This is it, the last time I’m going to noodle over it. While it’s over and it ain’t going to change, don’t think I’ll be able to mentally turn the page unless I try a little harder to make sense of it. So here goes!
Ultimately, the one thing that I’ve failed to really recognize is the degree in which small town Americans are feeling upset and worried. Failures in education and the effects of globalization – although we’ll likely disagree on the effects of trade agreements – have dried up jobs and have made the pursuit of the American Dream very difficult for them. It has to be a very unsettling experience.
For as strong of a candidate Hillary may have been on paper, I don’t think at this point you can really defend her inability to communicate to these voters. She may have had plans for clean energy jobs and for education and for everything and they have been rock-solid pieces of policy, but they weren’t communicated well and certainly not presented well in person – instead it was dispassionately placed on a website, without context or fiery, buzzword-y rheotoric to back it up. The sole job of her campaign wasn’t merely to convince people why they shouldn’t vote for Trump, but they should vote for her. Her messages weren’t received where it mattered the most, and I think it’s too much of a cop out just to say that the electorate wasn’t willing to listen.
However, and I should probably put that in capitals like HOWEVER, I don’t believe that endorsing a racist platform as a means of expressing your resentment is the answer. I don’t believe that voting for local and state representatives who make them false, impossible promises is the answer. I don’t believe that allowing yourself to be fooled by a charlatan who takes advantage of your fear and nostalgia is the answer. Many voted for Trump, but they did so at a significant hit to their credibility; they cannot say in their true hearts that they didn’t know what Trump was about. They unequivocally said that they are voting for themselves and their families, not to ensure the safety, prosperity, or even basic Constitutional rights of minorities that they’ve never met. They said that feeling that their personal shot at the American Dream, the one they’ve been promised, is worth more than social justice.
They simply cannot say they didn’t know. That’s as much of a cop out as saying people weren’t willing to listen to Hillary just because she’s a woman.
In thinking about what’s next though, I’m flummoxed by the sudden rush for people to try to find a middle ground, to find the unity to move forward. Why would the Democrats show unity when there wasn’t even a hearing for Merrick Garland? Why would there be unity when Republicans refused to work with the Obama administration, calling into question his authority as a President in the most hateful and bizarrely obstinate ways? The Republicans fought and stalled and stalled and fought, and now the overarching message is to listen to will of the people and work together? Screw that.
The next step for the Democratic party is to take a page out of the Red playbook. Tap into your most vocal fringes – tacitly supporting their views without outright endorsing them – and stop confusing “centrism” with “electability”. Fight like hell. Re-organize at the lowest levels and above all, listen. Go to places where you’re not welcome, and listen. Ultimately, people on either side of the spectrum want to know that they’re important, that their voices are being heard, and that someone is listening. Judging from afar and just saying “Hey, I know things are tough, but go check out my website!” is not the answer, and it’ll be even less the answer after four years of Trump.
My prediction, admittedly hopeful: four years from now, we’ll be celebrating our first female President as Michelle Obama absolutely wipes the floor with Trump.
(And now, back to sports and startups. Thank God.)