Rebecca Solnit at the Guardian says exactly what’s been on my mind since the election: the problem is not that Hillary Clinton wasn’t a good enough candidate. She was not a sub-par candidate who had the Democratic primaries rigged in her favor. (I can’t believe this is actually a thing I’m hearing from otherwise reasonable people.) She was an outstanding candidate and the climate surrounding the general election was unfairly stacked against her in tactics going back decades. Rebecca explains:
You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clinton’s use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.
It took James Comey, the director of the FBI, using that faux-scandal and his power to stage a misleading smear attack on Clinton 11 days before the election in flagrant violation of the custom of avoiding such intervention for 60 days before an election. It took a compliant mainstream media running after his sabotage like a golden retriever chasing a tennis ball. It took decades of conservative attacks on the Clintons. Comey, incidentally, served as deputy GOP counsel to the Senate Whitewater committee, that fishing expedition that began with an investigation in a messy real estate deal in Arkansas before Bill Clinton’s presidency and ended with a campaign to impeach him on charges related to completely unrelated sexual activities during his second term.
It took a nearly decade-long reality TV show, The Apprentice, that deified Trump’s cruelty, sexism, racism and narcissism as essential to success and power. As the feminist media critic Jennifer Pozner points out: “Everything Trump said and did was framed in a way to flatter him, and more importantly, flatter his worldview.” The colossal infomercial fictionalized the blundering, cheating businessman as an unqualified success and gave him a kind of brand recognition no other candidate had.
And here’s the most serious problem we have in this electorate:
And it took a shortsighted campaign of hatred on the left, an almost hysterical rage like nothing I have ever seen before about any public figure. Some uncritically picked up half-truths, outright fictions, and rightwing spin to feed their hate and rejected anything that diluted the purity and focus of that fury, including larger questions about the other candidate and the fate of the Earth. It was so extreme that in recent weeks, I was attacked for posting anti-Trump news stories on social media by furious people who took the position that to be overtly anti-Trump was to be covertly pro-Clinton. If the perfect is the enemy of the good, whose friend is it? The greater of two evils?
To stop Hillary Clinton it also took Julian Assange, using WikiLeaks as a tool of revenge, evidently considering his grudge against the Democratic nominee important enough to try to aid the campaign of a climate-denying racist authoritarian. Assange now appears to have so close a relationship with Russia that he often appears on the state-funded TV channel and news site RT. He tweeted protests when Russian president Vladimir Putin’s information was included in the Panama Papers hack and has been coy about where his leaked information on the Democratic National Committee came from.
Okay? If we’re willing to let Julian Assange be the Great Arbiter of American Democracy, then we’re screwed, and we’re taking the rest of the world with us.
Furthermore, if we must get on the subject of whether Bernie Sanders would have done better in the general election, first of all, I doubt it, but more importantly, that’s far beside the point:
Or, as my brilliant friend Aruna d’Souza put it Wednesday: “At some point soon we need to discuss whether Sanders would have been able to win, but helpful hint: today, it just sounds like you’re saying: ‘The Democrats should have cut into Trump’s lead in the misogynist vote and the whitelash vote by running a white man.’
I’ll go further than that. Saying we should’ve nominated Bernie Sanders instead sounds like: “If only we’d had fish on the menu instead of chicken, we wouldn’t have to eat toxic waste now.” THAT’S HOW THE FUCK YOU SOUND.