Trump Vs. Clinton: Are We There Yet?

The bell has rung and outside of a last minute decision by Bernie Sanders to make this a triple-header, it looks like U.S. voters will either elect Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as their next president.

Trump’s momentum leading into his head-to-head with Clinton was stunted this week when Paul Ryan appeared on the media circuit pronouncing he is “just not ready to back Donald Trump.” Suffice to say Trump is still playing tug of war with his own party.

Clinton, on the other hand, seems to have successfully overcome “Emailgate,” Benghazi, and Bernie Sanders. That is until Trump brings it back up, which should be any second now.

The two presumptive nominees look to square off mano a mano, unless the no-shortage-of-chutzpa Senator from Vermont decides to break the internet by announcing his bid to run as an Independent. Although Sanders has said that he will not run as an Independent, if he were to change his mind, he would most likely be handing the presidency to Donald Trump.

Unsurprisingly, Trump has Bernie’s back and a knife close by.

null

Sanders has every right to go for the gusto in what is likely the last chapter of his political career. It will be interesting to see if Clinton offers Sanders a cabinet position in return of his ceasing and desisting.

If Clinton really wants to secure the presidency, all she needs to do is name Sanders as her running mate. Donald Trump would go from being the toast of Manhattan, to just plain toast.

Whatever the Vermont Senator decides, one thing’s for sure, for the moment he has leverage. As Real Clear Politics polling suggests, on average in the general election, Clinton would beat Trump by only 6.5 points, as Sanders would do the same by 13.4.

While the Democrats work on their strategy, Trump is working on continuing the mobilization of voters who are willing to take a chance on the wildcard candidate. The fact that Trump is still standing after beating 16 GOP nominees is either a credit to him or a knock against the Republican Party. Regardless, it’s resulted in a whale of momentum for the man one win away from the White House.

With the White House in their reach, Paul Ryan and company are currently making sure to get Trump rooted in the base of the Republican Party while trying to not impede the olive branches Trump has extended to voters who have given up on the party. Ultimately Trump must decide if the vague promise perfectly architected for a rookie politician to “Make America Great Again,” should include the vision of certain high-profile members within the Republican Party.

While Donald Trump’s campaign has caught the attention of everyone from forward-thinking elitists to backwards-thinking KKK members, and many in between, the question Paul Ryan is trying to get Donald to understand is does he have the votes of his own party locked down? Is Paul Ryan over-thinking this and hurting his nominee’s chances? Are Republican beliefs getting in the way of winning? If these questions persist, Trump versus Clinton will have to wait while Trump versus Ryan rolls on and potentially off a cliff.

As it stands, Trump is still being treated like the elephant in the room, or perhaps in this case as it pertains to the Republican Party, the man in a room of elephants – which plays perfectly into the Trump/P.T. Barnum comparisons. The question of whether Republicans let the ringleader lead or continue to pull the net out from under him until he gets the message should unfold in the coming weeks.

While that’s going on, Clinton must focus on not beating herself. So far she’s failed to look presidential by allowing herself to be sucked into the Trumpishere of insults and attacks (a game he’s proven to be the master of). Worse so is the fact that when she attacks him, she leaves herself open for counterattacks — and with her voting record/scandals/dramas, she is the last candidate that should be prodding an antagonizer like Trump. All she really needs to do is stand tall on the foundation of her political accomplishments and hang on to President Obama’s coat tails while watching Trump swing wildly, but for some reason, she can’t control herself. Clinton will worsen her chances to get to the White House if she continues throwing stones from the glass house.

Amidst the mudslinging, she’s starting to capitalize on one golden line that might make it all worth it.

“We cannot let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into Donald Trump’s hands.”

This could be the bat to Trump’s knees that will never allow his campaign to walk properly again.

Obama has helped people across the world and in his own country forget about W’s presidency. Are American voters truly willing to take everything Obama accomplished and fought for and hand it over to Donald Trump? Unlikely, especially given the fact that Trump has no political experience. Yet as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

We all know Trump is all about the Benjamins, but perhaps we didn’t realize how much he embodies Franklin’s words.

As usual, national security and the economy are still top tier issues in 2016, just as war and greed are still highly unpopular. While war and greed are usually closer relatives of Republicans, it’s the Democratic front-runner who’s having her feet held to the fire on both issues.

Luckily for her, W. Bush’s not-so-long-ago reign makes her run-ins with war and greed look pedestrian.

Bush and his entourage got greedy and after the dust settled, the Republican Party hit a major low. To make matters worse, their next act was John McCain, essentially another war president. They followed that up with Mitt Romney in 2012, a man who could easily be attacked for his ties to greed. It was a curious choice given that the “Bailout” was the centerpiece of American angst at the time. In sum, the Republican Party’s nominees in both elections were telltale signs that the party was out of touch and still is, to a certain degree.

Now they have Donald Trump in 2016, who is either the savior who can steer them in a new direction — or the Titanic.

While Clinton has an unpopular record with war and greed, Trump isn’t making a strong case for himself either. He says he’ll make great deals with foreign nations, but banning Muslims might not be the best way to start. He seems poised to limit spending, but billions of dollars on a wall between Mexico and the U.S. isn’t resonating.

While President Obama wasn’t perfect (just ask Flint, Michigan.), he wasn’t a Bush, he wasn’t a war president and the skinny black community leader from the mean streets of Chicago certainly wasn’t the personification of greed. At the time of the 2008 election, Senator Obama was not the two things Americans hated most and thus on those key issues, he was the better choice for enough Americans given his opposition.

Clinton and Trump — well, neither of them are anti-war and both are associated to greed, making the decision for the electorate that much more difficult to decipher. When it comes to national security, Trump has no record, which is potentially more popular than Clinton’s poor decision-making in Iraq and Libya. Shockingly, when it comes to greed, Trump might also have the slightest edge due to Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s spotty track record. Stunning given the fact that Donald Trump is a billionaire businessman from Manhattan, which sounds like it could be Gordon Gecko’s Tinder profile.

Clinton is supposed to be a politician first and a businesswoman second, and greed has no place in politics – as naïve as that sounds, it still trends water with voters.

All to say that it’s no wonder Clinton and Trump’s disapproval ratings are the highest ever recorded in the nation’s history.

It’s usually easy to decipher who the lesser of two evils is. Sadly, in 2016, it won’t be.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]