It’s Still the Economy, Stupid 

So, all right, what happened? Hillary Clinton was supposed to win. And we mean that word in its original sense — as a close cousin to the word "assumed." Everybody so supposed — not just Democrats, but a substantial number of Republicans, as well, including Donald Trump himself, who in his day-after photo op with President Obama in the Oval Office, had that deer-in-the-headlights look that we associate with the rudest of shocks.

click to enlarge bill-clinton.jpg

Let us posit this as a truism: If you're the Democratic nominee running for President, you should not only use previous presidents of your party as surrogates on the stump, you should — very clearly and seriously — take their advice on strategy.

In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's defeat, it got leaked about that her very husband, former President Bill Clinton, had advised strongly that she hit the rust-belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, et al. hard in the last days of the campaign, not only with her physical presence but with specific reference to the hardships of economic privation and depressed wages and job opportunities in those states and with even more specific remedies for those circumstances.

To their everlasting discredit, the powers-that-be in her campaign dismissed this advice — presumably as something old-fashioned and left over from Bill Clinton's own former successes with those themes in those states.

Remember, "It's the economy, stupid"?

Well, it was the economy, still. Nobody in charge seemed to remember that Secretary Clinton's Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, defeated her in those states with those issues. Nobody in charge seemed to imagine that her Republican opponent could defeat her in the same states with the same issues. But he did.

Instead, the Clinton campaign seemed fixated on the concept of Donald Trump as misbehaver and sexual marauder and devoted her late TV advertising almost entirely to that idea — hoping, it would seem, that the suburban professional classes that the campaign was focused on instead would be affronted by evidence of Trump's boorishness and could thereby be weaned away from their Republican voting habits.

As an example of just how amnesiac the Clinton campaign was, nobody seemed to recall that daily accusations of sexual impropriety, followed up with an actual impeachment, had failed utterly to dent the public popularity of the aforesaid President Bill Clinton in 1998. That was the year, post-Monica Lewinsky, when the Democrats went on, after all the GOP's fuss and moralistic bluster, to run up numerous successes in the off-year congressional elections.

This was just one mistake by the Hillary Clinton campaign, but it was a fundamental one. Not all the largesse from big-money donors in the world (and her campaign got much of it, vastly more than Trump) could substitute for the kind of focus on working-class economic issues that has guided every victorious Democratic national campaign from FDR on. The section of the voting population that Mitt Romney so arrogantly called "the 47 percent" is still the source of Democratic victories.

There is no "Stronger Together" without this component. There is no Together at all.


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