ithout having read her new book, I can already assure you that Hillary Clinton is wrong about why she lost last year’s presidential election.
2016 was a historically bad year for candidates of both major parties. Clinton and Donald Trump were among the most unpopular presidential nominees ever. It’s pretty obvious why Trump, with his brash attitude and inability to understand that not everybody is a rich, old white guy, was consistently under water in his approval numbers.
Clinton is a little more difficult to diagnose, however. She was the popular First Lady of Arkansas for some time, before graduating to become an equally adored First Lady of America. She spent eight years in the Senate, including a reelection, four years as Secretary of State under President Obama and nearly was the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. Actually winning the top job was the logical next step.
And then, she proceeded to lose. Some projections from both HuffPost and the New York Times had her winning north of 350 electoral votes in November. So it’s fair that Clinton does indeed ask “What Happened?”
I have an answer. Republicans have been preparing for this since Clinton’s husband was president. They spent years on a smear campaign that worked perfectly. The blame falls squarely on the Democratic establishment, and Clinton herself by extension, for not realizing just how much said smear campaign would damage the former Secretary of State.
And just as former President Barrack Obama stepped aside when his time was up, Clinton needs to move along now too. Not just from elections, but from politics in general.
Clinton’s campaign was a perfect testament to everything wrong with neoliberalism, as well as exposed the gaping flaws of being a moderate in today’s political climate. Every move she made seemed predictable and weak; she took very few steps that actually surprised people and generally failed to excite an electorate that was obviously open to leftist policies.
Even though she won the popular vote by three million votes, Clinton was not a winning candidate. Her campaign was, as moderate liberal rhetoric still is, entirely based off the fact that she was not a racist, misogynistic liar. And as much as what I just described sounds unelectable, Trump’s rhetoric won in the end because unfortunately, large swaths of America are still filled with racist, misogynistic people.
So, Secretary Clinton, even if you’re still confused about why you lost, I can tell you exactly what happened. You were the right candidate at the wrong time. A qualified, experienced veteran of the political world who just so happens to have a second X-chromosome. But instead of making that a non-factor, your campaign made the issue of misogyny a defining part of the fight against Trump. You only riled up the most backward parts of America more.
You almost certainly lost in part because of Russian interference. However, keep in mind you won the Democratic primary in no small part because of similar dirty tricks from the DNC. You can’t have it both ways.
You lost not because Bernie Sanders made you a weaker candidate, but because you didn’t become stronger in the face of him. Even as he pulled you to the left, a necessary step in a time when the Democratic establishment is borderline conservative, you refused to embrace things like universal health care, and offered only lukewarm support to other things, like rolling back the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That 12 percent of Bernie voters that voted for Trump didn’t vote for him because he appealed to them, but because you never even tried to win their favor.
And most importantly, you lost because it’s becoming clearer by the day that Americans are tired of establishment politics. You didn’t reject the status quo, even by being a woman; instead you embodied it. And that was the fatal blow to your campaign. Promising change while refusing to acknowledge that which was already going on around you.
So there you are, Secretary Clinton. No matter what you may believe, about a year after the election, this is exactly “what happened.”