The Blame Game: Who's Really to Blame for Clinton's Defeat?
11/10/2016 by Dylan James Harper
Even before Trump had officially won the presidency, the finger pointing on the left had begun. The mistake many have made is look to a single individual or group as chiefly responsible for Trump’s win. There are in fact several groups and individuals that should be held responsible, but not because blaming is effective in the long run, because it’s important to understand why this occurred, and how it can be prevented in the future.
White Voters - White voters were primarily responsible for a Trump presidency. Both the majority of white men, and, to the surprise of many, white women, voted for Trump. The bulk of white Trump voters cited economic or trade related issues as their primary motivation. Van Jones called this election a Whitelash, and he’s not wrong. There is no doubt that eight years of President Obama has left many already frustrated individuals open to the idea that a candidate that represented their race would be beneficial.
Third Party Voters - Absolutely third party voters are partially responsible for a Trump presidency. The numbers tell the story, with third party candidates pulling enough votes to swing the election in multiple swing states, but the mentality is also responsible. The idea that anyone other than a major party candidate could get elected is not based on any understanding of the system in its current state. One might think that’s a flaw in the system, but that is the system. Third party voters will continue to make a negative impact on elections until enough of them have a better grasp on the system.
Non-voters - Similarly, individuals that didn’t vote, or encouraged others to vote (looking at you Colin Kaepernick), are responsible for the Trump presidency. There is no such thing as non-participation in a winner-take-all system. A non-vote is simply a vote for the candidate in the lead. This ended up being Trump. Many non-voters said that it wasn’t important to take different kinds of political action instead of voting, and let’s all hope they do because their not voting has resulted in disaster.
The Prison Industrial Complex - Literally millions of would-be voters and convicted felons are unable to vote. This is unacceptable in a democracy as is, but particularly because our prison complex is so intertwined with private companies who essentially get to pick who gets to vote and who doesn’t. Guess who they pick to not vote? The same people of color who are the primary victims of the private prison system.
Hillary Clinton - It’s hard on some level not to feel a little bit bad for Hillary. Not because of who she is as a person, but of what she represents. Once again, a supremely qualified woman loses to an under qualified man. That said, a lot of the blame falls squarely on Hillary Clinton’s shoulders for her loss. Trump because poor whites came out en masse in support of him, and voters of color didn’t come out for Clinton. She offered both of those groups nothing. As many as eighty percent of the electorate believed the economy is “rigged” against them, and Clinton did nothing to articulate why that she was the candidate to fix that. Whatever Trump’s base may be, the people who got him elected are the ones who didn’t care that he said racist and sexist things, or that he’s going on trial for rape, because they thought he and he alone could solve their economic woes. Clinton didn’t offer them anything to the contrary.
Bernie Sanders - I’m really curious as to how he feels right now. Based on the numbers of poor white voters, and voters of color, it’s really unlikely that Sanders would have won in Clinton’s place. The only demographic Clinton was able to maintain was the same one Sanders thrived on in the primary in college educated whites. There’s nothing Sanders demonstrated that should make anyone believe he would have been more competitive. What he did do, on the other hand, was further a not of silly conspiracy theories about Clinton, and paint her as the anti\-thesis to both himself and Trump. It shouldn’t be that surprising that the guy who was telling a lot of people that his opponent was part of an establishment rigged against him would end up accidentally helping a candidate with the same message. Like Clinton, Sanders did nothing to push Clinton to support voters of color or poor whites. This cost her big in the national election, and he is partly to blame for that.
James Comey - It’s hard to be convinced that Comey’s timing of the email release was anything other than politically motivated. It’s hard to know what impact that made, but it certainly didn’t help. His gamble paid off though, and this will likely not be the last anyone hears of him as he’s just made a very powerful ally in the form of the president of the United States.
Wikileaks & Russia - Russia openly admits now that they hacked Hillary Clinton in order to sway the election. Wikileaks, the liberal darling of the Bush administration, was all too happy to oblige in giving them a platform to continually attack Clinton’s campaign by flooding the news with headlines featuring words like “Clinton” and “emails” over and over again. Julian Assange, who also happens to be a rapist, might have some sort of weird solidarity with Trump, but regardless, it’s clear that he and the Kremlin helped get Trump to the White House.
The Media - This is a broad category, but includes everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Mark Zuckerberg. The news media of course is primarily responsible for their coverage of the election that didn’t know how to properly deal with Trump. Many Trump supporters probably feel he was properly vetted if not over vetted, but that simply wasn’t the case. CNN, Fox, and MSNBC were all too happy to keep telling email stories over and over and over again, while giving Trump’s main issues minimal coverage in contrast to what they represented. The entertainment parts of the media, such as Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live, who humanized and encouraged Trump by bringing him on their shows, and generally allowing him to spread his message with minimal challenges are also responsible. You can give anyone air time, but it’s impossible to know what the consequences of that will be. Social Media is also responsible for this in part. Facebook has become the number one source of news for many, and Zuckerberg has happily maintained his user base by ensuring his algorithms never tell people what they don’t want to hear. He needs to consider his service a media company because that’s what it is. Twitter, on the other hand, has been one of the biggest sources of Trump’s base, the alt-right, and they have been all too happy to let that persist.
The GOP - Eight years of telling everyone that Obama is rigging a system against them, and nothing is more important than stopping his agenda, shockingly, lead to a candidate who campaign on just that. In the long term, Trump’s victory could spell the end for the GOP, and they would have only themselves to blame. It’s also telling that a lot of the issues with Trump, by his own admission, committing multiple sexual assaults, didn’t come up in the primary. Maybe Jeb didn’t bother to look into Trump, or maybe he just didn’t think his base would care. Either way, he, and the rest of the GOP, share their portion of the blame.
Donald Trump - It’s very dangerous to give anyone the implication that the problems Trump represents start and end with one individual. At the same time, not including him on this list would be insulting. Of course he is responsible. No one forced him to run, and no one forced him to keep running. He’ll likely be one of the worst presidents for environmental issues, the LGBT community, healthcare, immigration, and the economy, and he made it all happen.
That’s that. There are plenty of people who likely could be on this list but this is the core. Again, the takeaway here isn’t to encourage anyone to sit around and just be angry at these people or groups. Instead understand why they had the impact they had, and how to change that going forward. The left already has a groundswell of support, and people are already convinced that the system doesn’t work. Now is the time to tell them how to fix it
Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic
Read more of Dylan's work at www.dylanjamesharper.com