Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Why did Hillary lose to Trump? Vol. III Final

Yesterday I blogged the post-election to-do list offered by David Swanson, but left off the "If Trump won" part.  Because, like everybody else, I simply didn't see it coming.  Oh, I made it plain a couple of times that if she did lose, it would be her own fault, just as it was Al Gore's in 2000, but I honestly didn't think it would happen.  Even though my 303 EC vote call was more conservative than many others -- I was still seeing people predicting 352 on Monday, after all -- the possibility of Her snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was simply too remote for me to give credence to.

But as the reality unfolded last night, I found myself less and less surprised, and with a lack of empathy to its political ramifications (not the social ones, mind you).

Some can say that's my white privilege.  I will say that it feels like my conscious uncoupling from the Democrats as the year passed has left me with a profound indifference to their plight.

Yes: Obamacare will be repealed, voting rights will be curtailed, a woman's right to choose will be eliminated as the Supreme Court veers hard right for another twenty years, Social Security will be privatized, cops will go on randomly killing people of color, the planet's ice will keep melting and its deserts will grow and its storms become more powerful.  The rich will get richer; the poor poorer.  And if I were advising Hillary this morning, I would recommend -- like Steve M -- she take a nice long vacation in a country without an extradition treaty with the United States, because I think Trump made a campaign promise that he has to at least try to keep about locking her up.

I care about the people who will be damaged by Trump's policies.  But I do not care about the Democrats who pretended to care about them, and went about the lousy business of coronating Hillary by any means necessary.  They earned their failure, and their reward is just.

Anyway, back to life.  Back to reality.


1. Build a movement that includes all the Democrats eager to get active.

2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants

3. Build a movement that resists racist violence at home.

4. Demand a swift end to NAFTA and NATO.

5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.

6. Break up the media cartel.

7. If win came through voter suppression, seek prosecution immediately.

8. If win came through fraudulent counting, launch massive campaign to compel Democrats to admit it and protest it.

Notice how little it differs from Clinton's list.

Harris County, Texas is shining, with its Democrats having won most of their races and looking nice and bluish-purple.  City council races will gear up very shortly; the HGLBT Caucus will soon start questioning candidates and making endorsements before spring arrives.  It'll be another banner year for the neoliberals.  Speaking of them, you should read this from Thomas Frank at The Guardian about who's at fault for last night's debacle.  Here's a taste, and don't forget to substitute the word 'neoliberal' for 'liberal'.

(Trump) has run one of the lousiest presidential campaigns ever. In saying so I am not referring to his much-criticized business practices or his vulgar remarks about women. I mean this in a purely technical sense: this man fractured his own party. His convention was a fiasco. He had no ground game to speak of. The list of celebrities and pundits and surrogates taking his side on the campaign trail was extremely short. He needlessly offended countless groups of people: women, Hispanics, Muslims, disabled people, mothers of crying babies, the Bush family, and George Will-style conservatives, among others. He even lost Glenn Beck, for pete’s sake.

And now he is going to be president of the United States. The woman we were constantly assured was the best-qualified candidate of all time has lost to the least qualified candidate of all time. Everyone who was anyone rallied around her, and it didn’t make any difference. The man too incompetent to insult is now going to sit in the Oval Office, whence he will hand down his beauty-contest verdicts on the grandees and sages of the old order.

Maybe there is a bright side to a Trump victory. After all, there was a reason that tens of millions of good people voted for him yesterday, and maybe he will live up to their high regard for him. He has pledged to “drain the swamp” of DC corruption, and maybe he will sincerely tackle that task. He has promised to renegotiate NAFTA, and maybe that, too, will finally come to pass. Maybe he’ll win so much for us (as he once predicted in a campaign speech) that we’ll get sick of winning.

But let’s not deceive ourselves. We aren’t going to win anything. What happened on Tuesday is a disaster, both for liberalism and for the world. As President Trump goes about settling scores with his former rivals, picking fights with other countries, and unleashing his special deportation police on this group and that, we will all soon have cause to regret his ascension to the presidential throne.
What we need to focus on now is the obvious question: what the hell went wrong? What species of cluelessness guided our Democratic leaders as they went about losing what they told us was the most important election of our lifetimes?

Start at the top. Why, oh why, did it have to be Hillary Clinton? Yes, she has an impressive resume; yes, she worked hard on the campaign trail. But she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment. An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine.

She was the Democratic candidate because it was her turn and because a Clinton victory would have moved every Democrat in Washington up a notch. Whether or not she would win was always a secondary matter, something that was taken for granted. Had winning been the party’s number one concern, several more suitable candidates were ready to go. There was Joe Biden, with his powerful plainspoken style, and there was Bernie Sanders, an inspiring and largely scandal-free figure. Each of them would probably have beaten Trump, but neither of them would really have served the interests of the party insiders.

And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest. They chose Hillary even though they knew about her private email server. They chose her even though some of those who studied the Clinton Foundation suspected it was a sketchy proposition.

To try to put over such a nominee while screaming that the Republican is a rightwing monster is to court disbelief. If Trump is a fascist, as liberals often said, Democrats should have put in their strongest player to stop him, not a party hack they’d chosen because it was her turn. Choosing her indicated either that Democrats didn’t mean what they said about Trump’s riskiness, that their opportunism took precedence over the country’s well-being, or maybe both.

Maybe all those #BernieorBust people meant it.  Maybe that #DemExit thing in the wake of the convention was, you know, a thing.

Blame the media, blame the polling, blame James Comey (who is surely not going to be fired now), blame the Greens and the Libertarians for taking a combined four percent of the total everywhere I looked.  Just don't blame yourselves.  Or Hillary.  Because that might compel some self-reflection.

Clinton’s supporters among the media didn’t help much, either. It always struck me as strange that such an unpopular candidate enjoyed such robust and unanimous endorsements from the editorial and opinion pages of the nation’s papers, but it was the quality of the media’s enthusiasm that really harmed her. With the same arguments repeated over and over, two or three times a day, with nuance and contrary views all deleted, the act of opening the newspaper started to feel like tuning in to a Cold War propaganda station. Here’s what it consisted of:
  • Hillary was virtually without flaws. She was a peerless leader clad in saintly white, a super-lawyer, a caring benefactor of women and children, a warrior for social justice.

Turns out it was the economy, stupid.  Again.  Specifically it was all those Rust Belt hardhats who bought into Trump's line of blaming job losses on free trade.  The polling somehow missed it.  Maybe those guys don't have landlines any more after being unemployed for so long.

Put this question in slightly more general terms and you are confronting the single great mystery of 2016. The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the “last thing standing” between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability.

Clinton Democrats failed to fucking get it, every day of the year and much of last year, and when I finally bailed on them it was for good.  They're still curled up in a fetal position, hung over emotionally if not from the drowning of their sorrows.  There will be much reckoning, some recriminations, probably no atonement.  A few are, shockingly, presumptuous enough to say they knew it would happen all along.

Among my blogging brethren, Neil and Egberto were so motivated by their fear and hatred, respectively, of Trump to abandon the progressive cause after Bernie Sanders quit on it, too, and pushed all in on Hillary.  Fear is a loser's motivation; it almost always leaves you holding your little sack of nightmares even after you've dodged its worst blow.  I can't feel sorry for people who are controlled by the monsters under their bed.  Hate is even worse because it makes you no better than those who supported Trump for their abhorrence of Clinton.  Kuff is stunned speechless, Campos stunned but unfortunately not speechless, and Dos -- despite having posted more about Tejano music than politics over the last six months -- asserts, on the morning after, that he saw most of it coming.  And then congratulates former clients on their victories.  And their defeats.  (Folks, that's called hackery, and I'm forced to avoid it in the future.)

Most of the Texas so-called Progressive Alliance gassed on this election from the get-go, but fellow member and non-Democrat Gadfly nailed it.  Click that link and take note of the embedded Tweet, which shows that more Democrats voted for Trump than Republicans did for Hillary.  There goes your blame game out the window, neoliberals.  If you're not looking for your pain/anxiety meds yet, try on Ted Rall.

It'd be called tough love if I still loved you, Democrats.  But you fucked that up too.


Robert Nagle said...

With regard to Thomas Frank's complaint that Clinton was a bad candidate, she is what she is (and really it's not for lack of trying to be and do better). I think she was genuinely committed to economic issues like minimum wage and "safety net" and "fair trade." Frank's complaints sound suspiciously like people's complaints about Kerensky for not being strong enough to overcome the Reds.

Maybe a Bernie or Warren would have been a good foil to Trump, but that goes conventional political wisdom. (And frankly Clinton has been very effective at building consensus across the aisles in a way that Bernie or Warren has not been).

By the way, I checked your blog last night and found your Monday post a little cringe-worthy.... (We were all duped by this, so I'm not blaming you at wall. Keep fighting the good fight!

Gadfly said...

I saw the same Thomas Frank piece and have worked it into my post, especially the part about the Clintonista suck-ups in the media.

Unknown said...

I voted for Trump and fully expected him to get smoked by Clinton anyway.

I was wrong.

George McKee said...

In addition to the economy and hubris, Clinton lost because she didn't exhibit two capabilities that are essential for any President:

The vision thing. Trump has a vision. Obama had a vision. Clinton's message of "everything's fine, it just needs a few policy tweaks here and there" is not a vision.

Control of the narrative. Trump is an unparalleled master of media manipulation. Clinton's approach of stonewalling and looking bored didn't make a dent in Trump's dominance there. I doubt that most Clinton supporters will even admit to watching a single episode of The Apprentice in all of its decade-long run. They didn't understand what they were up against. Clinton didn't even attempt to play the "I'm the boss and I say what's classified and what's not" card for the emails. She let some anonymous flunkies decide the fate of her entire campaign.