As the smoke clears in the weeks following Nov. 8, we should be careful not to misunderstand the significance of this election. While Trump has harnessed and emboldened dark forces of racism, misogyny and xenophobia on his way to the White House, those evils have plagued the Democratic party since 2012. As MTV News writer and Twitter user @theshrillest puts it, blaming Clinton’s loss on racism is like engineers blaming gravity for a plane crash. Latent racism may have accelerated the crash that we all experienced three weeks ago, but it is insufficient to explain what happened. Trump received nearly the same number of votes as Mitt Romney did in 2012 and will lose the popular vote to Clinton by more than two million votes. He is deeply unpopular and will enter office with less electoral mandate than perhaps any other president in living memory. The most salient question for the rest of us moving forward, then, is not why Trump won the election. It’s “why did Clinton lose?”
In performing the autopsy on the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, we can find warning signs everywhere. The most significant is the enormous gulf in tone between the two candidates. At the Democratic National Convention in July, the Democrats warped the slogan “Make America Great Again” into “America is Already Great” and hammered in the message that everything was fine. As the race entered its final days, the Clinton campaign seemed to already be celebrating their victory, releasing videos that celebrated Clinton’s arduous journey and even dropping a cutesy mannequin challenge video featuring Jon Bon Jovi from the campaign plane the morning of election day.
Compare this to the brooding, slickly-produced final ad of the Trump campaign, which rails against the failure of the Washington establishment and champions “the forgotten man and woman.” The power of Trump’s campaign from the very beginning was its ability to run against the entire status quo of American politics, allowing Trump to attack President George W. Bush even upon the Republican primary debate stage. The Trump campaign was right on tone, offering a bare minimum of acknowledgement to people who felt worse off since 2012 — a powerful message in the Midwest. Despite the racism of Trump’s campaign, Clinton failed to turn out and win Midwestern black voters at the level that Obama did. This was not just a failure to win the white working class — it was across the board.
For many who opposed Donald Trump, the election portends an uncertain and scary future, especially for black, brown, and LGBTQ+ people. The fear is reasonable; Donald Trump campaigned on promises of banning Muslims, deporting millions of undocumented Latinx immigrants, and imposing stop-and-frisk policing upon black communities nationwide. His White House and transition team are littered with characters including Steve Bannon, head of notorious extreme right news site Breitbart, and Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who pioneered expansive racial-profiling measures across the nation. Vice President-elect Mike Pence himself, heralded by GOP leaders as a bastion of sensibility, has advocated in the past for conversion therapy, and as governor of Indiana, oversaw the largest HIV epidemic in the U.S. in decades, thanks to his campaign against Indiana health clinics. If you do not understand why President Trump frightens many of us, you owe us some empathy and an ear.
Democrats should take these lessons to heart while the party is rebuilt. They have been electorally devastated. The party must run on an effective populist message that inspires voters to support it, rather than expecting them only to vote against Republicans. Many Americans are suffering, and many will suffer much more under a Trump presidency. The slow incremental policies of the Obama administration are about to be washed away anyway. Next time, the Democratic Party must look its voter base in eye.
Source : Ou Daily