Winners and Losers

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Dr. Malcolm Cross
Dr. Malcolm Cross

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions have come and gone.  So who won and who lost?

Without a doubt Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the two biggest winners, partly because of what happened at their respective conventions, and also partly because of what did not happen.

Neither convention was marred by the sort of violence which destroyed the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago and helped doom Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey to defeat at the hands of Richard Nixon that fall.

Nor was either convention beset by the intractable disputes or bitter speeches which helped ruin both Democratic and Republican conventions alike, as discussed in my column for 7/18, and likewise condemned party nominees to defeat.  The NeverTrump movement at this year’s Republican convention failed to come alive, and Bernie Sanders, at last week’s Democratic convention, contributed invaluably to Democratic Party unity by endorsing Hillary Clinton, thereby weakening whatever action his supporters might otherwise have taken.

Both Trump and Clinton proved their own best advocates with nomination acceptance speeches which, while failing to reach the oratorical heights of those given by Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama, nonetheless were servable.  The big surprise was Trump’s.  It was long and bombastic, yet (relatively) free of the pomposity, self-regard, and semi-coherent expressions of streams of consciousness which normally characterize his speeches.  Hillary’s talk seemed mostly a laundry list of policy proposals—hardly inspiring (she’s certainly no Bill Clinton), yet supporting and reinforcing the image her supporters want her to reflect, i. e., that of a hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone, and superbly informed and knowledgeable policy wonk.

And both candidates showed refreshingly good judgment in their respective choices of running mates.  Indiana Governor Mike Pence is a former congressman and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine is a former governor.  Whatever one thinks of their governing philosophies (I like Mike’s and dislike Tim’s), it must be admitted that both are outstanding public servants—wise, knowledgeable, honest, and decent.  In fact, each would make a better candidate, and a better president, than those who recruited them for the vice presidential nominations.

But the biggest loser at either convention was probably our own Senator Ted Cruz, who, when given the opportunity to speak before the Republican convention, famously refused to endorse Donald Trump.  From one perspective, this is understandable.  After all, Trump denigrated Cruz’s wife, implied that Cruz’s father may have helped assassinate President Kennedy, and persistently and relentlessly throughout the primary season called Cruz a liar.  How could anyone with any self-respect, especially one with a wife and/or a father, endorse someone as cruel and insulting to him as Trump was to Cruz and his family?

But Cruz’s critics, even when conceding Trump’s excesses, say that if Cruz couldn’t endorse Trump he should never have accepted the opportunity to speak in the first place.  Regardless of who’s morally right, it’s probable that Cruz made enough enemies in the Republican Party to weaken his re-election chances in 2018.  July 29th’s Fort Worth Star Telegram published a story discussing the possibility that he may be challenged for re-election by either Wendy Davis, or one of Texas’s Castro brothers (http://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/politex-blog/article92590667.html).   Of course, he might also have to cope with a primary challenger as well—possibly former Governor Rick Perry (https://theamericanindependent.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/ted-cruz-2018-primary-challenge-coming-from-rick-perry/). 

An obvious Democratic loser was, of course, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who resigned her position following the release of hacked emails showing Bernie Sanders was right to believe that DNC officials wanted to rig the contest for the for the Democratic presidential nomination in Hillary Clinton’s favor.  No doubt more revelations from emails and voicemails, also hacked, will be forthcoming. 

Also forthcoming will be more speculation on, and perhaps an answer to, the riddle of who’s behind the hacking and publishing of internal Democratic Party communications in the first place.  The current speculation seems to be centering on the Russians.  Are they behind it, and if so, why?  To help Donald Trump, who may have business interests there?  To punish Hillary Clinton for her support, as Secretary of State, political activist-critics of Putin?  Stay tuned.  Things could get even more interesting than they are now.

Finally, what about us?  Those who like either Trump or Clinton are no doubt encouraged by the nomination of at least one of these candidates.  But out of a population of over 300,000,000, were these the best presidential nominees the parties could produce?  Given that one of these two candidates will, in fact be elected the next President of the United States, are we, the people, winners or losers?

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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