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Two Predictions For The Presidential Election

Sep 28, 2020

 


  Commentary: I’ve been writing this column in my head ever since election night in 2016.

I decided that night to stay focused on local issues, and to not allow myself to get outraged every time the president says or does something outrageous. You can count on one hand the number of columns I’ve written since then about Donald Trump.

But I also decided that when the time was right, just before the start of early voting, I would craft a column that was so persuasive it would convince undecided voters of the need to make a change.

Early voting starts Tuesday, Oct. 6, but I’m not sure there are any undecided voters left.

 

All along, I expected that the purpose of this column would be to drive home the importance of this year’s election. Now it turns out that just the opposite is true.

I’ve never been very good at election-year predictions, but here are two for this year that I feel pretty certain about.

1. If Trump is re-elected, our democracy will survive. All of those people talking about this being an existential election need to take a breath.

My faith in that has nothing to do with the president. The so-called “deep state” that has so frustrated him and his supporters is, in fact, a set of standards and values that have been established during the last two-plus centuries and are enforced each day by tens of thousands of federal workers who are loyal to their agency and its mission, not the person who temporarily occupies the office of president.

Trump would continue his attempts to weaken traditional values and norms, but he’s outnumbered. And those folks aren’t going anywhere.

2. If Trump loses, he will step down. He’ll claim until his final breath that he got cheated. His lawyers will file appeals. His supporters will look for ways to get state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters. But none of that will work.

And in the end, Trump doesn’t want to go down in history as the first president to be forcibly removed from office. 

I had two hopes when Trump took office. The first was that he wouldn’t start a war. The second was that he wouldn’t face a crisis, beyond those that he creates for himself every day.

Every country in the world faced the same crisis when the coronavirus began to spread at the start of the year. None have mishandled it as badly as we have. Our death toll from the virus dwarfs that of other nations.

The president knew from the start how deadly the virus was, but he kept that information to himself for fear of rattling the stock market. He said he wants to be a cheerleader for our country. We need a coach - a leader who we can trust.

What we have is a pot-stirrer. Every large group of friends or coworkers has at least one person who just loves to stir the pot. He or she knows exactly what to say to get one group fighting with another, then sits back and enjoys the show.

That seems to be the one singular talent of our current president. He’s better at it than anybody I’ve ever seen. And it has served him well, first as a successful reality TV host, then as a successful candidate in both the Republican primary and general election.

But those skills don’t translate well to the Oval Office, especially at a time when we need a leader who can unify the country behind a science-based plan to save lives.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com