1. It’s Sunday, November 13, 2016.
2. The postmortems for the election continue ad nauseum.
On the one side are the people I sympathize with: the Clinton supporters. They are the people terrified by what Trump said during the campaign, and how that will translate to his imminent presidency.
There is a record of what he said. There is no nuance. There is no amelioration. It’s there – as Casey Stengel said, “You can look it up.”
We’re also hearing a lot from Trump supporters explaining why they voted. They explain their anger.
It’s a rage at people – mostly on the two coasts – that they believe don’t care about them or their values. They think their struggles to get ahead – or even hold what they have – are ignored, by people like Clinton and President Obama. They think they struck a blow against arrogance, against protecting corporate interests, against accelerated social change, against spoiled elites who have more sympathy for minorities than for them.
3. So I want to bring out a quote from a campaign speech made in early September.
In this speech, the candidate spoke about “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.”
The candidate said moments later that these people want their lives to be different. “They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end.”
The candidate, of course, was Hillary Clinton. The speech, of course, came on Sept. 9 at a fundraiser in New York.
And it was the quote before that everyone remembered: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?”
The “basket of deplorables” came to symbolize how out-of-touch Hillary Clinton was supposed to be with people struggling to get by in places like post-industrial Pennsylania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
But as the first quote illustrates, she knew exactly what the problem was. She had all the sympathy in the world for the problems of the struggling middle class.
4. Now, to be fair, she didn’t say it well. Why she had to put everybody into two baskets will haunt her until the day she dies.
I don’t know if anybody read over the speech before she gave it, or she delivered it ad lib on a day she found out she had pneumonia. But, yes, her wording stinks.
But because of the way things are reported, the other ideas of that speech were lost. And because the campaign was so embarrassed by it, all she ever did was give a half-hearted apology.
She would have been better off owning it and clarifying it. She never really did.
That’s on her. What’s on journalists is the reporting of it – the playing up the one part without providing equal weight to the other. The idea of balance, which supposedly equated Trump’s multiple offenses with Clinton’s e-mail server blunder, never seemed to apply to any other part of her campaign.
Because, yes, there were more than a few Trump supporters for whom the word “deplorable” is being charitable. The white nationalists. The Holocaust deniers – or embracers. The woman haters. With Trump’s victory, those cockroaches have emerged from the cracks, thinking this is their deliverance.
Had Hillary Clinton been merely more elegant about what she said, perhaps we wouldn’t be at the point we’re at today.
But to say she and the Democrats were clueless about the struggles of people watching their way of life get away is misleading and unfair.
It’s just that Trump and the Republicans found a hole in the backfield and ran with it.
That’s point one.
Point two is this:
5. I understand the frustration with what was revealed in the John Podesta and DNC e-mails. The arrogance, the favoritism, the cozying up to moneyed elites on Wall Street and elsewhere.
What I don’t understand is the lack of outrage that this information was obtained nefariously. It was obtained through the connivance of a foreign power, one with a vested interest in affecting the outcome of our election. And one candidate, rather than condemn this invasion of privacy, encouraged and took advantage of it.
Do not dare tell me that the disclosures by Putin’s tame WikiLeaks pals are some great contribution to American democracy. If you say that, you’re basically supporting theft as political action.
What’s in the hacked e-mails of John Podesta and the DNC is embarrassing and stupid. What’s indisputably criminal is the fact that they were stolen from computers, and put to use to advance the agenda of Russia.
I am absolutely not a Marco Rubio fan. But the Florida senator was absolutely right in October when he told CNN “as our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process, and I will not indulge it.”
Rubio also said: ”I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”
6. While they probably should focus on how to recover quickly from this debacle, Democrats and progressives will dwell for next few weeks on why this went so terribly wrong.
That’s good – you can’t completely do the first part without the second.
But Democrats have nothing to apologize for. They are not insensitive to anyone – including those people in now former blue states that turned away from Clinton. Yes, they didn’t present it as well as they should have.
But now, with the elevation of Trump and the Republican agenda, those people will get to see what insensitive really looks like.