Costly Hubris: With A Complicit Media, Hillary Still Loses a Slam-Dunk Election | Blog#42
I write this as we await the final results of the “Election from Hell.” As of 2:00 a.m. EST, it is pretty clear that Donald J. Trump will be declared the winner.
Hillary Clinton lost an election she should have won handily. Why? Because white working class and former middle class Democrats wanted what Bernie Sanders offered. The Clinton campaign engineered the Sanders campaign’s demise through a combination of media control, with journalists and some think tanks practically taking dictation from the DNC and Clinton campaign headquarters, well-known columnists literally changing the life narrative of millions of voters, and cable news networks presenting obvious political operatives as analysts. Voters tuned out en-masse.
The 2012 and 2014 Democratic losses should have been followed by a post-mortem process. They weren’t. The warning signs from various quarters of the Democratic voter base not only went completely unheeded, but it seems that a conscious decision was made to change the narrative, rather than address reality head on. From 2014 on, the focus of the media has been to construct a narrative of Democratic success in spite of the GOP’s obstruction. Unfortunately, one cannot look a hungry person in the eye and inform them that they just had a full meal. But that is what was done. Paul Krugman of the New York Times moved away from his usual economic op-eds after the 2014 election. It was at that point that we were treated to op-ed after op-ed extolling the successes of the Obama administration. While the Obama presidency has acquitted itself admirably given what it has had to deal with, the economy is hardly healthy and millions among those who live in it, are still very much at-risk. But the narrative was manipulated, using the smoke and mirror tools hidden in the way the unemployed are counted.
But the snow job the media was in the process of laying the groundwork for didn’t stop there. The biggest slight to Democratic voters was completely changing the narrative Bernie Sanders almost won the primary with: painting the angry white voter as uneducated and Republican and completely erasing blue collar and former middle class Democrats who have anxiously been waiting for their turn in this jobless, low-wage recovery. Well-known economist pundits wrote column after column depicting the economic recovery as not ideal, but mostly complete, when it couldn’t be any further from the stark reality tens of millions of Americans of all backgrounds are living, as members of a new social class called precariat. White working class Democrats have been angry. Black middle and working class Democrats have been angry. White millennials are angry. Black millennials are angry and despondent, both for the same economic reasons as their white counterparts, plus the devastating police brutality of the last few years.
Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were ridiculed for talking about unemployment in terms that were divergent from the narrative the media concocted. While Trump’s recitation of the facts wasn’t altogether precise, Sanders’ was:
The Clinton campaign and a DNC completely under its control waged a war of gender, class, and race divide and conquer, pitting Democrats of different ethnic and economic backgrounds against each other, going as far as planting anti-Semitic news stories in order to heighten the suspicions of susceptible voters against a largely unknown Senator Sanders, even as there were cries of media bias. Those cries not only went unheeded, but pundits doubled down on their attacks against Sanders, as did the Clinton campaign.
This election was always about trade, jobs, and racial justice. On racial justice, the Clinton campaign’s strategy of delegitimizing a former civil rights activist was pure evil genius. That campaign started in the summer of 2015, immediately after Netroots Nation and Black Lives Matter’s intervention on Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Hillary Clinton didn’t attend the event. While Senator Sanders’ handling of the situation left something to be desired, the media’s reaction was puzzlingly brutal, especially to Sanders:
As the weeks went by and Senator Sanders was making genuine attempts at making amends, the media stayed mad, even as some civil rights activists were praising Sanders for his new platform for racial justice. When Clinton finally had her encounter with Black Lives Matter activists, media reception was very muted:
In an effort to retain the Black vote, the DNC convention was used to showcase the Mothers of The Movement, without so much as a mention of its name, Black Lives Matter, or that of its founders. But this tone-deafness didn’t stop with the dog and pony show that was the DNC convention. As late as September, right as several deadly police shootings took place, Hillary Clinton took to Black radio and said “maybe I should talk to white people…” The emphasis ended up being on the word “maybe.” Clinton never broached the subject with white voters. She never adopted Bernie Sanders’ platform for racial justice, which was by far superior to hers.
When the unrest began in North Dakota a few weeks ago, with Native Americans protesting the pollution of their drinking water and the desecration of their ancestral land, Hillary Clinton remained completely silent.
She has remained almost completely silent as daily WikiLeaks email dumps revealed the ugly sight of the sausage-making operation that has been the Clinton campaign. As every single one of Black and progressive voters’ suspicions was confirmed, the chorus from the media and Clinton campaign grew louder, accusing Russia of interfering with the U.S. election, rather than dealing with the content of the revelations. No explanations were forthcoming, with the exception of one small detail Hillary Clinton insisted on clarifying during her first debate against Donald J. Trump. No apologies were made. No reversals were announced. No fears were allayed. The Kabuki play continued uninterrupted, even as the heavens thundered and the lightning struck the stage.
Hillary Clinton, wrongly, in retrospect, decided she could pretend to pivot left and avoid courting progressives after she clinched the nomination. In fact, over the entire summer, Hillary Clinton was largely absent from her own campaign, as progressives angrily stewed.
We will know far more, once final voting data is published. What was to be the year of the woman didn’t translate into votes for Hillary Clinton. Women didn’t turn out in force for Hillary. Her image as a feminist didn’t catch on beyond the upper registers of what’s left of the US middle class. Even accounting for voter suppression, Black voters, Hillary’s firewall, didn’t turn out, either. A campaign that relied almost exclusively on the fear of Trump and no substance was doomed to failure. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was exposed for its cynicism, corruption, elitism, and raw ambition for power over the welfare of those it claimed to protect. The more exposed the campaign became, it unashamedly and unapologetically soldiered on, and was ripe to be the recipient of the public’s wrath.
Hillary Clinton made the wrong judgment when she decided she could pretend to pivot left and avoid courting progressives after she clinched the nomination. In fact, over the entire summer, Hillary Clinton was largely absent from her own campaign, as progressives angrily stewed. If voters couldn’t readily explain what it was about the Clinton campaign that angered them, the Clinton campaign should have known and compensated for it. They didn’t:
For at least half of the Democratic party, likely the half that is in economic distress or on the brink of it, in the end, the calculus must have been that it would be better to suffer through four years of Trump than another potential sixteen years of neoliberal control of a Democratic party that is as badly in need of reform as the GOP.
Aside from the candidate, herself, John Podesta, David Brock, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Donna Brazile and many other Democratic political operatives, who else is to blame? NBC, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and just about every newspaper in the nation.
I’ve been writing in these pages for the last two years that, what lays at the center of every single problem that ails America is a complete breakdown in ethics. Our system is rotten to the core. In an election in which a vast majority of voters demanded change, Hillary Clinton publicly insisted on running on a platform of continuity while privately planning to take America back to the 1990’s. Voters who survived the tech bust of the early 2000’s only to succumb to the Great Recession would have none of it.
Donald J. Trump, as distasteful as he may be, will be subject to the same constitution every other president has presided under. Given what we know about the legal challenges ahead of him, it is doubtful he will serve a full presidential term.
Who won this election? The American people. In the four years of hell to come, there may be a silver lining. The progressive movement that Bernie Sanders started should emerge as the dominant bloc in the Democratic party. Should resistance to its ascent continue to be forbidding, Progressives should splinter off no later than the start of the new year and form their own party and mount an immediate campaign to claim state houses and congressional seats in the 2018 mid-term election. The two party system has failed. The time for a new progressive party is now.
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