I just have to get this off my chest. I voted for Clinton, and I believed the polls, so I’m shocked. It is worth while playing the tape again so that we can see how we got here. In other words, how did Clinton lose?
The first reaction of the Dem fluffer league was that it must be the evil Green Party. This excuse makes me want to cry. That is like saying that it is all because of the Republican party. If only she ran unopposed, this would never have happened! Guess what? As the Green party has made abundantly clear over the years, it is a party and will go everywhere for votes on election day. If the Clinton campaign people did not know this and plan for it, then it is on the Clinton campaign people. The merest baby knew it. You can deal with it by trying to pursuade people from that tiny party to vote for you, or you can try to get your people in greater numbers to vote for you. If you aim for the former, here’s some advice: don’t think you will get anywhere by shaming. What didn’t work over the last four elections probably isn’t going to work in this one.
I’ve been thinking, to move onto a more serious note, about the fact that 55 percent of white women didn’t vote for Clinton – that is, who voted.
That’s an interesting stat. If 55 percent of African Americans had not voted for Obama, he would never have been president.
So why? What failed here?
I think one thing that failed was that the campaign idea to feature Clinton as a model woman – a mother, a wife, a grandmother – carrying Susan B. Anthony’s torch ignored the fact, was blind to the fact, that one thing about Clinton’s life that we all know is that he husband is very publically unfaithful to her. I can’t imagine anybody in the campaign wanted to confront her on this, but if you are going to run on a personal story, you are going to drag into that personnal story what people know about you. Perhaps in the 50s and 60s, the stand by your man thing would have seemed heroic. In 2016, it just seems weird. Why would a woman who stands for feminism seemingly never retaliate, or free herself? Perhaps even so the campaign could have worked if she hadn’t been running against Trump. There was a Saturday night live skit where the Hillary character shows hilarious steeliness about Trump bringing Bill’s ex “mistresses” to the debate. It was funny, but it was funny puzzling. If we are “with her”, what’s the deal with such public humiliation? What kind of her is this?
I am nobody to judge Hillary Clinton. We make all kinds of decisions in our personal life. But you can’t have it both ways – you can’t put up your personal life as a political advertisement and then be simply silent about a very well known fact about it.
Even if this were not the case, Clinton certainly should have torn a page out of Obama’s book and made some speech about what it means to run as a woman. In Obama’s case, it was about the moral grounding of our history and its direction – how white and black could meet finally as equals and partners in a political struggle. It was brilliant. Clinton, foregrounding gender, then sort of let it hang therre, as if it was a given that we all know about. This was not not not good. It was perceived as arrogant, I’m sure, by women who would otherwise have loved to hear about this. And men too. It might have been corny, it might have been the kind of thing that would make my teeth grind, but I think it definitely should have been done. If one of your attractions as a candidate is your gender, you can’t just be all I’m with her, you have to get down to brass tacks. It took Michelle Obama, way too late in the campaign, to address this.
Then there was the odd, in retrospect, idea that the Dems just didn’t have to worry about their base states. Huh? Given the poll numbers, even at the time, it made no sense to concentrate so much on, like, North Carolina. That was fruitless. Clinton didn’t need an overwhelming victory, she needed a victory, and the states she needed she should have hit. Instead, Florida – from what I’ve read about the get out the vote there – was haphazard, and Pennsylvania was an afterthought. Michigan, which she lost to Sanders, was really necessary, but the Clinton campaign seemed oblivious. All the shit about Putin was of concern to a lot of D.C. journalists, but otherwise of no interest to the country at large. But China and the trade deficit and the currency manipulation – now these were areas to plunge into. I have a great fear that the Clinton campaign was sotto voce about trade cause they plannned to do the TPP once in office. I don’t understand that at all. Obama won those Midwest states by taking apart Romney, and sometimes it seems like Clinton was runnig as Romney, spending more time fundraising among the ultrarich than staying on the trail. Just borrow the fucking money shoulda been the motto.
That leads to my final bit. All campaigns have a narcissistic end – the campaign about the campaign. Usually this happens when the whole thing is winding down. But I think the shambles of the DNC and the Podesta organizations were much more focused on their own navels than on what was happening. Every day that Clinton was not in the headlines, and Trump was, was a bad day for Clinton. The strategy seemed to be – let him kill himself. But by the time Trump was nominated, it was obvious this strategy didn’t work. Instead, his domination of the headlines was becoming a sort of Fuehrer thing. That’s why keeping the press at arm’s length was, frankly, insane. Clinton might hate the press, but you gotta make a lotta noise if you are going to keep viable.
In as much as Clinton was part of these decisions, she is to blame. But really, she was paying a lot of money to campaign people whose job was to lead her away from mistakes. Instead, they seemed to participate in them. It was like they thought it was 1996.
It wasn’t. It’s 1984, alas.