Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. I still feel that Hillary Clinton would have been a good president. In particular, I believe that many progressives would have been pleasantly surprised. No, we would not have gotten universal healthcare or a $15 dollar minimum wage, but we would have gained ground on both fronts where now we stand to lose. In this post, I do not want to brood, but we must understand why we lost if we are to win next time. In Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party insiders chose a candidate and gave her a big head start in fundraising, but she was still the candidate who could not even win the nomination in 2008. That is because she has a great resume, but is a terrible candidate. In this year’s campaign, you can see why in the strategic choices she made in the debates.
After the first debate, Clinton won praise and a bump in the polls for her performance, but it is now clear that she lost that debate and the ones that followed before she even took the stage. She pursued a strategy that suited her personality, and I have to admit that I thought at the time it was a good idea; she tried to present Donald Trump as a man who was not worthy of her respect. By extension, the concerns of his potential followers were not worthy of her respect either. Hillary Clinton would defend the status quo, and you were a “deplorable” if you thought the country had serious problems. It was as if the Bernie Sanders scare in the primaries had never happened. She decided to disrespect her opponent by addressing him by his first name, and she decided to act like his criticisms of her did not deserve a serious response. She admitted, for example, that her Iraq vote and the handling of her emails were mistakes, but she missed the opportunity to tell us what she learned from them. They remained legitimate concerns of voters, where they could have been presented as valuable learning experiences.
In 2020, a Democratic candidate will run against either Donald Trump or Mike Pence. Especially if the Democrats win the Senate in 2018, I believe there is a high chance that Donald Trump will find a reason to be impeached. Still, either Trump or Pence will be the sitting president, and they will deserve to be addressed in the debates as Mr President. It will be all too easy to attack the president on all the ways he has failed the working people who placed their trust in him, but we must do more. We must offer a positive vision of the future. We must do what Hillary Clinton did not, by showing that it was the Republicans in Congress who kept the country down. It was the Republicans who kept the public option out of the Affordable Care Act and loaded it with concessions to the insurance and medical industries. It was the Republicans who loaded the Supreme Court with the Justices who made Citizens United and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act realities, and that is how our system is rigged. It was the Republicans who have stood in the way of minimum wage increases and meaningful gun control measures. And it was the Republicans who shirked their Constitutional duties, and refused to govern for the eight years that President Obama was in office. These are all negatives against the Republicans, but their flipsides are the beginning of a Democratic vision that should have won this year, and must win in 2020. We must acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act gave 20 million Americans health insurance they never had before, but still couldn’t afford to use. We must admit that cost of living increases in Social Security benefits over the years have not kept up with what it costs to be a senior citizen in the United States. We must let the workers and potential workers of this country know that the official employment numbers show an improvement, but we know too many people are still being left behind or exposed. The Republicans now know that blaming immigrants and persons of color for this is a winning strategy, one that can be explicitly stated. We must show that there is a better way, and that means explaining that the money and security that once went people who worked hard now goes instead to the very wealthy. We must show that we are all, white, black, brown, Christian, Moslem, Jew, male, female, straight or queer, in this together.
It truly is the economy, and it should have been a simple matter to defeat Trump’s message of hate and fear with a message of concern and hope. But Hillary Clinton’s defense of the status quo didn’t get it done, and Bernie Sanders’ message of righteous anger was not enough to win the chance to try. In 2020, the Democrats need to open the primaries to all comers, to not clear the decks for anyone. Then, the DNC needs to avoid any hint of favoritism, and let the people choose. Expect to be hacked, so keep both private and public communications clean. In 2020, Hilary Clinton will be the woman who lost the presidency to Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders will be almost 80 years old. So let’s start with a clean slate and no favorites, and find someone we can all support with enthusiasm. And then, let’s win this thing back.