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Trump triumphs; Clinton douses ‘Bern’

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Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
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The big Super Tuesday wins yesterday by Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have brought both campaigns that much closer to clinching their respective party’s presidential nominations. Last night’s victory speeches indicated both candidates are now looking beyond the primaries toward the general election in what is expected to be scorched-earth campaigns from both – indicating that the particularly nasty rhetoric of this primary season is merely just the beginning.

“When we get all this finished, I’m going to go after Hillary Clinton, on the assumption she’s allowed to run,” Mr. Trump said in his victory press conference yesterday evening from Palm Beach, Fla., where he was campaigning ahead of the March 15 Florida primary. He was referring to the FBI’s investigations into her unsecured emails while she was secretary of state. He added, “What she did is wrong. Other people have done less than what she did, and they paid a big, big price.”

Mrs. Clinton, in her victory speech from Miami, where she also was campaigning, said: “The stakes have never been higher and the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower. Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong and we’re not going to let it work.”

At press time, Mr. Trump had won an astounding seven states on Tuesday, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz picked up two – his home state and neighboring Oklahoma. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won the Minnesota caucuses. Typically, the candidate that wins the most states on Super Tuesday goes on to win their party’s nomination for the presidency.

Continuing with his normal shtick, Mr. Trump said: “We’re going to create jobs like you’ve never seen …We’re going to lower taxes for our middle class. … We’re lowering taxes on business. … We’ve lost our manufacturing jobs.” And, he again claimed, “We’re going to have a wall with Mexico.”

In a similarly emphatic victory, Mrs. Clinton won seven states, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders winning Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota and his home state of Vermont. Focusing her attention past the primary, Mrs. Clinton alluded to Mr. Trump when she said, “Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers and build ladders of opportunity and empowerment, so every American can live up to his or her potential, because only then can America live up to its potential, too.”

Both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton have made much of their appeal to middle-class voters, promising policies meant to assuage the difficulties many working-class Americans have had in recent years. As Charles Murray recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “The real family income of people in the bottom half of the income distribution hasn’t increased since the late 1960s.” As such, this may be the year of the political resurgence of the working class.

It should come as no surprise that, with the growing frustration of working-class America, a candidate with a brash and aggressive message is resonating. Mr. Trump’s style is the outward expression of the angst too many Americans feel today as a result of lackluster leadership in both the White House and in Congress. But his rhetoric is remarkably discomforting.

Mrs. Clinton, again chiding the Republican frontrunner, said: “The work is not to make America great again. America never stopped being great. We have to make America whole, fill in what’s been hollowed out.” But the former secretary of state’s challenge will be to convince voters that she – a woman with a constant presence in the den of established political power for decades – sympathizes and empathizes enough with their plight, a plight for which she has had a ringside seat.

Neither Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton is ideally suited to quell the political situation of the United States in 2016, where discontent understandably ranges from the hard political Right to the hard political Left, from the young to the old, from the activists in both the Tea Party to Black Lives Matter.

The politics of division have been a hallmark of American politics in recent years, and 2016’s presidential election has elevated the vitriol to new heights. Divisiveness and bloviating are not what the country needs. It needs aspiration and unity.

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