Clin­ton loss spurs sec­ond guess­ing about plat­form, pri­mary process

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - Chen Weihua WASH­ING­TON JOURNAL Con­tact the writer at chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­

There is a Chi­nese say­ing called shi­hou zhugeliang, which means it’s easy to proph­e­size after an event or to be a Mon­day-morn­ing quar­ter­back, as Amer­i­cans like to say.

After a his­toric win on Tues­day by busi­ness­man Don­ald Trump, pun­dits and TV com­men­ta­tors who fer­vently sup­ported Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton started to talk about what went wrong with her cam­paign.

It is not clear that they knew all the prob­lems dur­ing the dirty cam­paign, but at least a few had pointed them out be­fore Elec­tion Day.

I was ob­serv­ing the elec­tion on Nov 8, in­clud­ing at a polling place on Con­necti­cut Av­enue near the Duke Elling­ton Bridge. A young man I talked to said he came to vote for none of the can­di­dates but to vote against all of them.

Such protest vot­ers were not a small group this year, as many Amer­i­cans felt they had to choose the lesser of the two evils, a sit­u­a­tion I de­scribed in an ear­lier col­umn.

In the days after the elec­tion, many Clin­ton sup­port­ers or anti-Trump vot­ers took to the streets to voice their op­po­si­tion to the pres­i­dent-elect, who will be in­au­gu­rated on Jan 20.

Many still had not re­al­ized that the prob­lem of the Clin­ton cam­paign was that she rep­re­sented too much of the sta­tus quo after align­ing her­self with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, whom she served as sec­re­tary of state dur­ing his first term.

That means she could not gen­uinely crit­i­cize the many prob­lems in US so­ci­ety and ad­dress the con­cerns of many Amer­i­cans.

Those prob­lems and con­cerns, such as in­come in­equal­ity and the role of money in pol­i­tics, have be­come so dire that Amer­i­cans were an­grier than ever go­ing into the 2016 elec­tion.

In that re­gard, an en­dorse­ment by Obama was both a bless­ing and a curse for Clin­ton, who lost many tra­di­tional Demo­cratic dis­tricts to Trump.

As an out­side ob­server, the vi­sion for the United States rep­re­sented by Ver­mont Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders has been the best of all can­di­dates’, an Amer­ica I would truly re­spect.

The elec­tion re­sult might have been dif­fer­ent if Clin­ton had em­braced more of San­ders’ cam­paign plat­form after she won the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

I wrote six months ago that I had that I never un­der­stood why Amer­i­cans would re­gard San­ders as too ideal­is­tic and un­re­al­is­tic given John F. Kennedy’s moon speech in 1962: “We choose to go to the moon in the decade and do the other things, not be­cause they are easy, but be­cause they are hard …”

San­ders lost to Clin­ton in a pri­mary that was not played on a level play­ing field, given the rev­e­la­tions in emails ob­tained by Wik­iLeaks show­ing that the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee had worked against San­ders’ cam­paign.

Clin­ton’s close con­nec­tion with the su­per del­e­gates also dis­ad­van­taged San­ders dur­ing the pri­maries.

A story by Daniel Strauss on Politico on Satur­day quoted Sev­erin Be­liv­eau, a for­mer Maine Demo­cratic Party chair­man who sup­ported San­ders in the pri­mary, say­ing that San­ders peo­ple feel strongly that they were mis­treated dur­ing the pri­mary process and the con­ven­tions.

It then de­scribed how many San­ders sup­port­ers are work­ing hard to get their pro­gres­sive can­di­dates elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elec­tions.

There was lit­tle doubt that the San­ders cam­paign was the health­i­est and most fo­cused on sub­stance, un­like the name­call­ing be­tween Trump and Clin­ton, their su­per­fi­cial pres­i­den­tial de­bates and their neg­a­tive ads on tele­vi­sion.

Early on, some polls had shown that San­ders had a bet­ter chance to beat Trump than Clin­ton did.

In an op-ed in The New York Times on Fri­day, San­ders said he was sad­dened but not sur­prised by the out­come.

“It is no shock to me that mil­lions of peo­ple who voted for Mr Trump did so be­cause they are sick and tired of the eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and me­dia sta­tus quo.”

Film­maker Michael Moore said on CNN on Thurs­day night that San­ders “ab­so­lutely” would have won the elec­tion if he had been the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee.

“Democrats need to start run­ning peo­ple who are in­spir­ing. … Why don’t we run peo­ple who are beloved by the Amer­i­can peo­ple?” Moore said.

That is some­thing the pro­test­ers should reckon with while vent­ing their anger at Pres­i­dent-elect Trump.

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