A new ad from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is centered around a series of images of young children watching actual television appearances by Donald Trump, coming together to ask the fairly unusual question of whether Trump is a man you’d be comfortable having your children watch on television.
It’s an example of Clinton rolling out her dominant campaign strategy of largely ignoring the ideological stakes in the campaign in favor of what a Clinton campaign official characterizes as the argument that Trump is temperamentally unfit for office. The goal is to present a message that a person who thinks abortion should be illegal or who doesn’t like the idea of big government spending programs could conceivably find persuasive.
At a minimum (and, indeed, even better for a downballot Democrat), it’s the kind of message that could conceivably depress such a person into deciding that she won’t bother to vote at all. Voting, after all, isn’t really an instrumentally rational thing to do — the odds that your vote will be decisive are miniscule. People vote because they would like to be part of some kind of collective action that they can feel good about. Clinton is trying here to make sure that even people with fairly conservative views won’t feel proud to vote for Trump and thus perhaps won’t do it.
It’s an unusual ad that’s part of an unusual strategy, but that’s to be expected in an unusual campaign.