Why HRC lost to the least qualified man - ever

It seems that everywhere I look, I see #Trumpwins followed by #everydaysexism - or something similar. That is a troubling thought. How could America's most qualified woman be beaten by America's least qualified man? What does it say about women's political chances in the future - in the US and in many other countries?

By now, many of you will be aware that 53% of "white" women in America voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton - and that was despite his talk of crotch grabbing and other sexual assaults, his many victims of such assaults coming forward, his general demeaning of women and his sexist verbal attacks against specific women.

I think the above statistic reflects a deep dissatisfaction with growing income inequality, the inexorably diminishing middle class and a frustration with the establishment that has allowed this to happen - on both sides of the two party system. It seems clear to me that the US zeitgeist was/is to vote for an "outsider". Sadly, in this race Trump (as abhorrent and objectionable as he is) was the only one to fit that description.

Yes, there was some sexism evident in the result. We all know there was. We as a species have a way to go before we have true equality between the sexes.

But if sexism were the only - or even predominant - issue, I think this would be reflected in how women, including white women, voted. Instead, it seems that a majority of the latter (and enough of the electorate - even if it wasn't quite a majority) voted for a man who is openly misogynist.


I think many, if not most, of the women who voted for Trump did so despite this misogyny, not because of it. The same applies to many of the men. This is especially true of the "swinging voters": those who are not "rusted on" conservatives or "dyed-in-the wool" liberals. These swinging voters who cast their ballots for Trump were not all from a "basket of deplorables" but rather many were from a sector of the populace that, rightly or wrongly, felt disenfranchised and alienated. And the total underestimation of the DNC of the need to field a candidate who would appeal to this (sizable) sector was ultimately their failing. Instead, they bulldozed through their "pre-chosen" candidate, curtailing the chances of the only other person who dared put his hand up - the "outsider" (and wildly popular) Bernie Sanders. And the voters - men and women - punished them at the polls for this arrogance.

While I think Hillary Clinton would have made a good president relative to the presidents the US has had in recent years (and an incomparably more qualified and capable one than the buffoon who is now president-elect), it seems that she was never going to win.

Yes, it was always going to be harder for a woman to win the White House than it was for a man. But I do not think this particular electoral result proves that "a woman can never win the White House". It proves that HRC could never win the White House - not in this election anyway.

Basically, the Democrats were never going to win by pushing an unpopular establishment candidate as their nominee - while ignoring all the warning signs. Nor were they going to advance the cause of feminism and equality by doing so with a female candidate who met that description (however well-qualified and capable she was and well-regarded by her loyal base). Indeed, I believe that in doing what they did, the Democrats have unintentionally set back the cause of feminism. I think it is trite to say that women need as many wins as they can get - and as few defeats - in order to change perceptions within our still male-dominated societies.

Those who backed Sanders and were shushed up for fear of trashing Clinton's chances can now safely point this out:
The most unpopular presidential candidate in history narrowly edged-out the second most unpopular presidential candidate in history.
The race was that close. And I believe anti-establishment sentiment - specifically among the "swinging voters" - ultimately won the day. The fact that Clinton also carried the baggage of decades of concerted muck-raking campaigns (emails, Benghazi etc.) by her political opponents is well-known and apposite.

Rightly or wrongly, Clinton was/is deeply unpopular - both with her ideological adversaries and, most importantly, the "swinging voters". No doubt sexism played some role in this with some voters - but it was hardly pivotal with so many other factors (real or imaginary) at play. She may have won the majority vote, but Clinton was so unpopular that she didn't do well enough to win enough electoral college votes - against a man who is almost universally reviled, even among a large number of Republicans who were desperate for their side to retake the White House. And we knew this from the start of the race (and before).

There should be no real surprise that the voter turnout for Clinton (and Trump) was so poor. The DNC gambled that fewer of Trump's supporters would turn up than Clinton's. They lost (even if they won the popular vote narrowly, they lost the electoral college vote convincingly).



Many are quick to point out that "we don't know if Bernie would have done better." Maybe. But I do know one thing: if anti-establishment sentiment determined the result (and I believe it largely did), then running an extremely popular anti-establishment figure against a very unpopular anti-establishment figure is the only choice that would ever have made any sense.

Had that figure been Elizabeth Warren, my money would have been on her, sexism or no sexism. Since she didn't put up her hand, the old "democratic socialist" from Vermont was the only feasible alternative, in my humble opinion.


But Sanders never had a chance with the way the DNC ran the primaries, now did he? The DNC didn't exactly hide its assumption that Clinton was the "heir apparent" and this was reflected in its rather perfunctory acknowledgment of his candidacy. Sanders certainly did not receive their support. He succeeded in building an unprecedented, massive, grass-roots following despite their actions, not because of them.

Even his supporters - many of them women and many of them feminists (men and women) were given the pejorative nick-name "Bernie bros" - an intellectually dishonest, rather underhanded implication of latent sexism for daring to suggest an alternative to the DNC's "heir apparent".

And the media played its role too: it gave virtually no air time to Sanders. His massive rallies barely rated a mention. He filled stadiums like a rock star while Clinton struggled to get a crowd worth photographing in a high school gym.


Well the world is now paying the price for this conceit.

So what does the fall of HRC say about women's chances in politics? Not much other than what we already knew: women will continue to have it tougher than men - at least in the US and similar countries like Australia. But the election of DJT is no more an indicator of derailment by rampant sexism than Brexit was. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous: it is an attempt to avoiding the simple reality that HRC was the wrong candidate for this election. It is a doubling down by the establishment on their own echo chamber worldview instead of a recognition of reality.


Postscript:

When I made predictions along these lines in a Facebook post back in March this year, I was told by one avid HRC supporter that I should mind my own business. "We've got this one," she said. I would say to her that it is now (as it was back then) abundantly clear that she/they didn't.
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