Heading into the 2014 National Football League draft, rumors were swirling that Jerry Jones, the eccentric Dallas Cowboys owner, was considering using his team’s first-round pick on the biggest star available: Johnny Manziel, the controversial star quarterback from Texas A&M. Indeed, when Dallas’ pick came around, and Manziel was still available, Jones reportedly wanted to pick Manziel. But Jones’ son and other team leaders advised Jones against it, and the team instead selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. For months after the May draft, Jones fumed over being talked out of taking Manziel, who he saw as a future star and the kind of flashy selection that defined “America’s Team,” the Cowboys.
When a presidential campaign wants to signal that it is turning from the nomination clash to the general election, “sources close to the campaign” make it known the Veep search has begun. Right on schedule, as Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee-presumptive and Hillary Clinton has maintained an unassailable mathematical lead on the Democratic side, both campaigns have reportedly hinted that they have started to vet possible vice presidential options.
“The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It’s come to the point where you almost can’t run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip on each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.”
— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
Unfair! Rigged! Corrupt!
We’re hearing a lot of harsh adjectives being applied to aspects of the presidential nominating system this year — from “double-agent” delegate placement on the Republican side that may frustrate the plurality of GOP voters, to the establishment-based superdelegates (fully 15% of the convention, though down from 19% in 2008) on the Democratic side.
When you look at the big picture of presidential elections, and you try to discern the connection between the White House contest and the 34 Senate elections on the same ballot, it becomes obvious there are two types of years.
We live in a post-factual era. Thanks to the Internet and social media, which mix informed and uninformed views in equal measure, the old rule — that people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own set of facts — no longer applies. Somewhere in cyberspace, you can now find blogs and treatises with “facts” that support your opinions, no matter how bizarre.
Donald Trump could have generated unstoppable momentum had he won both Ohio and Florida. But now it’s clear to everyone that this will go right through June 7, the end of the Republican primary season.
So now it has come to this. A near riot at Donald Trump’s Chicago rally on Friday evening may be a harbinger of things to come, not just at campaign events but in Cleveland for the Republican convention. The city’s leaders were wise to order extra riot gear recently. Whether Trump wins or loses the nomination, we suspect that tens of thousands of unhappy people will show up in the city’s streets.
Let’s have some speculative fun, if such a thing is possible in this election year. After recent primaries, it’s not a stretch to imagine Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee; in fact, the odds at the moment favor this outcome. Now, add a second, more controversial projection: Trump loses the general election handily to Hillary Clinton. If you’re a Trump supporter, you will vigorously object.
As the dust settles from Super Tuesday, we think the race is the same now as it was before the voting: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the favorites to win their respective nominations.