The Upsides of an Insane Election

By Heather Wilhelm Published on April 29, 2016

Say what you will about Donald Trump, bless his gold-plated heart, but he’s had one heck of a week. On Tuesday, when voters in five East Coast states went to the polls, literally everything came up Trump. In Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island, he won every single county, leaving those who oppose the GOP front-runner with a growing sense of helplessness, despair or, for the optimists, a sliver of hope that Ted Cruz will win Indiana, even as his “pact” with John Kasich appears more wobbly than Trump’s ever-evolving library of policy positions.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, Trump delivered a landmark “serious candidate” foreign policy speech from Washington, D.C. In the hours before the speech, the media collectively freaked out in anticipation, even though Trump’s own adviser proudly announced the following amusing disclaimer in advance: “There will be no details in this speech.” Boy, oh boy, was that ever true. But it’s 2016, my friends, the ultimate year of magical thinking! Who needs details? Let the show roll on.

And so, in a strikingly somnolent 45-minute address — at first, I suspected foul play or maybe even Quaaludes, but it was actually just the sedating impact of an unfamiliar teleprompter — Trump promised many contradictory things.

He called for a consistent and “reliable” United States that would also be “unpredictable.” He envisioned a “peacemaker” state that would avoid excessive intervention abroad, yet still find a way to save Middle Eastern Christians — and, as a simple side project, save “humanity itself.” Under Trump, we were told, America will easily destroy ISIS (exactly how is a secret, so don’t ask) and magically reverse the giant sucking sound of NAFTA, repopulating our states with solid 1950s manufacturing jobs, half of which don’t even exist anymore.

Sen. Jeff Sessions found the speech “electrifying.” Newt Gingrich called it “a serious foreign policy speech” “worth reading and thinking about.” Radio host Laura Ingraham labeled it “one of the most consequential foreign policy speeches since 1981.” Media gadfly Ann Coulter, not to be outdone, called it the “GREATEST FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH SINCE WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS,” because she’s not crazy at all.

Now, some people might be dismayed at this spectacle, along with the startling credulity displayed by people who theoretically ought to know better, along with the fact that our other presidential option will likely be Hillary Rodham Clinton. But let’s look on the bright side! Sure, we all might soon be building survivalist shelters in the backyard and subscribing to crazed end-times “prepper” magazines, but we might as well sprinkle our remaining days with sunshine. With this in mind, I’d like to list a few upsides to this insane election, at least if it ends up as Clinton vs. Trump.

We can all feel better about ourselves.

Many Americans enjoy watching reality TV because the characters tend to be slightly insane people with an amazing lack of self-awareness. Well, cheer up, America: Watching the presidential debates will be just like that! They will run scant on policy, of course: Donald will accuse Hillary of being a shady potential felon with ill health, rightly pointing out that if she weren’t a woman she’d be lucky to get 5 percent of the vote; Hillary will accuse The Donald of being a woman-hater and charlatan and a sociopathic monster, and mudslinging and havoc will rule the day. “Hey,” you might say to yourself, munching on popcorn. “I’m not that bad. Maybe I could run for president some day!” National catharsis, plus ratings gold!

We’ll see how far the national train of logic goes.

Hillary Clinton has an easy answer to pretty much any attack Donald Trump can throw her way: “Why did you donate to me then, Donald?” Trump fans seem to believe “Because you can be bought, Crooked Hillary!” serves as an adequate answer, ignoring the fact that this logically entraps Trump into the Clinton web of unprincipled establishment corruption. Will anyone make the link, or even care? We’ll see how that one plays, along with Hillary’s second obvious comeback to any attack: “Donald, I can’t be that bad. Didn’t you pay to have me at your wedding?”

We can buy stock in the survivalist industry.

See above reference to backyard shelters and “prepper” magazines. It’s a business sure to flourish!

Limited government types might finally realize that they’re the weirdos, not everyone else.

For years, fans of limited government — I include myself here, by the way — have soldiered on, complaining incessantly about the GOP, all while secretly believing that almost everyone else agrees with them, at least deep down, on things like tax cuts and abolishing the Department of Education and occasionally reading F.A. Hayek. Well, if this election doesn’t cure that illusion, nothing will.

The current GOP front-runner is an enthusiastic statist; the Democrat side of the aisle, meanwhile, boasts a hyper-statist front-runner and an unapologetic socialist also-ran who literally spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. To put it mildly, limited government, free markets and individual liberty are clearly not all the rage. Perhaps a Trump vs. Clinton matchup, for all its faults, would inspire some serious introspection as to why — and how to fix the problem. Kidding aside, that would be a real upside to this current mess. Can we count on it? We shall see.


Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work can be found at and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

This article originally appeared at RealClear Politics April 28, 2016 and is reprinted with permission.

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