The failed Democratic candidate for the highest political office in the free world, Democrat Hillary Clinton has just launched her excuse for losing, What Happened.
It’s a book that excoriates her political opponents for her failure to win the presidency, from Trump – “that creep” – to Rupert Murdoch, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Bernie Sanders and, surprisingly, Barack Obama. She blames misogyny, uneducated white voters in the rustbelt states and Obama for failing to come out and back her candidacy by speaking out about the threat Russia posed to American democracy.
She rails against what she sees as Trump’s dangerous politics – “science denied, lies masquerade as truth and paranoia flourishes” – but seemingly ignores what was happening across the United States, and would have deepened, had she been elected.
Clinton’s supporters will love “What Happened ” skating over the fact that Clinton –actually, both Clintons – had much to do with the erosion of American democracy, of which, ironically, Clinton writes, “our democracy was already sicker than we realised’.
Apart from her inelegant grammar, Clinton’s apologia for failure is also the dissection of a political culture gone wrong, her account of ignored realities, for which she paid the price (her price, as a 40 minute guest speaker, was upward of a quarter of a million dollars).
Clinton’s arrogance in assuming the stability of her powerbase – the majority of whom were black voters and middle class white women – failed to take into account the anger that simmered below the surface and burst through at the Trump rallies as those that she had called the “basket of deplorables” made their feelings known.
Clinton always seemed the manufactured politician; first as wife of the President, the woman hailed by the feminists as their hero but who failed to do or say anything when a young intern was destroyed, sexually toyed with by her boss, then dissected and judged by the pro-Clinton media, with no feminist voices raised in her defence because Hillary wanted it that way.
The case of Monica Lewinsky “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky,” hurt Bill Clinton’s presidency but also raised questions about Hillary.
Hillary might have won the war in in DC or among East Coast elites but in the rolling heartland States people had started to ask “How come we’re in the place we’re in, if we’re doing so great under Obama?” America, they could see, wasn’t doing great because now it wasn’t just poor people queuing up for Social Security and food stamps. And those people in government, those that had been trusted to help, were not helping. Not one bit.
Donald Trump’s rallying cry “Make America Great Again’ resounded in towns and cities of the south and mid-west, because people knew, they saw, the jobs going off shore, and nothing was being done, nobody was doing anything to help.
As an Australian working on a small southern newspaper during the Nixon years, your correspondent sensed firsthand the fissures that divided the nation. Great corporations, mighty manufacturers, were moving south where labour was cheaper, less unionised and cities like Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis offered comfortable life styles and a better climate. Things seemed OK, but in the south, old wounds were unhealed, not by a long shot.
Southerners, black and white shared certain characteristics that are less understood, sometimes incomprehensible in the north, southern manners, respect for tradition, the role of churches and –most striking to a non-American, the history of the war between the States.
The South, the mother of a colleague once told me quietly, over home-baked corn bread and iced tea, was “the only part of the United States to be conquered and occupied. There was nothing ‘civil’ about the Civil War, that’s why we call it ‘the war between the States’ And, you’ve noticed, those statues of Confederate soldiers ? The horses’ rumps always point north.”
Over 88 per cent of New Yorkers voted for Hillary Clinton, but in the south, some 61 per cent of white working class women voted for Trump only 34 per cent for Hillary.
Hillary was reported to have said, “They [the voters] wanted me to share their anger. And I should’ve done a better job of demonstrating ‘I get it.’”
She didn’t. That’s what happened.
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