With seven weeks until Election Day, the presidential race has tightened and thinking people are thinking the unthinkable – President Trump.
It is unnerving to see a candidate so thoroughly unqualified closing near the finish, but, for now, the worry should be more about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. She was known to be a clumsy candidate who squandered a big lead over Barack Obama in 2008, but most of her supporters thought her to be a competent politician, or at least advised by those who are, beginning with her husband.
Now that confidence is shaken by Clinton’s lack of candor about her pneumonia and her foolish choice to dismiss half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” Those missteps have helped put Trump back in play in battleground states, including North Carolina, and revealed Clinton’s hold on swing voters to be tenuous.
But Clinton’s main problem isn’t her flaws or tactical errors. Her main problem is that she lacks a reason for running. She became the nominee because she had the most money, the most political debts and connections, the most name recognition. But for all that, she is short on the essentials – a clear purpose and the ability to inspire others to join with her. By becoming president, she would enter history as the first woman to do so. But that personal achievement doesn’t excite voters facing their own tests and barriers to accomplishment.
Perhaps sensing the weakness of her appeal, Clinton has spent recent months pounding away at Trump as morally unfit for the presidency. In a typical Trumpian move, he has responded by calling her physically unfit for office. So it goes with Trump and his playground style of debate.
Clinton would do better not to say anything about a candidate who will say anything. She should instead run for office by asserting her reasons for wanting it. She is a talented and dedicated public servant who has endured sexism, betrayal and relentless and unfair attacks on her honesty. In those scars are her strength. Hardly an elitist, she’s taken a battering that a billionaire son of a millionaire knows nothing about.
Hillary Clinton will stand up for ordinary Americans because, for all her wealth and fame, she comes from modest roots and has served all her career at the contentious front of change. But if she’s going to stand up for others, she’ll need first to stand up for herself. That opportunity will come in the first debate Monday night. There she shouldn’t focus on what’s wrong with Trump – Americans know what’s wrong. What they want to know is why she will be right for America.