The results of the last presidential election in the US were puzzling for the rest of the world. Could America really be so stupid and extreme as to elect Donald Trump as their president? Wasn’t Hillary Clinton the perfect candidate who would usher in a new age of prosperity for the American people?
It is important to not blame the American people in general for the sorry state of its government which is so inept that it cannot even pass a budget to fund itself. The approval rating of congress is just 10% (less popular than haemorrhoids), partly for reasons that we have discussed in a prior blog. The majority of the American people hate their government and hate what it is doing to them and what they know it is doing to the world. They make their choices based on the dichotomy with which they are presented because, despite numerous attempts, they have not yet found a solution to the corruption of the ruling classes.
Before we go into the specifics of Hillary Clinton as a candidate, we need to highlight two things about the 2016 presidential election. Firstly, as we will explore in a blog posting later in the year, US elections are rigged to be heavily biased in favour of the Republicans through gerrymandering, election fraud, dark money, etc, and so the Democratic candidate must win by a sizable margin to overcome the Republican bias. Secondly, Clinton received many more actual votes than Trump; she actually won the popular vote by almost three million. These are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed if the US is ever to be considered as anything looking like a democracy, and, interestingly enough, they are not the reasons given by Hillary Clinton and her supporters as to why she lost the election.
The blind loyalists of Clinton – progressives call them Hillbots and I will call them neoliberals – present the following reasons for why she lost the election:
- Russian interference
- Third party voters
- Fake news
- The James Comey emails
Some of these are touted in Clinton’s book. Let us approach them one at a time.
It is difficult to keep up with the multiple elements that are tied in with the “Russian collusion” story, but it appears that the main thrust of the claim is the release of several private emails from the Clinton campaign that cast a bad light on Clinton personally, her actions as Secretary of State, and the alleged shady dealings of the Clinton foundation. At no time have Clinton or the neoliberals refuted the contents of these emails, so they must be complaining about the fact that they were leaked to the public. Claiming that the public discovered that you were planning to screw them over is hardly a legitimate complaint for why they chose not to vote for you.
This claim is refuted by the facts that many of those who did not vote for Hillary Clinton would have voted for Elizabeth Warren, and many did vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party. With this claim, Clinton is showing the same contempt for the electorate that John McCain did when his campaign thought that by running a woman as his running mate he would automatically pick up votes from women in the 2008 election.
It is so patently absurd that a group of people who so readily voted for Barack Obama twice would not vote for Clinton because of racism that it is not worth spending any time discussing.
Third party voters?
Rachel Maddow (once progressive voice, now corporate shill) of MSNBC published a blog by her producer Steve Benen on 9 November 2016. Here is a snippet:
“In Florida, Hillary Clinton lost about about 1.4% of the vote – but if Jill Stein’s supporters and half of Gary Johnson’s backers had voted Democratic, Trump would have lost the state.”
In other words “if all those people voted the way we demanded and not the way they wanted, then Clinton would have won!” Sure, and if all those who voted for Trump voted for Clinton she would have won as well. One wonders whether the claim should accommodate for the fact that many Obama voters voted for Trump in 2016.
This is the latest boogeyman that has arisen from the far right but has been helped along by the neoliberals. It is connected with the Russian influence line: that Russia spent money on social media on advertising telling bad stories about Clinton. Firstly, it would be a sign of gross incompetence if the Russians spending $100K on social media advertising could overcome the $1.2 billion spent by the Clinton campaign. Secondly, why were there almost no stories about fake news prior to the election?
The James Comey emails?
This appears to be the issue that has offended Hillary Clinton the most personally, as she continues to push it as a primary reason for her losing while the neoliberals appear to have mostly abandoned it. Clinton has even gone as far as saying that if the election had been held on October 27 (the day before the release of Comey’s emails) then she would have won.
It is fair to say that James Comey was in the wrong by releasing his statement that strongly implied that the FBI was re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. It is even fair to say that those emails had a measurable effect on the poll numbers for Clinton. However, it stretches credulity to say that a large number of voters would have been swayed by such a story, especially in light of the fact that her competitor was embroiled in a fraud case at the same time with Trump University, which he later settled out of court for $25 million. Additionally, Comey retracted the statement three days later and put to rest any claims that Clinton was under investigation, and it was not until then (October 30) that her approval ratings started to plummet.
To summarise, according to Clinton, she would have won the election if the sexist racists that voted for Barack Obama and Jill Stein had not found out about her actual corruption and her intention to screw them over, had voted according to her demands and not their own wishes, and the election was held on October 27. Simple as that!
Why Did Clinton Really Lose?
Clinton lost the election for the obvious reason that none of the neoliberals dare to suggest: Hillary Clinton herself. Quite simply, she was a terrible candidate who ran a terrible campaign. It is fair to say that the issues listed above did play a small role, but against such an odious candidate as Trump the election should not have been even close. Below is a list of reasons for why it was.
(1) The Clintons are the personification of the establishment
Hillary Clinton scarcely visited Michigan and did not visit Wisconsin during her campaign. If she had, she might have witnessed first-hand the results of the policies implemented by her husband. One of the major consequences of the “North American Free Trade Agreement” (NAFTA, which was neither free trade, nor an agreement) allowed the auto manufacturers to shift their jobs to other countries, resulting in the annihilation of the rust belt. The former backbone of America has watched its wealth, livelihood and future prospects destroyed in less than a generation, along with its infrastructure, its democracy, and even its drinking water. Bill Clinton’s deregulation of the financial sector enabled the acceleration of the wealth gap and set the stage for the global financial crisis, and his Crime Bill exploded the private prison industry, accelerating the mass incarceration of the working class and poor.
In the meantime, Hillary Clinton as secretary of state oversaw the destabilisation and destruction of Libya, instigated a bloody military coup in Honduras, exported fracking to the world (with an entire bureau of the State Department created personally by her), doubled military arms sales to 20 nations (all of them donors of the Clinton Foundation), and encouraged corruption worldwide. Her campaign was supported by every arm of the corporatocracy, with donations from the big banks, cable companies, private prisons, big pharma, fossil fuels, and the military industrial complex.
The Clinton Foundation (also funded by the great ogres of Wall Street as well as brutal dictators and the oligarchy) was used to sustain staff that would go on to work for the Clinton campaign, and set up a multinational quid pro quo operation where the Clintons offered influence for cash.
For those who believe that the Clinton Foundation was an important charity that served a positive purpose (is there anybody who really believes that?), then why did the Australian government cancel its donations to the Clinton foundation a week after the election?
Hillary Clinton was correctly seen by the voters as the embodiment of the corruption of the establishment and offered nothing that would change the status quo. This occurred in an election cycle where there was an anti-establishment fervour sweeping the world, with Brexit, Macron, and the Italian referendum just in the 12 months prior to the election.
(2) Blind hubris
Hillary Clinton continued the legacy of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama of punching left. Unfortunately for Hillary, the left has finally woken up to that fact. It is now known that the Democratic Party and the Obama administration conspired with Clinton to rig the Primary Election to ensure that Clinton would become the candidate against the more progressive candidate Bernie Sanders. Clinton chose Tim Kaine as her running mate, who has a record of corporatism and corruption, thereby negating any political capital that a more savvy campaign would acquire from the Vice Presidential pick. Clinton offered nothing to the progressive wing of Democratic voters (even Obama pretended to do that); so extensive was her hubris that when asked during a town hall what she would do to reach out to the progressive Democrats her response was “I am winning“.
(3) The campaign was a disaster
The Clinton Campaign outspent Trump’s by a ratio of almost 2:1. She had almost the entire corporate media on her side and the backing of large multinational corporations and some of the richest people in the world. It was not short of resources or brand recognition, so why was it such an abject failure?
The short version is that the Clinton campaign failed because of its tone-deaf hubris. A large majority of Clinton’s funding went to staff costs, most likely exorbitant fees to overpaid consultants (a problem that remains with the DNC to this day). It spent almost five times more on TV ads than it did on internet advertising despite its need to rely on the younger generations who generally do not consume TV media. It did not campaign in rust belt states like Wisconsin and Michigan – states that were lost to Trump – and its advertising consisted of little more than “Vote for Clinton because she is not Trump” (this article by Vox shows that only 25% of Clinton’s advertising attacked Trump on policy grounds compared with over 70% of Trump’s advertising). Even the slogan was tone-deaf: “I’m With Her” obviously should have been “She’s With You”.
The bottom line is that the Clinton campaign never learned the lesson that she was not simply entitled to the presidency because it was her turn. She needed to go out and earn the votes of everyone, and she never did. Instead, her campaign delighted in spitting in the faces of those not as wealthy as the Clintons are.
For more on Clinton’s book I would suggest that the reader check out the following interview of Thomas Frank by Jimmy Doore.