"I alone can fix it," Donald Trump bragged at the Republican National Convention last July with swagger, confidence and certitude. But Trump has since shown no sign he can even run an effective campaign, and he is now on the verge of an historic defeat.
Many Americans were ready for a change this election, and all of the polls revealed a nation filled with concern that the country was headed in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton, a flawed candidate dogged by an email controversy and a foreign policy record that has come under continuous scrutiny. Yet Republicans selected as their nominee a brash man who had no political experience, little knowledge of the key issues, an impulsive nature, and a man who bullies those who stand in his way. They thought they could control him, shape his campaign, and get him "on message." They failed. As a result, Republicans are fighting to retain control of the Senate.
Trump did not properly prepare for any of the three debates he had with Clinton. Consequently, he could not speak articulately about any of the issues that were discussed. Clinton won all three debates, and her third debate performance was her best. She set traps for the thin-skinned Trump, and he took the bait. At the end of the first debate she mentioned how Trump had mocked a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, because she had gained weight. The result was an overnight Twitter storm from Trump that raised serious questions about his temperament.
In the second debate, Trump was on the defensive from the very beginning because a videotape had been released of him talking in an inappropriate way about women. Moderator Anderson Cooper, of CNN, asked Trump, "You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?" Trump responded that he was embarrassed by his comments, and scrambled to answer the question. "No, I didn't say that at all. I don't think you understood what was--this was locker room talk. I am not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people." This incident and the exchange raised serious questions about Trump's character.
For weeks Trump has been saying that the election will be rigged, and asked that his supporters monitor polling places. In their final debate, moderator Chris Wallace, of Fox News, asked Trump if he loses would he accept the outcome as is the tradition in presidential elections. Trump responded, "I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time." He then added, "If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote...millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn't be registered to vote." Wallace followed up, "Are you saying you will not commit to that principle?" Trump replied, "What I am saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?" This exchange dominated the news cycle and received criticism from his fellow Republicans.
On Saturday, Trump appeared at a rally in Gettysburg, the site of an historic Civil War battle, and the place President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg address. Trump gave his closing argument and outlined what he would do during his first 100 days in office if elected. But he began by attacking the "dishonest mainstream media" and a rigged election. He then spoke of the 10 women (now 11) who had come forward to accuse him of unwanted sexual advances. "Every women lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign -- total fabrication," he said as he gestured from the podium for emphasis. "The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over." Of course, if he actually sues, and if he is elected, a President Trump will spend an enormous amount of time in depositions, and so will members of his family. This is another empty threat, but it overshadowed his closing argument.
No one believes more in Donald Trump than Trump himself. But his candidacy has roiled and divided the Republican Party, and it has repulsed millions of women, Hispanics, Muslims, and independent voters. Trump has said he read the bible. Perhaps he should have carefully considered these words from Luke, "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."