It's looking more and more like Hillary vs Donald. 

 
Neither of them has the nomination sewed up. Guesses are the Donald won't have the required majority when he gets to the convention. The announcement by Cruz and Kasich that they would work together to frustrate Trump began to unravel after a day. There may be a brouhaha in Cleveland about selecting Trump, but if the opponents succeed, the nomination won't be worth much to whoever gets it. 
 
If Trump has done anything, it is in splitting what he claims as his party. Long-time Republicans are saying that they won't vote for him in November. And we can be certain that a lot of his supporters will vote against any nominee who "steals" his victory.
 
Estimates are that Hillary will coast to victory in November when lots of women, Blacks,  Hispanics and assorted other Americans can't bring themselves to vote for Trump.
 
However, the coasting may not be smooth. Hillary has baggage, some of it heavy and some of it trivial, that can be meat to Donald and those who think of him as America's savior. Or at least as America's politically incorrect, entertaining, anti-establishmentarian.
 
No one in recent politics has been more a symbol of the establishment than Hillary Clinton. Wife of Governor and President, then Senator, Secretary of State, and in recent years the most prominent of several presidential candidates.
 
Trump is already making Hillary's clumsiness with e-mails into the equivalent of Judas' betrayal of Jesus.
 
Among the saddest commentaries on this election is what it reveals about the American electorate. That Donald Trump could do as well as he does, with his racist, sexist, and crude personal attacks on opponents, along with an absolute lack of governmental experience, testifies to the quality of the electorate. It's the population that leads the first world in poor health, violence, drugs, and incarceration. Perhaps we shouldn't expect much better from the products of high schools and colleges that spend so much of the education budget on sports, with the brutality of football attracting college crowds reaching 100,000. Americans who think themselves superior should consider the elegance and low-injury rate of everybody else's football.  
 
If the US was any one of the other 192 Member States of the UN (193 if we count Palestine's flag outside the building), the possibility of a Trump presidency would only raise an eyebrow. However, the power of the US, and its role among world leaders creates more than a bit of worry. Would the man with big hair and big mouth, but no experience with government do more harm than even George W. Bush or Barack Obama, who jumped onto the world stage after a few years in Texas or Chicago politics?
 
Americans and others depressed by the prospect of Donald, and not especially gladdened by the better prospects of  Hillary, can take some solace from the lasting quality of the institutions created by Madison, Hamilton, and colleagues. 
 
A great deal has changed since they set quill to parchment. Major changes began immediately with the first 10 amendments. Continued migration, cultural change, and modern communications have done their work to make the US of Clinton and Trump much different even from that of FDR. Black and Hispanic votes may determine this election, and the prospect of Madam President and First Gentleman is a long way from what Eleanor  was able to accomplish.
 
The probability that a woman will succeed a Black in the Oval Office defines as well as anything the changes in US society and politics over the course of one life span. And it is those changes that provide at least part of the explanation for Donald Trump. Surveys show that he attracts poor, white males, i.e., people who have not benefited from those changes, object to them, usually don't vote, and don't like politics and government as they are. 
 
There's symbolism in a party wracked by discord selecting Cleveland for their convention. It's easy to think of a half-dozen cities where party activists would rather parade through the aisles, drink, carouse, and do who knows what else. What's likely to become a rusty party, whose leading candidate is the champion of workers who have lost from the rusting, has chosen a rust belt capital for it blast. Detroiters can be jealous.
 
Trump has also received votes from many who do not like the record of Hillary Clinton, or the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
 
It ain't simple, and it isn't promising.
 
With all the changes, however, Congress still has a major role, with institutional and often political party independence from the White House. Federal courts, as well as State and local politicians will not fall easily into line with whoever becomes Chief Executive. And in ways inconceivable to Madison and Hamilton, the bureaucracies of federal, state, and municipal authorities provide an overlay of professionalism that influences in major ways what the elected officials are able to do. Even Donald Trump's blather, assuming he makes it into the Oval Office, will not have the direct impact on policy that his ardent supporters hope, and his ardent opponents fear.
 
Despite more than a year of campaigning, it would not be wise to predict what either leading candidate would do in office. In regard to domestic policy, either will be constrained by the institutions, as well as by the efforts of entrenched groups to protect established goodies. With respect to foreign policy, the world is bigger than the US, and will force the next president, like all successors, to respond more than initiate. Chaos in the Middle East, an uppity Russia, and apocalyptic threats from North Korea will still be with us for some time. And who knows what else?
 
Comments welcome
 
-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
irashark@gmail.com 
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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