As this interview with Kathleen Geier and James Tindwa points out, there are dozens of plausible reasons why Clinton lost the election, all of which likely contributed. But often overlooked is her campaign’s failure to engage her party’s more liberal members and acknowledge the damage trade agreements like NAFTA did in the Rust Belt. As a result, many voters saw so little difference between her and Trump they felt no compelling need to vote. This played right into the hands of the GOP, which has made suppressing Democratic voters a key part of its strategy.
The GOP has done a remarkable job of convincing working people it’s on their side despite not being on their side at all. It started with Nixon and continued with Reagan, Bush and now Trump. Until the Democrats realize that they need to win back this constituency by actually working on their behalf they will continue to be the minority party at every level of government.
There’s no question that Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate with too much baggage, but… Her campaign still could have succeeded had they not made some serious errors early on.
The Clinton team knew what was wrong from the start, according to a Clinton campaign staffer and other Democrats. Its models, based on survey data, indicated that they were underperforming Mr. Obama in less-educated white areas by a wide margin — perhaps 10 points or more — as early as the summer.
The Democrats can’t ignore any segment of the population because they’d rather not deal with them. If they don’t resign themselves to this we’re looking at single-party rule throughout the nation. And, as we can see in North Carolina, that would spell disaster for our democracy.
You might not think of him as a political theorist but Hunter S. Thompson certainly was (among a great number of other things). In the process of researching his infamous Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Thompson came face to face with what he called their “ethic of total retaliation” against a technologically advanced and economically changing America in which they felt they’d been counted out and left behind.
For Thompson, the Angels weren’t important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics. As Thompson presciently wrote in the Nation piece he later expanded on in Hell’s Angels, that kind of politics is “nearly impossible to deal with” using reason or empathy or awareness-raising or any of the other favorite tools of the left.
What happened to the anti-Trump conservatives? It’s really simple. The Right has always been expert at getting everyone in line. Dissent is minimal and clearly not tolerated. All it took was some pandering in appointments and conservatives stopped complaining. The Left has never been able to do this and actually tolerates diversity of opinion. While that’s a laudable goal it makes organizing for a common objective difficult. That wasn’t their only problem this election it certainly didn’t help.
This should be required reading for everyone, regardless of political persuasion. Because once you convince yourself that those who disagree with you aren’t worth caring about you completely abandon the moral high ground you’ve convinced yourself you’re standing on.
Three Myths About Clinton’s Defeat in Election 2016 Debunked: Racism, Sexism and Stupidity.
I’d add Electoral College as it’s the current bete noir, but three is probably enough. But what it comes down to is: Clinton and the Democrats ran a terrible campaign. Once all the smoke settles, I hope people realize that and refuse to let it happen again.
Update: Two More Myths About Clinton’s Defeat in Election 2016 Debunked
Columbia Journalism Review believes that Journalism’s delivery system, not the coverage itself, is broken.
Let me make this point through an analogy. A trial usually consists two competing legal arguments, both grounded in facts, otherwise known as evidence. What if technology suddenly allowed 50 different lawyers to present competing narratives to the jury? And what if evidence requirements were eliminated, such that some of the lawyers presented their arguments based on traditional evidentiary standards, while others felt liberated to make things up. Would we blame the jury members if they were unable to render an informed verdict?
This analogy seems plausible on the surface, but the evidence requirements part is where it falls apart. During a trial lawyers present all kinds of evidence, including some that may or may not be true. When that happens and when that untruth is detected we don’t blame the court, we blame the lawyers who presented it. Those lawyers may face civil penalties as well as penalties from their bar association both of which will affect their ability to continue to work in law.
So I offer an alternative opinion: Journalism is broken, period. It missed the transition from a heavily-controlled trickle of information via print, television and radio to an uncontrolled torrent that the end-user gets to filter. Journalists are no longer in charge of determining what’s true and false, we are. If anything, the delivery system has never worked better in human history.
Neither of the major parties really understood what was really going on. The Republicans will technically be in power for the next eight years or so but whether or not that will matter remains to be seen. The Democrats have lost the presidency, both houses of Congress and most governorships. Trump listened to no one but himself, did what he wanted and made both parties look like idiots for ignoring him.
Trump is not beholden to any party and owes no one anything. He will do and say what comes to his mind without concern for consequences and the GOP will grit its teeth and smile and hope Trump doesn’t notice them.
Meanwhile, the Democrats will do what they usually do and pretend to clean house while doing the absolute opposite. Of course, there’s already talk and online petitions (ha ha) over abolishing the Electoral College with total ignorance of the difficulty in getting a Constitutional Amendment through all 50 states (required since the College is part of the Constitution). Because it’s not the party that’s the problem, it’s the Constitution.