally was capable of compromise has abandoned even the pretense of comity – if Republicans were not going to let a black president have his way, what chance a woman who already has been promised gridlock and chaos induced by endless committee investigations?


In Congress, check progress on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland – in the old days, he'd at least have been given a confirmation hearing; these days, GOP senators simply refuse to discuss it.

In the Republican party, check progress on climate change – in the course of the primaries there was at least the semblance of a debate; these days Trump prevails, telling the world it's a Chinese hoax.

If the GOP emerges from the election intact, it will only do so by dramatically rewriting its policies, to accommodate the Trump supporters. For decades it had screwed them on economic and industry policy while throwing them unwinnable policies that didn't carry a dollar price – abortion, same-sex marriage, religious freedom.

That policy turf will be conceded reluctantly. But before the GOP gets to that internal brawl, which some insiders are casting as a "civil war", the establishment can be expected to heap blame for the election defeat on Trump and his campaign. But as Trump had demonstrated, he has become adept at whipping up rank-and-file anger at the party's leaders.

"That is the existential threat to the party," Tim Miller, a former Jeb Bush staffer and a fierce critic of Trump, told Vox. "Some candidates and elected officials will want to go down the Trump path, in ways that viscerally turn off young voters and minorities, because there would be short-term gain. And if that faction wins out, the party is going to die."

Conservative commentator Peter Wehner is at the barricades already, writing in The New York Times: "The forces that propelled Trump's rise need to be confronted and defeated. It won't be easy, given that tens of millions of Americans will vote for him and believe deeply in him. But if these forces are not defeated, what happened this year will be replicated in one form or another, and the Republican Party will continue to inflict great harm on our republic".

Unclear in all of this is whether Trump has the stamina or the inclination.


His options for remaining in politics amount to continual presidential campaigning – and for what?

He caught the GOP napping when he sought the 2016 nomination. But is the party likely to let him barnstorm his way through another primaries season, to steal the 2020 nomination? And if the electorate has opted for Clinton in 2016, what chance does he have of being preferred over in the next go-round?

The risk for the GOP is that it's working class and some of its middle class voters will break away – either to a new Trump-led party or to a reformed Democratic Party, from whence a good number of them came in the Nixon and Reagan years.

It took confiscation of Trump's Twitter account to make Trump focus in the last week of the campaign. What'll they have to do to make him pay attention next week – take away his Tic Tacs?

Source: smh.com.au

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