There is no doubt that Trump is going to lose the election and lose badly. Trump’s campaign is in disarray and his staff has had more turnover than a pancake restaurant. As a result, Trump may suffer the worst Republican electoral defeat since Barry Goldwater was decimated by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 election. This means that Hilary Clinton, for all her faults, failures, fabrications and feigned populism, will become the next president of the United States; and the status quo will win again. The person who seems least concerned about this outcome of the election is Donald Trump, because he clearly does not want to win the presidency. In Trump’s mind, come what may in the election, he is already the big winner. The only way he loses is if he has to serve as president.
When Trump announced his candidacy it was apparent that his action was another masterful marketing ploy, not to actually win the nomination, but rather to generate publicity for the Trump brand. Not a single political pundit took either his campaign or his chances of winning the nomination seriously. Even Trump put his chances of winning the nomination at “less than 10 percent.” But a confluence of circumstances came together to produce the highly unlikely result of a Trump Republican nomination. No one was more surprised by this result than Donald Trump.
Trump’s nomination was really more about media than politics. After all, Trump’s political history is more in sync with the Democrats than the Republicans. From a media perspective, the other 16 Republican candidates were, for the most part, aligned along the narrow channel of base Republican philosophies that made it difficult to discern one candidate’s positions from another. In addition, none of them had the personality or flair to stand up and stand out from the crowd. This was a problem for the media because to drive ratings they needed a story to tell and a controversy to report on. Donald Trump fit the bill perfectly and the media jumped at the opportunity to make him the story.
During the primary elections Trump received, mostly fawning, wall-to-wall free media coverage worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Trump media coverage was like a tsunami that washed away the 16 other Republican candidates; none of whom had the media charisma to stand toe-to-toe with Trump. (To be fair, in the same search for ratings, the media latched on to Bernie Sanders in a way that allowed him to be competitive with the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, all the way to the very end of the campaign.)
For Trump Winning is Losing
If you want to be charitable, you could argue that Trump is trailing badly in the campaign because – being a novice to elective politics – he does not know what it takes to win a presidential campaign. It is as if Trump presented the renderings for constructing a grand golf resort and then upon receiving approval to build it, he fails to hire the contractors, sub-contractors and workers who will actually construct the resort. Trump would never do that in his real estate development business, but since he received the nomination, that is exactly the approach he has taken toward winning the presidency.
When you take into account an electorate that is deeply frustrated and distrustful of the status quo and combine that with the fact that the Democratic nominee is the poster-child of the status quo and that she has the lowest “likeability and trust” ratings in presidential election history, the election should be a cakewalk. But when you look at the way Trump is conducting the campaign, you have to wonder if he really does want to win.
Instead of focusing on the need for change and making the campaign about Clinton and her obvious liabilities, Trump has wasted time on extraneous issues and has overacted to every personal attack. This has allowed the Democrats to hide the weaknesses and the ethical controversies of Clinton’s past; enabling the Democrats to deflect the focus of the campaign away from needed change and on to Trump. This is a losing formula for Trump, but he has only himself and his thin-skinned outsized ego to blame for allowing this to happen.
Why Would Trump Want the Job?
Politicians like Hillary Clinton spend a lifetime chasing the Holy Grail of politics, the presidency. For the ambitious professional politician, every waking moment, thought and action is focused on the goal of becoming president. That attitude is shown in the fact that virtually every person previously elected president had a long history of involvement in government and politics.
Trump is different. Trump has spent his life seeking deals, pining for publicity (chasing women) and making money. For Trump, running for president was not the culmination of a lifelong political pursuit, but an ego trip and an opportunity to further the Trump “brand.” Actually winning the nomination was not part of Trump’s plan and now that he has it, he is doing his best to make sure things go no further.
Besides, why would Trump even want the job? Trump is a 70 year old wealthy white guy who has the freedom to live his life as he wants. What does he have to gain by giving all that up for the life-consuming, high pressure 24/7 stress of being president? Why would he want to give up his freedom to do and say what he wants, for the confinement of the Oval Office? It is one thing for a life-long politician who lives for nothing else to give up everything to be president, but for Trump, while being president may be the ultimate ego trip, he has apparently decided that even that is not enough to give up everything else.
The truth is that Trump has won all he wants to win. Trump actually wins more by losing. Without the burden, pressures and limitations of being president, Trump will be free to make his deals, leverage his brand, play golf, make even more money and still and have a major influence in public policy. Nothing could be better or more fitting for Trump. And that is why we see Trump acting as if he does not want to win the election, because he doesn’t want to win.