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Home News Leslie Loftis’s America Watch: Peak chaos could yet derail the presidential front-runners

Leslie Loftis’s America Watch: Peak chaos could yet derail the presidential front-runners

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As this presidential election continues to defy all the known rules, Hillary Clinton appears set to lose to the Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, in November.

It is not that Trump is a great candidate with principles. He isn’t. Nor is it that party-before-country Republicans have rallied to him out of misguided duty. They have damaged their own reputations.

Trump’s chances have never looked better because Clinton still has not clinched her party’s nomination against a white-haired socialist man and has proven a weaker candidate than any of us on the Right imagined.

She has a women problem, partly for her reliance on identity politics and partly because of her history “for” women. It is a generational issue, for which Trump attacks her without regard to the media’s shame tactics on his hypocrisy. The look away and speak-not-of-it tactic the media used in the past to save the Clintons will not suffice this time.

Mix in Clinton’s lack of political skill and a lingering scandal at the end of a long line of scandals, and Trump polls well. I doubt this will hold, but whenever I worry that I’m underestimating Clinton’s campaign, I find I could’ve aimed lower.  The race is hers to lose and she has accepted the challenge.

Enter the independent, stage right

Typical of this year, as soon as the race seemed to settle into something resembling normal, an independent emerged. Attorney and writer David French has geared up for an independent spoiler run. I have read his work for a while and am intrigued because of his resume on constitutional conservatism. But I won’t be able to vote for him.

Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and instigator of the #FrenchRevolution, is correct that many voters are so appalled by the presumptive choices that they will seek out another option. Thus, someone with low name recognition could run a viable campaign — or could have if the backers had done this searching a few months ago, as some wiser heads suggested.

Many of the independent run deadlines have passed, most notably Texas’s. Texas voters would be open to an independent and we bring one of the largest electoral college vote hauls.  Without Texas, an independent run is just a protest vote.

Furthermore, I have to marvel at the lessons still unlearned. After all that has passed this anti-establishment cycle, the “And Introducing” billing for the hero independent runner is a Harvard lawyer who writes for National Review and is fronted by the editor of the Weekly Standard. Those are the first bits of information that the seeking voters will find. They are bugs, not features.

(It is the mirror image of the Libertarian Party convention. With Clinton and Trump’s unfavorables, they had potential for influence and even a longshot at winning. Yet, instead of assessing the race and nominating someone the electorate seeks, the convention gave us a candidate striptease and nominated Gary Johnson again.)

New York/DC bubble dwellers still do not understand that Trump resonated this year because he appeared as “an engine of chaos” to break up the cartel that the Republican party had become — the one that wasn’t listening to a thing they said. Running a Harvard attorney (French) only proves their point, again.

Have we reached peak chaos?

Trump has proven to be the engine of chaos, but the thing we forget about chaos is its disregard for all rules. The campaigns aren’t following the rules. The electorate isn’t following the rules. So what if the convention delegates don’t either?

The Democratic super delegates are party insiders held together by party cum personal interests. They rallied to the inevitable Clinton only to see her struggle against Sanders and poll poorly against Trump. If a few of them start publicly to doubt her coronation, then they could all bolt quickly and declare themselves free agents for the Democratic Convention. They don’t want Sanders either, so they might try a Democratic French-Kristol revolution.

The Republican delegates are bound by what exactly? The primaries don’t choose a candidate. They choose delegates. Party rules direct the delegates how to vote in the first rounds, but how does the party enforce those rules? What, beyond desire to follow the rules, binds those delegate votes?

Usually following the rules is a good enough reason in itself. But the United States was founded on the premise that at times it is our right, our duty, to change the rules.

Neither option is likely, but what has “likely” stopped this election season? Either convention could catch the Spirit of ’76 with delegates reverting to the old ways of voting their own own minds. If one side does it, the other side is more likely to do it. Chaos indulges tipping points.

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Leslie Loftis
Leslie is a once and future American expat, most recently in London. She is also a lawyer and former local political campaign operative turned freelance writer. She currently lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband and their four children. Find her on twitter @AHLondonTX.

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