Why Hillary Lost

halWay Back in August 2015, I wrote:

[Hillary Clinton’s] long history of cozying up to moneyed and corporate interests has not led to overwhelming financial support from them but it has led to fragmented support for her from the labor movement. Some liberal activists perceive her moves to the left as feints or insincere. On the other hand, she cannot move right without losing the still very strong support she has from second-wave feminists.

Hillary may still win. On Monday, Nate Silver pegged her chances of winning the Democratic nomination at 85%. But, her poll numbers keep falling, most Americans view her negatively. She is boxed in politically and is facing legitimate questions about her email practices at the State Department. It’s definitely time for her to look back on an extraordinarily productive and successful public life with satisfaction and to consider whether she can now best serve America by supporting a less compromised Democratic candidate for President.

Hillary decided not to follow my advice. Instead, she pursued aggressively and won the Democratic nomination with a good deal of help from the DNC and overwhelming support from old loyal Democrats despite consistently better polls for Bernie Sanders against all the Republicans.

In the run-up to the general election, it would have behooved Clinton to move hard left.  Although we may not have believed her heart was in it, she could have persuaded many of us that she would not betray progressive values by identifying strong anti-corporatist/pro-peace individuals to serve in her cabinet if she won.  Instead, she put fossil fuel energy industry-shill Ken Salazar in charge of helping pick top advisers.  I didn’t have a big problem with Tim Kaine but many progressives did and I can understand why.

Clinton could have shown a commitment to peace in the Middle East. Instead, she told Bibi she wanted to take our relationship with Israel to the “next level” and called for a no-fly zone over Syria.

She could have admitted . . . finally . . . that her private email server violated federal rules and was not authorized. Instead, she claimed falsely that Colin Powell told her to go for it.

She could have campaigned hard in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio on jobs. In fact, this is exactly the advice I gave her back in April:  “Clinton needs to outline how government can best help create millions of good middle-class jobs. Again, she must eschew nuance and speak plainly and emphatically.”  She didn’t do this either.  In fact, she never went to Wisconsin at all and campaigned fitfully in Michigan at the very end. Pleas for help from these states were ignored.  Pennsylvania – except for Philadelphia investment bankers – was too.

Despite all these unforced errors and her really bad history – Iraq, Libya, Haiti, Honduras, free trade deals, etc. – Trump is still likely to be much worse than she would have been. Her supporters certainly never tired of telling us this but they should have done so without eliding her record and without any Bernie bashing.

Instead, they should have admitted that his supporters were right and they were wrong to support Hillary over Bernie.  But, they could have added truthfully, albeit obnoxiously, that’s all water under the bridge and now we have no choice but to work together on a Trump first strategy.  Once we defeat the greater enemy, we’ll turn our attention to the second Clinton administration and stand united against it whenever it tries, as we know it will, to divide working people by race and gender, chooses corporations over people, or war over peace.

Would this have worked? Who knows?  What we do know is that when Hillary’s media allies like Kurt Eichenwald, Rachel Maddow, and Clinton operative Peter Daou took turns painting Donald Trump as Satan and Hillary Clinton as Winston Churchill without the rough-edges, they lost all credibility.  We know that when Clinton’s legions of Facebook posters responded to any criticism of Hillary, no matter how mild, by calling the critic a Republican racist misogynist troll, they turned off potential allies. Trump’s November triumph may have become inevitable when Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination.  But if her supporters had united with progressives, we might have been able to avert disaster.  Sadly, they chose not to.

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One Response to Why Hillary Lost

  1. john says:

    Well written Hal.

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