Last Licks

In baseball it’s called “last licks.” It means the home team has the final chance to tie or win the game. It’s fair because teams play an equal number of home and away games, and it all evens out in the end. The race for president here in the US had its own version of last licks this week. Last week in Cleveland, we saw the Republican Party put up its best case for a Donald Trump presidency. It was highly criticized as “gloom and doom” and for over-valuing the power of a single person to change the country. But at the same time, it made a strong case to Trump supporters who have already taken to his outsider message.

The Democratic Party’s home field advantage gave the Hillary Clinton campaign a virtual copy of the GOP playbook going into their convention this week. He says immigrants are dangerous. She says we’re a country of immigrants. He says ISIS is coming to get you. She says we’re going after ISIS. He says America is on the decline. She says the future is bright. He says he alone can fix the country’s problems. She says we can solve the problems together.

Advantage home team.

It went beyond the candidates at the top of the ticket. All of the Democrats’ primetime speakers tried to use Trump’s words against him. But what might have been the biggest contrast of all? Let’s call it the fear factor. Last week, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani opened his speech to the RNC with this: “The vast majority of Americans today do not feel safe. They fear for our children. They fear for themselves.” Later in his speech he said, “I, for the purpose of media, I do not say all of Islam. I did not say most of Islam. I said Islamic extremism. You know who you are! And we’re coming to get you!”

The ying to Giuliani’s yang came from someone with no star power at all. Khizr Khan, the father of an Army Captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004, was the most memorable speaker of the convention’s final night. He described himself and his wife “as patriotic American Muslims, with undivided loyalty to our country.” The most memorable moment of a particularly memorable address: “Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”

Advantage home team

After the convention ended, Hillary supporters seem to be saying this was like shooting fish in a barrel. They wonder, “Who in their right mind would prefer the Trump version of America?” The answer is about half of the electorate. Polls show the candidates are very close both in the popular vote and in the swing states that will decide the election. We can expect to see a convention bump for Hillary in the polls next week, but as the summer rolls on, I don’t see many predicting a landslide.

So it’s fair to say this election is far from over. This wasn’t the bottom of the ninth inning, and while it looks like the Democrats won the battle of the conventions, there’s plenty more moves to be made. You could say that Clinton will have the home field advantage throughout the debates, but when it comes to Election Day, they’ll likely be on a neutral field. We’ll see who winds up in the White House, and it all might come down to last licks.

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