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Post Tagged with: Hillary Clinton

We Were Wrong

We Were Wrong

Apart from voting, I sat out this election. I didn’t argue with anyone about it. I stayed off of Facebook and Twitter. I spent zero time fundraising, phone banking, canvassing, convincing family members in swing states to go to the polls, writing articles, or forwarding chain emails. I had a very good reason. I always believed that one candidate was grossly unqualified to be president, and the other was a corrupt, rotten, politically feckless prevaricator, and it was not always clear which was which.

trumpBut I won’t deny I spent many hours obsessively checking FiveThirtyEight and Politico for minute movements in the polls. I secretly hoped Hillary Clinton would be our next president. Not because of any love for Hillary Clinton, but because of my love of the Republic and the long-standing political norms which are now threatened with collapse under a wannabe strongman with authoritarian tendencies.

I thought she would win. The media though she would win. The pollsters thought she would win. All but one of my friends thought she would win. Benjamin Franklin Elementary School thought she would win. Dixville Notch thought she would win. The global financial markets thought she would win. Trump’s advisors thought she would win. Trump himself probably thought she would win.

We were wrong.

We were wrong because we are all ignorant.

We were wrong because we didn’t think about the people in the heartland.

We were wrong because we spent months insulting those people and their concerns, instead of taking them seriously.

We were wrong because we thought that policy or reason or social norms would dictate the outcome, not economic malaise, uncertainty or stress.

We were wrong because we don’t have any friends or colleagues or internet connections outside of our own bubble.

We were wrong because we think that personality, character, or qualifications should matter more than branding, charisma, and confidence.

We were wrong because we thought this was a historical moment, but we had a misguided view of history.

We were wrong because we spent all this time talking about the 1%, and it turns out that we were the 1% that America was really concerned about.

We were wrong because we listened to the media, and the media listened to us, and no one listened to the voters.

A couple people were right. Michael Moore was right (and I hate myself for linking to his website and giving it any legitimacy, I really do). Nate Silver was right, that Trump had a legitimate chance of becoming president due to polling uncertainty. Peter Thiel was right. One of my best friends I alluded to above was right from the first day Trump announced his candidacy. I called him last night to ‘concede.’ He told me: “Trump hit a nerve. Everyone who was paying attention saw it. But no one wanted to see it.”

If Brexit and this election teach us anything, it’s that the people in democracies really are sovereign. And their voice matters more than the “experts,” the “elites,” the “establishment,” or any other word you can slap on the bubble of those of us who are fortunate enough to be economically secure.

We owe an apology to the 59 million Americans who thought differently. Not because they won–they could still be wrong. Their reasons may be malevolent. Their beliefs may be crazy. They could still be the caricature of ‘middle aged white America’ that everyone seems so intent on blaming.

But we owe them an apology because we didn’t take them seriously. They have had their character questioned, their intelligence insulted, their concerns dismissed, their beliefs maligned, the worst about their intentions assumed. More importantly, many of them have had their incomes reduced, their jobs outsourced, their cost of healthcare increased, and their economic opportunities curtailed.

Clinton made a lot of mistakes in this election. Most notably, she didn’t visit Wisconsin once. If that doesn’t speak to the very arrogance that defines the concerns of everyday Americans with the elite, I don’t know what does.

Trump is the least humble man in America. But he has singlehandedly brought thundering humility and shame upon the entire elite class: the media, academia, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, career politicians, lobbyists, Wall Street, the military brass, Silicon Valley.

We need these institutions now more than ever. If we have any hope of keeping Trump’s maniacal thirst for power in check, we need these institutions to stand up to him. We need them to brush themselves off and get back to the serious work of holding those in power accountable. Because Trump isn’t an outsider barking at the fringes anymore. He has a mandate from the American people to rule, with the full force and power of the United States legislative and executive branches behind him, with the judicial sure to follow.

Trump isn’t going away. This is just the beginning.

November 9, 20162 commentsRead More
All About Obama

All About Obama

Politico just published an article about the election being all about Obama.  This is reflective of a larger sentiment that has been talked about in recent weeks, the fact that Obama is dominating the headlines and no one really cares about McCain–for most people, the choice is “Obama or not Obama.”  This would seem to bode well for the Obama campaign, which has not ceased to be in the media spotlight since he won the Iowa caucus in January.  After all, any publicity is good publicity, right?

But methinks there is an undercurrent in America that is threatening to take down the great Obama machine.  We know, of course, of the threatening rumors regarding Obama’s patriotism, his religion, his “eliteness” and his politics–these rumors alone, however, are likely to affect people who are already voting against Obama.

We know, too, of the rise of Obama satire.  The reluctance of Jon Stewart and other comedians to ridicule the candidate has all but vanished.  Regularly, Stewart refers to Obama as “the Great One” and Gerard Baker’s article on Obama’s overseas trip was brilliant.  I quote:

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child’s wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child’s journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

Quite charming, to be sure.  A passage from the Book of Obama might very well one day grace the White House mantle.

But does all the media attention around Obama really help him, or does it just provide McCain with an opportunity to play the relentless underdog, and his supporters to try that much harder to get him elected?  Or, what is more likely, does the Obama halo make people who support him question their own devotion?  In the constant mockery of Obama’s arrogance and presumption, does not a line of truth shine through?  Is it possible, maybe, the some people might resent it?

Think about the swaths of Hillary supporters, many of whom have not yet made up their mind whether to support the democratic candidate.  Isn’t it possible that they might feel a little sting?  After all, by acting like the Chosen One, Obama seems to be brushing aside their chosen one, which might not be such a good idea.  Obama should be carrying the democratic banner, not carrying the “Vero Possumus” banner.

But, most importantly, it is McCain who gains from Obamamania.  People who have not yet made up their minds see the Obama juggernaut and think, “He has plenty of support, he doesn’t need mine.  I don’t need to vote,” or, “How pompous he is!  I’m going to show him that he can’t win the election until he’s won it!”  Obama’s “Chosen One” attitude is sure to fire up some “I’ll show you” sentiment in the electorate.

Plus, wasn’t it the same attitude that lost Obama the New Hampshire primary?  Remember when he acted like he had the nomination before he had it?  He was ten points ahead in the New Hampshire polls, and then bam.  Hillary supporters (and some Obama supporters) had had enough.  He was so sure to win, Obama supporters stayed home.  He was so cocky to win, Hillary supporters came out to the polls.

The underdog always gains when the top dog is coasting.  Obama’s poll numbers have remained the same, but McCain’s have been growing steadily.  Instead of doubling his support from Hillary’s drop out, his support has stagnated.  Meanwhile, McCain has shrunk Obama’s lead within 4 percentage points–and, if you choose to follow predictions based on the Bradley Effect–that means he’s actually ahead.

Now, we know that a national lead doesn’t amount to anything in the electoral college.  Obama has managed to hold on to the states that matter, including Pennsylvania, California, Ohio (he’s 7 points up there) and Virginia remains a battleground.  Add Colorado and it’s looking difficult for him to lose.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t.  And if the Clinton campaign is any lesson, let us remember that inevitability in this election has meant jack squat.

July 29, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More
Where’s the Sexism?

Where’s the Sexism?

With the DNC Florida and Michigan compromise decided, thousands of Clinton supporters are claiming that their voices aren’t heard.  Hundreds protested at the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting Saturday in Washington, and countless others watched from across the country as their candidate was effectively blocked in her last effort to secure the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The most outrageous claim that has been made so far in this process, from feminists to Bill Clinton to protesters on the street, is that Hillary has been the victim of good-old-fashioned misogyny.  Sexism, they claim, has been tearing their candidate’s chances apart from the moment she started her run.  The media is out to get her, Bill Clinton says.  “Women are never front-runners,” writes Gloria Steinem back in January.

I don’t buy it.  For one, Hillary Clinton was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  She was the front-runner in a big way–no one thought she could lose.  Back in 2007, when she was front-runner, she supported the decision of the DNC to withhold Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates because they had broken the party’s rules by moving their primaries earlier than February 5.  She didn’t think that it would matter.  Now that she needs those delegates to have a shot at the nomination, she claims that the people in Florida are victims of a Mugabe-level conspiracy to disenfranchise voters.  Suddenly, human rights are being violated.  And somehow, Clinton supporters have convinced themselves that sexism–not bad campaigning, a bad candidate or a bad decision by the Florida and Michigan Democratic committees–is responsible for Hillary’s downfall.

Sexism has certainly played a role in this campaign.  The “Bros before Hoes” t-shirts and the misogynist comments by some members of the media and the Hillary Nutcracker all reveal an ugly truth about American society…and how unwilling some people are to see a woman in the white house.  But to claim that these forces undid Hillary Clinton’s campaign, when there were a host of other factors, including a terrible front-loaded, ignore-the-caucuses campaign strategy, an incompetent staff and an irate, divisive ex-President, is to ignore the realities of the political process.  Barack Obama is winning, fair and square.  He’s winning despite racially charged ads and Reverend Wright and the Madrassa email hoax and the Muslim rumor and the countless “Osama/Obama” gaffes on TV.  To claim that Hillary Clinton is a victim of sexism–and moreover, to claim that that sexism is perpetrated by Barack Obama–is being a sore loser.

It is not sexism to deny Hillary Clinton the nomination.  If she campaigned hard, won more states and more delegates, and then saw the nomination handed to another candidate–that would be sexism.  If she ran for the nomination as a heavy favorite and then lost primary after primary despite being ahead in the polls–then you could question if sexism truly played a factor.

But she’s going to lose fair and square.  And that’s what equality is.  In a world that recognizes no difference between the sexes, good candidates can be both men and women, and bad candidates can damn well be women as well as men.  Isn’t that the end goal?  A world where a qualified woman can run seriously for President and lose fairly?  Not because she’s a woman, but because the voters decided she isn’t the best person for the job.  And in this nominating process, the voters have spoken.

June 1, 2008Comments are DisabledRead More