Yikes! Was I wrong or what?!
I’d take solace that most of America was wrong in their assessment as well that Hillary Clinton would handily walk away with the title of 45th President of the United States, but that doesn’t seem to be helping much nowadays. There’s been plenty of recriminations on who or what cost her the election with a lot of derision aimed at those who voted for Trump. That’s not the point of this article. In fact, I rebuke quite a bit of the running narrative. Hillary didn’t lose because of Russian interference, James Comey’s impropriety, or Julian Assange. All of those were mitigating circumstances that added to her challenge but they proved miniscule compared to her own self-made disadvantages.
She woefully miscalculated, as I did I, the extent that Americans reviled Donald Trump. Well into the summer, Clinton decided that the election would be a referendum on Trump’s behavior and not one on issues. While this tactic worked in the short term, the longer people got to know Trump, the more they heard his incendiary comments, the more they were inoculated against them. By November 8th nothing he said was shocking and people started taking note that, aside from shaming Trump, Clinton was rather light on promoting a policy platform. Sure, we could go to her website to learn more, like she suggested multiple times during debates and rallies. No one is going to do that. Tell us. Speak to us when we ask you the question. Her biggest weakness was when it came to creating jobs. While much of what Trump promised will amount to campaign sweet talk, Clinton did not even offer that much. Aside from the “putting coal miners out of business” debacle, she offered no vision that working class Democrats and Republicans that were leery of Trump could champion.
And that’s what it was all about. Clinton lost Democratic strongholds that haven’t turned Red since the mid-eighties. Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc. These are all blue-collar democrat states that a populist like Sanders would have cleaned up in. States that Joe Biden would have charmed the pants off with his patented wink and double-guns finger salute. Their bread and butter are in extolling the virtues of hard-working, salt of the earth Americans busting hump for their families. Clinton proved to be a Coastal Elite, more concerned with the endorsements of Beyonce, Jay-Z, LeBron and Lady Gaga than the countless nameless living in the center of the country. That, in a nutshell, is why she lost.
That, and gerrymandered counties that weigh Republican votes more in an increasingly bunk Electoral College, but those were the rules we entered into this game playing so there’s no use calling foul now.
While the Republican party is sure to go through changes, it is the Democratic Party that needs emergency surgery. Democrats absolutely need to reevaluate what they stand for. It can no longer be purely cultural wars. While I will always support inclusivity and Progressive agendas, you cannot lecture half the country and call them “deplorables” and expect them to support you- even if the shoe fits. Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz represent the ossification of the Democratic Party. The Party cannot move forward if these tone-deaf talking point regurgitators remain to call the shots.
One thing I can admit this election showed me personally, we are all one nation- especially with the people we disagree with on intrinsic fundamental levels. We cannot pretend they don’t exist. We cannot discredit them and assume there will not be consequences. We cannot placate and dismiss their concerns. We cannot call them evil, stupid, knuckedragging mouth-breathers (personal mea culpa on that one). We cannot lump them into a singular pile and label them all racists. That is an erroneous over-simplification. All of those things exist and quite a few Trump supporters are vile racists. That is not an opinion. Throughout the national news accounts of stunningly racist acts carried out in Trump’s name exploded across the country the moment he was elected. This does nothing to change the fact that the majority of them were disenfranchised Americans with less and less in their pockets year after year. That is a real issue and it needs to be addressed no matter who is running. For too long Democrats have banked on New York and California to see them through the long winters. That is clearly no longer a viable option. If a democrat is to be successful in 2020 they will have to run as President for all fifty states, not just the coasts. Bernie Sanders (health willing), Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker could do this. But all three of them represent a bucking of the status quo of the democratic party. The party’s survival depends on its own cannibalization.
So where does this leave us? Don’t ask me, I thought Hillary was a shoe-in so clearly I know nothing. But it’s my article, so I’ll give it a spin. President Trump will be a feckless enabler to lobbyists and corporate interests. He will be making deals without mind of consequences as long as they benefit his bottom line. The economy will suffer and the environment will suffer perhaps most of all. As for his Nationalistic Racism? Much of it was an act, preying on those it worked on. He’s too self absorbed to champion any particular cause, altruistic or malevolent. The social strife that is already occurring comes not from Trump but those he has encouraged and enabled throughout his campaign. Dealing with our fellow citizens may be a more trying and dangerous issue than the unqualified President who mobilized them in the first place. The country will be a much more dangerous place for some people. There is little anyone can do about this other than that which is most effective in combating hatred in the first place- unflinching compassion, daring resilience and a refusal to be bullied. If anything, a Trump presidency has the potential to bring many diverse peoples together if only for our mutual survival. We are all in this together now. Let’s just make it to 2020.
Perhaps as a silver lining, if Trump performs as many predict he will, this experiment will be proven a bust and Ted Cruz will be so unpalatable by 2020 he will have no chance at the White House. My fear in a Clinton presidency was that she would win by a hair and still face a large contingent of the country that wants nothing to do with her. If that sentiment carried to 2020, then it would be all too easy for Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan to win- both of which actually know what they are doing, which makes them infinitely more dangerous. Hopefully, 2020 will serve as a repudiation of Trump’s term, allowing for a fresh Democrat to take control and clean up what mess has been left behind. One of the real concerns, one that can’t be easily tidied up by the next President, will be Trump’s Supreme Court nominations. There are several Justices that are in their 70’s and 80’s looking to retire as I write this. An ultra-conservative appointment, which is more likely than not, would shape this country for generations to come, potentially making the country a very scary place for women and the LGBTQ community among others.
I’m willing to give President-Elect Trump just enough rope to hang himself with and if he happens to use that rope to form bonds and actually better our country, then I am all for it. But I will not acquiesce for a second any steps backward on civil rights, women’s rights, environmental concerns, deregulation of banks, etc. For too long Democrats have been content to play placating peacemakers and cultural advocates. That is not enough. We need fighters now. We need obstructionists. Pure and simple, the Democrats need leaders with steel in their spines who are not beholden to special interests and the big banks. We’ll need someone with the conviction of their beliefs to not couch their words or present such a pre-packaged simulacrum that no one can relate or empathize with them. I was not simply pragmatic in my support of Clinton, I truly believe she would have been a exemplary President. As the dust settles, it’s become clear- for the good of the nation, I should have been with Bernie.
As we close out this column for good, all I can say is I wish Ruth Bader Ginsberg many more happy and healthy birthdays. Good luck America. Stay safe, stay sane, and stay intact. I’ll see you again in four years.