Some people dismiss playing “the blame game”. I’m all in favor of it. If we don’t pin down what went wrong and who was behind it, how can we possibly move forward?
There certainly is plenty of blame to go around in the wake of the 2016 election. Let’s start looking at our leading candidates, shall we?
Certainly these folk deserve a heap of blame for the current situation. Not only are they the ones who got Trump positioned to be our next president, but they soured large portions of America on the only person who could stop him.
At every opportunity, the Republican party failed to stand up to, and mount a decent resistance against, Donald Trump. They laughed at him and ignored him as he hijacked the party and turned it from a once-great political institution into a white nationalist mess of an organization.
The party stood back and allowed this, and even enabled it, toward the end. Oh, there was the “Never Trump” movement, which wasn’t nothing, but their efforts amounted to that. To make matters worse, when presented with a campaign of racism, xenophobia, sexism, and all the other deplorable moments that Trump engaged in, the party elite would, from time-to-time, decry what he said, and then stand by his side in support. This is not, perhaps, the best way to show disagreement.
Then there’s the other side of things: the Hillary hate machine. The Republicans have, since 1992, built an actual, honest-to-goodness, money-making industry based on hating Hillary Clinton.
In doing so they took the only person who did stand a chance of stopping Trump and painted her as the Great Satan; a force of evil that must be opposed at all turns, even if doing so involved elevating Donald Trump to the White House. Because of this, if nothing else, I shall never again have respect for the Republican party, and I gladly apportion blame onto them.
The Democratic Party
Of course blame must go to the Democrats as well, who did a genuinely stellar job of failing to respond to a changing political climate. They failed to realize that politics had changed since 2008. No longer were they a scrappy underdog, but rather they represented the hated establishment; the East Coast, New York elite who looked down their nose at the common man and told him that he was just basically a terrible person.
Is it any wonder that after a couple of generations of insults and condescending behavior towards them, white, rural, lower-income America finally told the Democrats to fuck off? They were still willing to vote for the party in the desperate times of 2008, and in 2012 Romney was too much like the men who had bought up their factories and fired them. But Hillary was nothing like that. She was very much the establishment, and they would never vote for her.
Then we have the way the primaries went down. Sanders never stood a chance of winning. He wasn’t a Democrat until he decided to run for president, had not really done anything of benefit for the Democrats, and basically acted like the newest member of a club wandering in and saying he was going to run the whole thing. It’s no wonder the party as a whole resisted this.
However they responded poorly, and in ways that made it look like the election was rigged against Sanders. It wasn’t, but to an outside observer, it certainly seemed like it might have been. The party did a rotten job in communicating to the Sanders supporters, and younger people whose brains had been marinated in Hillary hate since birth, that it was important to vote for her. So we put aside a portion of blame for the Democrats.
Well, yes, obviously he gets a fair margin of blame. So that’s that.
Look, I love the lady, and I’m not alone. She took an election that was full of hate and vitriol spun her direction and generally rose above it. She maintained a great deal of dignity in a difficult situation, and that’s a significant thing.
It’s also worth noting that despite what many people want to think about her and her tactics, she did win the popular vote, and once the dust all settles may have won it by well over a million votes. She just failed to win in the right places.
And that, yes, is something we can at least in part blame her for. She comes off sometimes as a bit tone-deaf, and sometimes has trouble communicating with exactly the kind of people who were voting for Trump. Comments about baskets of deplorables didn’t help (though what she actually said wasn’t what the media portrayed, and was pretty damn accurate).
Hillary’s sins have always been a politician’s sins, and not the worst of those. The email server and her evasiveness on it? Not that big of a deal, really. Yes, she sometimes appeared clueless (appointing Debbie Wasserman Schultz to a high position after she resigned from party leadership), but even those moments were for generally political reasons (the appointment was in return for the resignation from leadership).
But those politicians sins looked like genuine, real, horrible things, especially in light of everything else that people said about her. It seemed like confirmation that she was as evil and corrupt as people claimed. She did little to allay these fears in the eyes of many, and so, yes, the victim must also get some of the blame.
The American voter
A bunch of largely low-information people who were willing to vote into office a man whose greatest claim to fame was…what? Apparently rich, though that’s not that big of a deal to me.
Voters were presented with a clear choice: someone who had zero political experience, was espousing racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc, views, who had been married three times, and cheated on at least two of those wives, who bragged about sexually assaulting women, and has regularly screwed-over the type of blue collar people who supported him, or they could vote for a woman who had flaws, but likely would have made changes to our way of government that would have benefited those same people. And they voted for Trump.
As I pointed out in this article and in yesterday’s, there are a lot of reasons for this, many of them quite understandable. But explanation is not excuse, and I cannot excuse the American public for putting this man into office. The roughly 25% of eligible voters who voted for him voted poorly, no matter what their rationale for doing so, and so a great portion of blame must go to them.
In the end, there really is a lot of blame to go around, and you can pick who think deserves the most. I’ll place most of the blame on the voters, who allowed themselves to be swayed by an obvious con-man, but you might feel differently, especially if you voted for said con-man.
As I place the blame squarely and ultimately on the shoulders of the voters, we see that those are the people we must work to change and influence in the years to come. It’s the only way forward.