Clinton’s loss shows Democrats need to reconnect with working-class values
Political rules are often cited and frequently ignored. Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie was fond of advising almost all who would listen that “voters don’t vote for you because of your reasons, they vote for or against you because of their reasons.”
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Political rules are often cited and frequently ignored.
Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie was fond of advising almost all who would listen that “voters don’t vote for you because of your reasons, they vote for or against you because of their reasons.”
In the case of Abercrombie, the irony is that his decisive crash in the 2014 primary election ended in failure as hubris replaced his own sound political counsel.
Last week we saw what happens when politicians like Hillary Clinton think voters will pick them because of the reasons outlined by Clinton. She was telling voters to “take your medicine, keep quiet and keep it down — it will be good for you,” thinking that was all she needed to say.
Instead, Clinton found that the voters had their own reasons to vote for or against her.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who just won a full, six-year Senate term and is Hawaii’s senior senator, said he started thinking about that last Tuesday night, as one Clinton firewall after another collapsed. First Florida, then North Carolina and then the Rust Belt states, until even Wisconsin toppled.
Donald Trump may be — as President Barack Obama described the GOP billionaire — “temperamentally unfit” and “unqualified to be America’s chief executive,” but he still won the presidency.
Schatz dismisses the idea that Trump was leading a mandate for change.
“Clinton won the popular vote, more people voted for her than Trump,” Schatz said in an interview.
That popular vote number, of course, is not the whole story because after Tuesday, Republicans will control 32 state legislatures and 33 governorships. Besides showing who has the majority, those numbers show that the GOP will control the congressional reapportionment lines in 2020.
For the Democrats, Schatz said, the thinking must go much deeper than just the numbers.
“I thought back to the time I lost my campaign for Congress. It was the people who said they didn’t think I was ready to serve, so I refocused on my own passion for public service,” said Schatz.
Looking at the surprisingly strong campaigns and platforms of both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Schatz said the public didn’t have any trouble believing what they said.
For others, Clinton included, Schatz said, “the professional Left took over.”
Part of the reason why Clinton lost, Schatz opined, is that a lot of the Democrats’ political class spends a lot of time talking to itself and not learning about the people, the voters.
“Democrats in Washington have become an echo chamber; there is too much groupthink and too much poll testing.
“We have got to do some quiet reflection on who we stand for and what we are.
“We have been too incremental; it is time for people to start doing what we believe in.
“When we say we are for the working class, I don’t think people really believe it. We need to reconnect with our values,” Schatz said.
Interestingly, Schatz sees the path to a Democratic revival triggered by what could be a firestorm over Trump making good on campaign promises.
“Trump is going to help us because now we have real adversaries,” said Schatz.
“There is a lot of pain and frustration out there, but if the new administration turns out to be George Bush on steroids and they turn over the economy to the people who created the last crisis, then they will discover they have no mandate.”
Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays. Reach him at email@example.com.