1. It’s Thursday, September 15, 2016. We’re halfway through the month and 54 days from the election.
2. The lead Hillary Clinton held over Trump through much of August has narrowed, if not closed altogether, according to some recent polls.
Nate Silver, the mastermind of fivethirtyeight.com and statistical journalism, seems to believe Democrats don’t take this narrowing seriously. He says as much in one of a series of tweets this morning – one that also wonders if the narrowing is a sign that recent events have dampened Clinton’s supporters’ enthusiasm.
3. I stopped thinking Trump was a joke late last year.
When this campaign started, I liked the idea of calling him Donny. It just seemed annoying enough – you can imagine the underlying red in his face with the overlapping orange blending into a full-blown firehead.
But he stopped being funny when he won Republican primaries and survived.
What’s lost in all this is what the American people need when there’s an election. A discussion of real issues and how candidates will deal with them.
Hillary Clinton keeps playing by that book. She thinks that putting out plans and offering ideas for solving problems and making Americans’ lives better is how you’re supposed to run for President.
She’s right, of course.
So Nate Silver’s comments should be a wake-up call for Democrats. Believe the numbers. He’s not making this stuff up – he’s basing it on polling from organizations with firm reputations and, despite what Trump says, no bias.
4. And it’s time to go back to what makes Hillary Clinton the best qualified candidate for President in 2016 – and one of the best ever.
She’s smart. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s taken blows from all sides and she’s still standing.
She needs to double down on that.
Clinton might be able to win the election by painting Trump as the dangerous demagogue he is.
But she’ll crush the jackass if she can make people understand why she should be President.
Here’s one counterintuitive tip: Limit the campaign in places where she’ll draw enthusiastic crowds. She’ll get warm greetings among in community college auditoriums where people of varied races and ethnicities show up. She’ll get a big turnout when speaking to groups of women, for whom she represents the hope of breaking the ultimate glass ceiling.
5. But Clinton should take on the doubters.
She should campaign in parts of critical states where she isn’t popular. She should go to VFW halls in rural Ohio. She should speak to farmers in North Carolina. She should talk to factory workers in Iowa.
She should tell them why she’d be a good President for them. She should take on the skeptics and answer questions. She should show off her fearlessness and her intelligence. If crowds persist in shouting up Trump, then she should explain why he’s bad for them.
But the emphasis should be on what Clinton will do to make Americans’ lives better. To show that she understands that the economic recovery hasn’t reached everyone. To reiterate, without equivocation, that America is great – that its diversity, its tolerance, its innovation are what separate it from the rest of the world.
Yes, Clinton is right – at least half of Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables.” I know. I live around them. Their antipathy toward anyone who doesn’t fit into their group is tangible.
Yes, Trump is the most dangerous presidential candidate in American history. Should he win, we will have become supplanted as the world’s No. 1 power by a Russia that would like nothing better than to have a manipulable dope in the White House.
But for Clinton to win, she has to prove why she should be President – and not why Trump shouldn’t be. By definition, you go to the polling place and vote FOR someone. You are not asked who you don’t want.
Clinton needs America to want her. That’s how she should go after this.