It’s so easy now to trash the losing campaign, forgetting that Hillary won 65.8m votes to Donald’s 62.9m, and it was just 112,000 votes in the right places that enabled the ascension of Trump.
In defence of Hillary and her campaign, here are a few points people are neglecting:
There were several macro factors that didn’t favour Hillary:
A desire for significant change
We had a Democrat for 8 years. There are wildly different viewpoints on how good he was for the US. Most informed commentators appear to review his legacy relatively favourably, for example agreeing that he left the economy in a much better state than he found it. But there is a large section who sees it very differently. Obama has even been a figure of evil for many radical groups, suffering despicable treatment by elected Republicans. Most of this is irrational, unhinged or racist.
Maybe some of it could be explained by Obama’s coming in to power on the wrong side of a turn in the economic cycle. How much influence a US President actually has on the state of the economy is debatable – but Obama, for many, has been associated with the lacklustre economy. If George W. Bush is the face of the Iraq War, Obama could be said to be the face of a weak American economy and increasing economic inequality. We’re not saying that this is just – but it would be easy for the average onlooker to equate the real effects of the downturn or lack of real economic improvements in their lives with Obama and, by extension, Democratic Presidents.
Combined with this, on the far right you had people who felt that things would have been better had they been in charge – and on the left you had progressives who were frustrated with the pace of change. Instead of focusing on the Congress and Senate, they tried to put someone even further left into the White House – did they believe he would be able to achieve what Obama couldn’t, likely with even less support from the wider government and the people?
Whatever the reasons, there were ultimately several groups who wanted change, and though the facts indicated Hillary would have been more effective in charge, the “she’s more of the same” narrative pushed by haters was effective.
Considering doing a whole piece on why I feel the whole US anti-establishment movement is a bit dumb, but for now I’m just going to leave this here – thank you @yankeegrl on Daily Kos.
A desire to go back
Socially, things have progressed and improved in the last several years, and it is natural that there be some backlash towards this. Conservatism is the natural benefactor of this trend, and during the election we saw a sort of rose-coloured nostalgia which was effective.
A desire for perceived authenticity and increased antipathy toward perceived falseness
Compounding with the other points, there has been a huge trend in previous years toward ‘authenticity,’ or what people believe to be authentic. People are jaded from all of the uninspiring, ineffective politicians we have. Outside of politics, brands which successfully portray themselves as “authentic” are celebrated and celebrities who come off as “authentic” are celebrated in a way that is new. Our culture as a whole is validating ‘authenticity.’
Donald Trump speaks very frankly and has what seems like an untamed approach – he seems authentic. Hillary, having suffered a lifetime of relentless attacks and judgements, and being an intellect who appreciates the power of language, is very careful with her words – she wants to get it right. She is also a natural listener rather than a talker – which is a brilliant trait. But all of this made it easier for people to create a narrative that she is false or inauthentic.
I believe that a lot of Americans were not ready for a powerful, unashamed female President of the United States. I believe that a large portion of those Americans do not realise or fully understand why they were so uncomfortable with the idea of Hillary as President - there was a subconscious bias at play.
Many Americans would only accept a female president if it was Mother Theresa. The standard Hillary was expected to meet was MILES higher than that anyone expected Donald or Bernie to even come close to.
Donald was given a pass on everything because he was not a career politician. No one expected him to know anything. When that’s the level you’re expected to be at, how can you do any wrong? He was absolutely not being graded on the same scale.
I’m not even going to get into Bernie, who never achieved anything in 25 years in office and who’s record is not as clean as his supporters would like to believe.
But of course Hillary is the devil-woman.
She was fighting a two-front war with Donald on the right and Bernie on the left.
Wikileaks, Crooked Comey, Russia?
Hillary lost vital votes to third party candidates. In Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – states Trump won – the gap between Trump and Clinton was less than the amount of votes that went to third party candidates. So this could all have been avoided if the actual election system was just a bit more logical. It should be possible to put a 1 and 2 choice for President on the ballot.
That way anyone who was third party inclined could put their preferred candidate first, and if it became clear that candidate wasn't going to win, their second preference could be counted.
This is good for everyone. It’s good for third party candidates because people can vote for them without feeling like they’re throwing away a vote. It’s good for the American people because the big parties are kept on their toes.
It’s only bad for people who want to keep control of the country artificially. Is there any good reason this shouldn’t happen?
I don’t believe you can reasonably blame Hillary for the loss of the election.
She ran a solid campaign. She told us, in detail, what she planned to do and how she planned to do it. She explained articulately why it was good for everyone. Her record was infinitely stronger than that of any of her competitors. Her performance at the debates was absolutely superb.
Of course it could have been better. I would have liked even further detail on policies. I would have picked a different Vice President. I don’t think Tim Kaine added a huge amount – they were more of a ying and ying then a ying and yang. The key messaging could have been stronger. I don’t think the campaign did enough to control the narrative – Kellyanne Conway, on the other side, is an expert at that.
If you voted for Donald because you shared his vision for the US or support his policies then I can respect that. But if you voted for Donald because you felt uncomfortable with Hillary, or you didn’t think she was going to do anything for you, or if you voted third party because you thought both candidates were bad… then you are the problem. The facts were all there. And if you couldn’t work it out for yourself, then I blame you.