If Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton, it’ll be because he speaks directly to the voters — without the poll-driven, focus-grouped blandifying filter Hillary never leaves home without.
The contrast was there again Wednesday.
- He delivered a thumping speech full of applause lines that spoke directly to what regular Americans see as the nation’s problems. Lines like: “We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place.”And: “We reward companies for offshoring, and we punish companies for doing business in America and keeping our workers employed. This is not a rising tide that lifts all boats.”Above all, he noted that her campaign slogan is “I’m with her” — and gave his response: “I’m with you: the American people.”
- The same day, Clinton gave her own big speech — where, when her TelePrompTer said “(sigh),” she actually said the word rather than make the noise. Scripted much, Hillary?
And her content was just the same old tired list of Democratic talking points: She wants to hike taxes on Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, and keep raising the minimum wage. OK, those ideas don’t poll badly — but this was her big speech on the economy. How is any of it going to create jobs?Whereas Trump early on talked up “jobs, jobs, jobs” — with specifics on where they’re coming from, from broad tax cuts to unleashing the US energy industry. And, yes, cutting better trade deals — something that Clinton joins the NeverTrumpers in painting as an unthinkable nightmare.
Sorry, does nobody recall how President Bill Clinton renegotiated a major trade treaty?
Bubba took office in 1993 with NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, already a done deal. But Democratic special interests — unions, the green lobby — didn’t like it, so he made more concessions to Mexico and Canada in order get major “labor and environmental side accords” added on.
Trump can similarly open up President Obama’s Trans-Pacific trade deal — this time dumping items that Obama inserted to please his favored special interests in order to get a deal that’s better for American workers and businesses. There’s no reason Trump can’t (eventually) do the same on NAFTA and other standing deals. And none of it risks a trade war. How much good it’ll do, I can’t say — I put more faith in the rest of his pro-growth program, particularly the energy policies. But tens of millions of voters see trade as a huge issue, one where the establishment has ignored their perfectly valid concerns for a generation — when it hasn’t smugly dismissed them as ignorant.
Yes, Trump can get harsh when he’s talking trade (and other issues). But how else does he show he means it? Mitt Romney made tough noises on trade with China (and on immigration, too). Nobody believed him, because he was so plainly a guy who would wilt under establishment pressure. Fine, I wince at some point whenever I watch Trump. But I’ve been wincing at every Republican nominee since Reagan; every one of them still got my vote. And if you look at Trump’s actual program, he’s not even close to being off the GOP reservation — he’s just opened the door to Americans who’ve quite rightly been feeling left out.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is horrible. Trump was utterly on point in saying she’s “spent her entire life making money for special interests — and taking money from special interests.” How else do you get stinking rich after 2½ decades in public service? At heart, she may not be as radical as Obama or Bernie Sanders — but what difference, at this point, does it make? She’s also in hock to every special interest in the Democratic Party — she’s fully embraced Obama’s entire domestic agenda, and if she wins, she’ll get to remake the Supreme Court so she can impose it.
Trump had it right again: “My message is that things have to change — and this is our one chance to do it.”
“This is our last chance to do it.”