The 2016 presidential election was the hardest fought and perhaps the dirtiest and most divisive in history.
It was a lock for Hillary. Her supporters and the media were convinced her scandals were not real, President Obama had already programmed the country for extreme sensitivity and vocal opposition to conservative points of view. She had the money and the support.
The mainstream media was biased (and have admitted it) as well as social media and search engines (see here and here), Hillary’s machine had the complete advantage. In hindsight the array of artillery at the disposal of the Clinton campaign was awesome, the product of years of preparation.
It was her turn.
And yet she lost.
Could anyone but Trump have beaten her? Let’s go through the list.
Jeb Bush – Jeb Bush was the initial frontrunner, he was easily the most popular candidate with the Republican establishment, a former governor, and attached to two former presidents. And he had over $130 million in the bank and was ready to go.
But could he have beaten Hillary? No.
Bush suffered because the Democrats had been waiting for him for several years. They attacked his weaknesses from the beginning and he never got the focus or traction in the field of 17 primary candidates.
With the extreme sensitivity in America, Bush’s conciliatory and diplomatic style would have been inadequate to battle Clinton, and his thin skin would have sunk him. Bush would have spent more money than Trump did, but he would not have garnered the enthusiasm, the passion or the votes.
John Kasich – Kasich is a successful governor, and well liked in the Republican party, and quickly became the common sense choice for those who did not like Trump.
But Kasich had no name recognition, nothing to cause to him stand out, and not nearly the access to the money machine that Hillary had. He is not the type to get down and dirty on Hillary’s scandals, as Trump did, and would have fallen victim to the extreme sensitivity of minority groups. He could not have stood up the the Clinton machine. Hillary would have stomped him.
Marco Rubio – Marco Rubio, the well spoken and intelligent Latino senator from Florida, very often seemed the smartest guy in the room in the primary debates. He could very well be a future President after a completed Senate term and stint as governor of Florida.
However he is not seasoned enough to stand on a stage with Hillary Clinton and do battle. Since the media was in the mood to ignore the failed nature of Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State, Rubio would have been painted as immature and inexperienced. At this point, Rubio has neither the record nor the gravitas to challenge Hillary’s record or the massive scandals. Hillary would have triumphed.
Ted Cruz – Cruz is philosophically as conservative as anyone could want, he is a man of action and not afraid to push his agenda.
However a Cruz campaign in the general election would have polarized America more than it is right now, and his far right support would not have been enough. While Trump won in part with the far right conservatives, he also has a lot of center support. Cruz could never have reached the center with his preacher-like quality of speaking and uncompromising rhetoric, and this would have doomed him.
In the current sensitized America, Cruz would have lost to any democratic candidate, not just Hillary.
Ben Carson – Ben Carson is the nicest guy ever, and would have commanded a following on both sides of the political spectrum. But similar to what actually happened in the primaries, the Clinton Campaign would have killed him on lack of knowledge and experience. His lack of aggressiveness in the debates has been painted as weakness. Clinton would have won in a landslide, albeit in a kinder and gentler campaign.
Chris Christie – Chris Christie is a successful Republican governor in a democratic stronghold state. His pragmatism and plain spoken manner is attractive to the entire political spectrum.
Christie has the gravitas and the rhetorical to have effectively challenged Hillary’s record and expose her crimes, and in a “perfect storm” Christie could possibly have beaten Hillary.
Carly Fiorina – Fiorina is a wild card here, we didn’t get to see enough of her style to see how she would match against Hillary.
She would have been attacked (and perhaps rightfully) for her lack of experience, however as a woman candidate she would have had immunity from some of the extreme sensitivity in America fostered by the Obama Administration.
But as a prim and proper city slicker (sorry, I’m channeling my Kentucky farm boy past) she would have had less appeal to the rural voters. Fiorina would have had to shift substantially to the left to get the votes. But if the stars were to align, perhaps a President Fiorina is conceivable.
Mitt Romney – Mitt Romney was a successful Republican governor in a traditionally Democratic state, and was the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential race. He was a vocal opponent to Trump and was urged to enter the race.
Romney should have kept his mouth shut.
Mitt failed to inspire America in 2012, and would not have fared better in 2016. Mitt never had the huge rallies that Trump did. Mitt had plenty of ammunition against Obama and failed to hit home with conservative voters, and Romney would not have been as brutal against Hillary as Trump has been. And frankly the boredom would have kept many conservatives at home.
Would Romney have beaten Hillary? No.
The other hopefuls each had their own issues, but I can’t imagine a scenario where one of them could have defeated the Clinton machine. The bottom line? It was a nail biter, but Donald Trump had the charisma and savvy to pull it off.
Considering what is at stake, the debt, the Supreme Court, and so much more, even the “never Trumpers” should be grateful.