LOS ANGELES, November 21, 2016 — Many Hillary Clinton supporters still have not figured out why she lost the election. The most ludicrous excuse is racism, the silly notion that white backlash against a black president hurt her.
Those advancing the “whitelash” narrative have no explanation for why many white voters who voted for Barack Obama twice chose Donald Trump in 2016. Despite carrying hot sauce in her purse and speaking in a fake Southern accent, Hillary Clinton is actually a wealthy white Caucasian from a wealthy white background.
She is as black as Rachel Dolezal.
Sexism and the popular vote can also be discounted as unserious rantings from the perpetually aggrieved victim class. Even climate change cannot be blamed, since unseasonably warm weather in North Carolina and other areas actually should have helped her turnout rather than decrease it.
The real reasons Hillary Clinton lost are what matter.
Under spectacular conditions with everything going right, winning three in a row is possible. Ronald Reagan got George Herbert Walker Bush over the hump in 1988, but Reagan won in 1984 by 20 points. His successor won by only eight points. The natural swing of the pendulum comes with voter fatigue.
Bill Clinton won reelection by eight points in 1996, yet Al Gore only managed a statistical tie that included losing Arkansas and his home state of Tennessee. In 2016, there was widespread dissatisfaction with how the country and world were doing. Barack Obama eked out a three point win in 2012. There was no margin for error in 2016, and the inevitable shift happened.
2.) This was a major change election.
Hillary Clinton was the status quo. Supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump wanted to tear down the system and its perceived corrupt institutions. Hillary Clinton embodied the system and those institutions.
She vowed to continue Obama’s policies.
A majority of voters intensely disliked those policies even while liking President Obama personally. On issues from Obamacare to illegal immigration to taxes to Syrian refugees, voters preferred Trump’s approach to Clinton’s approach. Obama’s personality was an aberration. In most elections, policies actually do matter.
There was no overarching theme. “Stronger together” was a bumper sticker slogan from a candidate known for speaking in platitudes. Trump wanted to rip to shreds NAFTA, Obamacare, the Iran deal, and the Paris climate accord.
Hillary Clinton ran on her competence. When competence is matched against ideology, ideology wins every single time. This may have been the first election since 1996 where neither candidate was particularly ideological. Trump ran as a populist, not a conservative. However, this at least showed a belief in something.
4.) Clinton ran a scorched earth negative campaign featuring lots of screaming.
Despite more bumper car slogans such as, “When they go low, we go high,” Clinton went low and then went lower. Normally the challenger runs the negative campaign and the incumbent goes positive. In 2012, Obama pulled off an unprecedented strategy of running hard negative as the incumbent. He convinced enough voters that Mitt Romney was a danger to the world.
Because that strategy worked, Clinton tried it in 2016. The problem for her was that Trump was not a polite gentleman like Romney. Trump was a ferocious counter-puncher.
The low point came when Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to turn Trump’s “nasty woman” remark into a badge of honor. Warren screamed her lungs out that nasty women were going to remove Trump from our lives forever. The National Organization for Women may have loved the “I am woman, hear me roar” fire, but mainstream men recoiled in horror.
In the final days of the campaign, Trump spoke in a calm voice drilled into him by strategist Kelly Anne Conway. Clinton and Warren kept screaming like Joan Crawford in “Mommie, Dearest.” Voters tune out screaming, whether it be Clinton, Warren or Howard Dean. Yelling is shrill, regardless of gender.
Nowhere were the distinctions more clear between the candidates than in which voters they targeted and who their surrogates were. Clinton hung out with celebrities such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys. She praised groups such as Black Lives Matter while Trump vowed an unequivocal pro-police, law and order crackdown. She basked in the glow of mainstream newspaper endorsements, oblivious to how despised these newspapers had become.
Clinton spent too much time at private fundraisers in Hollywood, San Francisco and Manhattan. In the entire general election, she did not make one appearance in Wisconsin. She did not visit Michigan until the final week of the campaign. Whether her problem was arrogance, complacency, or a lack of stamina due to illness, she did not spend enough time meeting with average voters and clearly listening to their concerns.
Her wealthy white celebrity friends believe climate change activism is a good thing. Unemployed coal miners do not want to be retrained for green jobs. They just want to be employed in their chosen career.
6.) Hillary Clinton is corrupt.
She has been plagued by a multitude of scandals over her entire career. While it is possible that she is an innocent victim in some of them, it is implausible that she is blameless in all of them. There was no legitimate reason for her to set up a private email server. She wanted to operate in secrecy. Her political opponents repeatedly taunted her with chants of “lock her up,” which they never threw at Obama.
She spent the entire campaign trying to show that Trump was corrupt. The problem is that Trump faced unproven allegations which may or may not turn out to be true. With Clinton, the actual evidence proving her guilt was laid bare for all to see. She did destroy emails after receiving a federal subpoena. She did collude with liberal media personalities to try and rig the Democrat primaries and the general election.
She did run a global foundation that traded access for favors. She made promises, but enough voters distrusted her.
7.) Hillary Clinton is still unlikable.
1960 was the first television election, and John F. Kennedy parlayed his likability to a razor thin victory over the more substantive but unlikable Richard Nixon. In every election since 1960, the winning candidate was the one that voters would rather drink a beer with and watch a ballgame with. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush embodied the beer-ballgame likability. Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and Mitt Romney were people that one would go to the opera and drink Chardonnay with.
Forget that neither Romney or Trump ever drank alcohol or that George W. Bush abstained from alcohol after abusing it in his younger years. Perception matters. Most people cannot picture Clinton sitting down with people to drink a beer or watch a ballgame.
In 2008, Obama famously remarked, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” It was a cheap shot, but one that reflected the already ingrained perception that she was anything but likable. The elites loved her, but many Trump voters despised her. Many of these same voters love Sarah Palin, so the issue was with Hillary herself and not her gender.
It will be up to Democrats to come clean with themselves. Hillary Clinton was a terribly flawed candidate. She was herself. She acted like Hillary Clinton. Democrats can choose to accept this. The alternative is to continue to delude themselves into thinking that the American electorate turned into white nationalist bigots only four years after reelecting a black president.