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Sometimes a Loss is Just a Time to Move On

It's a bit overwhelming watching the devastation still unfolding in Houston-- another US city underwater after 12 years of deep inaction and under the "leadership" of another Republican administration that is completely inadequate to the task of securing the safety of people in danger this moment, let alone the aftermath.  I'm distracting myself by picking at something that has been increasingly bothering me. There continue to be a number of think pieces and Twitter threads defending Hillary Clinton's campaign because of Russian interference, Comey, and a number of other reasons I wouldn't refute as well as several I would. In the interest of centering winning future elections I think it would be helpful for many of the people still defending her candidacy to accept that it was a bad campaign not because of the outcome but for reasons that should be clear in hindsight and were pointed to as being dangerously predictive during the primary.  I don't want to re-campaign the primary but it seems that once again the Dems are focusing on the wrong thing in defeat.

Let's be clear, Hillary Clinton got more overall votes than Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic Primary, that matters, so too should how she did it.  I'm not talking about accusations of DNC collusion with her campaign but about just how close it was.  She started with a better funded and more established infrastructure, better name recognition, and a presumption to the nomination and he still came within striking distance. It was like the Washington Generals almost beating the Globetrotters. Even a year before, it was unthinkable.  It's useful to recognize the role that conservative South heavy Super Tuesday played in acquiring her overall higher vote total. People misread her victories in the South to say that Sanders could never get the support of black voters rather than understanding how pragmatic black people are with white "allies"; he was still relatively unknown.  The more that people heard his policy proposals, as difficult to implement as they were, the more his support grew. It was never about him, it was his policy proposals, it still is. It's easy to misplace blame for her loss on the fact that he continued his campaign until the convention. The most recent evidence used to support this premise is that 20% of his voters didn't vote for her, and 12% supported Fragile Ego. Despite the obvious inconsistencies in their choices it's important to note a couple things: 1. all of Sanders supporters were not Democrats and 2. even more important,  24%-30% of Clinton primary voters didn't support Obama in 2008. Continuing to use Sanders' candidacy as a source of blame is counterproductive.

Another place of blame is both more counterproductive and insidious and provokes an "are you fucking kidding me?" response every time. The first time was on a friend's Facebook TL, someone he knew was essentially saying that people of color had no room to complain for not coming out in large enough numbers to support Clinton; or in other words, for not coming out in large enough numbers to overcome the vast majority of white people who actually voted for Fragile Ego. That's crazy, right? Putting aside the massive push to disenfranchise black voters with little push back from Dems, no, actually because of that the level of entitlement that sentiment displays is shocking af. While I'm not sure why the pushback on that came down to me, I thought it was an obscure position, but no:

I'm having some serious issues with white liberalism right now and shit like this doesn't help, what helps even less is his attempts to make it better:

basically a doubling down on blaming black people for not doing more against the racist system suppressing their vote; something the party should be doing in its own interests. You'd almost think the Democratic Party doesn't really care about winning.

The actual reasons that Clintons campaign was bad is because:

  1. she was under investigation by the F.B.I.
  2. she had high unfavorable ratings, in the end matching her incredibly unpopular opponent in the general.
  3. she was too much like Obama.
any of these would be significant alone and in the absence of adjustments based on reflection on these factors they all proved fatal.

It should be obvious to anyone on the left that we live in a nation that is deeply racist and sexist among other -opothies. Let that be the starting point of any discussion about electoral politics. We should also work from the assumption that the mainstream media owned by large corporate interest is hostile to the left.

FBI Investigation

Considering the assumptions we're working under it should go without saying that it's a horrible idea for the Democratic nominee to be under FBI investigation especially since an announcement reaffirming that there were still no charges was enough to hurt her electoral chances.

High Unfavorable Rating

From Super Tuesday on her unfavorable ratings were historically high. Long before the election the public let it be known that it had a negative view of her as a candidate. Prior to announcing her candidacy her favorable/unfavorable rating was the best among US politicians in March 2015. By September her numbers had almost completely reversed and never significantly improved. 

Too Much Like Obama

During the primaries several Clinton supporters asked why I didn't offer the same criticisms of Obama that I did her. There was an inference of unexamined sexism in the questions but I thought the questions were absurd.  It was because her candidacy followed his presidency that I had my critique, her positions had always been similar to his, better in places, worse in others. The moment required something more because Obama's economy had left many behind and had long called for a structural change long delayed after the  Great Recession. She was unable to use rhetoric to cover the limits of her neoliberalism precisely because her husband and Obama had effectively done it before her, and although her oratory doesn't match either, I'm not sure they could have sold it at that point.

To overcome these factors would have required something that the Clinton campaign either never had or never realized it needed. It's time to start from the acceptance that the reason for her loss lies with her campaign, like Kerry, and Gore before her.  Starting there it's important to look at and question a nominating process that results in a nominee with such high unfavorables who's under FBI investigation.


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