Being a Republican turned Democrat, I wish to offer some reasons for our 2016 presidential defeat. I proceed from the premise that if a student blames her math teacher for her failure, that student will never learn math. It’s always wise to look ourselves in the mirror and reflect what was wrong to have led to our defeat.
First, never assume that the 59.7 million nationwide who voted for Trump are crazy or stupid, because we will need some of them to win come 2020. The fact is, Hillary’s winning margin in the national popular vote is razor-thin around 250,000.
Second, an election is really about emotional connection with your supporters so that they will take the trouble to come out and vote for you. This is a subtle thing and it’s never easy. Only a few leaders succeed including good and evil ones. However, I can name many things that may not be relevant in an election: temperament, experience, knowledge, qualifications, campaign money, political organization, high-profile surrogates, in which Hillary beat Trump to a great extent.
Third, Hillary is not a good candidate who connects well with the people. Simply put, every word she says seems to have been well prepared without any spontaneity. She seldom shows her human side, for instance, as a caring grandma, a nurturing mother, and a loving wife who forgives her cheating husband. These can easily disarm her critics about her emails and other things. Consequently, more white women voted for Trump than her (Don’t assume that those women voted with their angry white men). Her campaign speeches always listed Trump’s weaknesses without uplifting the audience about her strength nor giving them vision and hope. The result is lack of enthusiasm. No wonder she could not turn out enough white women, millennials, blacks and latinos to deliver the victory she needed. Don’t blame her emails or political baggage for her defeat. Trump has worse things than hers. Also look at her challenger, Bernie Sanders, the old man who has greatly excited the millennials by giving them ideals, hope and change, not to mention the great success of Obama. In short, Hillary fails to inspire the best in us, but Trump succeeds in bringing out the worst in us.
Fourth, Hillary made two fatal strategic mistakes by taking things for granted. In 2008, she lost the nomination to Obama because she thought she could win easily until it was too late. History repeated itself in 2016 when she thought that Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) and Michigan (16) could not turn red thus allowed Trump to enter through the back door. She could have won Pennsylvania (20) with the help of Obama, Michelle, Biden, Springsteen and other celebrities, but she lost, thus exposing her big handicap. These three traditionally blue states with a total of 46 electoral votes could have put her over the top. She did not even need Florida and Ohio to win.
Fifth, Hillary’s campaign staff and advisors should also bear half of the responsibility for defeat. I notice there are quite a few holdovers from her previous campaigns. These old timers should all be retired from the Democratic structure. They could not produce new ideas as demonstrated, and they will not. Why didn’t she borrow some talents from Obama’s campaign staff?
Sixth, the Democratic party needs new blood. Their top tier now consists almost entirely of old people except Obama who will retire soon. By contrast, the Republican party boasts a few rising stars as seen in their nomination process despite its circus nature. That’s why I ask the Democrats to think, think and think for 2020 if they are really serious about winning.