The Democratic primary is almost over. Yes, Bernie Sanders could win by a landslide in next week’s California primary. He could come to the super-delegates clutching polls showing him beating Trump by 15 points. He could point to his millions of small donors and fired up millennial volunteers and blah blah blah. He lost. Feel the math.
We’re talking about the general election now. My fellow pundits point to Obama’s positive approval ratings, a humming economy, and an increasing number of minority voters who detest Trump, and they say this is Hillary Clinton’s race to lose.
That’s true to an extent. But Hillary starts out with an historically low favorability rating, disliked by 55% of Americans. She is dogged by a massive illegal e-mail treason scandal that has millions of Americans glued to their screens, waiting for the dramatic FBI chase (which could very well end in a shootout with the Secret Service and with her and Bill’s arrest). And, to be honest, voters just plain don’t like her.
Assuming Hillary can evade the FBI dragnet closing in on her and ward off a late challenge from Joe Biden or a muscular, toned war hero like Wesley Clark, she’ll be the Democratic nominee. And she’ll start off at best a 50-50 shot against the most polarizing Republican Presidential candidate in history, Donald Trump.
One would think that Trump’s violent attacks on respected journalists and Jeb Bush’s masculinity would disqualify him from the highest office in the land. But, perversely, the more Trump attacks virtuous Beltway insiders and innocent neoconservative wonks, the more the ignorant hog-humans of flyover country seem to like him.
The Clinton campaign has already begun testing several lines of attack against Trump. They’re calling him “Dangerous Donald,” “Poor Donald,” “Disruptive Donald,” and “Donald Bad Man.” In any other election season, this would be enough to make flyover voters think, “Hey, this guy is dangerous! He’s a threat to Washington insiders! He might destroy the political consensus that we treasure!”
But this is no normal election.
If Hillary wants to win, she needs to take the gloves off and fight fire with fire. Although the Dig is usually aggressively nonpartisan, I can’t help but engage in a little fantasy from time to time. So here’s how I would advise Hillary to win:
Push Entitlement Reform. Americans are working longer hours for less pay. The value of their homes are plummeting. Their retirement funds are being raided. Their healthcare and college education costs are skyrocketing. They’re mad. And their anger is boiling over about one thing: the failure of Congress to pass serious entitlement reform. Mr. and Mrs. Middle America see the value of their 401(k) dropping and think “If we have it this bad, imagine how bad the deficit is!” Hillary needs to get in front of some cameras and proclaim, “John F. Kennedy once challenged us to go higher than any man has ever been. I challenge us to raise the retirement age higher than any society that has come before us or will come after us.” Make us dream again, Hillary.
Call Trump a “Cuck.” The first rule of jiu-jitsu: turn your enemy’s strength into a weakness. Trump can deploy waves of abusive internet trolls to send frog memes and photographs of European women at his foes. He deployed this tactic to devastating effect against his Republican opponents, calling respected conservatives like Bill Kristol and @BilliardsFool “cucks” and “race traitors.” Hillary needs to turn the tables and say “The only cuck here, Donald, is you.” Imagine the debates this fall, when Trump says “Bill Clinton can’t keep it in his pants, he’s an adulterer and a rapist,” and Hillary delivers the perfect rejoinder: “That’s true, Donald. Right now, Bill is sleeping with your wife.” Mic. Drop.
More Viral SNL Moments. If Hillary brings her full arsenal of “eyyy fam” and “v sus af” to the comedy gauntlet of Saturday Night Live, she may very well retain those fleeting millennial votes that are slipping through her fingers like sand. If Hillary could give a “shout out” to a musical guest such as Drake, even adding some self-deprecating humor (Example: “Here’s Drake with “View From The 6.” Wait, is that his song or my cell block when I am imprisoned?”), it would show younger voters that she’s so serious about earning their votes that she will debase herself in the most obscene and pointless gestures.
Pick Jim Webb As Running Mate. This is a no-brainer. The lean, ripped up, explosive, and dashingly handsome war hero ex-Senator would provide not just power to Hillary’s campaign, but a heart. While women relate to Secretary Clinton as a powerful role model, young men see someone they could never have a beer with. Jim Webb solves that problem. While Hillary is saying something like “I may not be LIL WAYNE but I will turn the fire up on DONALD TRUMP to 1000 DEGREES,” she’s losing the sullen, disaffected men who wish they had a father figure. That’s when Webb takes the stage. He rolls up his sleeves. He looks you in the eye. “Hey sport, I see you got a chip on your shoulder the size of Texas. Now, I’m not here to be your old man. But there’s some things he probably didn’t tell you, and I’m here now. Alright, take off your shirt.” Hillary’s numbers with men 18-35 explode. Problem solved.
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @carl_diggler. And check out his predictions at SixThirtyEight.
To try CAFE’s Morning Shot email, sign up here.