Well, we’ve almost reached the end of this agonizing election season, and it seems that the bizarre developments are likely to keep coming even in the last few days. After following this crazy saga for well over a year, I still find it difficult to understand what much of the public will find persuasive or problematic.
It seems that the FBI director’s notification to Congress that the Bureau would be looking into some more e-mails they came across on a Clinton aide’s computer might make a big difference in the outcome of the race, but I’m not sure why it should at this point. Nothing new has actually happened related to Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, and we haven’t actually heard about any additional findings. Actually, it appears that, when Director Comey’s letter was issued, the FBI had yet to look at the new e-mails to even discern if they were relevant to the investigation and were not duplicates of messages already obtained elsewhere, way less to have examined the content of any that might be unique. While it makes sense that the FBI would study these new e-mails, publicizing this step so close to a presidential election without being able to also inform people of any results of this examination seems less than ideal. Obviously, being reminded that a candidate has been investigated by the FBI is not going to be a point in her favor, but it seems odd to me that this would be the thing to finally push someone to reject Clinton or opt for her opponent. Of course, this whole election cycle has constantly reinforced the fact that I’m out of step with much of the electorate, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if many people find this development much more significant than I do.
Actually, even before the FBI-related news broke, some polls had already shown a tightening of the race, and I must say that I found it quite strange for Donald Trump to have been gaining support during the weeks since the last debate. During that time, he was devoting plenty of time in his campaign to complaints about supposedly “rigged” polls and not-yet completed balloting, attacks on House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans not supportive enough for Trump’s liking, and promises to sue the women who’ve alleged that Trump accosted them. Are there really quite a few people who find these things to be convincing reasons, after this very long campaign, to back an inexperienced, inconsistent, ill-prepared, self-absorbed authoritarian like Donald Trump? Maybe there are -- after all, Trump’s whining about the unfair treatment he claimed he was getting in the Republican primary process and from GOP leaders generally seemed to help him clinch the nomination over Ted Cruz this spring. Who would have thought that this sort of thing would actually appeal to voters? I guess that a good portion of America really does like a whiner, or at least wants to reward one with sympathy votes.
So, we shall soon see if Donald J. Trump manages to pull off the ultimate con and secure himself a spot in the Oval Office. If he does, who knows what we’ll see from him next year and beyond. Which, if any, of the sometimes conflicting goals or proposals he’s brought up during the campaign might he actually try to implement? How much might he use his powerful new office to indulge his vindictive impulses and punish those he sees as having opposed or wronged him in some way during his run for the presidency? How much and in what ways will he “shake up” Washington or “burn down” the Republican establishment, as so many of his ardent supporters want him to do, and how destructive might these things be? I do know that I see no reason to expect an administration that will really help move America in a better, more conservative direction, and I do not find at all persuasive the arguments some have made that Trump would be held in check by other members of "his " party because he’s enjoyed less then enthusiastic support from many of them. I think it’s far more likely that a Donald Trump who managed to win the election despite all of the crazy things he’s said and done and the (almost entirely justified) criticism he’s received from so many of us would be even more emboldened and would believe that he has a mandate from the voters to be “unshackled” as President and to do what he wants. I’m afraid that the best case we could hope for would involve Trump having no real interest in governing at all, so that he would just travel around holding rallies and other events at which he could bask in the adulation of his adoring fans while allowing more responsible Republicans in Congress or his administration to actually deal with things like setting policies and trying to enact legislation. But Trump might well believe his own rhetoric that he alone can fix everything in our country and, as a result, try to impose his will regarding many issues on everyone. There’s no way to know ahead of time what would happen during a Donald Trump presidency, but I’m dreading the possibility that we might have to find out.