According to the armchair-quarterback-turned-amateur-psephologist, Nate Silver, as of September 10, Hillary Clinton had something like a 75% chance of winning the election based on the latest polls (based on the unvarnished “Now-Cast” option). Silver’s site, FiveThirtyEight, opened this week with a self-congratulatory piece claiming Trump had lost his momentum which was good news for Clinton, although it ominously ended with a caveat that the infamous “basket of deplorables” comment was not yet factored into the polls. Well, it has factored in all right, and how!
Today, the race is more or less even, with several states that have not voted Republican since 1988 now falling within the statistical margin of error. The many scandals revolving around her emails have been slowly draining her reservoir of support like the drips and drops of a Chinese water torture, but this week the levée burst. Apparently, half the people in this country don’t like being called “deplorable.” Imagine that.
As the full transcript of Hillary Clinton’s remarks make clear, if you defend the sanctity of life, if you defend religious freedom, or if you defend the traditional and biological definition of marriage, you are probably in Hillary’s basket. To her, these are not legitimate concerns and people who hold these views do not deserve to be heard, because her biggest complaint about the “basket of deplorables” is that Trump has given a voice to people who have had their lives and their beliefs trampled by the progressive juggernaut. To the marginalized and the struggling who are driving the Trump phenomenon, she dismisses anything they may have to say as bigotry, racism, sexism, or xenophobia.
What’s funny is the blustery name-calling was supposed to be Trump’s shtick. His demagogic rhetoric is enormously offensive to all sorts of people–this writer included. However, in this one unguarded moment, Hillary Clinton destroyed any claim to the moral high ground and revealed that she is–and always was–just as much of a narrow-minded and reactionary bully as her opponent. Whereas Trump talks past the issues out of ignorance, Clinton talks down to people out of a haughty disdain for anyone who disagrees with her.
On questions of ethics, power, and policy, both candidates are, to borrow a word, deplorable. Even so, until now Hillary could dissemble (however unconvincingly) that she at least had genuine concern for the little guy, the down-and-out, the abused, and the powerless. That basket never really held water, but up to now, the illusion that it did was her only real appeal. Now, like a tantalizing basket overflowing with ripe fruit in the middle of a bleak and scorching desert, the mirage has evaporated, and with it, so has Hillary’s lead in this race.