Why Hillary Clinton Should Have Lost
Hillary Clinton should have lost this election. Here’s why:
1.) She is the least popular nominee in the history of the Democratic party.
America was not looking for someone like Hillary Clinton. The American people are tired of the calculated, focus-group tested, shape-shifting politicians of old. She has decades-worth of political baggage, dating back to her early years as the First Lady of Arkansas. In many ways, she has been shaped by the negative abuse she has taken over the years from her political opponents. Fair or unfair, Hillary Clinton is a scarred, damaged candidate.
There was a remarkable opportunity for almost any other Republican primary candidate (not Ted Cruz) to overtake Clinton with a positive, optimistic, forward-looking, center-right campaign. Instead, the Republican party decided to nominate the least favorable candidate for the presidency, from either party, in the history of the United States. Ever.
A wave of populism has fallen over both parties. On the left, Bernie Sanders directed our widespread national anxiety at Wall Street, the big banks, the rich, and establishment politicians. On the right, Donald Trump directs it at Mexicans, Muslims, the media, and establishment politicians. Hillary Clinton represents everything that the most angry Americans despise.
Hillary Clinton had an opportunity to take a stand against this wave, holding firm on her personal principles. Instead, she has bowed to the Sander’s wing of her party, allowing them to inject several far-left policies into the Democratic party platform that I am confident she doesn’t agree with.
Perhaps the quintessential example is Clinton’s betrayal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade deal she helped organize as Secretary of State. Free trade is a foundational aspect of American foreign policy, and TPP gave the United States an opportunity to demonstrate its steady, powerful hand in world affairs. If we fail to pass TPP, and allow paranoid sections of our society to pull us back from world affairs, we will leave a vacuum that China will fill in Asia, and Russia in Europe. Hillary Clinton knows the world is watching, and yet she made a politically expedient, cowardly decision.
3.) Her campaign kinda sucks.
Time and time again, Clinton’s campaign has bungled every issue thrown at it; the email scandal, her fairly serious bought with pneumonia, etc. In each of these cases, a straight-forward, honest confession could have assuaged the public. Instead her reaction has consistently been to cover-up — only to have it blow up in her face. This makes small issues into larger ones, and reinforces negative assumptions.
Beyond that, Clinton’s campaign has emitted a persistent strand of condescension that irks many Americans. Her “basket of deplorables” comment is a perfect example. Yes, she may be among of the most qualified persons every to run for the presidency, and yes, she has surrounded herself with some of the smartest people in government. But if we are going to be “Stronger Together,” we are going to need both Sanders-supporting “basement dwellers” and Trump’s “deplorables.”
Quick aside about Clinton’s deplorables comment: The thing that bothered me most about her comments was not that she called half of Americans “deplorable.” There are certainly many people that support Trump that believe terrible, racist, hateful things. What bothered me was that she went on to call these people “irredeemable.” No one is irredeemable; no soul is hopeless. It’s an un-American suggestion, to say the least.
4.) The “hang-over effect.”
Our history has shown how hard it is for any party to keep the White House after holding it for eight years. Kennedy won after Eisenhower’s two terms. Carter won after the two Nixon/Ford terms. George W. Bush won after Bill Clinton’s two terms, and then Obama won after W’s. Now, with Obama’s two terms coming to a close, the opportunity was there.
An obvious counter-example to this trend would be George H. W. Bush winning after Ronald Reagan’s eight years. Bush the Elder was able to ride out Reagan’s high popularity against very weak rival in 1988, and Clinton may be able to pull off a similar outcome this cycle. However, if the Republicans manage to put forward a winnable candidate next time, I would not be surprised if Clinton shares Bush’s one-term fate in 2020.
All this said, Hillary Clinton deserves a lot of respect for what she has accomplished. For the reasons above, and more, she should have lost this race. Instead, the Republican party opted to nominate one of the most disgusting public figures ever to tarnish our political system.
I would be remiss not to mention Trump’s repugnant comments revealed earlier this weekend. The consistently-principled anti-Trump Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, said it best when he wrote Saturday “Nothing that has happened in the last 48 hours is surprising to me.” (John Kasich is sitting pretty for 2020; otherwise, Trump has tarnished a generation of GOP stars.) Beyond being completely unqualified to be the leader of the free world, Donald Trump is also human garbage. His conduct reaches a level of disgrace I cannot bring myself to understand.
Some have tried to compare Trump’s words to the past sexual transgressions of Bill Clinton; admittedly, I am not as familiar as I could be on this topic, nor with Hillary’s involvement. I am sure you can read the evidence one way or another depending on your political preferences. I will say that I am not incredibly comfortable blaming the wife, under any circumstances, with the sins of the husband.
And, just for the record, Trump’s whole performance last night served only to diminish the quality of American political debate, and invoked the pathetic howlings of a dying whale. His conduct threatens the fabric of our republic; HE THREATENED TO JAIL HIS POLITICAL OPPONENT. WE DON’T DO THAT IN AMERICA.
Anyway, back to Hillary. Becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major party required decades of uphill battles, double standards, and petty attacks. Yes, Hillary Clinton is secretive, scripted, and insincere — but you would be too, after years of relentless scrutiny. Yes, she is shrewd and ambitious — but you would be too, if you were as smart as she is.
I took a class on Richard Nixon my senior year of undergrad, and the similarities between he and Clinton are remarkable: Nixon’s paranoia was the product of years of scrutiny and the dirty politics played by his enemies — such as the Kennedy’s. Nixon’s first reaction to any issue was to cover-up, and he was always willing to give lip-service to the radical wing of his party if he thought it politically expedient. He was also an incredibly successful, albeit not naturally gifted, politician, and one of the most qualified, knowledgable, and competent statesmen ever to hold the highest office. Like Clinton, Nixon’s flaws were those of maimed character, not ability.
If I had to guess the outcome of the race today, I would bet on Hillary. Republicans and Bernie Democrats across the country will probably be disappointed, for very different reasons, with the approach she takes to governing. At the same time, as much as we may not like what they’re serving for dinner on the cruise-ship-of-state, at least we can be confident it will be kept clear of rocks (really pushing the metaphor, I know). Bahh.
I live with a life-long Hillary supporter, and she is extremely excited. We are probably going to have a strong, brilliant woman as our president. I guess we’re just going to have to deal with it.