Wednesday, November 16, 2016

So, Why Did Hillary Clinton Lose?

Last week, I mentioned that I had been stunned, but not really exactly shocked, by the Trump win in the presidential election. You see, that Trump specifically won was a bit of a surprise, as he seemed at times to do everything humanly possible to derail his own campaign. He said racist and misogynistic things. He insulted everyone within ear shot. He promised everyone the world in such an exaggerated manner that surely everyone would be able to see through it, claiming that he would be the greatest jobs creator in history, that he knew more about ISIS than the generals, and that he was the healthiest person ever to run for the White House. This is a man who bragged about his penis during a presidential debate, for God's sake, so what happened to standards? How could this man win?

Then I remembered who he went up against in the general election.

Oh. That's right. That's why he won.

Many people acted completely shocked and horrified by Trump's win/Hillary's loss. It was the end of the world, and things would never be the same.

In reality, or at least in hindsight, you could kind of see it coming, couldn't you? 

Let me spare you the arguments that I, as a Bernie Sanders supporters, have already mentioned before, about how the polls showed him beating Trump, while they simultaneously showed Hillary losing, or at best, neck and neck. However, those were the first signs that something was wrong, because let's face it: Trump was, and is, a weak candidate. He was not exactly a luminary, 

Indeed, on some level, I can understand that. After all, the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land was different than other elections in some fundamental ways, and frankly, it will be the election by which Americans for many years to come will be judged by the rest of the world. After all, do we not view the British differently following the Brexit vote? Was it not a huge election result that transcended their usual elections, and which became a global event? That was how this election came to be, as well. And no, there is no going back. Trump won, he will be the face of the country for at least the next four years, and the rest of the world is at least as horrified by this fact as those Americans who were horrified by Trump's victory.

I have read some posts on Facebook by Hillary supporters who are furious by their candidate's election loss, and they are trying to pin blame on others. In particular, they are smoking mad at supporters of Bernie Sanders and third party candidates (like me) for refusing to vote for Hillary Clinton, and for, as they say, believing the lies that the right wing propaganda machine propagated. One man who I found particularly annoying went so far as to suggest this:  

"HIllary (sic) had done nothing - nothing wrong. In her life. But Republicans made up lies and innuendo and liberals dutifully repeated them as truths."

Read that over again. Hillary had done nothing wrong. In her life. Never made a mistake, apparently? Never did anything professionally that she had reason to regret later on?

Ridiculous. At least as ridiculous as Donald Trump's absurd claims that he knew more about ISIS than the generals, or that he was the most fit person to ever run for the presidency.

And this was the kind of thing that Hillary supporters were often guilty of, this ridiculous blindness to just how weak and flawed their candidate was. After all, it was Bernie, not the Republicans, who originally blasted Hillary Clinton for taking enormous speaking fees from Wall Street firms, or to take millions from the same major healthcare industry players that she once took on, when she had actually tried to reform the system in the nineties. She made it worse on herself by claiming that she would get tough on the big banks, while simultaneously taking money from them. Maybe Democrats could overlook this inconvenient contradiction during the primaries, but the country as a whole clearly could not. After all, the American people overwhelmingly felt that she could not be trusted, by almost two-thirds. In fact, roughly that percentage had an unfavorable view of Clinton, and this was not without cause. The only people who did not see this, and could not bring themselves to admit these major flaws that greatly contributed to her losing, were her supporters - particularly perhaps her advisers. But the unconditional love and support that she received from her loyal legions of supporters not only did not help, but hurt.

Here's my thing: we Americans should not be defined as either Democrats or Republicans. we are Americans. Hell, some prominent Founding Fathers hated the idea of political parties, and that included George Washington. John Adams was not a fan, either, and felt that the greatest danger of the Constitution ultimately failing the American people was the existence of the two party system. And if this election showed us anything, it is that Americans in general are getting sick of the the two political parties, and their tendency to gravitate towards politics as usual. If Clinton was anything, it was politics as usual. And Trump, whether you liked or did not like him, was a clear break from those traditions, and a clear rejection of the traditional style of politicians. He defeated 16 other candidates in a crowded Republican field during the primaries, and nobody questioned the legitimacy of those victories. 

By contrast, Clinton was the very symbol of politics as usual. And last summer, she seemed to stand alone, virtually unchallenged on the Democratic side. The only serious challenge that she might have, it seemed, was from then largely unknown Bernie Sanders, although he grew substantially in name and stature as his message gained traction. Hillary Clinton herself recognized this, and she requested help from the leaders of the Democratic Party, and received that help. The voice of the people seemed to be Bernie Sanders, who was bringing out thousands, and even tens of thousands, of people to his rallies. But she refused to be denied, and she got the help that she clearly needed in order to "win." But she was a seriously flawed and weak candidate, and those weaknesses came back to bite her in the general election, where the Democratic party insiders could no longer help her, or assure her win. She lost against probably the least qualified, and surely the most idiotic, presidential candidate in history. I would venture to say that she lost as only she could, precisely because she represented what she represented, which to most people, was this political elitist who clearly looked down on people who did not agree with her. She continued the shady activities, by taking massive contributions from "too big to fail" Wall Street firms, and by trying to hide all of her activities which people questioned, including the emails and the accusations facing the Clinton Foundation. She never did come clean on how a family of supposed public servants, like the Clintons, winds up as among the elite 1%. She promised that the FBI investigations would find nothing, and her husband illegally met with the Attorney General while this investigation was still active, which is not a minor breach of protocol. This was not right wing propaganda. This was arrogance typical of the Clinton family specifically. It was their trademark, acting like they are above everything, including the law. It caught up to her in a big way, and clearly cost her dearly in the end. 

Yet, this guy, a blind supporter, was aghast, and claimed that he could not and would not ever forgive people for voting Trump. I started to respond with the following, but thought better of it. However, I added my comments here:

Cannot forgive people for being as stupid as you claim they are? That is why you lose. Who are you to look down on them? You sound like Hillary Clinton herself, dismissing millions of Americans as a "basket of deplorables." That was such a dismissive comment, and for me, it was hard not to compare that to Romney's "47 percent" statement four years ago. These people, like them or not, have real concerns and real lives, and whether or not you like it, Trump somehow tapped into something, he managed to speak to their frustrations far better than Hillary did. He said plenty of despicable things, but he did not put on airs about who he was, and what he was representing. Love him or hate him, he was who he was. Hillary, at different times, proclaimed to be the "real progressive," the moderate, and also claimed that her politics was "rooted in conservatism. It all depended on who she was talking to, on what audience she was addressing. Also, probably, you have to factor in what the political winds suggested would be most profitable to be at that moment. That, to me, summed up Hillary Clinton, and explains her failure. She wanted to be all things to all people, wanted desperately not to offend, and in following this, she sounded overly scripted and processed. Not real, in other words. Trump said what was on his mind, consequences be damned. He was a different kind of politician, but I think that people (mistakenly, perhaps) found that refreshing, and this made it easier for them to vote for him. 

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