Deus Ex Machina

“Trump has one key advantage: He’s not Hillary Clinton, and the closer we get to the election, the more that singular fact–fear of Her–could play against the polling.”

With every fiber of my being, I want Donald Trump to beat the pantsuit off Hillary Clinton. I want God to sovereignly do this in a way that’s so exceptional as to be marveled at for a century, and without my singular vote, for which the price of that victory is too high. I believe that millions of conservative Christians also feel this way.

I want a deus ex machina. A MacGyver solution. An Indiana Jones cliffhanger escape. A Rocky victory. I want the Sean Connery character (John Mason, the convict) from “The Rock” to get America out of this death trap. I want the good-guy villain to win and defeat the bad-guy villain. I want it to happen despite my voting for neither candidate. I want to to be the non-player character in this game. I want to get off the hook but be on the winning side.

Yes, I admit it’s a cop out. But I can’t help my feelings. When I think of four years of Clinton, despair wells up like a clogged toilet. Trump merely makes my head hurt. What the Bible teaches is to be led by the spirit, not the flesh. These feelings are my flesh. If God wants Trump to be president, it’s going to be His problem getting him there–but again, I do want to see it happen, like probably millions of others.

I want this despite my full knowledge that Trump is a villain and will do only what’s in his own best interests. I acknowledge that those interests are somewhat more aligned with mine than Hillary Clinton’s. But that’s mostly because Clinton’s interests are diametrically opposed to mine.

I, and I believe millions who feel like I do, would love to see someone like Evan McMullin force the race into the House of Representatives. But I know that is the long shot of long shots.

Trump is running on issues that better resonate with the American public than Clinton’s. His nomination acceptance speech, panned by so many as “dark” and negative, resonated with a large swath of Americans who understand that this country is headed away from opportunity and greatness. Trump’s entire message (what he does, what he shows, his persona) is actually a positive one, starting with the #MAGA slogan.

The entire case against Donald Trump is that he is a walking disaster personified. He’s unfit for the job of president because he lacks the emotional discipline and self-control to deal with people who have done their homework. His impulsive, obsessive, compulsive disorders make him extremely predictable, and therefore easily manipulated. These are not defects which can be overlooked or overcome.

But Trump has one key advantage: He’s not Hillary Clinton, and the closer we get to the election, the more that singular fact–fear of Her–could play against the polling.

There’s a sort of rhythm to the two-way polling between Trump and Clinton. It’s largely driven by events like the conventions, debates, and world events, but it’s also got a heartbeat of its own. The mean days in a Trump/Clinton peak cycle is 58.5, since May, with only about a 10-day variance. We are now at peak Clinton, and by the mean days cycle, we should be back to peak Trump around November 15.

But if the low value of 53 days is used, we’re at peak Trump on November 10. If peak Trump were to come just two days early, he could peak on election day.

None of this is scientific the way the boys at FiveThirtyEight would see as significant, but Nate Silver has also written that Clinton, at an 85 percent probability of winning, faces a steeper statistical climb due to diminishing returns. There are things for which statistical models cannot account, such as how much people hate Clinton, and how fearful they are in the swing states Trump is targeting.

Clinton’s best strategy is to run out the clock, but she’s been trying to do that for months without putting the race away. She’s asked why she’s not 50 points ahead.

Besides tax policy and the wonky issues of free trade (which most American voters couldn’t parse with a guidebook, Siri and Wikipedia by their sides), Trump wins on the issues that matter to the majority.

Every other issue seems to favor Trump, either by a clear margin (Islamic terrorism, energy policy) or a huge margin (Obamacare, Syrian immigration). Even the Supreme Court, which isn’t always an advantageous issue for Republican nominees, clearly favors Trump.

This is why I (and probably millions of others) want to see Clinton lose, and therefore, by the binary choice principle that Trump supporters keep throwing up in my face, we want to see Trump win.

What Trump injects into the race is unprecedented uncertainty, which strains the models. Politics is politics, however, and in the end, the polls and the models do tend to illuminate a truth. So the question remains: What could cause a Trump win?

Let’s assume that by the natural flow of things, Trump begins to swing back. Let’s further assume that Trump doesn’t make a total jackass of himself in the third debate, to be held Wednesday in Las Vegas. Lastly, let’s assume that the trend holds and some terrorist attack takes place between now and election day. That puts Trump back within 2 or 3 points.

Something so enormous as to swing North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and one of Pennsylvania or Wisconsin would need to hit the electorate with the force of a tsunami. The list of possible things is rather short, and my imagination pretty limited, so I’ll list what I think would do it.

  • A major revelation about Clinton’s health, such as an incurable disease or terminal diagnosis. Yes, we’ve been there, but the health issue has never really been put to bed.
  • A major and specific revelation about collusion between the State Department, the Justice Department and the FBI to suppress, ignore, or destroy evidence of Clinton’s guilt in the email scandal. It would have to be huge, something that would also take down President Obama and a few cabinet members. Something of Watergate proportions.
  • A major terror attack on a U.S. asset or city, along with a failure of Iraqi forces to retake Mosul from ISIS hands. The attack would have to be more significant than a mere one-man bombing or shooting. Sadly, America has become phlegmatic to this kind of event.

None of those things would sway me in my resolve to never vote for Trump, but not everyone feels as strongly about personal character and emotional stability as I do.

Note that those events would tend to move women more than men. The health issue, the betrayal of trust, the fear, are all (generally speaking) on the feminine emotional palette in bolder colors than the masculine palette. And women, before you hire the crucifixioner, I did say generally speaking.

The big hit against Trump right now is that he’s a scumbag to women. That’s not in dispute and has been public since forever. The effect of it will fade. We’re looking at polling numbers with peak Clinton rhythm, plus a bump from feminine pique, outrage, and sympathy for Clinton (which is hard to maintain).

By all reasonable measures, there will be no deus ex machina. Clinton will win by a large margin. Despair will rise up, and Trump will still make my head hurt, just not as president. However, I must continue to pray for the miracle, as well as for the souls of all the candidates. God, if you’re listening, now would be a great time to do something spectacular. We’re all down here waiting.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

View all posts