My friends, loyal readers, in the spirit of change that the election represents, this blog will be undergoing a makeover, I will be starting afresh. Please stay tuned for further announcements.
In the meantime, lets wrap up the election analysis. Now that the dust has cleared, my friends on the left, here are some legitimate reasons why you lost. The xenophobia, race and misogyny angles you have covered many times over and are still doing so. But there is more to it.
1) A mediocre candidate. All this stuff about Hillary being the most qualified candidate is nonsense. Being qualified isn’t about tick marking check boxes on your resume, I got this degree, I sat on these committees etc. It is about what you actually did at the job.
In that regard lets take a look at one example. Benghazi. Yes, all the investigations showed that Hillary couldn’t be faulted in the immediate analysis of the very specific events. However she was Secretary of State. It was her push. She owned the entire Libya initiative. That is the requirement of leadership.
So there is a greater question that Benghazi raises, which none of you asked. If we went in there to liberate the good guys from the bad guys, why were the supposed good guys whom we liberated attacking our embassy? Shouldn’t they have been celebrating and handing out sweets to everyone at the embassy?
Clearly someone made a bad judgement about Libya and what the consequences would be if we took action. Obama acknowledged it. Clinton never did. Instead she wanted to continue the same line of thinking in Syria, this time with potentially far greater stakes. Maybe in Syria it would have worked differently, but she never made the case.
Her overall record was not that great, and no, this is not a kindergarten game, where we pass the toy along to the next kid in line to give everyone a chance. Being a woman doesn’t give her an automatic entry no more than it automatically disqualifies her. It was not ‘her turn’ now.
That brings us to…
2) Mindless political correctness. Your political correctness, your habit of dismissing anyone who doesn’t speak exactly according your latest codes didn’t help you. After all, the people you dismissed do get to vote.
As an example, lets take a look at the trans-bathroom issue and North Carolina. Yes, we want to be sympathetic towards people of all kinds. But did your reaction have to be so extreme? You had already won the big battles of the culture wars. Could you have taken it step by step, tried to convince people, instead of pillorying the entire state and subjecting them to sanctions right away, causing losses to a many businesses, including of those in the state who actually supported you?
And instead of turning it into an ideological fetish, could you have been willing to work with reasonable accommodations, maybe a separate bathroom allocated for anyone who needed it, in a step by step process, until people got comfortable with the issue and were ready to accept it?
Aah but it is a rights issue, there can’t be any compromise, even if there are very few trans people to begin with. Fine, but those folks you pilloried also got to vote and voted against you.
Your righteousness becomes even more dubious when we see that those folks you condemn for having the wrong view, whom you want to boycott, are the ones who most volunteer to serve in the military, whom you will require to go fight your wars of choice in Syria and wherever else, whom you will require to possibly make the ultimate sacrifice! How many of you super liberal New Yorkers and San Franciscans, you, who are drinking your kombucha smoothies and minding your pronouns, are signing up? Not many, right? Isn’t that a little bit hypocritical, and can you then be surprised that they sent you a fuck you election cake? (In the ultimate irony you lost to someone who is on your side on this issue.Trump has clearly stated be doesn’t care who uses what bathroom in Trump tower).
This is just one example among many. You may have meant well, but politics is the art of the possible, and the process of step by step growth(versus the dramatic big gesture) is vastly underestimated in its value to deliver results.
3) The anti-incumbent sentiment. This is a well honored American tradition, to want to throw the bums out and give the establishment a kick, even if the bum was someone we all really liked, like President Obama. It is what we do. And we aren’t that keen on family dynasties. We tried with the Bushes and it didn’t work.
This went against Hillary, though in this case out of no fault of her own. But she did not help herself in any way with those speeches to Goldman Sachs, and all the other speeches she made after leaving the office of Secretary of State.
Let’s take a look. Apparently she gave 92 speeches after 2012, earning a cool 21.6 million in all. Including 1.8 million from the big banks, and half a million from Goldman out of that. Her per speech fee was $225,000. That is a sweet gig if you can find it.
What do you think Goldman and the other banks were paying her for? Do you think anyone had any interest in anything she actually had to say? If you believe so, I have not one, but two bridges to sell you in San Francisco. All these folks were collecting influence, making sure she was on their side.
This is the person who is going to be fighting for you, who understands the struggle of the common person? Hillary showed herself to be as establishment as she could be and very, very far removed from anyone in the ‘working class’.
Now yes, she was legally allowed to make those speeches, and there is no evidence that she changed her opinions because of the payments she received. However, it is the impression that counts. There is a reason why politicians wait till they have finished their careers before going on speaking tours. This is so that they don’t give the impression of impropriety, of being influenced.
Your political correctness is all about impressions isn’t it? You also care about impressions, just different ones. In 2012 people rejected Romney, because as the country was coming out of one of its worst recessions, why would you vote for someone who spent his life downsizing things and firing people, someone who was a poster child for rapacious big business? That was the impression Romney gave. So Hillary gave the impression of being in the pay of big business.
4) Finally, it has to be said that Hillary just didn’t have the ‘it’ factor. We vote from our feelings, not through any deep analysis of hundreds of pages of policy and proposal. In America, really we are voting for a King or Queen, especially since we have no titular head of state. That is why we do so much celebrity worship. This hunger for a monarch is deeply embedded in our psyche. The first woman leader will be one who exudes a Queenly presence, for whom people are ready to simply bow and be of service.
So there you have it. Trump had glaring flaws but so did Hillary. In the end one had to win. If you had put up a better candidate, you would have won and it wouldn’t have been close.
So what next for the Republican and Democratic parties? The old centers have collapsed. The 1950s old right is dead, though its zombie tail may thrash around for a while. The 1960s boomer left is dead too as the Clintons exit the stage. Its tail also may thrash around for a bit, but new centers are forming. What will they look like? We will examine this in the next couple of posts.