Anger and the Trump-Clinton election

2017-06-22

in History, Politics

After nearly a year on the campaign trail, and hundreds of stops at diners, coffee shops, and high school gymnasiums and just as many roundtables with young professionals and millworkers, Hillary still couldn’t figure out why Americans were so angry or how she could bring the country together. She had tried to learn the lessons of 2008 and had built a campaign that was different, if too similar in some respects, this time around. But fundamental changes in the electorate eluded her grasp. She couldn’t find ways to connect with portions of the primary electorate that were driven to Sanders because he represented an all-out assault on the establishment thinking at the core of her being.

When she peeked at the Republican primary, she saw campaigns running into a similar problem. Jeb Bush—the favourite going into the race—was being pummelled by Trump. Like Sanders, the free-wheeling billionaire businessman turned political force was taking advantage of the populist fury that had swept the nation. From her perspective, these guys weren’t offering plausible solutions. But they were good at channeling anger.

Meanwhile, she was running into the same trap as 2008. She was becoming the inevitable candidate of the status quo, the one she tried so desperately to avoid this time around by offering a raft of new policy proposals. Her message wasn’t getting through—even in the moments that weren’t dominated by the e-mail scandal. The one thing Hillary could put her finger on was that her 2016 team wasn’t doing any better job of figuring out how to connect her to the national sentiment. She was in a bubble, and so were the people around her. Together, they had a feel for national politics from the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, when the public was less dissatisfied with the Democratic establishment’s inability to solve their problems.

Allen, Jonathan and Amie Parnes. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. Crown; New York. 2017. p. 146

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