Hil­lary still doesn’t get ‘what hap­pened’

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

Clin­ton has blamed her loss on a cast of char­ac­ters - Rus­sia, Wik­iLeaks, James Comey and Bernie San­ders.

Hil­lary Clin­ton’s new mem­oir of her failed pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is ti­tled “What Hap­pened.” A bet­ter ti­tle would be “What Hap­pened?” be­cause Clin­ton ap­par­ently has no idea.

Clin­ton has blamed her loss on an ever-chang­ing cast of char­ac­ters - Rus­sia, Wik­iLeaks, James Comey and Bernie San­ders. Now she has put the blame on a new scape­goat: mil­lions of big­oted white na­tion­al­ists.

Clin­ton told Jane Pauley of CBS News’ “Sun­day Morn­ing” that Don­ald Trump won be­cause he “was quite suc­cess­ful in ref­er­enc­ing a nos­tal­gia that would give hope, com­fort, set­tle griev­ances, for mil­lions of people who were up­set about gains that were made by oth­ers,” Clin­ton said. When Pauley asked, “What you’re say­ing is mil­lions of white people?” Clin­ton replied, “Mil­lions of white people, yeah. Mil­lions of white people.”

In an in­ter­view with NPR on Tues­day, Clin­ton was even more ex­plicit. Trump’s mes­sage, she said, was “dis­crim­i­na­tory, it was big­oted, it was prej­u­diced. And yet it fed into part of the elec­torate that just wanted to have a pri­mal scream. They didn’t like what was go­ing on. . . . They re­ally re­sponded to his racial and eth­nic and sex­ist ap­peals.”

So Clin­ton be­lieves she lost Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia and the pres­i­dency be­cause of the big­otry of mid­dle Amer­ica.

One prob­lem with her anal­y­sis: Mil­lions of those white people who voted for Don­ald Trump also proudly voted for Barack Obama. There are nearly 700 coun­ties in the United States that voted twice for Barack Obama, one-third of which flipped to Trump in 2016. Ac­cord­ing to Nate Cohn of the New York Times, “al­most one in four of Pres­i­dent Obama’s 2012 white work­ing-class sup­port­ers de­fected from the Democrats in 2016, either sup­port­ing Mr. Trump or voting for a third-party can­di­date.” Are all those TrumpObama vot­ers big­ots? Mil­lions of once re­li­ably Demo­cratic vot­ers pulled the lever for the first black pres­i­dent, yet they were sud­denly whipped up into a racist furor by Trump’s “racial and eth­nic and sex­ist ap­peals”? Give me a break.

As Demo­cratic poll­ster Stan Greenberg has pointed out, many of th­ese work­ing-class Oba­maTrump vot­ers were not even white. “The Democrats don’t have a ‘white work­ing-class prob­lem,’ “Greenberg wrote re­cently in the Amer­i­can Prospect. “They have a ‘work­ing-class prob­lem’ . . . Democrats have lost sup­port with all work­ing-class vot­ers across the elec­torate, in­clud­ing the Ris­ing Amer­i­can Elec­torate of mi­nori­ties, un­mar­ried women, and mil­len­ni­als.”

Why did so many Obama vot­ers de­fect to Trump? It wasn’t race or im­mi­gra­tion. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the lib­eral su­per PAC Pri­or­i­ties USA Ac­tion, the top seven pri­or­i­ties were (1) pro­tect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care; (2) cre­at­ing good-pay­ing jobs for Amer­i­can work­ers; (3) mak­ing sure Amer­i­cans have ac­cess to af­ford­able in­sur­ance; (4) clean­ing up cor­rup­tion in gov­ern­ment; (5) crack­ing down on out­sourc­ing; (6) mak­ing sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes and (7) keep­ing Wall Street in check.

That is hardly a white na­tion­al­ist agenda.

An­other rea­son th­ese Obama vot­ers de­fected to Trump is that they kept hear­ing from Clin­ton and the Democrats how great the econ­omy was do­ing. Yet, ac­cord­ing to Pri­or­i­ties USA Ac­tion, “50 per­cent of Obama-Trump vot­ers said their in­comes are fall- ing be­hind the cost of liv­ing, and an­other 31 per­cent said their in­comes are merely keep­ing pace with the cost of liv­ing.” When Clin­ton touted Obama’s economic progress, she seemed hope­lessly out of touch.

Clin­ton still can’t seem to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a white na­tion­al­ist and work­ing-class vot­ers who are up­set be­cause their fam­ily in­comes are stag­nant or fall­ing, they feel shut out of the la­bor force, and their com­mu­ni­ties are mired in sub­stance abuse and de­spair. Th­ese “for­got­ten Amer­i­cans” had le­git­i­mate griev­ances that Democrats ig­nored. That sent a mes­sage to work­ing-class vot­ers that Democrats are not fo­cused on fight­ing for them. So they de­fected.

Add to this Clin­ton’s in­abil­ity to con­nect with her party’s lib­eral base (the so-called drop-off vot­ers who turned out for Obama but failed to show up for her) - plus the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and her re­peated lies about her per­sonal server, which led large ma­jori­ties of Amer­i­cans to con­clude that she was dis­hon­est and cor­rupt - and you had the toxic brew that pro­duced her elec­toral de­feat.

Clin­ton says she is done with elec­toral pol­i­tics, so it re­ally does not mat­ter if she un­der­stands “what hap­pened.” But there is lit­tle sign that Democrats to­day un­der­stand, much less are do­ing what is nec­es­sary to win back th­ese work­ing-class vot­ers in the heart­land. In­stead, they have de­clared them­selves “The Re­sis­tance” - fur­ther alien­at­ing th­ese vot­ers who put Trump in of­fice, while hop­ing that they can turn out their lib­eral base in the next elec­tion. That’s pre­cisely the strat­egy that failed in 2016. We’ll see if dou­bling down on fail­ure works in 2020.

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