It happened. It actually happened. Trump is going to be the next President of the United States and I’m pretty sure the entire American public is sitting around looking at each other and feeling completely numb. Unless you voted for him, then you’re probably ecstatic that he overcame what appeared to be insurmountable odds.
Personally, I voted Hillary. Not because I think she’s a good person, or would be a good President, but because I thought an oligarch would be a better choice than a racist psychopath. That said, as someone that supported Bernie vehemently until long after it was obvious he’d lost the primary, I can’t help but think that Hillary and the DNC did this to themselves.
It was obvious during the primary, and in the email aftermath, that the DNC wasn’t interested in giving Bernie Sanders a fair shake. Not only were all of the rules and resources of the DNC focused on putting Hillary in the general, but also the travesty of superdelegates that honestly believed she was the best the party could offer despite the history of scandal, the appearance of corruption via the Clinton Foundation and just generally her lack of inspiration. Hell, her platform was an assortment of continuing Obama’s policies and adopting Bernie’s in an attempt to pander to the dissatisfied progressive wing of the party.
Even I could see a lot of problems with Hillary’s primary performance before she was the nominee. For example, Hillary absolutely dominated primaries in the south where, lo and behold, votes didn’t matter one bit yesterday. She didn’t carry a single southern state, not even Florida which was demographically in reach. She won many closed primaries that excluded anybody that didn’t identify as a Democrat (or didn’t identify in time). Those independents that were excluded went for Trump (CNN: 48% to 42%). Time and time again during the primaries, we saw the older contingent of those self identified Democrats carry Clinton to victory, but older people skew conservative (one reason they liked Clinton over Bernie in the first place) and appealing to Boomers isn’t a winning strategy for a Democrat.
After the primary, she failed to reach out to the young Bernie supporters and minorities of all stripes who are a lot of the same demographics that put Obama in the White House twice. The assumption was that they’d fall inline through fear of Trump and that ultimately proved fatal. The youth picked Hillary still (44 and under went Hillary 52% to 40%) but the minority vote didn’t split for Hillary like they did for Obama, and a lot of that is squarely on Hillary. She spent too much time trying to target white voters, particularly white women, to erode Trump’s base while completely ignoring her own. What happened to abuelita after she’d won the Nevada, Florida, and California primaries? Where was civil rights activist, Bible thumping Clinton after the South Carolina primary? Nowhere. Instead her campaign defined itself as not Trump.
Watching the general election debates, it was obvious that Trump didn’t really have a platform leg to stand on. He failed to give details about anything he promised to accomplish. Even now that he’s President-elect I don’t think anybody has the first clue of what an actual Trump administration is going to look like on day one. Clinton could have capitalized on this, but instead of inspiring people to vote for her by dismantling Trump piece by piece, she effectively looked at the screen and said “c’mon, seriously?”
And this is where everyone failed. Clinton, the media, most of of the populace completely underestimated just how much the American public is sick of establishment politics. This is why Hillary failed to win yesterday. She wasn’t fighting the fight she was prepared for… one based on policy and parties, like the one Obama fought against McCain or Romney and how Democrats have fought against Republicans in a hundred other races. She was fighting a battle for the status quo against an uncontrollable tide of destruction. She kept expecting to defend her policies and ideas from her opponent’s policies and ideas when in reality she needed to be arguing why the establishment shouldn’t be burnt to the ground as a whole.
In the most bizarre way possible, Trump played this masterfully. He understood, in a way that I think Bernie understood but articulated much differently, that this fight didn’t have anything to do with concrete policy as much as harnessing American rage to destroy a system that everyone (even Clinton) acknowledges is broken.
The next four years are going to be rough. Trump has it within his power to strip away Obama’s legacy, turn the Supreme Court into a conservative bastion for decades, and just generally ruin the American reputation on the international stage.