Don’t tune out just yet. This isn’t what you think.
He’s a brash outsider with negligible political skills and a penchant for offending potential voters. Upon first admitting his interest in elected office, he told a reporter, “I am strongly considering a run … only because in the last eight years, there’s been nobody [in power] that can count to 10. We need somebody that has some business background and financial acumen that can put two and two together and it doesn’t come up to five.”
She, on the other hand, is an accomplished political veteran, having served in several top elected and appointed posts. She said, “I want to build on the base of what we have started,” referring to the outgoing Democratic administration, with which she was closely allied.
His campaign began with a series of amateurish mistakes. His chances of winning the nomination in a crowded Republican field were dismissed by nearly every pundit, due to his inability to control his mouth. He rejected these assessments, saying, “The system is in favor of special interest groups.” He promised to “reverse the oppressive growth of taxes.”
Her campaign operated smoothly, although it was built around generalities, with vague promises of prosperity resulting from following the policies of her predecessor. (Which, it’s worth pointing out, were not universally admired.) “We can do this,” she said. “But we need positive hands-on leadership to make it happen.”
He ran his own campaign, assisted by assorted cronies with no political experience. He claimed to be “the only candidate … with a personal life story of success.” He often charged the government with imposing “economic slavery.”
She had a campaign team with solid resumes. They advised her to be cautious, which she took to mean bland. “It is hard sometimes to change the way you do things, because we’ve never done it that way before,” she said, “but we’re learning that you can do things differently and still take care of people.”
He called environmental agencies “control freaks.” He flip-flopped on gay-rights issues. He first supported increasing education funding, then backed away from that. He never wavered, though, in his commitment to tax cuts and welfare reform. Without those, he said, “this is the last generation of the American Dream.”
She curried favor with environmental groups, organized labor and educators. Her positions on social issues adhered to the liberal standard. She avoided talking about taxes, preferring, instead, to discuss “investments” in research and development, higher education and social services, saying, “[W]e don’t want to be mean-spirited about people who need help.”
He said, “I will always place your individual liberties ahead of any … bureaucrat.”
She said, “This election presents an extraordinary opportunity for me to use the experience I have gained. The culmination of all the things I have done, I believe, make me ready to lead at this very important juncture.”
He said, “We’re seeing our taxes go up and our freedoms eroded.”
She said, “There is this notion that you can have anything you want and it doesn’t cost anything. We need to be honest with people.”
He said, “[T]he burden of punitive taxes and the interference of counterproductive regulations have prevented personal initiative and the full utilization of our great natural resources … I will remove these obstacles; our … government will once again work for the people and not against.”
She said, “If you believe government is best when it is saving lives and educating children, building roads and bridges, saving railroads, when it is not the enemy but the servant of the people, then you must be a Democrat.”
Oddly enough, since he was a conservative Republican, he campaigned on a platform of radical change.
Oddly enough, since she was a liberal Democrat, she campaigned on a platform of maintaining the status quo.
That wasn’t in 2016, but in 2010. His name wasn’t Donald Trump, but Paul LePage. Her name wasn’t Hillary Clinton, but Libby Mitchell. The office they were seeking wasn’t president of the United States but governor of Maine.
Perhaps not so oddly, LePage came from behind to win the election. Mitchell finished a distant third.
Things might be different this time. Or maybe not.
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