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Read My Mind

Dec 05, 2017 02:10PM ● By Michael Harris

What Happened?

By Michael G. Harris, OD

Last year’s presidential election was like no other in history. Many are still wondering how a reality star with no political or military experience was able to defeat one of the most qualified candidates ever in "one of the most controversial and unprecedented presidential elections in history." Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton still has many pondering: What happened? Clinton’s recent memoir of the same name tries to shed some light on why she lost.

Regardless of your politics, after reading her book, I think you’ll agree that Trump did not win the election as much as Clinton lost it. The book covers the presidential campaign, including her run against Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, the presidential debates, the election campaign, and the unexpected results. Clinton also talks about her "recovery" from that devastating loss and how she has been able to move on with her new mantra:  "resist, insist, persist, enlist."

She pays particular attention to "moments from the campaign that I wish I could go back and do over." Clinton admits that she made many mistakes in the campaign "and they are mine and mine alone." While refreshing, she also blames many outside “forces beyond my control” for her loss.

The election was less about which candidate voters liked and more about which candidate they disliked less, and some don’t like strong women. “The more professionally successful women are, the less people like them."  Sad but true, this definitely played a role in Clinton's negative ratings.

Her challenge was to get voters to pay more attention to her message than “what her opponents say about her." She failed miserably at that task. The candidates’ policies or politics didn’t matter and got very little play in the press. Trump managed to steal all the headlines with his nonstop banter and name-calling.

With one off-the-cuff remark, Clinton alienated an entire region of the country: "We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." Rather than being seen as a move towards renewable energy, this comment, taken out of context, seemed heartless to thousands in the coal industry and didn't help her connect with working-class whites.

Clinton admits she was "unable to connect with the deep anger so many Americans felt. When people are angry and looking for someone to blame, they want you to be angry, too." Without question, everyone in America knew that Trump was angry! Trump managed to galvanize the working-class resentment against blacks, immigrants, and Muslims against Clinton. This prompted Clinton to call half of Trump’s supporters "the basket of deplorables," alienating the working class even more.

And then there were the e-mails! This is probably the single most important issue in understanding why Clinton lost. Not healthcare, not climate change, not foreign policy. Using a private e-mail server fueled the media with daily headlines that left no doubt in some people's minds that she was a crook. FBI Director James Comey's role in this only added more fuel to the fire. His reopening this issue just days before the election was unquestionably a major contribution to her defeat.

Clinton's "love and kindness" message was silenced by Trump’s chant of "Lock her up!” While she takes much of the blame for the loss, she faults the media, fake news, the Russians, and Comey and the FBI. How much any of these affected the election we may never know. What we do know is that Clinton somehow managed “to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory." Our country will never be the same.


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