My talents for political prediction are terrible. It’s why I have a draw full of Vote 2016 paraphernalia from the US that will never see a relevant light of day.
I followed the Republican primaries in detail right up until the point Ted Cruz threw in the towel. As they got under way Chris Christie was my pick, and had been for about two years by that point. He had a folksy cross party charm, and a girth that people could relate to. Then as the debate began his tell-it-like-it-is shtick began to sound a bit hackneyed and corny. What’s more nobody was listening to it. They were listening to Trump instead (soon Christie was too).
So I moved on to Marco Rubio. He seemed like a good choice: young, photogenic, and eloquent when given the time to talk. He looked like a modern politician, which was shorthand for “young”. But Rubio was about three elections too late if he wanted a primary season involving debate and policy. Instead he got one featuring ugly bombast and hyperbole. Ill-designed to shine in such circumstances, Rubio faded.
So I moved on to Jeb Bush. Widely considered to be a decent man JEB proved a terrible candidate. Backed by a well-funded attack dog (a Political Action Committee) that dripped blood from its fangs, he was ready to sick Rubio with it. The only problem was that Rubio was threatening nobody, which turned Bush’s war chest into the primary equivalent of the Maginot line, with heavy guns pointing in the wrong direction. Bush missed Rubio, and missed Trump too.
All of which summed up the bizarre spectacle that ensued – Trump operating in a kind of media-proof bubble as his rivals fought to defeat each other, assuming that when the time came to face Trump heads-up they would easily dismiss him as the buffoon that he was. They all waited then for each other to drop out. Some did, but not before Trump’s momentum created an unassailable lead.
So when my pick Christie, Rubio, Bush disintegrated only Cruz and Kasich were left standing, the latter defying all reason, logic, and polling, to drain votes from Cruz (Kasich has since dropped out, right?).
By the time things were heads-up between Trump and Cruz (I’d ordered my Cruz buttons by now), it was essentially over. There was talk of a late breakthrough, and even an old fashioned contested convention. But it was only a matter of time. No breakthrough came and it was over. I turned off the TV and didn’t really switch it back on again until 8 November.
Actually I learned of Trump’s win on Twitter. An American commentator tweeted that Clinton had called Trump to concede, which at the time sounded like a bad joke. But no, she had, and Trump would become the 45th President.
That was ten days ago. Since then it’s not Trump that scares me most, it’s the hysteria that’s followed.