Why Donald Trump Will Lose

Arthur Schopenhauer

W.J. Astore

Donald Trump claims that if he loses the election it’s because the whole process is rigged.  But a rigged game is not why Trump will lose.  He’s going to lose because he’s offered no compelling vision about why he should be president.  (I don’t think “making America great again” is such a vision.)

What’s most remarkable to me about Trump’s campaign is how negative it’s been.  America is in decline!  Our inner cities are wastelands! Immigrants are thugs and rapists!  Muslims are out to get us!  Our leaders are stupid and crooked!  Indeed, until recently, Trump argued our top leader wasn’t even born in America.

A relentlessly negative campaign says a lot more about Trump than it does about America.  Sure, this country has problems.  But there are many silver linings in the dark clouds (economy on the mend; job growth up; health care extended to more people; rights for the LGBTQ community more accepted; the U.S. auto industry is back; more action on climate change is forthcoming, as long as Trump doesn’t win).

I was reading Arthur Schopenhauer’s “Counsels and Maxims” and came across a passage that reminded me of Trump.  Here it is:

No man can see over his own height … You cannot see in another man any more than you have in yourself; and your own intelligence strictly determines the extent to which he comes within its grasp …. Hence intercourse with others involves a process of leveling down.  The qualities which are present in one man, and absent in another, cannot come into play when they meet; and the self-sacrifice which this entails upon one of the parties, calls forth no recognition from the other.

Consider how sordid, how stupid, in a word, how vulgar most men are, and you will see that it is impossible to talk to them without becoming vulgar yourself for the time being.  Vulgarity is in this respect like electricity; it is easily distributed…

That’s Trump in a nutshell: vulgar.  Vulgar language.  Vulgar action. Vulgar appeals.  The question is: Will that vulgarity triumph on election day?  Is it enough?  My guess is that it isn’t.  That it won’t be.

His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has her own set of issues, but compared to Trump she has run a more hopeful campaign, or, at the very least, a much less vulgar one.  “Stronger together” is a tepid slogan, but it does stress togetherness, a certain strength in numbers, a degree of tolerance.  And Hillary has simply done a better job than Trump at reaching out to wider constituencies with a message that is positive rather than declinist.

Sure, a lot of people will vote for Trump, and for many reasons.  They don’t like or trust Hillary.  They’re loyal to the Republican Party.  They see something in Trump that resonates with them.  They feel they’ve gotten the shaft and think that a wild card like Trump can help them more than a face card like Hillary.

But ultimately I believe Trump will be done in by his own vulgarity.  He will lose because he couldn’t see past the limitations of his own height — his own flawed character.

But if I’m wrong, prepare yourself for four years of vulgar appeals, of sordidness and stupidity, to quote Schopenhauer.  For as the philosopher said, vulgarity is easily distributed.

6 thoughts on “Why Donald Trump Will Lose

  1. They see socialism’s rise growing as more people want and depend on government support, i.e., free college, more child care, pre school education for all children. The list is endless and only Big (Federal) Government can fix things. Budget???Fudget!!!! As Everett Dirkson, another Illinois Senator use to say “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.”


    1. I know what you mean, but some public programs are essential, e.g. public education, public works, public health. On PBS this last Friday, there was a sobering segment on health care in Appalachia. People wait for traveling doctors, dentists, and nurses to come for the most basic medical care, e.g. eyeglasses and tooth fillings. We have declining life expectancy in many areas in the U.S., and I thought to myself: How much would it cost to get health care to rural areas? A few billion a year? The cost of 10 fighter jets or an aircraft carrier?

      We’re buying weapons and creating an empire as our children suffer without adequate health care and a decent education. Our priorities are all screwed up.


  2. Was it Adlai Stevenson that was approached after his political speech in the 1920s, and told “Sir, you have every thinking American’s vote”; to which he replied: “Thank you, but that’s not enough”. Despite my probable in accuracies, the point is that I suggest that the majority of US voters do not find your points relevant, they operate on a more emotional level.


    1. To paraphrase a Billy Joel song: You may be right. They may be crazy. It might just be a lunatic they’re looking for.

      But there’s another way of looking at this. Neither Hillary nor Trump is an intellectual like Adlai Stevenson. That’s not their appeal. But one candidate, Trump, is exceedingly vulgar. Hillary, meanwhile, is compromised. I’m thinking Hillary’s negatives simply aren’t as dire as Trump’s.


  3. Scrap this post. Never dismiss that disempowered people have the choice to do whatever seems right. For good or ill. The alternative is to take away their rights altogether.


    1. I won’t scrap it because it’s part of history — my history, at least. Like so many others, I called it wrong. I thought Trump’s declinist rhetoric and his open vulgarity would be too much for him to overcome. As Trump would say, “Wrong.”


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