Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. A few days ago when saying this, people would have declared you mad. Hillary Clinton, the nominee for the Democratic party, was seen as favorite to succeed President Barack Obama. Trump was a clown, a racist, even a woman hater. The many scandals would prevent him from obtaining America’s highest public position. How different did it turn out to be.
First let me help some readers to get rid of their mourning and sadness. Hillary Clinton was never the perfect candidate. Not just because of the mail-affair or for whatever Bill Clinton did wrong. But because she was chosen for her name, not for her ideas. Sure, she was turned into the natural successor of Obama and a champion for women’s rights. But she never came with a great plan to back that image. When looking at her policy plans it was really hard to say what Clinton’s presidency would have actually stand for.
This makes me wonder how many people actually have read her policy plans. It was nothing more then a collection of individual proposals without any structural or long-term view. What was so great about it. That one plan about raising minimum wage? The vague comments about making sure that the wealthiest would pay their fair share in taxes? In short, it were plans upon which she easily could have compromised. There was no vision but simply a manual for pragmatic stances and negotiations. This is what her presidency would have stand for. No progress, no grand ideas, simply continuing the status quo. Maybe not the best position to have when people are looking for change.
I am saying nothing new. This has always been part of her nature. Hillary Clinton has served the US for many years in a pragmatic way. She started of as a campaigner for Republican Barry Goldwater and many years later was elected as a Democratic Senator for New York, a state where she [till that point] never lived in. Big plans were never part of her politics. She was a careerist. Same sex marriage will always be a prime example. When public opinion was against, she opposed. When public opinion supported it, so did she. During this elections she did nothing different. Campaigning on closing the widening gap between America’s elite and the rest, while at the same time giving secret speeches [where she talked in a denigrating way about the people feeling left-out] for big Wall Street spenders. Clinton would maybe have the best US interest at heart when being elected, but she was never the people’s champion. Lets not fabricate a false legacy.
The Democratic Party, America’s self-declared defender of progressive needs, made a huge mistake when choosing her. They probably already did so when she lost against Barack Obama in 2008. The choice for Hillary shows a pure lack of understanding what Americans are looking for. As do many so-called progressive parties in the West. The first female president is a nice idea and the same can be said for ending racism or global poverty. But it all sounds a bit Utopian when living in a small town of Wisconsin or Michigan where big corporations took over local stores and jobs. Where due to the financial crisis also the multinationals pull out and everything you are used to is fading away, including the certainty you can maintain your own family. The American white middle- and lower classes are portrayed as xenophobes and misogynists. In reality they are the living portrayal of the traditional Democratic voter. They simply want to have their social and economic needs heard in Washington. For years they feel to have been left-out, and they actually are. The inequality gap is growing and Washington keeps closing its gates.
Regardless, the Democratic primaries offered some optimism. Not because of Hillary, but because of Bernie Sanders. Sure, he did not have the big name but he had always been consequent in his support for lower- and middle class needs. The real people’s champion. Sanders was successful in the same states as Trump was. He fought against the backlashes of globalization and at the same time the establishment. The latter is where it went wrong. His candidacy was simply not accepted by the Democratic establishment. The debates were rigged and she even got questions from CNN beforehand. Interim chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile refused to apologize. Stating she was only sorry for being caught. Hillary was favored by anyone having a close link to the Democratic elite. NGO’s massively endorses her even when Sanders was a more vocal supporter for their interests. But also the party leadership itself, supposed to be neutral, did everything in their power to support Hillary. When hacks about this strategy were released, back then chair of the DNC Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to step down. Her future? A prominent role within the Clinton campaign.
Hillary became the personification of the establishment. Her vague stances on her handling of confidential mails certainly did not counter that image. A large group of blue-collar Democratic voters turned away from her. The fight against the establishment is normally something more directed against the Republican party. With the lack of any suitable Democratic candidate, it was Trump who became their leader. Ironically, it scared the Republicans as well. The traditionalists flocked to Clinton or abstained from voting. From George and George W. Bush to Collin Powell. They announced in public that it was because of Trump’s comments about women and minorities. In reality, they were scared for his social and economic stances. It is not strange that these traditionalists, in their lack of support for Trump, were followed by big lobbyists and campaign donors such as the Koch Brothers and several Hedge Fund Managers. With this happening. How could anyone argue to see Hillary or the Democrats as the true defenders of American’s economic and social needs? The ones trying to bridge and narrow the huge gap of inequality? This should have been a clear warning call for the Democrats from the beginning.
This article doesn’t try to portray Trump as the real people’s champion. It shows why Hillary was not. Where it went wrong for the Democratic party. A self-declared progressive collection of people but in reality taken over by the same establishment and globalization forces many voters are sick of. Americans want to see change, improvements in their daily lives. Social and economic positions should always be the center pillar of any progressive campaign. The Democrats failed to do so. If we can see any advantage in Trump being elected as President of the United States, it is the most loudest wake-up call for structural and systematic change on basically every American political level, starting with the Democratic party itself.
Tjeerd S. Ritmeester