Note: This story originally appeared on my blog on June 28, 2018.
The title of this post says it all. Once again, someone on the left has suggested that the current Trump-generated chaos of America is somehow Hillary Clinton’s fault. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks tweeted the following:
Of course, I lost my shit, tweeting:
And it’s true. A truly terrible candidate never would have done as well as Hillary Clinton did under the circumstances. The barriers that kept Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office were formidable and unrelenting, the logical consequences of a system in which a president is indirectly elected in a country founded by white men that never intended for everyone to participate in democracy.
First, institutionalized sexism/misogyny worked against Clinton — just as it works against any woman seeking power and influence in male-dominated realms. In October 2015, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research conducted a poll to gauge enthusiasm for a woman president. Fourteen percent of the respondents stated that they either “had some reservations” about or were “very uncomfortable” with the thought of a female president. That’s more than forty-five million people! And many of those people voted and took their gender prejudices with them into the voting booth.
Second, a hostile foreign power, Russia, is known to have interfered in the election, having weaponized social media platforms. Vladmir Putin hates Hillary Clinton and wanted to make sure that she did not get elected. As of this writing, multiple people in the Trump campaign have been shown to have contacts with the Russian government.
Third, Hillary Clinton quite frankly could never get on top of the email server scandal. Despite FBI Director, James Comey, publicly stating in July 2016 that “there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” the story continued to haunt Clinton throughout the campaign. Later that month, Trump even went so far as to invite the Russian government to “find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” When Comey released a letter to Congress stating that he was reopening the investigation — eleven days before the election — he pounded the last nail into the coffin of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Voter suppression (in the guise of voter ID laws), something that became a real problem after the 1965 Voting Rights Act was allowed to lapse in 2015, kept people that were more likely to vote for Democrats away from the polls. Voter ID laws kept voters away from the polls in Wisconsin, a state Clinton lost by a thin margin. In Georgia, a reduction of early voting sites, slow processing of voter registration forms, and the relocation of certain polling places, made it unnecessarily difficult for African-Americans, Hillary Clinton’s most loyal demographic, to vote. In Florida, felon disqualification and an arcane process for voting rights restoration has rendered one out of every four otherwise eligible black Floridians unable to vote.
Voter apathy, always a problem in American politics, further eroded support for Clinton. Approximately forty percent of eligible voters sat out in 2016.
Support for third-party candidates also reduced Clinton’s vote totals in key states. In Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Jill Stein’s vote totals were greater than Trump’s margin of victory. While there is no guarantee that all, or even most of, Stein’s supporters would have voted for Hillary Clinton, more than a few of them probably would have.
And one thing I forgot to mention during my Twitter rant was Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump. Trump convinced more than sixty million people to vote for him by intentionally playing to the racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia of the woefully misinformed segments of the GOP political base. This was the same man who didn’t lose support from his base after claiming that Mexicans were “rapists” who were “bringing crime” to America. Their support for Trump didn’t slip after he called for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in December 2015. Trump’s decision to play to darker American impulses have left certain people on the Right absolutely spellbound and many of those Cult 45 members will never leave Trump no matter how badly he behaves.
As I said before, no presidential candidate is perfect. Every single person who has ever run for president has committed an inopportune gaffe, made a miscalculation, or failed to impress some key individual. But the idea that Clinton deserved to lose to Donald Trump, a mendacious business man with suspicious ties to Russia, no prior record of public service, and nearly twenty credible sexual assault allegations pending against him is patently offensive. I think that much of the “it’s Hillary’s fault” narrative is based on the sexist idea that it is not enough for a woman to be “adequate” or even “outstanding” when she is competing with a man for a job they both want. Too many people expect “the first one” to be spotless, completely above reproach. These people who demand perfection from “firsts” often want perfection because it helps them to allay anxieties about societal changes. Never mind the fact that perfection is unattainable or even undesirable.
So make no mistake, Hillary Clinton and her supporters are not to blame for being unable to stop Trump. Everyone who worked against her or refused to help her fight the beast must take responsibility for their actions and align themselves with those who supported Clinton all along. The future of our country depends on it.