Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanking Clintons - Grief, Hesitancy and Expectations

Source - Wikipedia
It took 12 years for John Kerry to remove the label of "ultimate Democratic loser". Hillary Clinton has claimed that spot and in a sense John Kerry's life is fully redeemed now. Not only John Kerry has a fairly consequential run at Foggy Bottoms than Hillary[1], his loss to George Bush in 2004 looks now lot more credible and to be proud off compared to Hillary's defeat in 2016.[2]

Source - Wikipedia
My fundamental assumption for 2016 election was that a Democratic nominee will essentially build upon Kerry States. This has been the conventional wisdom among punditry all along. Kerry lost Ohio narrowly, else his electoral vote count would have crossed 270. Democrats were disappointed in 2004 and felt Kerry should have closed the deal. But it was not easy to unseat a sitting president with "War on Terror" still selling briskly among Americans. In hindsight Kerry loss looks respectable.

For the entire month of August 2016, Hillary kept herself busy in one fundraiser after the other. In the end all those donations raised from gilded Liberal Citadels on Left and East Coast did not help; that was one mightily missed call on Hillary's part. Bernie voters complain rightfully - Hillary did not campaign enough in those Midwest States. When many of us got the whiff of the unfolding disaster, it was too late. But then what happened to Hillary's vaunted 'internal polling'? It is true that private polling firms were not polling enough in PA, WI & MI because all were thought to be part of the secured Blue Wall. Seems like Hillary's own internal pollsters did not notice weak spots in those states as well.

All year long the press has been eulogizing Hillary 'go to vote machinery'. Experts speculated that she at least had 1% to 2% point advantage in the end because of the well oiled 'go to vote infrastructure'. On Saturday November 5th, I did phone calling for the Hillary Campaign. We were given a reliable Democratic voter list from Michigan. But after 3 hours of calling what became clear to me was the remarkable lackluster reception for Hillary among the Democratic Base in that state. It worried me, but little did I get the sense it would unfold as the prime reason for Hillary's electoral defeat. Trump did not get any more votes than Romney in those states, it is just that Hillary dropped many of those Kerry votes. I am not comparing Obama vote share which was very high among White Americans.

So that is the feat Hillary has achieved. I would not say she carried the infamous Clinton 'sense of entitlement' in the 2016 run. That was her problem in the 2008 run. She was smart enough to be non-assuming about her electoral prospectus through out the campaign. But in the end she simply could not bring the vaunted competence. Her 'home work' turned out to be inadequate.[3]

Americans simply got tired of understanding nuances in assessing who will disgrace White House more - a women groping candidate or the past president who will move as the 'first dude' with a history of sexual adventures of unethical kind. Bill Clinton got America Dot Com Boom, but his lust has cost Democratic Party so much along the way - first by pushing Gore aside and now not making Hillary's electoral fight any easier.

I know it is a season of thanking and forgiving. Even Donald Trump gets that. But by leading the pack of majority Americans to no avail except a total a ship wreck while leaving Democratic Party in complete tatters; Clinton defeat has brought 'hell to Democrats'. I understand Politics is fickle[4], but it will not be Clintons who will and who can rebuild the House of Democrats. Dems themselves will have to gather pieces with different thinking, different leaders. We need Clintons 'to leave' the stage of Democratic Politics permanently. That is the ask for the good of Democratic Party, for the good of America.

In the end though, I will have to gather myself for this - to thank Hillary for bringing American Politics so far for American Woman. Yes, Trump victory has shown the limits of Identity Politics; but bringing American Woman this far - to be a nominee of the major party while winning the Popular Vote - that journey has been necessary. Many, including myself, will be thankful to Hillary for that.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016.


[1] - John Kerry's has been ridiculed for chasing the illusive Israel-Palestine peace. But neither did Hillary move any needle on that topic. I can imagine Kerry would have never forgiven himself if he had had not tried for Israel-Palestine treaty. His philosophy has been fear of 'failure to clinch the deal' should not have stopped him from making the run. In the Trumpian era of 'winning is everything'; this is a throw back philosophy very soon the world will start asking for.

But importantly Kerry was instrumental in the Iran Deal, helped Paris Accord and helped open relations with Cuba; all long term consequential accomplishments.

[2] - Hillary's vote share is not much better than Kerry's share at 48.3%. Final vote tallies will come in a month or two which will increase Hillary's vote share. But as of now it stands at 47.9%. It is electoral votes where Hillary lagged substantial to Kerry - his 252 to hers 232. And this is all on top of block buster wins of Obama in 2008 and 2012 to build upon Dem voter base.

[3] - Hillary also made the same mistake like Mitt Romney - it cost him with voters when his "47% Americans are takers" remark came to light. Most voters do not take condescension lightly and Hillary made the same mistake when she called "half of Trump voters as deplorable". I am not saying one single mistake would turn off a big chunk of voters; but 'shaming Trump voters' wouldn't have been a winning strategy to start with.

[4] - After the Kerry loss, Nancy Pelosi was back with Democratic Majority in 2006 followed by thumping wins by Obama and Democrats in 2008. Sure, nothing like that is preordained in Trump Era; but Trump lives by sword so may die by sword too.

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