I have never hated being right more in my entire life. For months, I told family, friends, and really anyone who was interested in listening that Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate and that she would most likely lose the presidential election. Even though the Republican candidate for president was also deeply flawed, it didn’t matter because a lot of voters have a long-held grudge against Clinton. I don’t necessarily agree with their grudge, but I was never a huge supporter of Clinton in her presidential bids so it’s tough for me to defend her. Still, I was reading the polling data that said Clinton had a decent lead even though enthusiasm for her campaign was plummeting. On the morning of the election I finally thought to myself, “I guess I was wrong, but at least we won’t have Donald Trump as our president”. I was a supporter of Bernie Sanders during this election season, but I still much preferred Clinton to be president over Trump. Unfortunately, Clinton’s “Blue Wall” collapsed as states that normally went to the democrats switched sides. Trump won the election definitively through the electoral college, despite losing the popular vote. Even though a reality TV star was a candidate for president, people in America showed how much they really hate being ignored, and how much they hate Hillary Clinton.
My concerns with Clinton started when the massive scandal about her private e-mail server started. I knew that it was a type of problem that doesn’t just go away. It was something that contained a ton of information, and when we found out that information had been stolen through a hack, the problem got even worse. Despite the fact that the FBI declined to prosecute Clinton, the scandal gave her opponents plenty of ammo to use against her. And she only hurt her cause more by staying silent and vague about it. In fact, ignoring people was a big problem with her campaign for over a year. Despite the hatred for Clinton, I don’t think it’s possible to point to one factor as the main reason Trump won the election. There were several factors that hurt Clinton’s chances and made Trump a more attractive choice to a lot of voters, despite his flaws and general vagueness on the issues.
Clinton spent a lot of time privately strategizing with her team, rather than publicly answering questions. She went on a nine-month streak where she didn’t hold one press conference. That’s really a terrible look for a presidential candidate. She ignored key swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan, and it ultimately cost her the election. The Clinton team’s resources were dedicated in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and she won none of those states. So what happened to make voters go against her so wholeheartedly?
One factor was the overwhelming support working class males and families showed for Trump. Some enthusiastic support came from working class families in those rustbelt states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those voters truly believe, right or wrong, that they’re being screwed over by the current state of the economy. Trump’s campaign was strong in this area: highlighting that he would manufacturing jobs back to America, lower the taxes of the working class, and strip away trade regulations. Trump of course has not produced a clear plan on how to do any of these things now that he’s been elected president, but that’s not surprising to most people that have followed him throughout this campaign. Trump doesn’t seem to plan for much, he just goes off how he’s feeling at the moment. Still, he rode that strategy all the way to the white house which is a truly amazing thing to think about.
Speaking of Trump’s message, Clinton didn’t seem to want to counter it at all. She was content to point out all of Trump’s flaws, and there were a lot of them. She hammered him on his behavior towards women and the infamous Access Hollywood tape, but it didn’t matter to Trump supporters. He was speaking to them, she was just telling them he was bad. She needed to tell them more about actual policies, but with the e-mail scandal hanging over her head she tried to do whatever it took to not rock the boat.
That scandal would be the undoing of Clinton. When FBI director James Comey announced that he might re-open the investigation into Clinton just 10 days before the election, it halted whatever momentum she had in the polls. The saddest part for liberals and Clinton supports alike is that she did it to herself. Clinton knew she was walking the line on many different security measures including the emails, she is a brilliant lawyer with decades of experience. She even asked Colin Powell, the outgoing Secretary of State who also used a private e-mail server, for advice on how to use the server. The scandal was a cloud that allowed Trump supporters to counter any positive claims about her with credible evidence of her participating in illegal activity and mishandling classified information improperly. With this kind of obstacle to overcome, the Clinton campaign was super careful about anything they did. They just assumed that people would hate Trump enough to vote for her. It didn’t happen, just like the DNC’s pre-planned victory celebration with Katy Perry and other celebrities didn’t happen.
Then there was the issue of democrats not showing up to vote. Indeed, democratic voter turnout was way down from both the 2008 and 2012 elections. This was probably due to a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton, but there are also many disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters out there like me. Even though I would’ve voted for Clinton if I lived in a swing state, I can totally understand why some liberals decided they just couldn’t cast a vote for her under any circumstances. It always seemed like Sanders had the momentum and was more popular than Clinton. Because of those e-mails that just keep coming up, we now know that from day one of the campaign the DNC worked in several ways to take support away from Sanders and bring it to Clinton. No wonder some democrats were so bitter.
The last thing I want to mention is the factor of so called “PC culture” on this election. Trump supporters on the internet will have you believe that they “Meme’d a man into the White House”, and while they were a factor I don’t think it’s as prominent as people think. The internet community was perhaps the most enthusiastic about Trump, diving deeper into the Clinton e-mails than any journalist did, and even using them to create their own conspiracy theories. In the end, the internet became the primary way for Trump supporters to not only share misinformation and fake news stories, but also a place for them to express uncensored, anonymous opinions on Clinton. In that way, the internet was a big factor, but I don’t think it swayed many voters.
It does seem like there is some rebellion towards PC culture among the internet’s Trump fans, but it’s much less focused than the push was to get Trump to the White House. Mostly, I think the DNC should move away from using celebrities and musicians as advocates for their candidate. It is clear that there is some fatigue on the part of voters when it comes to being told how to think, especially by someone who they perceive to not be struggling at all. I can see how that would anger some people, and who really knows if there’s anyone out there that was convinced to vote for Clinton by Beyonce.
It may not have been one factor that sunk Clinton’s campaign, but it’s clear now that with all these negative issues piling up, she needed to be much more bold in her campaign. Democrats suffered mightily because of this, not only losing the presidency, but control of the Senate as well. Now the Republicans will have the White House and Congress. The party really needs to understand that they failed the people in this election. There was a candidate that was clearly the favorite in the democratic primary, and the party ignored him because they believed it was somehow Clinton’s “Turn”. That attitude has to change. The party has also come too close to resembling the old Republican party. Corporate interests are now supremely important to BOTH parties, and it never used to be that way. Huge, fundamental changes are needed in the party’s structure if the democrats don’t want to face eight years of President Trump.