“Toughing It Out”

Over the weekend one political correspondent suggested that Hillary Clinton’s tendency to “tough things out” might cost her the election. I think it’s fair to say, as others have, that Clinton is not a “transformational” candidate and would not attempt to make radical changes to government if she became president. Despite the rhetoric from the far right, Clinton is essentially an “incrementalist improver,” regardless of what her supporters or detractors claim. She wants to make further progress on the issues important to her, as she has outlined in fairly extensive detail. She is not suggesting major changes. Trump would try to make broad, dramatic, and sweeping changes, although it’s highly unlikely that he’d have much success, for reasons I’ve outlined in past blogs.

But the election isn’t coming down to what either candidate can or cannot do. It’s coming down to the commitment of their supporters, and those supporters are going to be moved more and more by emotion in the coming weeks.

Currently, most polls have the two candidates in a virtual deadlock, but there’s one area where Trump has a significant advantage – and that’s in the commitment of supporters. According to a poll cited on CBS news, 90% of those eligible to vote favoring Trump are determined to vote, while slightly less than 80% of those favoring Clinton are determined to vote. Assuming that the current polls are correct, if voter sentiment remains close to even and those commitment levels hold up, Trump will win, and it may not even be close.

Clinton’s problem is that incremental improvement doesn’t motivate people as much as the great and sweeping statements made by Trump. And while I won’t claim to speak for anyone, from my perspective, it seems as though, among those who seem to be key to her election: (1) black voters are getting tired of incrementalism and want more dramatic and effective efforts to remove the remaining discriminatory impediments that disproportionately affect the black community; (2) younger Americans want decisive action on improving education, lowering the costs of education that students and their families bear, and improving job opportunities for younger workers; and (3) a great many women, especially younger women, are tired of the continuing pay and opportunity gap between men and women, unhappy with the continuing number of glass ceilings that are all too infrequently broken, if broken at all, and want more than incremental change that never seems to solve the problems they face.

I’d submit that Clinton’s incrementalism simply isn’t motivating those who should be her supporters to the same degree that Trump’s sweeping and emotional appeals are motivating his supporters. Part of this is because incremental improvement doesn’t lend itself to sound bites, and most people find the recitation of facts boring. Part of it is that people want to see that their candidate is passionate about his or her beliefs. And part of it is that “toughing it out” is a mindset all too foreign to younger voters, who want immediate change, and they want it now.

One of Trump’s “strengths” is that he clearly believes whatever he’s saying at the moment, even if he changes his mind later. He’s very much “in the moment.” Hillary Clinton isn’t nearly that much “in the moment,” and she continues to act as though her long and dedicated effort to what she believes in speaks louder than emotional promises, but most people don’t see the work she’s done and don’t think that the past speaks to the present. They only see the images, and today images speak far more than substance.

“Toughing it out” might work for Clinton, but I have very strong doubts that it’s going to be effective in this election.

7 thoughts on ““Toughing It Out””

  1. cremes says:

    “…most people don’t see the work she’s done and don’t think that the past speaks to the present. ”

    I think people are WELL AWARE of what Clinton has done and they don’t like it. The history that she can point to is not very favorable. As Senator, she wrote and passed legislation to name a building. Not much of an accomplishment. What other signature legislation did she create? None! Senator was a mere stepping stone.

    As SoS, she has a terrible track record.
    * The infamous “reset button” with Russia.

    * Libya (“We came, we saw, he died. Ha ha.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y).

    * Benghazi

    * Rise of ISIS.

    She flew a lot of miles and has few diplomatic successes.

    Hillary has been in the public eye for 35 years. Unfortunately for her, she has a 35 year track record of abusing the public trust, parsing her statements very closely (i.e. lying), covering up for her husband’s abuses, etc.

    Trump isn’t perfect. However, we have 35 years of proof that Hillary cannot be trusted with the levers of power. Disqualified!

    1. Trump isn’t perfect? What a touchingly naive statement. He’s spent 40 plus years using political influence to get special tax breaks(and even admitted that he’s essentially bought politicians) that have cost governments hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes; he’s had more businesses fail than any other “billionaire”; and he’s welshed on his debts to contractors for years; he’s lied about all the products he pushes that were made overseas while claiming he’ll bring back American jobs; he’s insulted everyone under the sun; and he’s generated more hatred in a presidential election than since the one in 1800. He’s made promise after promise that can’t be carried out, either physically, financially, or legally, which means he’s a far bigger liar than you claim Hillary is, or he’s totally incompetent.

      Your response confirms the thesis of the post — that this election will be decided by emotion, not logic or reason.

      1. Alan Naylor says:

        There is a significant body of evidence concerning both candidates that people are choosing who they will vote for based on the driving principle of denying the other candidate their vote rather than in actual support for the candidate they do vote for. With that in mind I feel that we would be better served if voters recognized and remembered that the system is not a two party system; there is more than one other candidate to vote for.

        Trump, as has been noted before, is akin to a two year old throwing a temper tantrum whenever he doesn’t get his way or some one pokes him. He lashes out without forethought as he lives very much in the moment. The lack of consideration before he speaks is a huge detractor in a person who would like to be considered for a position as the head of state.

        As you’d noted he does make wild claims that can clearly never be followed through on. He’s a businessman in the worse senses of the word. He has lied, cheated and swindled his way from his first inherited millions to the position of wealth and power he now holds, yet many will vote for him because of his emotional appeal of wild promises.

        While all of that is true for Trump, Hillary is just as bad, if not worse, in many ways. She represents the establishment and can only continue down the path that has been failing us for recent past. She is as much of a criminal, albeit for breaking different laws, as Trump. Her actions hit closer to home with military and government individuals due to the nature of confidential materials they handle and are trained on annually. Her actions regarding Bengasi, e-mails and a myriad number of issues assure she is not a proper candidate for the position either. Despite these things many will vote for her as well due to the comfort of the devil they know.

        Yet for good or ill the matter seems to have devolved to there only being two candidates with a chance to win.

      2. cremes says:

        “Your response confirms the thesis of the post — that this election will be decided by emotion, not logic or reason.”

        Yes, just like every other election has been decided. Remember when a junior Senator from Illinois ran for the presidency? He had no experience, no experience, and no experience. However, he made people “feel” good. And he won twice in a row.

        Your thesis is as obvious as it is useless.

        I await the coming Trumpslide. The Establishment will finally get a good punch in the mouth. The Uni-party is starting to crumble and it makes me happy.

        1. Sometimes… it helps to remind people of the obvious that they ignore. Other times, they’ll repeat the same stupidity. But it’s worth the effort.

  2. Rural_Defender says:

    “that this election will be decided by emotion, not logic or reason”

    . . .and that, is probably the saddest, and truest statement on this election. This election brings us a choice that this nation have earned through divisive conduct, hate mongering on both sides, and a refusal to build compromise. I fear the beginning of the end of the American experiment.

    Franklin is quoted as saying “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

    Quote not completely on point – but, we are surely headed to being hung separately.

  3. Jim S says:

    Franklin is also quoted as saying we have “a republic… if you can keep it.”

    Not too sure how good a job either major candidate will do to keep the republic. And that scares me.

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