Campaigns are the embodiment of barely controlled chaos. In conduct, and by nature, they are modern-day morality plays that feature candidates slugging it out for their political — and reputational — lives.
Great theater, I suppose, but rest assured it’s the kind of mortal combat that leaves their campaign disciples reaching for Maalox, and the contenders seeking out Deepak Chopra for spiritual relief.
Cue the Army of Trump, who over the past few inglorious weeks saw their pugilistic champion hit a wall of self-inflicted political blunder.
Unlike the wall Trump promises to build on our southern border with wire, mortar (and Mexican pesos), Donald’s has been a barrier built on his own dime, one tweet at a time.
Predictably, and ever since the twin national party conventions, Republicans have defined the race as a referendum on a rigged system in disrepair. Democrats have cast it as a ruthless conviction of Donald Trump, a seemingly logical tack but one that conflicts with an American icon: the underdog.
We have an insatiable appetite when it comes to pulling for the underdog; it’s wired into our DNA. We feel for them when they fall, root for them when they get up, and cheer for them when they ultimately overcome adversity.
Enter Donald Trump, stage right, who has been offered the role of a lifetime in America’s biggest reality show as the nation’s newest underdog. This three-act play could recast this race, renew his candidacy, and lead to a stunning finish.
Act 1: Trump recognizes and verbalizes as he did last week that he now gets it, shouldering the blame for his recent fall in fortune with a human blend of frankness and vulnerability.
It is a declaration of self-awareness that should earn him points, and for many a second look, versus a Democratic nominee whose fixation on avoiding imperfection has churned a wake of numbing dishonesty.
Act 2: Trump invokes the power and authority of the United States Constitution to justify a revolution against the system.
Big, bold and substantive, it couldn’t come at a better time as Americans prepare to re-engage in the presidential Olympics after the pro-America euphoria of the Summer Games.
You see, roughly two out of three Americans today see the nation barreling the wrong way down a one-way street, as the world around them becomes more competitive, violent and uncertain.
Congress has been cast as the bogeyman here, tethered to the now widely held perception that its members are more interested in self-preservation and special interests than in preserving the interests of the realm.
Donald Trump, the outsider in a system out to protect the insiders, could drive an electoral Mack truck (Ah, that sounds so Trump-like) through this.
Invoke a never-before-used provision of Article 5 of the Constitution, and Trump could effectively summon every American to help him fix, by Constitutional amendment, what Congress refuses to fix by law.
Article 5 is a Founding Fathers gem, intended to empower “we, the people” with an avenue of remedy if “they, the government” fail to do the job expected of them.
There are two ways to propose and pass a Constitutional Amendment: from the top down (one initiated and passed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress) or from the bottom up (launched and approved by two-thirds of the states, leading to a Constitutional Convention).
Over the first 229 years, we passed 33 amendments to the Constitution via the first path. Unfathomably, we have yet to exercise option 2.
The time for that is now.
Act 3: Call on the American people tonight, tomorrow, and for the rest of the campaign, to rally behind three Constitutional Amendments … fundamental changes in the way we’re governed that could reunite the disaffected and disenfranchised, conservatives and liberals, the Sanders legion with “none-of-the-above” voters.
First up: the balanced budget amendment.
Presently we are only a few states shy of getting this one done, based on the proposition that short of war or national emergency, America should live within its means, spending what it has, not what it can print at the U.S. Mint.
The truth is America today is perilously positioned on a pile of debt — $19-trillion and rising — and Congress has done little to stop it.
We are mortgaging control of our future to foreign powers and investors, while creating a huge new debtor class: America’s children.
How, in good conscience, can Washington keep allowing this to happen? How can we? Every state today except the “borough of Bernie” (Vermont) has some kind of balanced budget provision on the books. It is time.
The second puzzle piece: campaign finance reform.
Thanks to the Supreme Court’s abysmal “Citizens United” decision, the system and its elected leaders have been abducted — lock, stock and office — by big money.
Change this, or our democracy will continue hurtling down the path of oligarchy where the few rule the many, bad things are tolerated, and good things delayed. Exhibit A: our leaders are spending more time raising money for themselves than doing the job we elected them to do.
It is time.
Amendment three: “citizenship.”
Given the new realities of an increasingly dangerous world, propose passage of an Amendment clarifying citizenship — what it is and what it isn’t — shorn of rancor, but imbued with reason.
For history buffs, the last time the Constitution was amended to address citizenship was in 1868, and for a noble purpose. The 14th Amendment was enacted to ensure, in part, that no future Congress would backtrack on the emancipation of slaves.
Three Constitutional amendments … three ways to change and improve a system in need of a national overhaul … three statements of popular will that could reignite the American experience.
Do this, and people will feel empowered to start believing again.
Do this, and we fix a system debilitated by outside interests and outdated law, with a remedy that is fully constitutional and uniquely American.
Whoever you’re rooting for in ’16, root for this.
As for “The Race for President,” a record-shattering reality show defined by large swings and outsized personalities, this could make for one remarkable ending.
Adam Goodman, president of the Victory Group, is a national Republican media consultant and frequent TV news commentator based in Florida who has created, directed and produced media for more than 300 GOP candidates in 46 states over the past 35 years.