Clinton vs. Trump: Competing Cohorts
Perhaps the most fascinating component of the 2016 election is the dynamic between the putative front-running candidates and their supporters, who in turn are comprised of three cohorts. The nature of these three legs suggests that Clinton has a firm floor and I believe a fairly fixed ceiling of support, while Trump’s floor and ceiling are comparatively fluid, making the forecasting of this race a headache. Assessing Clinton’s position in this regard is fairly straightforward; Trump’s is far more complex and problematic.
As Indianapolis broadcaster (and former prosecutor) Greg Garrison is wont to say in order to spark a discussion, “Let’s assume facts not yet in evidence.” So let us entertain these two “facts not yet in evidence” -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the nominees for the upcoming presidential election. I’m not arguing that they will not be the candidates -- the signs are pointing that they will -- but merely acknowledging that the formal nominations have not yet occurred.
In discussing these two candidates and their chances in the election there are many elements to think about: their personal likeability and character, their positions on policy, their competence and that of their campaigns, their ability to raise cash and garner neutral-to-favorable press. Given the unusually dynamic character of this election cycle I believe that analyzing the candidates tripartite constituencies -- rather than the candidates themselves -- provides a whole new perspective on the “campaign watching.”
Clinton’s Tripod of Support
Hillary Clinton is a fairly typical representative of the center-left aggregate electorate of USA 2016, and she has three feverishly committed partisan groups in her corner. Surely they overlap a fair bit, and may in fact all be the same group.
1. The 47 Percent
“The 47 Percent” moniker is derived from the infamous 2012 speech wherein Mitt Romney identified 47 Percent of the populace as being dependent on government wealth transfers for their well-being. We can argue about the specific numbers of folks who fit that description, or how many of them vote solely on the basis of that dependency, but the fact remains that the Democrats’ candidate is bound to be a forceful advocate for government wealth transfers from taxpayers to expenditure recipients. These recipients range everywhere from welfare beneficiaries including Social Security recipients, government contractors, educrats, and corporatist shills, each of whom comes with a relentless advocacy cadre both inside and outside government.
Given that folks generally behave in a manner they perceive as their own best interest, it makes this leg of Hillary’s tripod pretty much unshakeable. Perhaps not all of them, but certainly the overwhelming majority will not abandon the advocate who best promises to keep the free-stuff spigots flowing. The only two things that can threaten her support with the 47 Percent is if 1) someone can outbid her in promises for these recipients, or 2) these voters cast ballots against their rational self interest of keeping the money flowing to them. Try persuading a gathering of retirees on the unsustainable nature of Social Security and you will get the picture. The huge core of the 47 Percent is hers for the taking.
2. Womyn and Metrosexual Men
The foundation of Hillary’s campaign attraction to this group is based on biological morphology. She asserts, and apparently the call is heeded by legions of gyno-Americans, that the time has come for a woman in the White House and all those who agree must vote for her (and if they don’t they are going to Hell). It is the ultimate realpolitik of the politics of bigotry, practiced first by Democrat surrogates of the KKK and recently perfected in 2008 by the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The potency of this electoral slice was revealed in the most recent Virginia governor’s race, where Clinton bagman Terry McAuliffe ran a campaign that was “all female promiscuity without consequences, all the time.” He won in a walk, and carried unmarried womyn something like 3:1. Given the nature of the current Democratic Party as the embodiment of nothing if not contempt for men in general and productive middle class men in particular, can there be any doubt that Hillary’s support from this cadre exceeds 100%?
I use the term Metrosexual Men as shorthand for the culture of pagan hedonism and wimpishness. From those acting out on their debauched sexual confusion and related mental and moral illnesses to the precious snowflakes in government gulags of “higher” education and all points of the Grievance Industry in between, these people are Hillary’s People. To them there is nothing more repulsive than the judgementalism of right vs. wrong, augmented by their hatred towards the tyranny of biology and the nature and structure of western culture, leaving them with no higher purpose than “pay back” for any slights they imagine, including anything short of slavish validation.
However many of them there are, and there are more than we might like to admit, they will hang with her to the bitter end as she shares and embodies their mental and moral illnesses.
3. The Anti-American Hard Left (but then I am being redundant)
Do I even need to comment on this?
The only way Hillary does not get nearly 100% of the vote of university faculties, urban intellectuals, union bosses, envirofascists, media luminaries, jihadists, and Occupy Wall Street/Black Lives Matter thugs (and their supporters) is to reanimate Vladimir Lenin, have him declared eligible to run as President by the Ninth Circuit and upheld by the rabid anti-Constitutionalist majority on Supreme Court and place him on the ballot. The Ninth Circuit and Supremes are in the bag, but the reanimation thing is still problematic.
Trump’s Tripod of Support
Trump has succeeded in assembling an unorthodox set of constituencies. Unlike Clinton’s Tripod, The Donald’s three legs of the stool are only vaguely inter-related at best, and more likely not much at all.
1. The Burn It Down Brigade
The Burn It Down Brigade, with whom I identify most closely, are honorable patriots who are tired of being betrayed by the Republican wing of the Uniparty kleptocracy. Despite monumental results in recent elections, 2010 and 2014 in particular, they see their beliefs betrayed, their ideals ridiculed, and their very identities condemned. Like me they have come to see the current political climate as one of domestic conflict, with the ultimate enemy being the
communist party Democrats, whose impulse toward collectivist tyranny must be excised from any meaningful role in the political process. Unfortunately for the GOP, this cadre has come to see the GOP itself as the bastion of protection for the communists as the GOP elders benefit equally from the cozy relationship they have with the bureaucratic/lobbyist elites who feather all nests. Thus, the first step in destroying the domestic communists must be the destruction of their protectors in the Crony Capitalist wing of the Uniparty.
This group of honorable patriots is the biggest variable for Trump and thus the election. They may not like Trump as a person nor even as a candidate, but as long as they see him as the most effective vehicle for overturning the system to a productive end they will stick with him. Should they contemplate thoughtfully his statements about The Wall being negotiable, or his desires to weaken the First Amendment to allow him to punish critics more easily, or his promises to not defund Planned Parenthood they may begin to have second thoughts. Should they come to believe the quip, “There are two sides to every question, and Trump is on all three!” or dwell on his indifference to their concerns about “gay marriage,” the rainbow jihad, or religious liberty, they just might start to gaze around the political landscape a bit. Further, if they begin to parse his comments, if they come to believe that his rhetoric is simply vacuous bluster substantively undifferentiated from “Hope and Change,” or that his policy prescriptions are naive and confused, they will no longer see him as that vehicle for creative destruction and will go elsewhere or stay home. This is Trump’s great task, to keep these honorable patriots thinking of him as the agent of productive destruction as he portrays himself, rather than the self-absorbed grifter as his critics from the right portray him.
2. The Strong Man Fans
Like The Donald, the Strong Man Fans seem to share an indifference if not outright hostility to the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law and the process of lawful governance, and the principles of liberty, three ingredients noticeably absent from Trump’s campaign rhetoric. After decades of GOP weasel-words and pre-emptive capitulation they only care about someone willing to fight. For them. Nothing else matters. They are tired of the pansified pretty boys in Washington selling out the country and their interests and have become convinced that what his critics see as Trump’s boorishness, bullying, and brutal rhetoric are simply the proof that he an Alpha Male, their Alpha Male. They do not demand specific, well-thought-through policies of governance; they only want revenge against the political correctness and internationalism antithetical to their well-being.
They relish the purposes he stated when announcing his run for the Presidency, in which he declared that his motivation was, in essence, as being frustration that the politicians he had been bribing for decades would no longer stay bribed, and it was time for him to get involved directly. In other words he acknowledged his own role in the epidemic of public corruption but promised that from thence forward he would be corrupt only on behalf of “real” America rather than just mobbed-up unions and international banksters.
Trump’s only, and slight, risk in relation to this group is that if he changes tactics and tone, if he becomes “more presidential,” they might see him as a sell-out and nothing more meaningful than the powdered wig set in Washington. At the moment they are all-in for him, but any softening of his tenor may result in them concluding that he really is “establishment” after all and their ardor would cool. They won’t go elsewhere, there is no Nihilist Party in the US after all, but they could stay home.
3. The Kardashianistas
First and foremost, Trump’s campaign is structurally built on his role as a prominent media figure in an Age of Vapidness. (Hence his current scramble at the two-thirds point of the campaign to build an actual campaign organization.) For congregants in the Church of Celebrity there is no higher virtue than to embody the Mae West line, “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.” This puerile preoccupation with fame is the single greatest reason Trump did so well in the early stages of the campaign when there were almost a score of alternatives: in this context name recognition was the driving force. And thanks to decades worth of television and tabloid headlines and nearly $2 billion worth of media coverage during the campaign, The Donald has name recognition. To the Kardashianistas, that is enough.
Due to their having the attention span of flying insects, this group is the most likely to desert Trump in favor of the next fad, whether it be fashion, food, or squirrels. Thus far Trump has successfully forestalled this abandonment. Because he knows the popular culture media better than anyone else in politics, he has kept his name in the news and at the front of the Kardashianistas’ minds with a never-ending stream of media morsels that have been refreshed on a 24-to-36-hour cycle and become ever more outlandish as is necessary to keep low-information voters occupied with his every move and motivated to care. Only time will tell of Trump has the ability to keep these voters involved enough to get them to the polls on Election Day.
If my analysis is correct, Hillary has both a well-established floor and firm ceiling to her electoral appeal (note that I spent little time commenting on the non-supporters of either candidate). Trump on the other hand has fluid floor and ceiling, so faces by far the greatest risk and uncertainty as matter of electoral projection.
My thinking now is that the election is likely to be a blowout landslide, somewhere between the elections of 1980 and 2008 in scope. I just don’t know which way.
Don Williams is a retired craftsman who has been observing politics for nearly a half-century.