This is a post that I started writing shortly after the Democratic convention, as I started thinking that Trump was going to end up beating Clinton. Now that the “impossible” has happened (haha all those “old media” predicting <2% for Trump) I find myself publishing this post as an attempted reflection on how we got here.
So what went wrong and what can be learned from this year? I think that the first and easiest way to frame this year might be “old establishment” vs “random unknowns” where a large number of individuals decided that unknowns would be better than more of the same for themselves. These individuals IMO tend to view the status quo as getting themselves screwed over by some external force, such as technological progress, trade deals, banks or immigrants, and as such wanted some candidate that would end what ever entity was screwing them over. When this battle comes down to between HRC and the Orange, we have one candidate that was essentially saying that things are not so bad and that what happened with the financial meltdown and bailing out the banks had to happen, and the other simply channeling people’s anger towards an undeserving group of people (immigrants). In the end, speaking to one’s frustrations rather than trying to tell them they are “crazy” and they are better off then X years ago was the better strategy (who would have guessed).
While it is easy to forget where we came from in terms of the primaries, considering that I starting this posts months before it was posted, it is easy to recall the events of a few weeks ago.
First, when the Tangerine said that he might consider a third party run if he was not treated fairly by the Republicans, this was an extremely smart home in hindsight. This was basically his escape hatch from the party which would have allowed the Tangerine to prevent a successful presidential bid if it came to light that there was any foul play during the primary processes. As such, the Republican party was forced in to playing a fair game and thus as an outsider Tangerine was given a fair shot.
The flip side of this issue was Bernie, who said that he would not consider a third party run which basically meant that he gave license to the Democratic party to sabotage the primary processes against him without their being any consequences (such as directly losing in November as a result). This is something that we know happened given the wide array of emails that have been leaked. (1, 2) (In the last few weeks alone there have been countless wikileaks which have shown the additional details of how the
Simply looking at the Democratic primary, we had HRC with Clinton being one of the few name brands bigger than Lewinsky (sorry, bad joke… someone had to make it), and Bernie, a politician who many (at least on the west coast) have never heard about before. The massive HRC name brand politician then proceeded to lose 22 primaries. Additionally, winning the primaries that she did required that she conspired with major media providers and spend years specifically maneuvering to control the Democratic party through DWS becoming the party head (her campaign manager in 2008) and getting countless super delegates to pre-signup with her campaign. When in it came to fund raising, Bernie was consistently out raising HRC and he was doing it using a larger pool of donors making smaller contributions which IMO indicates a campaign which was better in touch with the actual voters. We see a similar parallel when comparing the sizes of HRC and Bernie rallies.
In directly comparing Clinton to Tangerine and Bernie, we have HRC who continued to “evolve” her position to try and always attract the most voters while Bernie and Trump both took a position and keep pushing a core message. The fact that Tangerine keep changing exactly what he said on specific policy issues didn’t change the core message which was simple enough that it easily resonated with his core voting base.
TL;DR: If you fix your primary such that you ignore the “public poll” that you are conducing, the candidate that you get out is going to be weaker then they should be in the general election.
Some additional comments:
- While the mainstream media is likely going to frame this as “America wasn’t ready for a woman president,” I don’t think that was the issue. Instead, Clinton was a weak candidate which to many Americans symbolized the failures of government that they can’t stand
- The fact that “the most qualified Woman/person ever” just lost to the biggest “joke” we are unlikely to see another “Woman from a major political party” within the next 20 years. The only chance that the next woman has of getting a nomination is that she wins on a populace surge, the party insiders of the Republicans and Democrats are going to be unwilling to risk it
- At some level the country has just “approved” the Tangerine’s personal views on race and women (given that this election wasn’t won on policy)
- Once Clinton pivoted to the general, talks of policy basically stopped. Instead she started using personal attacks (forcing all those meaningless leaks about personal qualities). Instead of Bernie had been in the general, he would have keep the message focused on policy, people would have been able to more easily recognize that Tangerine had no real policy and would be unable to deliver.
- If you want to have a chance of winning against Tangerine in 4 years, you are going to have to defeat him on the fact that he has bad policies or the poor job that he has done. More personal attacks are not going to work and is a dumb position to take and isn’t going to resonate well with younger generations.
- The Tangerine tape scandal made no sense. (Again this isn’t a policy issue attack but a personal attack.) Some have said that this was a “waking up call” to women that were supporting Tangerine, I don’t think that actually holds that much weight. Lets suppose for a moment that Tangerine had “much better” policies then HRC w.r.t. women’s issues and this tape still came out, the conversation would have been: “So he said these things, but he is still much better for me as a woman.” America’s history of presidents has been a string of questionable views on women and marriages etc, one more shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone regardless of how many times the media plays it. Most people will never directly interact with the president, “we” (or at least I), do not care if the person who wins the presidency is likable or has done some questionable things in the past, all that “we” care about is whether or not their policies are going to be good for “us.”
What a surprise mainstream media:
Donald Trump would have lost US election if Bernie Sanders had been the candidate
How the Washington Post killed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy
The Democratic Party Establishment Is Finished