Winners and losers are only separated by a thin line. Many people have crossed that line, some more than once. Thomas Edison once said, ”I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Most people don’t have the luxury to recover after failing so many times, but the point is, learn from your own mistakes.
The failure of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election was a shock to many. How could she have lost to Donald Trump, an inexperienced egomaniac with a penchant for insulting people? Truth is, Hillary had failed to learn her lessons. The first lesson was losing to Barack Obama in the 2008 primary election (Why was she a worse campaigner than he, a novice after all?). The second one was a big challenge from Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary (Why did so many young people flock to an old man who repeated the same real issues like a recorder?). The third one was an ineffective presidential campaign mostly focusing on Trump’s negatives (Why couldn’t she be more positive than Trump who ran an under-funded campaign based on hate?). Her vulnerabilities were obvious but she had not learned from them. Neither had the Democratic Party she represented.
Recently, Hillary admitted that she had made some mistakes, with no further elaboration of what they were. However, she immediately turned to blaming former FBI Director James Comey, Russian hacking and Wikileaks. Granted that all those were true, their impacts were only partial. Hillary will not learn if she does not honestly examine her own mistakes.
Hillary supporters like to say that America is not ready for a woman president. No! Americans are ready for anything new. They have already voted and re-elected a black president. On the other hand, they have rejected Sarah Palin because she showed amazing ignorance in world affairs. Americans are ready for a woman who can connect with the people, not just any woman. Hillary has failed miserably in showing understanding and connecting. Her supporters say she did not really lose to Trump because she won the national popular votes (albeit coming mostly from California and New York). Remember, the name of the game is the electoral vote. What matters is the popular votes being counted within each state, not across the whole country. Thus the candidate must win state after state in order to accumulate 271 electoral votes required for the presidency.
The Democratic Party should accept the responsibility that they had nominated a candidate who could not connect well with the people. If they cannot field a better candidate next time, we can look forward to another failure in 2020. The Democratic party bureaucracy deserves a shake up, too. Some of its leaders are over seventy years old. It needs to cultivate young blood and new visions. This by no means implies any virtues for the Republican Party. The GOP has gone berserk for many years. It has degenerated from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of No. Desperate for victory, the GOP has allowed itself to be hijacked by Trump, who is not a true Republican but has beaten all the Republican candidates in the nominating process.
What is Hillary’s political vulnerability? Her baggage is only part of the problem because Trump has his own baggage, too. It all boils down to her poor emotional connection with the voters, which is what an election is all about. If you think that her emails and her enemies did her in, how do you explain Trump’s popularity based on ego and unjust scapegoating of immigrants and foreign competitors for America’s woes? Did Trump create any enemies? Trump’s temperament led him to offend so many people that his insults did not seem to matter. In short, the American voters deserved a better candidate than any of those two in the 2016 election. In the absence of a third candidate, they tended to pick the firebrand whom the people could wrongly but easily connect.
Hillary’s careful manners and scripted conversations didn’t offend, but they betrayed a sense of aloofness and inauthenticity that gave people little emotional reason to vote for her. Neither did she inspire voters on the good things she had done and offer a better future for the country. Just compare their campaign slogans of “Make America great again!” and “I’m with her!”. Which one do you think conveyed a better message? Hillary’s slogan made people think that it was her turn to be president. No! Americans wouldn’t accept that kind of privilege or entitlement. She had to earn it every time she went out to campaign, not by qualification or seniority, but by her ability to whip up the crowd.
It has been reported that Bill Clinton was not happy with her campaign. He advised that Hillary should pay more attention to the millions of angry workers being hurt by stagnant wages, factories moving overseas, crushing health care costs, ballooning student loans, and government dysfunction in Washington. The advice fell on deaf ears. Hillary simply continued to hammer on Trump’s bad temperament and insisted that he was unfit for the presidency. She seldom stressed what she would do to make life better for the millions of disenchanted voters. As a consequence, she lost three important “blue” states: Pennsylvania by 71,000 votes, Michigan by 22,000, and Wisconsin by 11,000.
Hillary could have been president had she carried those three states even after losing Florida and Ohio, which were really tossups. She blamed her enemies causing her to lose those three states. In fact, she was complacent and did not campaign hard enough over there, thus allowing Trump to move in through the back door. Trump offered many crazy campaign promises that would not work, but he managed to connect with the angry voters. Based on Trump’s snafu, many experts predicted that Hillary would win a landslide across the country in many states. It did not happen due to her continuous hammering on Trump’s negatives that many people already knew. She should have inspired the voters by telling them why she wanted to be president, and how she planned to change things for the better. In short, her campaign lacked a positive inspirational message that could stir up the crowd. She failed to follow up on what Michelle Obama wisely said, “If they go low, we go high.”
Now America winds up with a president who has an unstable temperament which is unfit for the office. This is unfortunate but real. The whole world has to wait and see what will come out of this in the next four years, maybe eight. God please help us!