As much as I was rooting for the other guy, I have to congratulate Donald Trump.
After a long, hard slugfest, his strongest challenger — Ted Cruz — has conceded the race to the front runner, and “the Donald” will now take the mantle, representing the Republicans into November.
But there are at least as many questions still hanging in the air, as were answered by Indiana’s results, and in a race with as many wildcards as this one, making absolute claims about the future is even dicier than usual.
Looking at the presumptive (but still not declared) winner of the Democratic race, it seems like a Trump vs. Hillary showdown. Under normal circumstances, after two contentious terms under one administration, the edge usually goes to the challenger.
That edge would get ramped higher when their candidate is seen as an ideological arch-villain, of traditional Republican values — like Hillary. Throw in some high-profile scandals (emails, Benghazi) with her fingerprints all over them besides other scandals of days gone by, and this race should be “a gimme” for Republicans. And that’s even without Hillary having to trade in her signature pant suits on for orange jumpsuits.
But Trump has some obstacles of his own to work out. Obviously, if the Republican base shows up full strength, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep Hillary Clinton, (and Bill’s humidor) out of the Oval Office. But one of the lessons of 2012 was the that candidate must not assume the support of the base.
We know that Trump has the official support of the GOP. The question only time will reveal, is exactly what does that party look like after this tumultuous Primary?
His more optimistic supporters will point to enormous crowds attending his rallies, and big responses, especially in open primaries. They are banking on Trump’s ability to draw disaffected voters who wrote off the system as broken. They are banking on blue collar workers’ hopes of seeing manufacturing come back to America, and other groups that have not traditionally looked to Republicans for answers.
The other half will cringe at the bare-knuckle slash-and-burn politicking that got Trump to this stage of the process. His (often baseless) personal attacks on his rivals, the contempt he had for GOP supporters of other candidates, and the broad-brushing of thousands of his own party’s volunteers as corrupt political hacks. They will wonder whether the same aggressive tactics that got him here burned all those bridges along the way.
We really don’t know yet.
To his credit, he was able to win back Ben Carson even after some pretty dirty digs. But that was one guy; and one considered unusually gracious even by his critics. Can he do it on a large scale? Or will the people hold grudges?
Just as Hillary has to deal with her scandals, Trump has some things to resolve before November, too. Will the timing of the Trump U litigation become a distraction? Or will he be able to play that off as successfully has he has been able to blow off those other controversies?
Some cynics have suggested that registered Democrats were voting Trump — not out of support, but because they considered Trump the “weakest link” of the Republicans. Even if this were confirmed, we will have to wait to see whether this is a strategy that will help them or backfire badly.
Now that the circus of the Republican Primary is over, how will the media treat him? Will they turn on him now that he’s the last Republican standing? Will he stand his ground as well as he did against the Republican contenders? Time will tell.
Speaking of media, I suspect the biggest change might be with the media. Not in their reporting so much as how we trust them. We have watched the media (tv, radio, and internet) through this election cycle pick their favorites.
Some — myself included — have tried to be open about our preferences, and have tried to report as impartially as possible: which includes recognizing the strengths of the other guy, and the failings of our own preferred candidate. At the very least it’s gotta include resisting the urge to over-praise, or over-criticize the candidates.
Not everyone has remained impartial. And the public has noticed. Worse, they are insulted and outraged.
Sure, we have come to expect a revolving door between the Media and the White House — among the Democrats. They’re partisan, and they don’t even try to hide it. This is why even Obama can joke about reporters leaving the White House to join with TV news. We still remember Chris Matthews and the tingle up his leg. I make jokes about news anchors fighting the dog for space at the foot of the Presidential bed.
But we now have Conservative pundits blind to the failings of the guy they cheered for, and to the good of his rivals. Now our own side has people with “tingles” like Matthews did. And such media personalities have forgotten that their main job is to keep the feet of powerful people to the fire — not protect them from it.
I’m proud to say that ClashDaily, for one, had latitude enough for a wide variety of conflicting opinions, with plenty of praise and criticism to go around. We didn’t become hacks for any one guy.
There is much still to be seen about how everything will play out here. There will be gloating today, for sure. And somebody will be proven wrong in the fairly near future.
Either Trump will disprove his doubters, or disappoint his supporters. This is one instance I wouldn’t mind being wrong.