Hillary Clinton’s fatal decision that cost her the presidential election

Donald Trump Embraced the Important Issue Democrats Ignored

Mike Green
Many world leaders believed a victory by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election was not only improbable, but impossible. And they had no problem speaking their minds about it publicly during the primaries. Today, not so much.

Hillary Clinton made a fundamental error during the 2016 presidential election campaign in the same way that Bernie Sanders made a fundamental error, in the same way the mainstream media made a fundamental error. Donald Trump was the only person in the entire field of candidates who understood the fundamental issue needed to rally a majority of white Americans on the Republican side of the aisle (which not-so-coincidentally happens to be the same issue for the Democratic side): Racial Economics.

Trump intuitively understood the profound benefit of addressing the №1 issue of concern to the entire electorate on both sides of the political aisle, which is the same EVERY presidential election: “It’s the economy, stupid.” (a mantra every Republican has known since James Carville coined the term while serving as a Democratic Party strategist during Bill Clinton’s improbable defeat of “read my lips, no new taxes” George H. Bush in 1992).

Supporters of the Democratic Party should be forgiven for assuming that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership would remember how Bill handily beat a sitting Republican president in 1992. They should be given grace for thinking the Democrat leaders of 2016 would incorporate such strategies in this year’s battle with a man considered by many in the British Parliament and around the globe to be: “dangerous,” “a hypocrite,” “an idiot,” “a clown,” and “a buffoon.” In the U.S., many settled on “pathological liar” as the standard description of Donald Trump.

Sadly, the Democrats didn’t merely forget the lesson of 1992, as if they were having a senior moment, they decided to ignore it. No one could’ve predicted that YUGE mistake!

Nothing trumps the economy in presidential politics. And defeating Trump by focusing on the economy seemed to be a no-brainer, particularly since it has made an extraordinarily consistent and sustained turnaround under President Obama from the inherited financial apocalypse of 2008. But there’s a caveat.


What many folks don’t like to admit about the economy is that it is inextricably tied to race in America. It has been from the very beginning. We simply cannot escape it … unless we exercise our white privilege to ignore it.

If Hillary or Bernie had a deep understanding of how the nation is tied together through racial economics, either of them could’ve easily elevated the issue through national media to focus on the economy and closing racial divides, that would’ve directly countered the buildup of momentum by Trump’s focus on the economy and expanding racial divides.


In essence, the entire presidential campaign would’ve balanced on whether we want to “Make America Great” by returning to the strength of 20th century white supremacy or building a 21st century Inclusive America that invests in her multicultural landscape to empower all Americans with the capacity to help sustain and grow America’s global economic competitiveness.

Numbers don’t lie. It would’ve been easy for Hillary (or Bernie) to ask Trump how he intends to change the systemic biases inherent in regional economic development. Hundreds of economic policymaking entities currently ignore communities of color across America. They routinely leave minority populations out of every Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) plan, of which there are more than 500 covering major metros. These development organizations receive taxpayer funds from the EDA to economically strengthen all communities. But no one asks why their plans consistently fail to include investments in infrastructure, measurable economic outcomes and improved quality of life for communities of color.

U.S. Economic Development Administration Investment Priorities

Priority 6: Underserved Communities
Investments that strengthen diverse communities that have suffered disproportionate economic distress and job losses and/or are rebuilding to become more competitive in the global economy.

It would’ve been easy to ask Trump how he intends to address the economic deprivation and business strangulation of communities of color, a process that’s been ongoing unabated for generations, creating internal destabilization of families and communities that battle incessantly over scarcity. No one addressed the issue.


Donald Trump loves to portray black Americans as a monolithic population holed up on the south side of Chicago in a dilapidated two-bedroom apartment, afraid to allow our kids to walk through a constant war zone to get to their crappy neighborhood public school.

No one asked Trump any questions about those under-funded, under-resourced and still-segregated public schools, many operating under white Republican governors and state legislators who ensure that a 20th century model of systemic institutional racism is sustained generation after generation, much to the chagrin of innocent children and helpless parents.

It would’ve been easy to ask Trump how he intends to close the wealth gap, which stems back generations to his childhood when white families were an average of four times wealthier then black families. Today, that number is 18 times by conservative estimates.

The basic reality for the average black family is it would need 228 years to build the wealth of the average white family. No one asked Trump how to close that gap.

President Obama’s efforts to address this issue during his tenure cost him support even among his own political allies. Obama often suffered the slings and arrows of critics who sought to cover over the sins of white hostilities against people of color by labeling any effort to address systemic problems currently suffered by people of color as, “identity politics,” and “victimhood mentality.”

Real numbers tell the real story of irreparable damage done to real people, real families and real communities by the laws, policies and practices established by white supremacists and sustained by the beneficiaries whose privilege is to ignore the poverty-stricken plight of people of color.

Hillary failed to highlight the stories of those who Trump personally trampled while building his own legacy of racial discrimination in the real estate industry. She failed to successfully paint a portrait of Trump as the son of a Klansman following in his father’s footsteps to “Make America Great Again” for white supremacists, like his dad. Knowing how thin-skinned Trump is, such a picture painted by Hillary would’ve likely resulted in a tweet storm meltdown in the wee hours of the morning followed by 24/7 media coverage.


It would’ve been easy to ask Trump how he intends to address the basic problem of systemic abuse of kids of color in public schools that are economically starved by state legislators.

The original landscape of America’s public schools for kids of color was established by white supremacists who didn’t want to offer black kids an equal, or even equitable, pathway to connecting to the sacrosanct American Dream. So, they ensured the undermining of these kids’ future with substandard schools that were deprived of resources and funds to deliver a quality education.

They segregated the schools by race along a socioeconomic fault line of racial real estate and economic exploitation, thereby quarantining these kids in enclosed areas they could control.

The segregation of schools by white supremacists is as profound today as it was in the 1960s, despite the 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown v Board of Education. Trump cannot genuinely explain today how he would disrupt the legacy of America’s systemic institutional bias built around socioeconomic status, when he and his dad were instrumental in the development and maintenance of a system of racial economics in New York City’s real estate industry throughout the 20th century.

Democrats missed the opportunity to point to failing public schools across all red states for kids of color. But that’s an opportunity intentionally bypassed because there’s not much difference in similarly situated public schools in Democratic strongholds. So, the decision by both parties and candidates appears to be to simply avoid the issue altogether.

It would’ve been easy for Hillary to ask Donald what does he plan to do about the multi-generational war waged against people of color by the private business sector.


It is the private business sector of American society that has depressed both workforce opportunities for black Americans (regardless of education) and entrepreneurial opportunities to start, build and grow businesses that eventually hire workers. This intentional economic warfare, established during Reconstruction, ensured that each generation of poor people of color had little or no chance of upward mobility.

Despite monumental efforts to defy the odds and increase business productivity as job creators, the latest Census data show that 2.5 million of the 2.6 million black-owned businesses in America are sole proprietors with no employees.

The entire landscape of black-owned businesses produce LESS than 1% of GDP … the same as they did 148 years ago when black people first became “Americans” following the passage of the 14th amendment.

No one asked Trump about this data … probably because none of the political leadership are familiar with these entrepreneurial struggles by people of color.

Chart produced by Mike Green, Co-founder, ScaleUp Partners LLC.

Hillary and the so-called “free press” consistently dodged the issue of race in America throughout the campaign while Trump embraced it and played it well to his advantage.

At the end of the day, we cannot legitimately discuss economics in America without addressing race. It is simply a mistake to even try to do so.

Obama didn’t have to strategically draw the correlation between his positions on economic policies and race. The issue of race followed Obama into every issue he discussed. It was embedded into the optics.

Hillary, Bernie and Donald, however, enjoy the privilege of being white, which means they can ignore the struggles and suffering of nonwhites and none of their white counterparts will notice.

Race isn’t embedded into every issue or even discussed by these leaders, except when pressured. And under pressure, they present racial components as ancillary, separated and isolated issues that primarily deal with surface problems like policing, poverty, unemployment, violence, incarceration and school choice.

Read that list again and you’ll get a good sense of how millions of white Americans pigeonhole black and Hispanic Americans into the sum total of a list of bad, horrible problems. Thus, many discussions of “race issues” among whites include an inherent stereotyping of people of color.

Have you ever noticed that when the subject of race comes up nobody seems to think, “Here we go again …focusing on white people problems.”

That’s because the default focus is always on white America. So any mention of race is perceived to be an attempt to incorporate nonwhites into the conversation, which inevitably irritates many whites.


To most white leaders on both sides of the political aisle, race is perceived through a prism of privilege. That privilege is the ability to wake up every day and not have to think about how the policies, strategies and systemic institutional biases inherent in structural racism impact the daily lives of people of color. For too many white leaders on both sides of the aisle, the issues about which people of color are concerned are not part and parcel of the fundamental economic construct of the nation.

The manner in which systems impact people of color are not incorporated into the DNA of every economic strategy, investment and plan. But people of color are an integral part of the American population, aren’t we? The issue of race is typically separated out of those issues about which white Americans are most concerned.

So, white Americans can enjoy the privilege of remaining ignorant of how race factors into every issue, principally how their race oppresses others through systemic institutional biases established by white supremacists and sustained through the privilege of ignorance about such history. Unfortunately, those impacted daily by systemic institutional biases can ill-afford to ignore the forces assaulting and oppressing them.


Donald Trump enjoyed victory in this presidential election because he understood the fact that economics in America is inexorably intertwined with race. And if Hillary had elevated the issue of racial economics, she would be president today.

White supremacists readily understand that their control over nonwhite populations hinge on control of the economy through the private sector. And every battle with the government is to gain more control over economic processes by the private sector, which has long been at war with people of color in America. It is the reason why the struggle for “diversity and inclusion” in the workforce continues today. People struggle when laws, systems, policies and practices are stacked against them.

Change the laws, systems, policies and practices … not just the law.

Politicians as a rule, as well as national media, ignore the race factor when addressing economics in America. It is the reason why so many Americans of all races have so little knowledge of how 20th century racist laws, policies and practices remain embedded deep within America’s DNA.

It is impossible to discuss education without economics, or jobs without economics, or business growth without economics, or housing without economics, or incarceration without economics.

Economics is the fundamental building block upon which our capitalist society operates. And from its inception, economics in the United States has been intertwined with racial oppression. This didn’t change during the 100 years from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. And it didn’t change during the last 48 years from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King to the election of a man revered by American’s landscape of white supremacists.

Hillary and the Democrats lost because they were unable or unwilling to speak to the issues affecting a growing multicultural population. Those issues aren’t much different than the top issues about which white Americans are concerned.

Economics affects us all. And it is time for white Americans to stop trying to separate out the racial element. While it is the privilege of all white Americans to ignore the struggles of nonwhites on a day to day basis, to do so in elections at all levels will have unforeseen consequences. The evidence is painted in red across most of the states in the union.

Mike Green is co-founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC, the nation’s leading consultancy on economic inclusion and competitiveness. Contact: mike@scaleuppartners.com | Follow on Twitter: @amikegreen2

Mike Green

Written by

Co-founder, ScaleUp Partners LLC; Consultant: Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems, Regional Competitiveness and Empowering Underrepresented Populations

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