If this current trend of electing unfavorable candidates continues, Donald Trump will be America’s next president

In the United States of America, voter turnout in federal elections has not eclipsed 60% since before Watergate. However, many believe this trend will change in 2016 given the importance of this coming election and who will be vying for the presidency. I wholeheartedly disagree.

In truth, we hear the same things every election cycle about its importance and implications, about the direction of the country, the new Supreme Court nominees, the promises of a better future, and the dangers of the other side gaining power. Nothing ever changes, it’s just politics as usual.

People don’t seem to understand that America almost always gets the government it deserves. They are the ones pushing the buttons and marking the ballots. If it’s garbage in, garbage out year after year, perhaps there isn’t anyone to really vote for.

For starters, let’s take a look at our deeply divided gerrymandered Congress. According to realclearpolitics, its approval rating has lingered at or below the 20% range for the last five years and hasn’t topped 40% since they started keeping track in 2009.

Meanwhile, despite approval ratings that currently stand at 14%, more than 95% of total incumbents in the house and senate get re-elected. So 95 percent of our politicians are getting re-elected despite only one in six people approving of them. Only in America!

I was hoping 2016 would be the time to reverse this type of idiocracy, but judging from our presumptive 2016 presidential candidates, it appears we’ve learned nothing. Before the primaries even began, Donald Trump, out of seventeen different candidates, had the worst favorability rating. In the meantime, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton had the worst.

To everyone’s shock and horror, Donald Trump won his nomination and he has a 53% unfarvorability rating to show for it. At the other end, Clinton has all but wrapped up her nomination and she is strongly disliked by 37% of the electorate. Trump and Clinton are essentially the most despised presidential candidates in history.

Because of the yuge gap in unfavorability between the two candidates, you might be one of those Democrats or liberals who think Clinton is going to blow Trump away come November, and you might be right. After all, people have a far worse view of Mr. Trump, but let’s not forget this is America.

As a chart from fivethirtyeight.com suggests, since 1980, the candidate with the higher unfavorability rating has gone on to win all but two elections. The exceptions being Gore in 2000 and Bill in 1992. In every other election, the more hated candidate won. Anyone else feeling nervous?

Some people will no doubt point out that these unfavorability numbers are likely due to increased polarization, an astute observation, but not the whole truth. No major party nominee before Clinton or Trump had a double-digit net negative “strong favorability” rating (strongly favorable rating minus the strongly unfavorable rating). Clinton’s would be the lowest ever, if not for Trump.

Either way, why does the more hated one almost always win? Why do we continually insist on reaching deep into the bottom of the barrel of American politics every election to find the worst candidates who don’t represent us? Are we fucking stupid?


  1. Who is to say what this year’s “reality” is going to be? Months ago the “reality” was that Trump was nothing but a circus side show that would quickly die. We can’t ignore the power of stupidity and gullibility, and unfortunately our nation in its spoiled instant gratification style has quickly lost its ability to discern, question, doubt, or hold accountable those who run for political office of damn near any kind.
    A recent survey I heard on the radio said that among younger voters a couple generations removed from WWII and the following generation of baby boomers who still had a sense of history and the importance of knowing it 50% had no idea we fought against Japan. That would probably be close to the same for Germany, and I would doubt even 5% would know Italy was part of the Axis.
    It’s the age of smart phones that make us stupid consumers. Illiteracy is the rule and not the exception. We can’t judge by those who contribute to web sites like this one – we are in a distinct minority of Americans who still read, write and have some capability of self thought and a sense of cynicism that keeps us from getting burned.
    We accept trash for entertainment and treat no talent posers as artists. We make reality shows hits and follow insipid shows that feature Kardashians. That sounds like something that the Star Trek cast should have fought: “Captain! A Kardashian attack ship on the starboard side!” We turn colleges into football factories and instead of doing what we can and should do to see to it academically qualified kids go to college tuition free as they do in Germany, instead of spending billions on “student” athletes who can’t read, write, and have tutors do all their work for them, we make it almost impossible for anybody to make it through four years without accumulating massive amounts of debt and no guarantee of jobs when they get out.
    We allow media shills to spew propaganda from all sides. We believe them, do not question them, especially the Republicans, and do not realize this is exactly the same thing all governments do to disseminate information they want, and exclude what they don’t want you to know, which is pretty much all real news. Instead, we get gossip. Athletes are treated like Greek gods. Repulsive presidential candidates have fans who adore them because they are just as hate filled, racist and gullible as a person can be. Our next president is a direct result of our laziness. They know who they’re pandering to. They know how ignorant far too many of us are to ever understand what’s really going on, even if it’s explained to us. It’s so pathetic now that Trump could be an unmitigated disaster and his voters would still think he’s great because they simply are too stupid to know the difference, which is why GOP fans still think that asshole Reagan, who helped make the Christian evangelicals a force that could one day impose a theocracy, slashed domestic spending to the point that entire police departments, fire departments and other public services were bankrupted and in many cases unable to function, and due to the piss poor economic situation in the U.S. helped create crack neighborhoods and saw gangs become national threats was a great leader. We are getting what we paid for. Suck it up.

  2. Who are the progressive presidents of the last fifty years or so? In your opinion? JFK and Cuba? LBJ and Vietnam? Carter and Afghanistan? Who are the paragons who are at the top of your barrel?

    • You think Carter and Kennedy weren’t progressives just because they stood up to the soviets? There hasn’t been an economic or foreign policy progressive in the Democratic Party for forty years. That’s why Sanders was an independent.

  3. I usually think of progressive thinkers as being a bit more careful and contextual in what they think, say and/or write. Given the lack of context and the sweeping generalizations found in this column, maybe I need to go back and re-think that notion just a bit.

    To say that Donald Trump has been pulled from the bottom of the barrel really doesn’t require much careful thought or a contextual, nuanced view. He sank there long ago and his bevy of rabid followers aren’t thinking, anyway. Their support is a visceral mix of white grievance to which some of the more radical elements of aggrieved whites have attached themselves. They neither think about what Trump stands for—and, really, who can tell?—nor care. They simply wait, blood dripping from their incisors, for the next racist, mysoginist, xenophobic bumper sticker line.

    But to say—or, imply—that Hillary Clinton has been pulled from the bottom of the barrel is not only reflective of a lack of careful consideration of her accomplishments but reflective also of a lack of careful consideration of her history. Worse, it has the fetid air of a perspective influenced by 25 years of non-stop character assassination by the politicians and money machines of the American Right. One would have hoped that a writer for a progressive website would have more fully examined her record apart from the 25 years of daily right-wing assaults before assigning her to Dante’s depths.

    To be honest, I am more stunned that Bernie Sanders, whose legislative record is dismal, is not well-liked by colleagues in the Senate (“prickly,” “hard to work with”), has shown minimal interest over the years in assisting down-ballot Democrats (he has thus far contributed to three in this cycle and all three are big supporters of his) and whose most popular domestic policies—it is hard to characterize his foreign policy since he continually reverts back to inequality issues when asked about foreign policy—are far too generalized and, when accompanied by numbers, simply don’t add up, has drummed up the support that he has than that Hillary will be the Democratic nominee.

    Seriously, Bernie can’t answer the question of exactly how he thinks he would get those signature policies by a Republican firewall in the House. Though I like his bumper sticker sound-bites much better than those of Donald Trump, they are, though on the other end of the spectrum, suffering from the same lack of substance; i.e., How are you going to do that? While you, as you have implied, don’t necessarily trust cites from Nobel laureates such as Krugman and Stiglitz and don’t necessarily trust cites from other economic luminaries such as Austan Goolsbey, I tend to trust not only them but the vast preponderance of economists who simply cannot find a way for Bernie’s “I Want It All And I Want It All Right Now” domestic policies to get off the ground. And, again, his foreign policy can best be described as opaque.

    Even after 25 years of having every burp investigated by Republicans—and they have yet to turn up anything, despite the millions of taxpayer dollars they have spent trying—Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments speak for themselves. As do the names and accomplishments of those who endorse her—I am watching an interview with Cecile Richardson right now. To assign her to “the bottom of the barrel” without a serious look at what she has undergone for the last quarter-century and what she has accomplished in spite of that is not only unfair, but not worthy of what many of us have known as liberal or progressive thinking. There are certainly policy elements she holds with which I disagree, as there have been over the years. But they are a small part of her story and she has grown far beyond some of those earlier policies.

    Besides that, I’d like to see pictures of Bernie holding, dancing with, playing with, listening to those mamas and their children who live in them most god-forsaken parts of the planet—central Africa, the worst parts of India and Pakistan, the barrios of Mexico City and Honduras, the decimated landscape of Haiti. The problem is that there aren’t any. But there are plenty of those photographs that include Hillary. She’s been there. She’s done that. Where was Bernie? He was asking her for a donation to his first Senate campaign, which she happily made.

    And you’re trying to convince me that we dragged her up from the “bottom of the barrel?”

    • Clinton is not a progressive on most issues, never has been. She didn’t start at the bottom but she sure as hell worked her way down on her own. Compared to republicans, no she’s not near the bottom, but for a democrat she is. Thanks for the beautiful Bernie bashing piece though, even though he wasn’t mentioned once.

    • A very well-put comment, although you weaken your line of thought by your excessive attachment to the importance of publicity photo-ops, especially as a closing paragraph.

  4. Bearing in mind that primary voters are further to both the right and left of the main stream, I take some (albeit guarded) comfort that come the actual election, the mainstream will reject the extreme Trump. I think McCain’s loss reflected this (adding Palin to the ticket as a concession the Republican extreme right was a mistake). Goldwater vs Johnson is another example, perhaps a better one. That was one of the largest landslides in U.S. history
    I don’t see Trump getting black or hispanic voters, at all. And while he has has some female supporters, it’s hard to imagine en masse from women for him.
    Yes, I’m a Bernie supporter, but I also have a sense of reality. And something else comes to mind. Bernie’s no spring chicken. It’s not an easy job.
    I’m 67 and in good health from a long-lived family, but I know damn well the difference between 67 and 60. So extrapolating a bit, 74 isn’t getting younger.

    Here’s a tidbit: the Baron Trump-Harkonnen: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153390598297142&set=a.10150425547532142.355015.671837141&type=3

  5. Clinton is **not** the nominee yet, and I really wish people would stop acting like Bernie doesn’t exist. He actually does have a shot at the nomination.

    • Bernie’s unfavorability rating isn’t negative, so he doesn’t fit into the context of the article. Furthermore, I said Clinton has all but wrapped up her nomination. I’m a Bernie supporter too, but I still have a sense of reality…

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