As we get closer to the election, I will probably be doing more political posts, especially because this is an absolutely unprecedented election. My speculation on 2008 and 2012 was things like, “What if McCain has a health issue on the campaign trail?”, or “What if Romney’s tax returns reveal a historically low tax rate?”; my speculations on this election are, “If the GOP invokes Article 9 to try to kick Trump off the ticket and he sues them, would a judge have to try to figure out the monetary value of the Presidency to estimate damages?” and “Is it possible that Trump is actually hooked up to some sort of ‘Twitch Runs for President’ livestream somewhere, and 4Chan is really running his entire campaign?”
Today, I’ll be addressing one of the things I hear sometimes from my fellow liberals, which is that they don’t think the polls will stay this lopsided because the media has a vested interest in keeping people tuned in to the “horse race”, and so they’ll start diverting some media attention to Clinton’s scandals to drive things closer as we go into November. This is, according to some, what happened in 2012 when the post-debate coverage was slanted heavily toward praising Romney’s performance. It didn’t make a material difference, but it allowed pundits to pretend that Romney still had a shot, and some are thinking the same will happen with Trump.
I don’t think it will, though (with, again, the caveat that tomorrow Trump could declare himself God-Emperor of Cleveland and it wouldn’t be significantly more surprising than anything else that’s happened this year), for one main reason. Namely, the media already have a great story, the story of a madman collapsing not just his own political fortunes but those of an entire political party that’s been a force in US politics for over 150 years, and it’s getting amazing ratings for them. They can ride this all the way to election day as long as Trump keeps giving them material to feed this narrative.
And Trump, in turn, wants to do exactly that. His overriding need for attention has driven him to continually say controversial things in order to keep the spotlight on him, despite the fact that Hillary’s high negatives and his own high negatives mean that whoever has the most media attention is invariably going to do the worst. Basically, he can’t tell the difference between good attention, say for doing well in school, or bad attention, like picking a fight with a Gold Star family and insisting the President of the United States founded ISIS. Trump is more than happy to help a media-driven narrative that he’s the most controversial candidate ever, because a) it’s about him, and b) it’s about him being the most something something.
So no, there will be no point where Trump pivots to being boring and normal, and no, there will be no point where CNN gets tired of putting up footage of the latest crazy thing he says and saying, “Wow, isn’t that crazy?” (Or putting up Trump surrogates on TV and asking them, “Can you maybe explain why your candidate apparently called for military tribunals for American civilians?”) They are feeding off each other. The Crazy Train ain’t stopping, not unless the Republicans come to their senses and kick Trump off of it.
Which comes with its own set of craziness, but we’ll deal with that if it happens.