The news media has examined Hillary Clinton’s recent episode of fainting — or whatever it was — and concluded either that there was nothing to it or that it’s the end of her candidacy. Meaning if they support her they have decided her health is no problem and if they oppose her candidacy they think her campaign is covering up information voters should have.
All of which goes to show people who are already focusing on the campaign have made up their mind and nothing will change what they support. And since most national journalists supported her candidacy before this latest event — during which she was captured on video being supported under the arms by burly men who moved her into a van — the big news outlets are pretty unified in their reporting this can all be explained as overheating, dehydration or pneumonia. Take your pick.
But the election will not be decided by voters who have already made up their minds. Political scientists and election experts agree elections are decided by voters who identify as “independents.” Those who are strong Republicans or strong Democrats will likely not be moved much by the billions of dollars being spent on this campaign. They will vote as they always have.
In order to win, a candidate needs to make sure his or her base shows up at the polls, and appeal to voters who might swing one way or the other. The candidate who does those two things will emerge victorious.
So as I look at this race and see Hillary appealing to big money in Hollywood while Trump travels to Mexico, or Hillary attending a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard while Trump goes to an African-American church, I think she’s getting bad advice on where to spend her time. Of course money is important, but votes are too and she doesn’t appear to be broadening her appeal. She doesn’t have to ask for votes from Barbra Streisand or Anna Wintour — those are in the bag.
Nor does she show signs of coming to the conclusion that she needs to start telling the truth. Americans learned during President Nixon’s Watergate crisis any attempt to cover up political misdeeds is more damaging than the misdeed itself. Yet the Clinton campaign continues to evade and outright lie — about her health, about her use of private emails to get around the Federal Records Act, about accepting money from foreign donors — as if voters will not believe what they can see with their own eyes.
One could easily conclude she would be doing better had her personal history not been riddled with lies. American voters are generally able to overlook personal peccadilloes and even poor judgment. But continued lying eventually convinces voters the candidate thinks she’s better than the rest of us (something her “deplorables” comment reinforces) and she’s not to be held to the same standards as we are. Ms Clinton steadily builds that reputation.
The upcoming debates will influence some undecided voters. And the deck is clearly stacked in her favor because most of the moderators are liberal news anchors who have supported Democrats financially and on air. But Hillary’s reputation for lying is reinforced daily, and voters will likely be turned away by that. If she should show any more questionable health episodes, and especially if her campaign then tries to brush them off as merely fatigue or dehydration, undecided voter support will further erode. The race is hers to lose right now. Dishonesty and ill health could well bring that about.
Fred LaSor lives in the Carson Valley.