If you have not noticed, there is something surreal about this presidential election year. Trying to peel back the layers of craziness, unpredictability, swerves, bumps, buffets, and eye-popping oddities – in a word, surrealism – is timely. Together, let us look. There is something crazy about this year.
First, we have one presidential candidate who created a record-breaking economy, secured the southern border, stopped North Korean missile tests, ended ISIS, elevated minority labor participation, employment and income to all-time highs, forced honesty on China, is endorsed by the police, and defends our nation’s flag, history, exceptionalism and monuments.
Then, we have a second presidential candidate sitting, apparently conducting “cognitive tests” on himself, in his basement. He was vice president during the slowest recovery in US history, opened the border, praises sanctuary cities for illegals. He used a government position to favor his son with Communist China and corrupt Ukraine, thinks any black voter who does not favor him “ain’t black,” and is embarrassed by America’s history and greatness.
The first candidate believes Americans want a return to normalcy, even if we must “muddle through” to safe, regular work, school, recreation, and social interaction. He has spoken 10 times on matters of public health for each statement on COVID-19 by his subterranean opponent.
To this end, the first candidate is campaigning – modeling the idea that leaders lead, that normal is within reach, and that we must act responsibly, use discretion, help each other, and believe in the future to overcome a virus inflicted by a competing, reckless, and communist power.
In 2020, this candidate – the President – has made trips to 25 states, with two to California, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, three to Arizona and Nevada, four to Maryland and New Jersey, 10 to Florida, and 14 to Virginia. He is working tirelessly.
Meantime, the second candidate has “sheltered in place,” refused direct questions and open press conferences. His rhetoric is a 1960’s lava lamp, constantly changing, up and down, chasing his Democrat Party’s continued acceleration to the left.
He says he will not “defund” police – just hold their federal grants, calls them “the enemy.” He plans to follow New York’s termination of cash bail, inflicting New York’s high crime rate on the nation. He would end mandatory minimums and death penalty, close prisons and re-enfranchise felons.
At the border, he promises to end illegal immigrant detentions, deportations, and prosecutions, reinstating “catch and release.” He will protect sanctuary cities, loosen asylum, give work permits, federal benefits and lawyers to illegals, amnesty and no more travel bans on terror states. It sounds like a bad movie, but that is his plan.
On the economy, despite a poor record, he says he can do anything our president did – only better. Meantime, whatever the challenger should have done, he will (e.g. holding China accountable). Whatever he should not have done and did, he will not do again (e.g. jobs for son in China and Ukraine).
Elsewhere, he supports abortion “up-to-birth” (and judicial nominees who do), will end school choice (as unions hate it), will restart climate panic (rejoining the Paris economic redistribution accords), and will apologize to Iran for reneging on an unenforceable nuclear accord that cost US taxpayers billions.
Other than that, he swears – from that COVID-safe, riot-protected, media-muffled basement – that he is ready for Day One. This from a candidate with more gaffs than the rest of the early field combined.
Perhaps aware of the contrast – hard-working, go-go president versus a doddering opponent – national Democrat Terry McAuliffe argued privately in June that Biden should just stay in the basement, do no events. “He’s fine in the basement.” And that strategy appears to be prevailing. See, https://nypost.com/2020/06/10/joe-biden-should-stay-in-his-basement-terry-mcauliffe/.
Objectively, if hard to believe, national polls put the basement denizen ahead of the president. Latest aggregate puts Biden at 50 percent to Trump’s 40, or plus-10. One July poll puts Biden up by 15 points. See https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-down-15-points-biden-national-poll.
Still, one returns to surrealism. Something about this campaign does not feel real. Yes, we are all confined, masked and distanced by the virus, which may wane by November. Yes, we are all experiencing uneasiness borne of social unrest, of which all may soon grow rather tired.
But can a candidate really win the White House from a basement? Can a candidate with cognition issues avoid examination by the press – even a friendly press? Can an election cycle unfold without debates? Are the American people willing to elect a 77-year-old with a record of stunning errors and now lurching left?
Interestingly, four years ago, few thought Trump could win. In the week of July 31-August 2, 2016, Fox News had Clinton up on Trump 49 to 39 percent, plus-10. NBC News had Clinton up by 10. More interesting, the August 1-3 McClatchy-Marist poll put Clinton ahead by 15 points. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html#polls.
Of course, times change, but Trump now has a record – and a vision that jives with many Americans. In unsettled times, he is engaged, pushing individual responsibility, return to normalcy, educational and economic reopening, plus law and order. COVID-19 notwithstanding, he is a proven leader. Biden also has a record and vision. While he can hide, the record and vision are clear – and not pretty.
What can we expect? Well, if you think this year is surreal, you are probably right. Even compared to 2016, this one is filled with wild turns, recurring uncertainties, new swerves, bumps, and buffets.
But three things remain solid. First, most Americans have good judgment and will exercise it – they will not be intimidated. Second, most Americans value leadership – and Trump is showing it. Course corrections are part of that. Third, every year looks unprecedented until over – because it is, until over. There is something crazy about this year – but, on reflection, maybe not as crazy as it seems.