“Flawed”: Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good If You’re A Female Presidential Candidate
Sarah Lerner
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As a leftist, I’m not sure that Clinton wasn’t actually just a bad candidate, as opposed to a “flawed” one. In an election cycle that saw America aching for change, Clinton seemed to present as a sort of updated reflection of what we might think of as Clintonian politics. The early analysis said that the demographic that decided this election—poor, rural whites mostly in the Rust Belt and Midwest—was simply bigoted, and that was the whole answer, but a more nuanced message from alternative media, fringe experts, and apparent radicals—and mostly buried during the primaries and later—has since come closer to the fore: the neglect and abuse of people in the Rust Belt and Midwest finally came home to roost for the Democrats. This followed politically expedient, myopic policies like the passage of bad trade deals and the evisceration of the welfare state. This appears to have combined with a particularly ugly corruption on the part of the Clintons to have formed a bad taste in the mouths of so many union members and the like. The lesson that might or might not be learned by the left is that it’s not enough to engage in the neoliberal brand of catering to the social concerns of every apparently (and rightly so) disempowered group; instead, if economic equality isn’t also catered to, the left (or what substitutes for the left in the States) will continue to create invisible underclasses of people whom they might even regard as enemies. It’s not enough to talk about social equality for historical allies; in such a pluralistic society, all sorts of equality and compassion for everyone seems like the only way to ensure lasting victories and real progress. We can’t keep making enemies of allies and marginalizing people in the name of standing up for the disempowered, lest we simply chase our own tails while the better-organized, more focused other side gains real strategic victories. In this election, there were lots of problems with the coverage of Clinton, but that might not be why she lost. At least, we can point to a number of other problems with her campaign that probably (especially considering the tight margin) doomed her. Is sexism a problem? Of course it is, and we should fight against the unfair treatment of Clinton and other women, but the Democrats seem to have other very big problems if they have any hope of accomplishing their historical goals.

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