Like millions of Americans who have been crestfallen by President-Elect Pussy-Grabber’s election win last month, I have done a lot of reflecting about what the hell exactly happened over the past 20 or so months that led to the travesty of the United States electing the worst presidential candidate in modern history, and probably ever, to the highest office in the land.
As with most other things, I don’t think the answer is any one thing. But for me, it boils down to an American society filled with misinformed and willfully ignorant people, that were okay with racism, xenophobia, misogyny and a general lack of decency, as long as it offered catharsis for their anger over losing ground in the American culture wars during the last few decades and returning to an era of heterosexual white male patriarchal dominance, especially in a symbolic sense. This is why Trump is seemingly invulnerable to the normal trappings which would have doomed any other presidential candidate. Trump’s supporters didn’t care so much about what Trump did, but more what he stood for in their eyes. And this is why I think that, even as Trump breaks more and more campaign promises, he will still have his cult of followers standing by him.
On social media I have seen a lot of angry Hillary supporters pointing the finger for her loss since November 8th. One of the targets has been the mainstream broadcast media, which has been faulted for normalizing Trump’s bigotry and glossing over the many glaring and legitimate reasons he should not be president. While I ultimately fault voters for their bad decisions, I do think there is validity to the frustration that many people felt with the reporting done by news outlets like CNN and the other major networks. Like many other people, I think members of the media simply didn’t take Trump seriously as a candidate, and this was reflected in their coverage. They got caught up in the clown show, which was good for ratings, and forgot to treat Trump as a legitimate, fascistic threat to our society and democracy.
Another target of liberal ire has been Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. There are many Democrats who think that the issues Bernie raised while he campaigned against Hillary, such as her ties to Wall Street, did lasting damage to how voters perceived her, even though he ultimately did support Clinton. I think this is really unfair, and fails to see the reality that many voters already believed the negative perceptions that they had about Hillary, due to years of attacks put out by the likes of right-wing propaganda pushers such as Fox News, and would have thought the same way even if Bernie had never campaigned against her. This is compounded, no doubt, by deep-rooted sexist double standards about how American society views and receives women in high-power positions of authority. And it didn’t help that broadcast media offered such a disproportionate amount of coverage about Hillary’s “damn emails.”
It is important to note that, even though I fervently supported Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, she was far from my ideal candidate, and wasn’t my first choice. I wanted Bernie to get the nomination. Alas, that didn’t happen, I accepted it, and when it came down to Hillary against Mr. Sexual-Assault-Is-Okay-If-You’re-A-Celebrity, the choice was clear as day for me. I don’t like to play hindsight guessing games or dwell on “coulda, woulda, shoulda” scenarios, but I do think Bernie would have fared better against Trump, and sometimes I even wish Senator Elizabeth Warren had been in the race.
One soundbite from Warren comes to mind as a symbol of why Hillary was flawed as a candidate, or at least how she might have fared better against political “outsider” Trump. When the Wells Fargo fake-accounts scandal broke earlier this year, Elizabeth Warren laid into their CEO and others of high rank there, highlighting the hypocrisy of low-level employees losing their jobs because of the scandal, while high-ranking executives got off with few consequences. As she tore into Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, she displayed a fire and fighting spirit on behalf of working and middle-class Americans that I think was sorely lacking with Hillary Clinton in the minds of voters. Compare that clip of Warren to Hillary proclaiming during one of the debates that she would have the big banks “cut it out” when it came to behavior and policies that led to the economic crisis of 2008. There’s just no comparison. Senator Warren and Sanders both frequently demonstrate that they have the gusto and “oomph” that I think many voters are looking for as they deal with the (justified) perception that the economic system is rigged in the favor of big banks and corporations. This is something that I think would have really helped Hillary, but too often, she came off as somewhat robotic and as if she was offering up canned responses that she or her handlers thought voters wanted to hear, rather than passion coming from the heart.
I think Democrats need to stop finger-pointing and focusing on who or what to blame for Hillary’s loss, and instead should start placing their energies into how to morph and solidify the Democratic party into what it should have been all along, but which I think has been lost in recent years – a progressive party that will fight for American workers and stop being so influenced by big corporate money and donors. Now that the disaster of a Trump presidency is upon us, progressive Americans need the Democratic party more than ever to step up and fight the inevitable Trump/GOP agenda of privatization and their overall threat to programs which help average Americans, women, people of color, the disabled and others who need someone in their corner in the fight against the corporate control and oligarchy that has come to threaten and degrade many Americans’ faith in the “American Dream.”
Now is your chance, Democrats.
Hillary Clinton photo credit: By lorie shaull (source) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons