Dems get knocked out

Clin­ton’s po­lit­i­cal party should learn from box­ing

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Ron Ki­pling Wil­liams Ron Ki­pling Wil­liams is an ad­junct fac­ulty mem­ber in the Uni­ver­sity of Bal­ti­more’s Yale Gor­don Col­lege of Arts and Sci­ences. His email is rwilliams@ubalt.edu.

Box­ing is a vi­o­lent, beau­ti­ful, cor­rupt and com­pelling sport. I’m a long-time fan. I also fol­low pol­i­tics. Nat­u­rally, I see some con­nec­tions be­tween the two. Here are a few things I’ve learned as an ob­server that may ap­ply to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion we just wit­nessed:

If you fight not to lose, you will not win.

When you fight not to lose, you are on your heels, avoid­ing get­ting hit. Your op­po­nent dic­tates the fight. They cut off the ring, pick shots, ex­ploit your weak­nesses, time your moves, throw their best punches and even­tu­ally get you out of the ring.

There was a clar­ion call by Democrats to vote for Hil­lary Clin­ton, pri­mar­ily out of fear of a Don­ald Trump pres­i­dency. Her high-pow­ered cor­ner — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Sens. Bernie San­ders and El­iz­a­beth War­ren and Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den — all pitched a stronger case against Mr. Trump than for her.

It was a failed strat­egy. Hope has al­ways beaten fear as a driv­ing force. Par­tic­u­larly for African-Amer­i­cans who sur­vived slav­ery and Jim Crow seg­re­ga­tion, a Trump pres­i­dency is not fright­en­ing.

Duck and counter your op­po­nent’s money punch.

Though the coun­try has changed over the last 240 years, Amer­ica is still a pre­dom­i­nantly white work­ing- and mid­dle-class Chris­tian na­tion. While we all may have con­cerns about is­sues of jus­tice and equal­ity, when can­di­dates ig­nore the voices of the dom­i­nant pop­u­la­tion — the silent ma­jor­ity — and play heav­ily to mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties, their cam­paign will suf­fer.

The silent ma­jor­ity be­came Trump’s money punch.

The Demo­cratic elite pum­meled the silent ma­jor­ity with pe­jo­ra­tives, most mem­o­rably as “de­plorables,” some­how be­liev­ing they would not be a fac­tor come elec­tion time. Th­ese “de­plorables” came out to vote in droves. Never try to out­hook a hooker. De­spite his bank­rupt­cies, law­suits and so­cial con­tro­ver­sies, Mr. Trump has mas­tered ev­ery game he has en­tered. He mas­tered the real es­tate game, the me­dia game and now the game of pol­i­tics.

While his blend of racist, sex­ist and xeno­pho­bic com­ments would de­rail any other can­di­dacy, he kept slip­ping punches and re­turn­ing fire. Not even the in­fa­mous Oc­to­ber sur­prise — of­fen­sive lan­guage, Hil­lary Clin­ton pauses as she con­cedes the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last week. de­liv­ered ca­su­ally on a bus years ago and leaked to the me­dia — could dis­man­tle him.

Ms. Clin­ton could not claim the same. Mr. San­ders in­flu­enced her po­si­tions to the left, while her record demon­strated oth­er­wise. She re­sponded poorly to the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, failed to con­vince vot­ers she had no strong ties to Wall Street and pro­claimed the NRA — the most pow­er­ful lobby in Wash­ing­ton — was her en­emy.

Ms. Clin­ton tried trad­ing shots with Mr. Trump, but she did not throw punches in bunches. When Mr. Trump hit, he hit hard and of­ten. She fell just like the 16 Repub­li­can pri­mary can­di­dates be­fore her. Style makes fights. The Democrats did not fore­see the fall­out of an es­tab­lish­ment can­di­date pit­ted against an anti-es­tab­lish­ment one. Even though Mr. Trump was at the crest of a tidal wave that be­gan af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama’s first elec­tion and gained mo­men­tum from the tea party’s 2010 midterm vic­to­ries, the Democrats la­beled him as in­ex­pe­ri­enced and went af­ter his tem­per­a­ment. The silent ma­jor­ity was still out­raged by the Bill Clin­ton years, which in­cluded NAFTA and the blend­ing of tra­di­tional banks with in­vest­ment bro­ker­ages. The Mon­ica Lewin­sky scan­dal and the pres­i­dent’s im­peach­ment were in there as well. The last thing th­ese vot­ers wanted was him any­where near the White House.

Also damn­ing was Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ten­ure in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which is loathed for Oba­macare and other poli­cies that th­ese vot­ers felt were shoved down their throats. Her email scan­dal erupted, and Democrats tried to triv­i­al­ize it. That didn’t work — it was a fac­tor up un­til the clos­ing days of the elec­tion.

Hil­lary Clin­ton ul­ti­mately was viewed as un­trust­wor­thy, lack­ing in cred­i­bil­ity and a sym­bol of the old lib­eral elite es­tab­lish­ment. She pos­sessed lit­tle charisma, her words sound­ing flat and un­con­vinc­ing. She failed to en­er­gize the coun­try, let alone her base. She was ef­fec­tively dam­aged goods. Democrats were too steeped in de­nial to ac­knowl­edge it.

Early in this cy­cle, Mr. San­ders was the Democrats’ anti-es­tab­lish­ment an­swer. His Demo­cratic So­cial­ist mes­sage was con­sis­tent and un­wa­ver­ing. He spoke di­rectly to white work­ing-class fam­i­lies both in ur­ban and ru­ral Amer­ica. Mr. San­ders drew huge crowds and helped rein­vig­o­rate the elec­torate.

But the Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment did ev­ery­thing they could to fight their own con­tender. Even Mr. Trump noted how un­fairly Mr. San­ders was treated. Then there were the risk-averse, es­tab­lish­ment Democrats who de­cided Ms. Clin­ton would be the safe and sure thing.

Mr. San­ders was ex­actly what the Democrats needed for a true shot to win. They balked at the chance and paid the price.

Never leave the fight up to the judges.

Be­gin­ning in Jan­uary, Repub­li­cans will con­trol both houses of Congress and the Oval Of­fice. It is eas­ier for Democrats to blame those who voted for in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates, as well as those who stayed home. Much more sober­ing — and pos­si­bly the start of a more pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tion about how to come back from this de­feat — would be a con­fes­sion that they picked their weaker fighter and got sent to the can­vas.

In the next elec­tion in 2018, will both par­ties con­tinue to fight the same way? If so, it could be another knock­down. Talk of a new way to train, a new punch­ing strat­egy, al­ready should be in the air.

JUSTIN SUL­LI­VAN/GETTY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.