First let me say that I’m willing to give Donald Trump a chance.
I know the very thought of that riles a gamut of emotion. Some are elated, some depressed and some are just angry – angry to the point of rioting, even.
But, he did win the election. And he won it fair and square. We really don’t have a choice, now do we.
And there is one person to blame for that – Hillary Clinton.
There are others, I guess. Like the Democratic National Committee and all the people who sandbagged Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary. Obviously, it’s impossible to say how Sanders would have done against Trump in a head-to-head contest, but safe to say he wouldn’t have done any worse than Clinton.
The former first lady is officially the worst candidate in the history of American politics. It was a toss up before the election, but Trump narrowly avoided that distinction by nosing her out on Election Day.
Despite the rhetoric, I don’t think Hillary lost because of a glass ceiling, a set of silent prejudices holding down women. She lost because she was a terrible candidate with a sense of entitlement rivaling an inner city welfare line. She was so sure of a win, she even had fireworks all lined up to celebrate days before the election. People gravitate towards confidence, they run from arrogance.
People wouldn’t like her if she was a man either.
In addition to her prickly personality – a personality that changes depending on her audience – she also had issues like the email scandal and the Clinton Foundation. Those were the two big ones in my mind.
I don’t think, however, the emails compromised national security, like some Republicans claim. But I do think she used her position as secretary of state to get money from foreign countries – even those who are hostile to the U.S. and to the very women’s rights she touted – for the Clinton Foundation.
I don’t think we have heard the last of her email scandal or the Clinton Foundation but we’ll have to see. Maybe she will just ride off into the sunset with her husband. I hope so. I’ve had enough of the Clintons, and the Bushes, to last the rest of my lifetime.
Some Clinton fanatics – and Clinton herself – are blaming FBI Director James Comey for saying he will re-open the investigation into the emails just days before the election for the loss on Election Day. That certainly didn’t help the Clinton cause, but it wasn’t a deciding factor. The fact there were emails to investigate, however, was. Let’s not forget there was a bunch of nasty stuff about Trump late in the game too.
And the biggest reason she lost is she alienated a huge segment of the Democrats by screwing Sanders out of the nomination. Obviously, the woman who epitomizes the “establishment” in Washington didn’t grasp the anti-establishment sentiment Trump and Sanders not only embraced, but perpetuated.
The stats indicate many Sanders supporters actually voted for Trump and I believe that. They are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, without a doubt, but each with a sense of change and revolution at the crux of their respective platforms. People like the idea of change, they don’t like the idea of the status
quo – especially when it comes to Washington.
It wasn’t all Clinton’s follies, though. Trump did have a couple things going for him.
One was that he never pretended to be anything he isn’t. He was either Trump, or he kept his mouth shut. You just never knew what Hillary you were going to get.
Also, Trump, like him or hate him, ignited a passion in people. I covered his stop in Albany and you could feel the electricity in the Times Union Center. People were pumped up. It was the same type of electricity you felt at the Washington Avenue Armory when Sanders spoke.
That energy was painfully absent when Hillary came to Cohoes High School. Safe to say she didn’t motivate any new voters – or older voters for that matter. Trump and Sanders promised change, Hillary promised more of the same.
And despite the rhetoric of the protesters and Democrats, the majority of Trump’s core supporters are not racist, misogynistic, homophobic, bigoted, sexist missing links. They are blue collar, in fact, working class Americans, sick and tired of being called racist, misogynist, sexist and homophobic.
Just because they don’t like Hillary doesn’t make them a sexist. Because they are not buying the “Black Lives Matter” movement doesn’t make them racist. And most of them are too busy working hard and caring for their families to worry about if two guys or two women want to get hitched.
It’s odd because the Democrats have traditionally touted themselves as champions of the working class, and it’s the working class largely responsible for Trump’s ascent to the White House. The minorities too didn’t come out in the same numbers they did to put Obama in the White House eight years ago or even four years ago. I think SNL summed up that dynamic, and I paraphrase: “You had a 40-something charismatic black man and now you have a 70-year-old tired white woman.”
Pundits were saying Trump could represent the end of the Republican Party. After this election, I’m wondering how the Democrats survive, or at least how long they limp along until they find a new direction or new block of voters.
The Democrats and Hillary supporters (and Trump haters) can complain and protest and throw fits but we will have Trump for the next four years.
I’m willing to give him a chance, to see if he can bring some constructive change to how Washington does business – to drain the swamp, so to speak.
I’m not at all confident that will happen, but we have no choice but to give him a shot.
(And as an aside, I did not vote for Trump, I voted for the guy who climbed Mount Everest, Gary Johnson. I would have voted for Sanders, if Hillary didn’t steal the primary.)
Jim Franco has covered the Capital District for more than 20 years. He can be reached at 878-1000 or [email protected]