I’ve read a lot of articles on why the Democrats lost the presidency. All sorts of reasons have been cited. Some people have blamed Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein. Others have blamed Comey and the FBI, or Republicans for voter suppression, or white women for voting for Trump, or a message that was too liberal or progressive or too supportive of diversity (too much LGBTQ and transsexuals sharing bathrooms with little girls, and so on).
All of this is nonsense. The Democrats lost because they fielded a candidate whose personal negatives were too high, whose image as a thoroughly establishment candidate was out of tune with too many people, people seeking change at almost any price.
Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses in this election were legion. She was an indifferent campaigner. She chose a man who was largely unknown as her running mate. She refused to embrace a progressive agenda. She ran as the only “sane” alternative to her rival, but she had no clear message of her own: just more of the same. Her motto, “stronger together,” was insipid. She ran as a hawk on national defense. Finally, too many people were just tired of the Clintons, just as too many Republicans were tired of the Bushes, hence the early exit by Jeb! Bush.
Here’s what I wrote just after Hillary clinched the nomination in early June:
I remember the first commercial Hillary made, the announcement of her candidacy. A tedious spot, it focused on her grandmotherly qualities. It had no vision, no bite, and little hope. It was about trying to make us feel comfortable with Hillary. Hey, she’s a mom and a grandma! Other women like her! She’s just like us!
It went downhill from there. Hillary’s campaign has been carefully scripted and modulated, the opposite of impassioned. Vapidness replaced vision. That’s why a democratic socialist Jew from Vermont via Brooklyn [Bernie Sanders] gave her a run for her money, because she had no passion or vision and he did (and does).
For me, the defining moment of their debates came when Bernie argued strongly for a $15.00 minimum wage for workers and Hillary was content with offering workers a $12.00 wage. (More than enough, peasants!) Combine that moment with her infamous statement about the gobs of money she made in three speeches to Goldman Sachs (“Well, that’s what they offered”) and you get a clear sense of who she is and what she’s about.
A quick note: A nursing aide making Hillary’s generous $12.00 hourly wage at 40 hours a week would take 28 years to earn the $675,000 that Clinton “earned” in a few short hours giving those speeches.
As Peter Van Buren explained at his blog, We Meant Well, Hillary’s email controversy “in many voters’ minds became shorthand for a range of issues related to trust, ethics, and propriety, including the Clinton Foundation, pay-for-play, and the Goldman-Sachs speeches.”
Too many people simply didn’t trust Hillary. I myself didn’t vote for Trump, but I also couldn’t vote for Clinton. For different reasons, I didn’t trust either one.
Hillary could have settled the email controversy fairly easily. Recall that the story broke back in March of 2015. All she had to say then was, “I was stupid — and careless — and I’m sorry. I learned my lesson. It won’t happen again.”
But no … being Hillary means never having to say you’re sorry. Not in a contrite and sincere and fulsome way.
And that’s the primary reason why the Democrats lost the election.