Veteran readers know that making predictions about the future is not a thing I love to do. Very little of political science is predictive, and the processes of politics are too complex for the conditions of something like an election to be replicated across time. But having gone all-in on predicting Trump will get his lunch handed to him in November, I'm surprised at how rapidly the wheels are coming off his campaign all of one week into the general election period. Like any good Third World strongman-bully / man-child, Trump is already setting up the stab-in-back legend of his own defeat, telling audiences he's "afraid the election is going to be rigged." So clearly he has a pretty firm sense of what's coming. Who are we to disagree with him. Because of the tantalizing possibility that I could look like a smart person in the future if I put a few things in writing now, here are four predictions I'm willing to bet my life savings ($57.38) on in the 99 remaining days until we put this grotesque carnival to an end.
1. The first one's easy: Trump is going to show up to one debate with Clinton and then refuse to do any more. He played this game throughout the primary process, making a big show of agreeing to or refusing to show up to various debates depending on his infantile whims. Primary debates are not only a dime a dozen but are comparatively rinky-dink, unstructured affairs. The general election debates organized by the CPD are planned well in advance and the organization feels like it has sufficient clout to resist interference (although it does iron out debate details in consultation with the campaigns to try to make sure everyone is placated). Insisting on date and venue changes isn't going to fly. After the humiliating experience of having to try to answer real questions without a script on live TV once, he's going to demand all kinds of concessions to show up to additional debates. They will be rejected out of hand, and he'll insist that he can't do any more debates because it's "unfair" or something.
2. When the outlook is particularly bleak Trump will attempt to replace Mike Pence. Playing off the popularity of his lame reality TV series, he'll do some big, cheesy "You're fired!" publicity stunt and replace him with whoever exists in the political-entertainment universe that is willing to get on board with (and attach their name to) the worst presidential campaign in American history. Now that the nomination is official and ballot deadlines have passed it isn't even technically possible for him to replace a running mate (Even a person on the ticket who died between now and Election Day would appear on the ballot in most states) but don't pretend like that will stop him.
3. When he really starts flailing around once he becomes a pure laughingstock, he's going to go full racist. "He already is," you say. No, this is still soft racism by right-wing standards. He's using coded language for the most part. When the memories of the adulation he received during the primaries have long since faded, he's going to use at least one racial slur on camera. I'd bet my house on it if I had one.
4. This might go without saying, but when he comes to grips with how badly he's going to lose he will insist that he was never really serious about running and that he never really wanted to be president anyway. The presidency and the American people are beneath him, he'll announce, and he has better and more important things to do than to lead a nation of ingrates like pearls before swine.
One way or another I'll bump this after the election. I won't duck out of the line of fire like a certain candidate is going to.