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Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Get It, and neither do many Progressives and Liberals….

“Donald Trump is going to be President of the United States in 2016.” If you told someone that three years ago, they would have thought you were insane or joking. But here we are, in a reality where a billionaire reality TV star is leader of the free world. It is telling in a sense, as it reflects that social and cultural values of the United States in some ways as well, yet the numeric majority of Americans voted for his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But, the rules of the electoral college are what they are and Clinton lost the election. While speaking at a Women for Women International event on May 2, 2017, Clinton discussed the “whys” in which she felt she lost the 2016 Presidential Election.

I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off — and the evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling [and] persuasive,” Clinton said.[1]

While the issues she points out are at least agitating factors, the fact that this is the narrative that she and many of her supporters are committed to should be troubling on a few levels. The reality is that Hillary Clinton lost in many counties that Barack Obama won twice. Further, she lost states that Obama had won.

Trump secured several Obama counties in upstate New York, though it wasn’t enough to win the state. He also won over counties in Maine’s rural congressional 2nd District, securing a GOP electoral vote in New England for the first time since 2000.[2]

Progressives and Liberals have been blaming everything from misogyny, patriarchal society and racism for Clinton’s loss, and again, while these were factors, I would posit that these factors were not the primary reason that Hillary Clinton lost. And if the Democrats and their supporters refuse to look at their message and retool it, the United States could be in store for another four years of Trump. The fact is that the Democrats lost congressional seats, state house and governors mansions as well, and they need to look at the primary factors as to why the election went the way that it did. One major factor was how the Democratic National Committee dealt with the Bernie Sanders campaign during their primaries.

The way the DNC treated Bernie Sanders, and by mutual implication his supporters, hurt Clinton’s chances to win the election immensely. In a sense, Clinton was correct in citing the emails being leaked by WikiLeaks which they were able to obtain due to Russian hackers. But she, and her supporters, seem to ignore that the leaks gave real information about how the DNC undermined the Sanders campaign.

Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically all of these examples came late in the primary -- after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory -- but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.[3]

The fact that the Russians hacked the DNC emails was at most a secondary concern to what they actually revealed to people on the fence about Clinton, especially the Sanders supporters. But being fair, Sanders is really an Independent and only caucused with the DNC because they most closely aligned with his views. The party system is not really a democracy, parties will select whom they want, the public election aspect is to get the temperature of the base of their party. People need to accept that reality or change how the primary system actually works. The next point that undermined the Clinton campaign was that it was tone deaf to the reality of how a significant portion of the working class in America feel.

This is not just the “White working class” (even though they make up the majority of the demographic that Clinton ignored) but also some minorities within the working class as well. Clinton’s campaign forwarded the idea that those who had questions about illegal aliens being in the country, who did not jump on the narrative that police brutality and excessive force were out of control, that there should be a discussion about what bathrooms transgendered children and teens should use, that wanted to know what exactly was going to replace their coal jobs, etc. were “deplorables.” Basically, people who were not lock step with the identity politics agenda of the DNC were simply homophobic, racist, misogynist xenophobes. Now, regardless of what one’s actual political stance is on these issues, there is much more than the false dichotomy of the "this or that" that both parties forward, and simply deriding the other side for asking questions ultimately hindered the Clinton campaign. These things signified to a the White working class, that liberals were against their worldview and further felt that these people were racist and homophobes for having an opinion contrary to the progressive narrative. As author David Paul Kuhn wrote in his book The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma:

The irony is palpable. Liberals believe they are standing up for the working man, while the white workingman believes the culture of liberalism stands against him.[4]

Kuhn wrote about this sociopolitical reality back in 2007, before the first term of President Barack Obama, this reality was that as the DNC focused around the rights of minorities, they ignored the working class. The fact is, this is true. The labor left has been marginalized by the neoliberals since the Truman administration. Fears of communist or socialist influence in unions during the cold war didn’t help, and as the socioeconomic winds changed, the post-Civil Rights world coincided with the economic decrease of the White working class. The Democrats were looked at as championing the rights of Blacks, women, gays, etc. while simultaneously castigating a White working class that was struggling themselves as being diametrically opposed to the advances of minorities.

The party of plutocrats became the party of the people by redefining populism in terms of culture instead of class, deftly turning the word “liberal” into a pejoratives antagonist to the American ethos. In doing so, Republicans fractured the FDR coalition that defined the Democratic party.[5]

This is a primary agitating factor that led to Trump being elected. Clinton and her party still seem determined to ignore this reality, doubling down on the simple argument of “racism, misogyny” or “Russian influence and FBI reports.” The racial aspect became part of the primary narrative, and while White nationalism and xenophobia were utilized in the Trump campaign, the issue is not quite as simple as the Clinton supporters would want it to be.

Van Jones spoke immediately after the election about “Whitelash,” as a primary factor that caused Clinton to lose to Trump.

“This was a whitelash against a changing country," Jones said. "It was whitelash against a black president in part. And that's the part where the pain comes.”[6]

While the underlying idea has merit, it has become overstated, ignoring the greater socioeconomic issues at play and ignoring the fact that many people looked at Hillary Clinton as part of a system that has failed America. Hillary simply did not talk to a large demographic, and until the DNC and its supporters acknowledge this fact, this trend in American politics or so-called populism, will not abate.


[1] Phillip Rucker, “‘I would be your president’: Clinton blames Russia, FBI chief for 2016 election loss,” Washington Post, May 3, 2017,( accessed May 3, 2017),

[2] Kevin Uhrmacher, Kevin Schaul and Dan Keating, “These former Obama strongholds sealed the election for Trump,” Washington Post, November 9, 2016 (accessed May 3, 2017),

[3] Aaron Blake, “Here are the latest, most damaging things in the DNC’s leaked emails,” Washington Post, July 25, 2016 (accessed May 3, 2017),

[4] David Paul Kuhn, “The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma,” (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) 29

[5] Ibid

[6] Josiah Ryan, “'This was a whitelash': Van Jones' take on the election results,”, November 9, 2016 (accessed May 3, 2017),

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