It takes awhile when a candidate loses a campaign but eventually the truth wins out, despite the claims that the fault is somewhere else but in the mirror. Hillary Clinton is now in full blame game mode as she cites the Russians, Wiki Leaks, hateful white men, James Comey and the willingness of voters to buy into Trump’s lie narrative for her narrow defeat.
Now she does have a point about all these sources of her electoral demise, but she conveniently evades other critical factors that kept her out of the White House. Those critical factors have been lurking just below the surface of the political conversation but a new book by reporters from the Hill called “Shattered” have put all the missing links together to present a more accurate portrayal of Hillary’s loss.
Sure all of Hillary’s reasons for her defeat carry weight but she conveniently avoids looking into that mirror. What she would see is a candidate who called potential white voters “deplorables”, spent way too much time raising money rather than visiting the Rust Belt, showed no understanding of the struggles of the traditional Democratic Party base, depended too heavily on a huge African-American and Hispanic turnout, and presided over a highly dysfunctional, data driven and disloyal campaign staff.
In true Clinton fashion, Hillary was a victim of her own arrogance, entitlement, and refusal to understand the voters and the country she was trying to lead. Trump for all his lies, exaggerations and false promises instinctively understood what was happening in America in the age of income inequality, forgotten voters, bigotry and hatred of the Washington elites ( better known as the Swamp). Hillary was playing from an old political handbook that was relevant in the days of Obama, but meant nothing in the America of 2016.
Hillary just cruised to the nomination and walked through the campaign ignoring the plight of angry voters, making policy speeches that put people to sleep, and not developing a election narrative that showed her as human and a true advocate for the working class.
The election is over but now we see that Hillary is at least thinking about 2020. Another run for the White House is predictable but given all the unforced errors on her part Hillary would have to have to take a crash courses in Election Management 101 and Communicating with Voters 102. Let’s face the fact, Hillary lost the election on her own.
Besides the incomparable Meryl Streep, America’s premier actor, Bette Davis, from another era, was no slouch. Besides a long list of great movie roles, Davis is perhaps best remembered for the classic line, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” No this is not a line from a Washington D.C. melodrama, but it certainly captures what we are in for during the coming years under President ( should I say Emperor) Donald Trump.
As American citizens we are being told by a range of pundits and experts that there is now a ” new normal” in politics and governing and that President Trump will set the rules for how he and his administration behaves and makes decisions. Every president comes into office with their own style and their own agenda; that’s the way transitions of power work. But so far Mr. Trump seems to have little interest in abiding by long standing rules and traditions in the areas of conflict of interest, ethics, intelligence gathering, freedom of the press, nepotism, the rule of law, and oh yes, the constitution.
Inauguration day is a week away, and to date President-elect Trump has taken some positions that make even distraught liberals approve – competitive drug pricing, infrastructure stimulus programs, Made in America initiatives, and day care/family leave legislation. But if these promises are indeed true and not fake news, we Americans will still have to endure stupid daily tweets, brash threats to our friends and adversaries, appointments of D list administration officials, cringe-worthy jokes, and incoherent monologues as the President goes off teleprompter.
You can say that this is the price we pay for our brand of democracy, but it sure is unsettling and potentially dangerous. President-elect Trump promised to bring change to Washington and the country, and that’s what he is apparently bound and determined to do. But when pressed most Americans like some certainty, predictability and calmness in their lives, not daily rants and domestic and international bullying.Starting on January 20th Trump is our guy in the White House ( or Trump Tower), so fasten those seat belts, we are in for a bumpy ride. I just hope we don’t get in an accident.
The election is over, Donal Trump won, and liberal Democrats will just have to deal with it. Whining, street demonstrations,complaints about James Comey and Vladimir Putin and second-guessing about what should have been done in Michigan just won’t cut it anymore; it’s time to look to the future and develop some strategies to deal with the 45th President of the United States.
So let’s get serious about what liberal democrats must do as the loyal opposition, if the term loyal has any meaning anymore in the new American political culture. Here are a few strategies that may be necessary if liberal democrats are to survive as an alternative to the new Trump-defined Republican majority.
1. Liberal Democrats must adopt the Republican playbook. Hope is good, but in this post-truth, anti-ethical American political environment fear is better. Republicans have become the masters of using fear to gain votes and power- fear of minorities, fear of terrorists, fear of economic collapse, fear of change. Hope no longer works as a key word for attracting the support of the American people. If liberal democrats are to rebound they must know how to use fear as a strategic tool- fear of job loss, fear of income inequality, fear of corporate indifference, fear of tax injustice. Liberal Democrats don’t like to use fear as a strategy, but let’s face it, fear works.
2. Liberal Democrats are known to be political weenies who want to be viewed as honorable and non-partisan, but if they are to get back in the game they must follow the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and embrace legislative obstructionism, a refusal to compromise, a willingness to delay, and an unyielding and annoying pain in the butt of the presidential administration. So far the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are already talking about working with President Trump rather than following the McConnell strategy and making his life as President miserable.
3. Then there is always the best opposition tool-sue the bastards. Taking the President and his cabinet to court is an all-American tradition of the opposition. Fortunately, for the Democrats they have the Stock Act, which makes it a felony for a President, Vice-President and high governmental officials to use their office for insider trading and making a profit off of their connections while in office. America is a litigious society where lawyers feed off of challenges to the law, so liberal democrats must take that tactic and use the courts to make the President follow the law and respect the constitution.
4. Challenging the President is no easy task but it is made more difficult because of the weakness of those who deliver the liberal message. There has to be an way to offset the influence of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity, and it is not Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Michael Moore or Lawrence O’Donnell. My suggestion is get Joe Biden on for an hour on CNN and have him take on the conservative right. Sure it will be biased but everyone knows the media is biased anyway, so what does it matter if Joe talks to white America in their language. Maybe he can even wear those aviator sunglasses while he is on camera.
5. Finally, liberal democrats must begin to think about winning rather than making a point or raising up a social group. The Republican have shown that they will do just about anything to win and it has worked. Republicans aren’t ashamed of their tactics against the liberal democrats, in fact they glory in their victories, while liberal democrats complain and wonder how their message just doesn’t work.
Now all this praise for the Republican way of winning and working government to their advantage may blow up in the coming months as President Trump and his conservative minions drive the economy and the country into the abyss. But for now liberal democrats need to rethink how they operate and how they oppose the new political reality. In short, no more whining, no more excuses, no more playing nice, no more needless cooperation, no more being weenies.
Remember that song by Bobby McFerrin from 1988, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It won the Grammy for Song of the Year and got listeners humming it’s simple optimistic words. Well this is 2016 and there is no equivalent song to get people feeling good about themselves. For those depressed about the victory of Donald Trump there is Alicia Keys’, Holy War, while those who are overjoyed about the new president bringing change and draining the swamp there is The Weekend’s Star Boy. And for those who are in the category of let’s wait and see, there is the Chainsmokers Don’t Let Me Down.
Popular songs, no matter what the message and the connection to our political life, may just be the antidote we need these days. Music has often been the way we relax and enjoy the wordsmith of our favorite artists. Yet every day, if you pay attention to the machinations of electoral politics, music now competes with our crazed politics. We live in a time that is a confusing downer with hacking, post-truth, charges and counter-charges, and those damn Russians. This is supposed to be the quiet interregnum after the election when we pay attention to the joy of the season, familiar songs, family, and burning a hole in our credit card. We should not be bombarded with constitutional crises, Internet conspiracies, blowhard pundits and those damn Russians.
I would suggest that we all crank up those FM stations and listen to the songs of the season – O Come All Ye Faithful, Santa Claus in Coming To Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Silent Night. These traditional songs may not win a Grammy Award like the work of Alicia Keys, The Weekend and the Chainsmokers, but we need a break from all the political noise.
Sadly though, political life in this country is not going to get any quieter. The noise will become deafening. We all need a break before January 20th and music whether popular or traditional is absolutely necessary. I’d like Don’t Worry, Be Happy to get a new lease on life because Donald Trump for good or bad will be the 45th President of the United States and we need to do our best to make our lives and our country whole again.
Do you remember that old legend of George Washington and the cherry tree. Given an ax at the age of six, the future father of our country cut down a cherry tree to his father’s dismay. But when asked by his father how this attack on the cherry tree happened, the young Washington uttered the famous line,” I cannot tell a lie, it was I who cut down the tree.” Obviously George Washington didn’t live in what we call the post-truth America.
In this two month interim election period when America is supposed to turn its attention away from politics and look ahead to the holidays, we have become a nation still beset by charges and counter-charges, demonstrations and fear-mongering, assaults on ethnic identity and claims of hypocrisy. There is no rest from a campaign of meanness, threats and enemies in our midst.Isn’t this supposed to be the season of giving, healing and brotherly/sisterly love?
But what I worry the most about is the new normal in American politics and national life- a lack of respect for the truth. We hear stories about fake news, Internet conspiracy theories without foundation, and just plain, old fashioned whoppers. Lying has become the accepted form of political conversation, and there is little being done to stop post-truth America. Where is George Washington when you need him?
When the truth regarding anything in our universe is treated so shabbily that it is without merit and has so little value, the social glue that keeps us civilized starts to fall apart. We believe what we hear and don’t bother to do a simple fact check; the media who a generation ago was trusted to keep us informed and point the way to reality is damaged perhaps beyond repair; and our leaders, especially our next president, seem to value post-truth as a valuable weapon to reduce the influence of enemies.
If we as a people are so gullible that we can be shaped like robots by slick lying; if we are so lazy as a people that we can’t take the time to find what is true; and if we are so cynical as a people that we don’t care that lying doesn’t matter, since everyone does it, then our nation is on a dangerous path.
In an election someone wins and someone loses and the winner gets the opportunity to shape the future, while the loser gets to complain. But when the winners have little regard for the truth and make policy statements and justify their actions based on public lies, then the end result can only be destructive to the common good.
The oath of office administered to our public officials requires them to uphold the Constitution. I would like to suggest that a new clause be added, one that requires them to tell the truth to those they serve. It’s not too much to ask.
There will not be too many positive or inspiring memories from the 2016 presidential campaign, but there will be a number of humorous or truth-telling remembrances that speak volumes.
Of course the SNL skits with Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon will likely end up in the Americana section of the Smithsonian museum as they are now iconic representations of how the two candidates for the highest office in the world gave new meaning to the old phrase, ” The Emperor has no clothes.”
Then there was Tim Kaine speaking Spanish in his opening introduction to the American people as most viewers scratched their heads in frustration- ” what the hell was he saying?”
Then there were the Trump surrogates – Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich condemning the sexual exploits of ol’Bill even though both of these guys cheated on their wives and couldn’t keep their marriages together.
But one of my favorite memories will be Trump’s staff shutting down his Twitter account so the potential leader of the free world wouldn’t have the opportunity at 3 in the morning of making an ass of himself.
At the top of the list of out of this world images from the race was the picture of Donald Trump looking over his voting booth to see how Melania was voting. The only conclusion one can come to is that he doubted her loyalty. So much for the secret ballot.
It sure has been hard to laugh during this horrible election, since most of the words used to describe the two candidates are hypocrisy, falsehoods, corruption, unqualified, secretive and phony.”
You could say we deserve better from those seeking the presidency or you could rely on the wisdom of the cartoon character Pogo who said, “I have seen the enemy and it is us”.