The question of a mandate

Discussion has already turned to the question of Hillary Clinton’s mandate. Assuming she wins, then the Democrats are more than likely to gaindonald-trump-vs-hillary-clinton the Senate and possibly, if there is down ballot carnage, the House. But will that be a mandate for her policies? Or is it merely a mandate for not being Donald Trump? Will her victory be permanently marred by an asterisk, denoting that she won only because of unusual circumstances?

Her sycophants in the media are already hard at work explaining that she would also have triumphed against John Kasich or Marco Rubio. The evidence? Well, Rubio was made to look foolish by Chris Christie, once, in a debate. Kasich failed to connect. And she is doing what they failed to do: beating Trump.

Well, sure, you can highlight awkward moments for any candidate. But none was exposed as a consistent pathological liar by the FBI. Well, none but Clinton. And, yes, Trump won on a small turnout in a small number of states. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into victory in an election. That Clinton struggled, against a small and weak field, rather more than Trump struggled in a large and highly qualified field, does not mean he is going to win. That she can beat Trump in one election and he beat Kasich in another doesn’t mean that she is a better candidate than he is or that she would have won if they were competing on the same ballot.

Such hunches about Clinton beating Kasich or Rubio are not really arguments. Arguments have to start with data. And the data show that Clinton is an historically unpopular candidate. On the simple measure of net approval, she is unpopular. She is massively distrusted, with overwhelming majorities, rightly, rejecting the proposition that she is honest and trustworthy.

If the question were “do you, or do you not, want Clinton to be president?” the nation would answer “not” very loudly. But this is not the question. The second most-hated presidential candidate since records began has the good fortune to be competing with the most hated candidate. Against Kasich or Rubio – against any person selected at random off the street – she would be losing. But she is competing against a phenomenally lazy, ignorant and bigoted narcissist. She is winning against a man who spews undisciplined bile on more or less constant basis.

She is competing with the worst candidate that any major party has ever nominated for president: and she hasn’t won yet. Indeed, at the time of writing your columnist has just learned that the FBI has reopened its investigation into her emails.

Both parties need to take the blame for selecting extraordinarily unqualified and untrustworthy candidates. One of them is going to be president, and it will not be pretty. There is a real chance that whomever is elected will face enormous challenges with Congress, and we should not rule out the prospect of impeachment. Either could face new revelations of disreputable, or even criminal conduct at any time. Trump, at least, begins with zero goodwill in Congress. There’s a bumpy ride ahead.




Quentin Langley lives in New York and London and teaches at the University of Bedfordshire Business School. He is the author of Brandjack: How your reputation is at risk from brand pirates and what to do about it


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