The Issues Disappear from the Presidential Campaign

A funny thing has happened as we approach Election Day: the issues have more or less disappeared; or, at least, the press has stopped talking about them.

Donald Trump raced to the front of the GOP pack by focusing on illegal immigration. For months, liberals inside and outside of the press denounced Trump’s immigration views, accusing him of being a bigot, etc. But immigration has now disappeared from the news. In the first Clinton-Trump debate, moderator Leslie Holt never mentioned the subject. Why? Democrats understand that most voters side with Trump.

Likewise with trade. Here, in my opinion, Trump is vulnerable, but the issue is still too risky for the Left. Therefore, the less said the better.

How about our declining military, the Iran deal, Hillary Clinton’s criminal mishandling of classified information, the weakest recovery since WWII, stagnant wages, the war on cops and a suddenly rising crime rate, the Libya fiasco, and Obamacare, a failure by any accounting? Where have all the issues gone? Off the front pages, every one, and so far, out of the debates.

The issues that voters care most about appear to be off the table until the election is safely over. Instead, editors and reporters are feeding us a steady diet of Trump’s tax returns, a reprise of birtherism, and Alicia Machado, a person, evidently, of great significance. You could say she is the Quemoy and Matsu of this election, but that understates the case.

It is obvious what is going on here. Donald Trump closed the gap with Hillary Clinton by giving a series of sound, substantive speeches on the economy, immigration and crime. Voters tend to agree with his views on most of these issues, and as long as he was talking about them, Hillary Clinton was in trouble. So the press did what it does best: it changed the subject.

Trump, of course, bears some responsibility. He is not a skillful candidate, and sometimes he doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain. Or to stop talking about Ms. Machado. All too often, he has gone along with reporters who are obviously trying to throw him off his game.

Still, it’s not too late. If Trump gets back to the issues and stops rising to the bait every time a reporter tries to distract him, he can still win. The problem is that to do this, he must keep his ego in check. Trump needs to remember that the election is not about him, his business dealings or his petty rivalries, it is about the future of the United States of America. Whether he can do this remains to be seen.