Karl Rove, Lee Atwater,  and other Republican strategists’ main contribution to our electoral system is that facts don’t matter if you can just make voters “feel” the way you want them to. John Kerry, a decorated veteran was “Swiftboated” with a false story to take away an advantage he had over George W. Bush who spent his military service safe at home. Similarly they have attacked President Obama so much in spite of a list of real achievements that the difference in the way the world outside the United sees him has become so striking. The Canadian parliament’s “four more years” chant is just typical of the gulf in perception. I have often had to try to explain our politics to people outside the United States to whom we seem quite literally crazy. “Let me get this straight, you elected the Terminator governor of California?” or “a reality show host is really one of the two candidates for your presidency?” They find our politics inexplicable and more than a little terrifying.

I bring this up to discuss Donald Trump. In his closing address to the Republican National Convention time and time again he mentioned how people feel. They feel unsafe, they feel that the economy isn’t doing well, they feel that they are losing control of the country. Factually none of this is true but the Republicans have made that irrelevant. Trump is gaining followers by connecting to how so many feel without a plan to remedy it. I have just seen RNC speaker Antonio Sabato Jr. say in a clip on John Oliver’s show that he feels in his heart that Obama is a Muslim when all the facts argue against this belief. He believes it is true because he feels it so; no facts actually required. This is just the same as many Republicans feel that humans are not causing climate change, that arguing for white supremacy and singling out minority groups as being lesser are not racist, and that believing that there is institutional racism is racist. They feel that Donald Trump is the leader who can overcome things to make them “feel” better. Lawsuits and bankruptcies not withstanding they “feel” that he is a proven successful business manager, a no nonsense guy who gets things done. After all they have seen it on his “reality” television show.

Hillary, wonk that she is,  is falling right into Trump’s trap. She is trying to combat him with facts and plans, but these are clearly not the issue for millions of people. She is fighting as she always has thinking that her knowledge of the facts, her preparation, and her plans will show Trump up as the vacuous blowhard he is. The problem is that they won’t. Hillary is fighting this as a regular political campaign when both Trump and Bernie supporters keep telling her that it is not. She is trying to turn to the center to get the disaffected moderate Republicans, the political insiders like Debbie Wasserman Schmidt who play the political game down and dirty, and her own liberal supporters. I am like the moviegoer watching a horror movie and screaming “don’t go in that door,” when of course she can’t hear me. She is ignoring the vast majority of Bernie and Trump supporters who are saying that this is exactly what they don’t want. They want someone who speaks to their “feeling” of exclusion in the age of big money and insiders controlling the political process. As long as they characterize her as “more of the same,” she is in danger of losing this election. The DNC email scandal compounded by immediately hiring Congresswoman Schmidt for her campaign confirms what Trump is saying about her. Her choice of Kaine rather than a progressive person as here running mate is showing that she wants to appeal to the wrong group. I fear that being the anti-Trump will not be enough to win this election.

I have enough reservations about Hillary that her loss would not hurt except that it means Trump wins. That would be far worse for it emboldens those like David Duke to also run for office. It would put our foreign and domestic policy in the hands of someone who thinks (like a CEO) that what he says is how it should be; allies, Congress and separation of powers be damned. It will provide stupid simplistic answers (like a wall) to complex problems like immigration. It would put in office someone who has little feeling for how our political system works and the history of our country. Heaven help us if that happens.

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