A New Heaven and A New Earth

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“Then I saw a new Heaven and a New Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away.” – The Book of Revelation 21:1

 

STATESBORO, GEORGIA – We know everything and we know nothing.

We know that Marco Rubio, the prodigal son, was beaten soundly in his home state of Florida, a defeat so embarrassing it has ended his presidential campaign and very likely flatlined his career before it’s ever really began. The decline of his candidacy took him from upstart to disappointment, contender to broken robot, possible savior to deadweight. There was a possibility, earlier in the week, that if Rubio gave up his aspirations he could still win reelection to the senate and possibly a governship in the future, but that is over. He is now, and will forever be, The Idiot Who Ducked Off Camera For The Bottle, The Broken Record Who Couldn’t Stop Repeating His Talking Point.

The thumping should’ve anointed Donald Trump the nominee for the Republican Party, but then John Kasich pulled off the upset in his native Ohio and blocked him from all-out victory. Regardless, Trump crossed the halfway point to the necessary delegate count, but the path to a barter-less nomination is still extremely thin. Even now there are Bush-era neocons discussing alternatives, schemes to bolster the Anybody But Trump movement, an effort that could dredge every conceivable GOP name from Mitt Romney to Paul Ryan, an effort that was only bolstered by Kasich’s win tonight.

In that same vein, a great deal of discussion has focused on Rule 40, a byzantine piece of legislation that dictates how the party conducts its nomination process at the convention. According to the rule, which dictates so much of how the convention itself is handled, the nominee must pass a threshold of eight primary contests in which he/she wins a majority of the delegates at stake. Trump is the only contestant to have done so, but the rule could be adjusted, edited, or completely destroyed. The argument is whether the Trump outfit, which has only started to understand traditional politics in the wake of Iowa’s caucuses, can sweep into Cleveland and dominate the convention the way they have the nominating process so far.

In preparation, Cleveland is already preparing by purchasing two thousand additional sets of riot gear, a gesture which is obviously in preparation of a convention that has run off the rails. It’s dangerous territory, all the way around, especially considering the RNC rank and file are considering stealing the election out from under a considerable slice of their base. As discussed earlier, this bait-and-switch could alienate an electorate for an entire generation, but the more frightening prospect is an outbreak of violence that could make the 1968 Democratic Convention pale in comparison.

The arc of this race certainly hints at the possibility. As reported back in December, Trump’s campaign rallies have been escalating in terms of rhetoric and violence. This past weekend, in Chicago, the campaign was forced to cancel their event due to unrest that eventually lead to physical confrontations. This was after 78-year old John McGraw sucker-punched a protestor being led out of a rally in North Carolina and after Trump toyed publicly with paying his subsequent speaking fees. This is also after Trump said at a rally in Las Vegas that he’d like to punch a protestor himself and after security at rallies have attacked or manhandled protestors and reporters.

As has already been posited, this escalation will only continue as Trump has shown no signs of tamping down furies on his end. Instead, he’s shrugged and laid the blame everywhere else. This is going to continue until someone’s dead or crippled, or until the city of Cleveland burns, a possibility that has invited some speculation that Trump has actually let the violence grow as a warning to the Republican party should they consider stealing his nomination too seriously.

Now, some might say there’s no way Trump would consider something so vile, something so craven, that he’ll blink if the RNC and Reince Priebus pull the trigger, but this is the first candidate in American history, save for Richard Nixon, who would rather let the country destruct than see it go on without him.

***

We know Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America, but we don’t know when and we don’t know what shape she’ll be in when she gets there.

As of the writing of this article we’re still not sure who won Missouri. Last week, in what many hyperbolics have called “the greatest upset in American political history,” Bernie Sanders took the state of Michigan, a victory which led the political media to clutch its pearls and gasp audibly on live television.

But she won.

But she’s going to win.

But she’s gaining momentum.

Yes.

Yes.

And not so fast.

Clinton’s difficulty with Sanders has exposed a great hole in her flank and it’s not what most people think it is. Sure, she’s hemorrhaging with self-identified liberals and far-left activists, not to mention the students and young voters as a whole, but she’s suffering the worst in the so-called Rust Belt states, those places that have been hit the hardest by recession after recession, particularly those that have been irreversibly damaged by one bad trade deal after another.

Sanders’ message of income inequality has done a great deal of damage, but it’s been his opposition to those very trade deals that have made the biggest difference in these contests. These are voters who have been left behind by the advent of globalism and free-trade, both of which were ushered in by former-president Bill Clinton and championed by Hillary. Whether they listen to political talk radio or watch cable news, these are voters who aren’t necessarily dictated by tradewinds and vote more out of anger than the politics of the personal.

And, you guessed it, these are the voters for support Donald Trump.

There are no numbers in the equation that show they will necessarily crossover from Sanders to Hillary, especially in an election with Trump posing as populist, a rhetoric he’s been trying on more and more as he’s essentially locked up his nomination. His supporters have been looking for an outsider to successfully voice their rage against the political establishment, a cabal that has no better avatar than the Clintons. His, and Sanders as well, is a base that has been culled from the constituency at-large and formed into a malleable yet undeniable class of voters who are more concerned with actual economic change than social or security issues.

If that isn’t enough to scare the Clinton campaign, the schedule in front of her must do the trick. Sanders isn’t going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. He’s going to compete in the majority of remaining contests, and with his success so far in the Midwest there’s a possibility he could still take Indiana, Wisconsin, and could even pick up western outliers like Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, and, this is a stretch, sure, California. Each victory would serve as further reminder of just how vulnerable Clinton is, a reminder that will sap time and resources the Clinton campaign could be using to tee off on Trump and pad their tired war chest.

The good news is, after tonight, she can sleep easily knowing the nomination is hers and in November she’ll be fighting for the White House.

What we don’t know is what shape she’ll be in when she gets there.

Photo/Illustration by DonkeyHotey




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About Author

A born and bred Hoosier, Jared Yates Sexton is the author of An End to All Things (2012, Atticus Books), The Hook and the Haymaker (2015, Split Lip Press), and Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman (2015, New Pulp Press). He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University.

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