Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Democratic Post-Mortem: An Open Letter to Democrats

Election Day venting continues!

Hey Democrats, I know you’re going to spend a lot of money on fancy consultants to figure out what went wrong in 2016 but let me tell you for free. It’s one word: vision. That’s what you never had, except from Bernie and technically he isn’t really a Democrat even.

Most of the Democrats who win have a vision: FDR, Kennedy, and Obama are the prime examples. They gave people a vision of what they wanted to do and made people believe in it. Bill Clinton to a lesser extent gave people a vision of a change from the stodgy old Reagan-Bush machine.

All through this lengthy election cycle Hillary had no vision. Just look at her slogans: Ready For Her basically meant, “Vote for me, I Have a Vagina.” The later “Stronger Together” basically meant, “I’m not Trump.” Neither really excited the masses.

The writing was on the wall in the primaries. People like me flocked to Bernie not because we’re misogynists (most of us anyway) but because Hillary was just running as an extension of Obama and Bill Clinton. She probably didn’t think she would even need a platform and then came Bernie with his democratic socialism, exposing her utter blandness.

Thanks to superdelegates and shady practices rigging it (as Trump would say) she squeaked past Bernie. That only disgruntled a lot of Bernie supporters instead of bringing them to her side. Even by borrowing a couple of his ideas, she couldn’t swing a lot of them over to her. They either voted 3rd party or stayed home.

As terrible as it might be, Trump gave people a vision. Yes a horrible, apocalyptic vision for many of us, but for desperate people in the Rust Belt yearning for the “good ol’ days” it was enough to swing them his way no matter the horrible things he said and did.

By comparison, what was Hillary going to do? Tweak Obamacare maybe but otherwise keep things the same. I doubt a lot of Bernie supporters really bought into the idea she would tame Wall Street or go through with her college plan. The former was especially unbelievable with the speeches she made to Wall Street firms.

Which is another point: you should have known better. You knew she was damaged goods. Benghazi and the email thing had come up more than a year ago. You had plenty of time to find a better candidate. It didn’t have to be Bernie, but someone who could articulate a vision and didn’t carry the baggage of twenty-five years of phony scandals. But you thought you could slip her through since Obama had favorable ratings and she had name recognition. You tried to ram her down our throats in the primaries, which only added to that “less of two evils” argument. And since the convention running with the empty message, “I’m not as bad as him” only helped to sell the false equivalency argument.

In 2018 and 2020, you have to give people something to latch on to. Instead of focusing entirely on minorities and city dwellers, try to throw the Trump supporters a bone. Promise to revive the unions and the good paying, high benefit, low education jobs they provide. If you can find a way to do more than promise that’s always good. Trump largely won with the illusion that he’s the man of the people, despite that it makes no sense for a billionaire trust fund kid to give half a shit about blue collar folks. He was able to make people think he spoke for them and represented them. That’s what you must do in the next election cycles. Instead of “elites” find people who can be relatable. Hillary is a capable, experience politician but she has little charisma or charm and is not a great speaker, all of which undoubtedly hurt her.

Whatever you do, don’t just write it off as “it was because she was a woman.” I remain hopeful that the right woman will be able to go the distance. Michelle Obama should be at the top of your list for 2020 because she’s all the things Hillary isn’t.

In the meantime, do everything you can to obstruct the process; that seemed to work really well for Republicans since 2008.

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