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.

The Boorish and Sexist Vulgarity of Donald Trump

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

W.J. Astore

Donald Trump is a tacky, classless, and vulgar man.  Recall back in April that he sent a tweet, since deleted, saying that “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”  Back in December, he wrote that Hillary “got schlonged” by Obama when they ran against one another back in 2008. (“Schlong” is Yiddish for penis; I recall hearing it as a teenager without ever knowing its Yiddish origins, not that etymology mattered much to teens in a locker room context.)

I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, and indeed I’ve criticized her at this site for her establishment ties, her warmongering, her acceptance of big money from banks, her incrementalism, her lack of generosity toward the working classes when compared to Bernie Sanders, her lack of judgment when it came to her vote on the Iraq War or the intervention in Libya.  And that’s my point: there are plenty of legitimate issues on which to criticize Hillary.  Just think of her unsecure private email server, for example, which she used while leading the State Department.  Hillary and her husband Bill have often acted as if one set of rules applied to them and another set applied to “everyday people” like you and me; call it the hypocrisy of the privileged, a common enough trait in America.

There are so many substantive and important issues to criticize Hillary and Bill on that it’s truly revealing when Trump stoops to attack Hillary just because she’s a woman, just because “she yells,” just because her husband cheated on her (Trump also claimed she “enabled” Bill’s cheating), and just because she lost a previous primary to a man with a penis.  Recall as well when Trump criticized Hillary by saying that if she “were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card.” 

Politics is the land of the rough and tumble, but Trump’s attacks on his opponent that center on her gender and her husband’s cheating are beyond rough.  They are the actions of a crude, tacky, boorish, and classless person, a person whose behavior is uncivil, behavior that would make even teenage boys in a locker room squirm.

Have you no sense of decency, Mr. Trump?