Over the past few days I’ve become fairly well convinced we’re going to see a Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump general election for the Presidency of the United States. Of course, I could be wrong. So much could happen. But right now, that’s what it looks like.

In perfect honesty, I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter. For a while now, the anti-poverty effort and its offshoots (such as highlighting the injustice of wage stagnation and wealth and income inequality) have been primary concerns for me, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that in the Democratic Primary, I support the candidate who has similarly dedicated himself to those concerns.

I also believe the only way to fix our corrupted politics that have degraded our democratic Republic into a plutocratic oligarchy and a second Gilded Age, is to bring about a Campaign Finance Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is another thing that Bernie’s on about, so I can get behind that.

But after South Carolina, Hillary Clinton has the “Big Mo.” Think of this as 2008 in reverse for her. In 2008, Barack Obama won in Iowa, lost to Hillary in New Hampshire, then won in South Carolina. In 2016, so far, Hillary has won in Iowa (barely), lost to Bernie in New Hampshire, and won in South Carolina.

On Super Tuesday, Clinton stands to win big. Her Big Mo will get even bigger. Sanders will try to hold on (like Hillary did in 2008), walking away with enough delegates to keep arguing he still has a shot (like Hillary did in 2008). Meanwhile, the pressure on him to withdraw will continue to mount (as it did on Hillary in 2008), perhaps all the way until June (which is when Hillary finally withdrew in 2008).

On the Republican side, the fight is more complicated. Suffice it to say that it portends to get nastier and perhaps drag on longer than any other Presidential primary in memory. Despite this, I fully expect Donald Trump to emerge as the Republican nominee, barring some very serious Republican establishment chicanery.

That freaks me out for many reasons and brings about in me a wide variety of emotions: Humor, shock, sadness, pity, anger, frustration, exhaustion. It does not, however, fill me with the confidence it once would have.

I truly believe that in a Sanders v. Trump, we could be pretty confident Sanders would beat Trump. What seems like an “anti-establishment” year would be decided between two “anti-establishment” candidates, one pushing a sense of generosity and community, the other pushing divisiveness, fear and hate. Easy choice.

Back in summer 2015, I called U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as the person the Republican establishment should line up behind. This was for the simple reason that as a young, energetic politician without much of a record and a chameleon-like knack of taking on new personalities at will, he would present the biggest challenge to Democrats.

I still believe he would, but I think the Republican establishment waited too long to confront the fact that Trump was emerging as a very real political force. I think they took too long to coalesce around their alternative. I think hangers-on like Ohio Gov. John Kasich are now not doing them any favors.

I think they’ll have a nearly impossible time convincing their primary voters to go with a “reasonable choice” a la John McCain’08 and Willard Mitt Romney’12 for a third time. I think Donald J. Trump is the Republican nominee for President.

And that brings me back around to what I think we’ll face in November: Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump. And as I said, as abhorrent a human being as Donald Trump is, I’m not filled with confidence.

Here’s why: A Clinton v. Trump contest is one between the two candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings of everybody running. Trump has unprecedented negatives at 60 percent. Hillary has very high negatives, but not unprecedented, at 53 percent.

I just can’t figure out how to balance it all out: Does Trump’s “anti-establishment” support in an “anti-establishment” year outweigh Hillary’s obviously superior credentials?

In Hillary Clinton we have a person who is by far, by resumé, the most qualified person to become our next President. She has also been subject to nearly 25 years of brutal Republican attacks, many of which have been totally disgusting and totally unfair.

On the other hand, some of the left’s criticism of Clinton is totally fair. Her hawkish neoliberal foreign policy agenda is a legitimate concern. Her coziness to Wall Street is a legitimate concern.

Some of us are really, deeply offended by the way our banking class has been grifting, degrading and destroying the American middle class since the Reagan era, and the Clintons often make me feel as though they’re just patting us on the head and patronizing us during primary season with no intention of manifesting real accountability.

Meanwhile, we have Donald Trump. And what does one say? Despite having the occasional “moderate” policy position – as much as one with an apparent hypoallergenic reaction to specifics on any proposal can have an actual policy position – the man is an egomaniacal sociopath with a flagrant disregard for the truth, obsessed and motivated purely and only by his own self-aggrandizement. Thusly, he is a major turn-off to people of all political stripes.

So does the hatred of Trump from both the left and the right outweigh the hatred of “the Clinton Machine” from both the left and the right?

How much does a Trump nomination de-energize the “establishment Republicans”? How much does a Hillary nomination de-energize the anti-establishment Democrats?

Does it all balance out to create a nail-biter? It looks to me right now like we’re destined to find out.

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.

 
  • Spitfiremk1

    While Bernie has always been an activist, untill recently he was under the radar. The fact that he calls himself a (Democratic) Socialist really scares many mainstream Americans (of both parties) and does him no good. While I like some of his ideas, such as health care and college for all, I do not think that these concepts are shared by enough of us to get them through congress. Maybe someday, but for now there are too many voters who are only concerned with buying a six-pack and a lottery ticket.

    That is why the hate policies of Trump have taken flight and he is running away from Rubio and the rest of the GOP pack.

    That being said, the Clintons have a lot of baggage, it is true, but they also have a lot to offer if given the chance. Let’s face it, FDR and JFK had their baggage, no one is going to be without a weak link in their armor.

  • sufferingsuccatash

    It is the ultimate voting nightmare. The choice of the lessor of two evils. It is not enough that state legislatures, here and elsewhere, have disenfranchised minorities, seniors, and the poor, to limit the right to vote through a myriad of technical requirements to suppress democracy. In addition, the major parties appear to be offering two of the most incompetent and self indulgent grifters, who by virtue of their presence on the ballot, will further suppress the vote. Billions will be spent this election cycle on this race alone—-and it has produced a national pageant displaying the nadir of the American political system.

  • Greggyb

    If this turns out to be the case, the Republicans and corporate interests will have won already. Clinton will bring no strength to down ballot Democrats because her voters will be much more likely to split their tickets. It means another four years of rock solid Republican majorities in Congress and state legislatures (that’s Rob Portman you laughing at the back of the room). Reform of the Democratic Party will continue to be quashed by Wasserman-Schultz-ism. A Trump victory will mean, like a nation of alcoholics, that we might reach rock bottom and actually have a Progressive revival. But it will be a big price to pay. Let’s face it, this country has become ungovernable. We have too many people elected whose goal is to undermine government and the others don’t have the principled backbone to protect it.

  • Red Rover

    A Clinton-Trump election would be two sides of one corporate opportunist ticket. Since both of them are only out for themselves, why would you vote for either? Would that ticket mobilize enough people to stop choosing between two evils?

    If it’s finally time to cast our ballots for a woman, I’m choosing Dr. Jill Stein. I’m not wasting my vote on someone who doesn’t have the public interest in mind as more than just talking points.

    That being said, I’m still crossing my fingers for a Bernie Sanders nomination.

  • Red Rover

    During Obama’s first Presidential campaign, his popularity actually went up when Republicans started hurling the socialist label at him. It doesn’t have all the same Cold War baggage that it once did.

  • Spitfiremk1

    I don’t know how much President Obama’s popularity may or may not have been affected by what the cry-baby republican tea-bangers said, but while “socialist” doesn’t bother me (and clearly doesn’t bother you, either) it does achieve notoriety and causea much anxiety in many circles. I will support which ever Democrat is the nominee, just so no Republican gets control of the White House while they hold both chambers of congress.

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