I had prepared some pithy tweets for this morning. It came down to a choice between: “Can we pls now talk about how terrible Clinton is w/o being accused of supporting the neo-fascist?” and; “Bad news: the conservative Republican won. Good news: She’s not Trump.”
I was only going to tweet one of them, and I couldn’t decide which. I went to bed thinking the former, woke up (at 6AM Paris time) thinking the latter. But I was also thinking, well, I guess I should also admit that I was wrong, that Hillary Clinton pulled it off after all, and “Whew, that’s a good thing!”
Then I turned on my computer. I wanted the news from a source that wouldn’t be crowing predictably about how wonderful it was that Clinton, our first woman president, had handed Trump his lunch and struck a blow for sanity and democratic values, for decency and against pussy-grabbing comb-overs. So my first click was my bookmark to Democracy Now, Amy Goodman’s stunning alternative news program – the one that, you know, actually does strike a blow for sanity and democratic values, Monday thru Friday, week in, week out.
There was a man talking about how hard it was going to be to pick ourselves up after this startling defeat. And I thought, “Huh, so the Democrats didn’t regain control of the Senate or anything…” But OK, it was time to move to gray lady and find out wtf.
I take no pleasure in noting that I was right (https://michaelkatims.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/mrs-clinton-should-withdraw-now/). Benghazi, Wikileaks, the FBI investigation into her email, the accusations of pay-to-play Clinton Foundation contributions… Staunch Clinton supporters – good friends and family included – can go on and on about how none of those things is true, there is no there there, nothing has been proven and nothing will stand up to scrutiny. Today is the day that those good people find out it doesn’t matter. Today is the day that they must reckon with the fact that in the court of public opinion, nothing is inadmissible. Clinton and the DNC lived by the sword of media manipulation (“controlling the message”), now they die by drowning, in a sea of “I don’t believe you anymore.”
No one – not Bernie Sanders, not Elizabeth Warren – no one who really took the time to examine her record (voting for the Iraq war, flip-flops on PTT and Keystone, marriage rights, etc.), truly believed that Hillary Clinton would be a stalwart defender of progressive values once elected. Sanders tried to mobilize his base in support of Clinton by saying, essentially, “first we elect her then the next day we can start to oppose her again.” That’s a complex message for people who are hurting and who don’t want to wait another second to send a strong message (“strong message” = “fuck you”) to the establishment. That’s right, the establishment. And by that I mean, the people who cater to the elite, to the ones who are holding the purse strings of our society, the political class who have a good working relationship with Goldman Sachs, Big Pharma, Big Oil, and on and on. To the American public, Hillary Clinton is, always was, and always will be that person.It’s not just a matter of image and it’s not debatable. It’s who she is.
Add to this her tendency to be unwittingly contemptuous of the electorate – phrases like “basket of deplorables” and “bring them to heel” were perceived as betrayals of her true attitudes. This all adds up to the opposite of populism. It’s a candidate who is essentially saying, “Elect me because I know better than you.”
But OK, I can hear the replies – what do you mean, what relationship to the elite, who says? Lots of politicians collect fees for speeches! And everybody else flip-flopped, too! And that’s not what she meant! Fine, fine. But even if you truly believe that Hillary Clinton was a principled and basically progressive candidate, today is the day when you must admit she was unable to convince people in sufficient numbers that she was anything other than a corporate tool, two-faced and corrupt. It’s not James Comey’s fault and it’s not Wikileaks or Putin. Today is the day when you have to come to terms with the fact that Hillary Clinton was, simply put, a terrible candidate. And now we’re all (all of us, all over the world) in deep shit because of her failings.
I’ll leave it to another day to count the ways we’re in deep shit. But hey progressive America, you folks who really care about social justice and global warming and racism and sexism and peace on earth, next time look for a candidate who might actually have some broad popular appeal. Next time, look for a candidate who inspires confidence, who might come across as genuine and honest and principled. Who knows? He or she might just win. Assuming, that is, we ever get another chance to elect anyone at all.
Though the numbers don’t bear it out, pundits like Paul Krugman have already pointed the finger at Jill Stein (https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/796175841256415232). And I have no doubt that, within hours, the bullshit machine will be purring and the left will be blamed, once again, for the tragic failings of the center-right, progressives will be blamed for the fact that the Democratic Party abandoned the working class in favor of Wall Street, and lost its way. But that thinking is so twisted it is really hard to understand. The problem is not third-party candidates. The problem is that the two major political parties are completely broken, mostly corrupt, slightly crazy, and woefully out of touch with the body politic.
If Hillary Clinton had withdrawn on May 29th and endorsed Bernie Sanders, I believe he would have defeated Donald Trump. Better still, if she had never run at all and Elizabeth Warren had decided to throw her hat into the ring, we might be looking at a much brighter future right now. 2016 was the moment when American voters were ripe to tell the political establishment, “I don’t believe you anymore.” That is what they did.
They said, “We have seen your act and we’re done with you.” They said it to Jeb Bush and now they have said it to Hillary Clinton. Maybe next time, they’ll also say, “Go ahead, Elizabeth or Bernie or Tulsi Gabbard. Make it better.”
Maybe next time, if there is a next time, we’ll press Alt+left instead of Alt+right. You may say I’m a dreamer. But just imagine how much better off we would be without the lesser of two evils. Just imagine if next time the choice is between evil and mostly, really, deep down, honestly and truthfully, good…