After almost two years of probably one of the most controversial, unpredictable and just overall crazy elections in US history, the United States of America has picked a politically incorrect businessman-celebrity. I’ll admit that I never expected this to happen and neither did many political commentators. After Donald Trump’s shock victory, the American left is distraught and in a position of anger.
Although it was a shock upset to think that the guy from The Apprentice beat the Secretary of State, looking back, I think there are a number of reasons to explain the loss of Hillary Clinton. Here are a few:
The Democratic National Committee
One of the reasons the US political parties choose their presidential candidates by asking their members democratically is so that they nominate the candidate most likely to win the general election. If a party decides to nominate a candidate without consulting its members, the electorate might not approve of the nominee, and so lose the election. Quite simply, they find out who is the most electable candidate by, well, electing them. Makes sense right?
Clearly the Democratic National Committee had other plans. In a series of emails hacked and then released on Wikileaks, a number of embarrassing facts were revealed, including multiple pieces of evidence suggesting that the DNC was making an effort to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This went against the supposed neutral stance in the primaries and caused great embarrassment. DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz resigned just days before the party’s national convention. In their lack of impartiality, the DNC committed the first mistake down the road to loss.
A unique aspect of electing a nominee which the Democrats have, is that of super delegates. These are not delegates which are voted for, but rather they are high ranking party members, presidents, former presidents and the like. In these primaries, the super delegates chose overwhelmingly to endorse Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders. This was despite the fact that many polls had shown Sanders beating Trump in a general election. The addition of these super delegates was yet another layer of how the DNC nominated the candidate who was not the most electable.
The Bernie Bros
As a result of the revelation of the DNC’s efforts to nominate Clinton (and for many other reasons), many die-hard supporters of Bernie Sanders pledged not to support Clinton. Sanders was booed when he expressed his support Clinton to his delegates. Multiple Sanders supporters then moved on principle to supporting third parties. Jill Stein of the Green Party had a platform very similar to that of Sanders, and Libertarian Gary Johnson had expressed numerous times that his social views were very similar to those of Sanders.
To many Democrats, Hillary Clinton was a terrible nominee.
She was seen as the establishment: corrupt, lying, and a warmonger. I shall not go into the details, but it should be abundantly clear that Hillary Clinton was not the first choice of much of the Democratic electorate. As a result, there may have been an ‘enthusiasm gap’ between Trump and Clinton which caused Trump voters to turnout en mass and Clinton voters to be more apathetic and stay at home. This was most evident in Trump’s win of Wisconsin, a state which had not voted Republican since 1984. Although Donald Trump faced similar enthusiasm problems from the Republicans (there was no shortage of NeverTrumpers), Trump’s anti-establishment campaign may have helped him gain a far greater turnout. After all, he did receive the most votes ever in the Republican primaries.
All of these things contributed to Clinton’s loss, but in view of many, it’s this last point which had the greatest impact. I call it:
The Catastrophic Backfire of Years of Leftist Drivel
Bill Maher’s show Real Time is one of my favourite shows to hear the political topics of the day.
Sure, although Maher is a die-hard Democrat (and don’t even get me started on his studio audience), the show always brings some lighthearted yet fruitful discussions about issues of the day. Maher’s guests range from the usual ultra-progressive celebrities and politicians to libertarians like Nick Gillespie and even the likes of conservative Ann Coulter.
The last episode of Real Time before the election was a bit different, however. The whole attitude had changed. There was a sense of panic on the panel that Trump might win. It was somewhat harrowing to watch, but during the show, Maher made a brutally honest comment which he would have to come to realise as the reason for Trump’s win:
“This is different. I promise you this [refusing to vote for Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] will not make your life better, and also, once fascists get power, they don’t give it up. You’ve got President Trump for life. I know liberals made a big mistake, because we attacked your boy Bush like he was the end of the world, and he wasn’t. And Mitt Romney, we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much or yours, or John McCain. They were honorable men who we disagreed with, and we should have kept it that way. So, we cried wolf, and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different.”
Maher was precisely correct.
For years, the American left had viciously demonised conservatives. Republicans were ridiculed and criticised to absurd extents and this was done in no small part by comedian-celebrities such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Maher himself, who invited conservatives on his show and brought them to a state of ridicule with a loud studio audience to hide behind. For years, the American people had been told that the Tea Party was racist and that people like Mitt Romney and John McCain were evil homophobes who were going to take away your freedoms and store you in their binders full of women. Naturally, these were gross exaggerations, and yet they continued to ‘cry wolf’ on conservatives to the extent that when a real threat materialised in the form of Donald Trump, no one believed them. Dave Rubin, a notable American liberal, put it nicely in a tweet on the election night:
It’s almost as if you endlessly call people bigots and racists they’ll eventually get fed up and turn on you.
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) November 9, 2016
And ‘turn on you’, they did!
Ultimately, Trump’s success was the result of a culture of dishonest demonisation. For too long people had been called all sorts of horrible titles and had created a culture of responding with uncomfortable truths, not with reason or logic, but rather political correctness. I myself experienced this when I received feedback from an article I wrote on Islam and terrorism a few months back, and fully understand now how the alternative right movement was born: the shouting matches, the hate, the no-platforming of conservatives on campuses.
The American right was disillusioned and had no home. Then Trump showed up. As Michael Moore said: “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history.”
If there is one piece of advice we should all take from this election, it’s this: vote your conscience. Years of voting for the lesser of two evils has landed America up with two of worst evils possible. I sure hope that 2020 will bring better options than these.