Littwin: Showtime in a swing state

Once again, and maybe this time more than ever, the entire election may be in our hands, Colorado. It’s easy enough to joke about our swing-state status. It’s my go-to move at this time every four years. But there’s no joking any more.

If Hillary Clinton doesn’t win Colorado, Donald Trump will in all likelihood be the next president. It’s really as simple as that. That’s why Trump was in town late Saturday night, telling his supporters how well he’s doing among the Hispanic Latinos, even as the New York Times reports that a late surge of Latino voters may doom Trump’s chances.

You know the swing-state rundown by now. If you haven’t yet committed the red-blue election map to memory, I guarantee you will by sometime Tuesday night. If Clinton holds Colorado, along with Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and either New Hampshire or Nevada, she wins. She wins even if she loses Florida, if she loses North Carolina, if she loses Iowa.

None of this is new or surprising. But what makes it different — and I’d say, even now, shocking — is Trump himself and the absurdist notion that he could actually become our president. As of now, Nate Silver gives him a 35 percent chance, which I translate to mean that at least 94 percent of Democrats have a chance of being scared to death.

Look, it’s not unusual for politics to be painted in apocalyptic terms. In fact, it’s pretty much the norm. But this year -— and maybe only this year -— is actually different. There are no norms. There is no precedent. There is this race, and this race only.

The conventional wisdom was that, in response to Trump, Colorado had left swing-statedom behind. A combination of too many Latinos, too many millennials, too many college-educated, suburban women seemed like a toxic mix for Trump. The polls looked solid enough for Clinton over the summer that she took down her ads. But the ads are back up now. Trump is here every other day. Bernie is here. And Bill is here. And suddenly, we’re back to being one of those tipping-point states. Again, according to Silver, if Trump is to break through anywhere, it will likely be in Pennsylvania. Or in Michigan. Or in, yes, Colorado. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure I even believe it.

Still, this is where we are — Clinton favored, but Trump with a chance. And I’m at a loss to explain how we got there. I know it’s about fear and demographics and the fear of demographics (demographobia?) and finding an uncertain America at an uncertain time when faith in nearly all institutions has cratered.

And yet. However bad things are, Trump is still, without question, the most dangerous person to have ever gotten so close to the presidency. I want to be as nonpartisan as a full-blown liberal like myself can be, so I’ll just say I stand in agreement with George Will and David Frum and Michael Gerson and Charles Krauthammer and so many others on the right who have said much the same.

Trump wants to blow things up in Washington — hence, his appeal. But he could truly blow things up in Washington. Hence, the danger.

I’ll say again — because I can’t help myself — that Trump is an unqualified demagogue, completely unprepared for the job, equally ignorant of domestic and foreign policy, who feeds on fear and division and says, as no one running for president has ever said, “I alone can fix it.” In America, we don’t just hand over the reins to anyone. We didn’t to Lincoln. We didn’t to FDR. But we would to Donald Trump?

Republicans like Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman may have backed away from Trump — and unlike Darryl Glenn, stayed away — but they haven’t done what is right and necessary. They haven’t warned their constituents of the genuine threat that Trump represents to the ideals of American democracy.

After the debates, which Clinton dominated (because, yes, she had actually prepared), Clinton had pulled away in the polls and a desperate Trump had gone to full rigged-election mode. Pundits were saying the election was over and some had moved on to speculating about Trump TV. But then the emails came roaring back, and James Comey was caught somewhere between misfeasance and malfeasance. And reluctant Republicans began coming home, even those who must fear that Trump is ready to burn that home down. That’s how stuck we are in this red-blue partisan divide in which the Paul Ryans are content to stay mum, John McCain threatens to help block any Clinton Supreme Court nominee, and Trump profits.

This couldn’t have happened without the successful demonization of Clinton, who, unlike Nixon, is not actually a crook. This demonization has been a long-running project, of course, but who’d have thought that lock-her-up would ever go mainstream?

In the worst instance, Clinton is a paranoid, private, guarded politician who will bend the rules to her favor.  Yes, she has flaws. She has major transparency flaws. She is too close to big money. She is too hawkish for my taste. But most Americans think she can do the job, whereas most Americans don’t think Trump can.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t even mentioned policy. That may be the worst part of this soulless campaign. We’ve learned a lot in these past months about private email servers and Access Hollywood groping tapes and how rich people avoid paying any federal taxes. We’ve learned, too, that many people have a surprising tolerance for outspoken intolerance.

But what have we learned about solving problems like ISIS or Syria or income inequality or systemic racism or immigration reform or gun violence or climate change? You can blame the crooked, rigged, dishonest media if you like. You can blame the candidates, as I’d prefer. Clinton has long pages of detailed plans for everything, but the thrust of her campaign has been to ensure that the focus stays on Trump. Meanwhile, the gist of Trump’s closing argument is that America is a big loser and that Clinton spends her days either napping or talking on the phone with evil international bankers.

So, where does this leave us, besides in a hell of a mess?

I’d say this: It leaves us on the eve of an election that many of us could never have imagined — and with Colorado still somehow right in the middle of it.


Photo by Anna via Flickr Creative Commons



  1. Mrs Clinton drinks alcohol, socially.

    Mr. Trump never touched a drop of alcohol.

    Based on that fact alone I entrust Mr. Trump with the presidency and therewith with the control over the nuclear code.

    He may be ‘dangerous’ to the ‘New World Order’, but definitely not to the American people.

    Mrs Clinton is the ‘New World Order’ and therefore also a definite danger to the American people – unless you like being told that you cannot say ‘he’ or ‘she’ but rather ‘they’ and if you don’t obey you will lose you job.

    Keep America the land of the Free, it is the last one left ( barely )

  2. I keep being confused by the polling showing Trump down only 3-5% in Colorado.

    * Polls show 90% or so of Democrats are voting for Clinton.
    * Republicans have a deeper split – polls indicate 80-83% will be voting Trump. Even sitting Senators and Governors have said publicly they will not be voting for Trump.
    * In virtually every poll focusing on Independent voters, I’ve seen Trump losing by at least 3%.
    * The state is more Hispanic than it was 4 years ago and a greater proportion are voting.
    * More women than men vote, and Clinton is winning the women’s vote by 7-10% in the polls I’ve seen.

    So how is it that Trump is still polling just 3-5% behind?

  3. Contradictions, certainty, confusion, cop-out, comedy, Comey and candor all in the same column.

    First let me applaud Mr. Littwin’s candor. It’s long overdue but it’s a step in the right direction.

    It’s obvious now that Mr. Littwin has been using Mr. Trump as a diversion to avoid revealing that he doesn’t like Mrs. Clinton, either. He, apparently, has no dog in this fight. Although his dislike for Mr. Trump is much deeper Mrs. Clinton is clearly not a favorite. The most he appears willing to say in her favor is she has “detailed plans for everything” and “Vote for Hillary, she has detailed plans for everything” is not an awe inspiring campaign slogan.

    Damning with faint praise.

    And if you need further proof of Mr. Littwin’s dislike of Mrs. Clinton—other than his refusal to offer a reason to elect her—-here’s how he describes her:

    “Clinton is a paranoid, private, guarded politician who will bend the rules to her favor. Yes, she has flaws. She has major transparency flaws. She is too close to big money. She is too hawkish for my taste.”

    I assume Mahatma Gandhi would also be too hawkish for Mr. Littwin’s taste.

    Contrast these statements made by Mr. Littwin this year:

    “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated.” (January)

    “And I’m at a loss to explain how (this election) got there.” (Today)

    “It leaves us on the eve of an election that many of us could never have imagined” (Today)

    Do those last two quotes sound like someone with “a pretty good handle on politics”? Mr. Littwin has gone from certainty to confusion in less than one year. Still not convinced? Well how about the contradictions in these two statements, again, both made this year:

    “FBI Director James Comey, whose reputation as a truth-teller was forever sealed when he served as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, was the clear winner in the Hillary Clinton email story/scandal. In fact, he was pretty much the only winner.” (July)

    “But then the emails came roaring back, and James Comey was caught somewhere between misfeasance and malfeasance.” (Today)

    From truth-teller to misfeasance and malfeasance in four short months. You can’t make this stuff up!

    Still think Mr. Littwin has “a pretty good handle on politics”. Not so fast. This January Mr. Littwin evaluated eleven possible Republican presidential nominees (that’s right, 11). Guess who he left out? Yep, Donald J. Trump. You can’t make that stuff up, either!!

    And today there’s this:

    “As you may have noticed, I haven’t even mentioned policy. That may be the worst part of this soulless campaign.”

    That, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls is a Class A, Number One, Top of the Line cop-out. Mr. Littwin has absolute control over column content. It’s only that control that helps him avoid, well, uncomfortable subjects (read: Laquan McDonald) and he has used Mr. Trump’s candidacy to that very end. For Mr. Littwin to now suggest that Mr. Trump is solely responsible for his lack of policy discussion is not only nonsense it’s intellectually dishonest.

    But it’s not only policy Mr. Littwin has used Mr. Trump to avoid discussing. Here, according to are the top 2016 political issues”

    – the economy
    – environment and science
    – criminal justice
    – health care
    – privacy and data security
    – education
    – religion and social issues

    Want to take a wild guess at how many of these issues Mr. Littwin has written about? If you guessed none, you are correct!

    Why this dearth of discussion on important current political issues? Well, Mr. Littwin doesn’t say but odds are he’d probably blame Mr. Trump.

    And now for the comedy.

    “I want to be as nonpartisan as a full-blown liberal like myself can be, .”

    Yes, Mr. Littwin actually wrote that in this column. A nonpartisan Mr. Littwin is an oxymoron but then again, so is Colorado Independent.


    “Sixty percent of voters view Hillary Clinton unfavorably, according to a ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday morning, the highest level of unpopularity yet for the Democratic presidential nominee.” –

    “According to former Jimmy Carter pollster Pat Caddell, Hillary Clinton is hemorrhaging support as a result of the FBI announcement and we could see a repeat of the 1980 election when anti-establishment candidate Ronald Reagan won in a landslide.” –

    “Has America become so numb by the decades of lies and cynicism oozing from Clinton Inc. that it could elect Hillary Clinton as president, even after Friday’s FBI announcement that it had reopened an investigation of her emails while secretary of state?

    We’ll find out soon enough.

    It’s obvious the American political system is breaking down. It’s been crumbling for some time now, and the establishment elite know it and they’re properly frightened. Donald Trump, the vulgarian at their gates, is a symptom, not a cause. Hillary Clinton and husband Bill are both cause and effect.
    FBI director James Comey’s announcement about the renewed Clinton email investigation is the bombshell in the presidential campaign. That he announced this so close to Election Day should tell every thinking person that what the FBI is looking at is extremely serious.” – Chicago Tribune

    “The specter of a drawn-out, Nixon-like investigation is clouding Democrat Hillary Clinton’s race for the presidency with a new poll showing nearly half equating the email scandal to Watergate and even more worried that the FBI probe will drag on into her presidency.

    While polls out Monday morning do not show a big swing away from Clinton to Republican Donald Trump, they do show renewed concerns about the revived investigation into her email server due to thousands of previously unknown emails found on the computer of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.” –

    “Whispers of “payback” are being directed at Hillary Clinton after she decried as “unprecedented” the surprise FBI revival of its probe of her email scandal.

    That’s because 24 years ago, as former President George H.W. Bush was surging back against challenger Bill Clinton, a special prosecutor raised new charges against Bush in the Iran-Contra probe, prompting Clinton to claim he was running against a “culture of corruption.”” –

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2016

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