This just happened. pic.twitter.com/GrB8A8cKE5— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) March 12, 2016
It feels like 1968 -- but not completely. Yes, Trump is running as an opponent of protesters who are a mix of young whites and non-whites -- but the 1968 candidate Trump resembles is George Wallace, not Richard Nixon. Trump isn't appealing to a plurality of white America with this. Hell, he's generating despair within his own party. And I do mean despair; really, watch this brief video of Marco and see how drained and miserable he seems:
There are establishment Republicans as well as Democrats and lefties expressing horror at what's going on in Trump World. Trump isn't assembling a coalition of right-centrists and angry populists, the way Nixon did in '68; he's spurring both his supporters and his opponents on to violence, like Wallace.
This seems like a rerun of '68 if it had been just Wallace versus Hubert Humphrey. Hillary Clinton has a lot in common with Humphrey: Democrats have been in the White House for eight years, as in '68, and, Hillary, like Humphrey, is the heir apparent who's been a party stalwart for years but is not widely loved. Like Humphrey, she seems out of step with left-leaning voters on key issues. What was up with her praise for Nancy Reagan on AIDS, followed by a reference to last year's Charleston shootings that also missed the mark?
Violence has no place in our politics. We should use our words and deeds to bring Americans together. pic.twitter.com/FofjognpIA— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 12, 2016
Nixon was what we'd later call a triangulator, the candidate who talked about law and order, but not in as inflammatory a way as Wallace, the candidate who alternated coded appeals to white racists with appeals to old-guard establishmentarians, the candidate who rejected the peace movement but claimed to have a secret plan to end the war. A lot of this was fake, but it was skillful needle-threading, and it got him elected.
We don't have a candidate like that now. I could imagine Mike Bloomberg watching all this and rethinking his decision not to run, even though he's not what voters want, and I wonder whether John Kasich, running with the backing of the GOP establishment on a third-party line, would have a shot, given how many voters, including some Democrats, now believe he's a nice, harmless moderate.
Nixon was a terrible person who won at a bad moment. I don't really know who'd be the appropriate candidate at this moment. But I don't think a candidate analogous to Nixon will run. I think Humphrey vs. Wallace is what we're stuck with.