Forty-Three Percent Failure

(Image courtesy of http://imgur.com/TOGIbcP)

In the cataclysmic presidential election of 2016, 43% of eligible voters did not even get off the couch. In the 2012 mid-term election that number was 43%. In 2008, Obama’s re-election saw 37%  not voting and in 2004 approximately 40% didn’t vote.

This isn’t to blame those voters. Not necessarily anyway. Not all of these citizens may be able to vote based on disabilities or infirmities. The entire segment should not be vote-shamed because of circumstances that may be beyond their control.

On Tuesday, Clinton won the popular vote by 160,000 votes or so. A 5% shift in her favor would have given her over 11,000,000 more votes. No matter how you slice that delegate-wise, she would likely have won.

Certainly, there are those who have no interest whatsoever in politics and simply don’t vote as a matter of irresponsible disinterest. Perhaps you could get them to vote if Jimmy Buffet or Kim Kardashian ran for president, but otherwise this sub-segment is just dis-fucking-interested. There are parties to attend and all-around dumbfuckery to waste life on.

Then there, most certainly, those people who are smart enough to care but who just have to be inspired to vote. It’s not necessarily that they’re lazy about voting, but more likely disillusioned by life experiences that demonstrate government’s inability to truly help them or its routine disinterest in their communities. If you don’t trust your elected representatives – particularly when you don’t trust a series of them over time – you are very unlikely to want to vote. However, every once in a generation a candidate for office truly inspires these people and they get out to vote. Thus the swing in numbers, to some degree anyway.

So speculatively, and I mean really speculatively, let’s say that this amounts to 5% of the 43%. It’s a conservative enough number, but as we have seen in election after election that percentage of votes can swing things drastically. That’s practically a groundswell. On Tuesday, Clinton won the popular vote by 160,000 votes or so. A 5% shift in her favor would have given her over 11,000,000 more votes. No matter how you slice that delegate-wise, she would likely have won.

I don’t hate women. I hate poor strategies, and the “I’m with Her Vagina” strategy was one of the worst in history because it insisted that we ignore everything else about Clinton. It was identity politics played to an untenable extreme. No woman is inherently good anymore than any man is inherently good.

So the question is, why couldn’t she get those inspiration-requiring voters off the bench? Obama seemingly did. What exactly was different? What was missing?

Here’s a hint: Hope? Nope. Change? Nah, we’re good.

Throughout my 36 years of voting, I have never seen such an inert, patronizing and non-aspirational presidential candidate as Hillary Clinton. Her campaign lacked original ideas (piddling tax breaks for the struggling working class, tepid endorsement of an increase in the minimum wage, supreme overconfidence in the accomplishments of the insurance-company-friendly ACA) and displayed her oligarchical “I am the queen of America” manner (calling millennials “basement dwellers” and “misinformed,” showing blatant disrespect for Black Lives Matter and Greenpeace activists, and displaying utter indifference to the Dakota Access Pipeline debacle, among others) at far too many turns.

What about that was supposed to be inspiring? She came across as an overly strict grandma with little interest in having fun with the kids. To her, it seemed, the next generation was just an irritation that needed to be dealt with so she could get to her next million dollar tea party.

That last comment will likely get me accused of misogyny, especially by Clinton supporters’ standards. In fact, misogyny seems to be what they bet their whole wad on. Clinton, you see, is a victim! Disregard the morass of unethical decisions she has made throughout her career (and I’m not talking about any of the emails or the bullshit Benghazi thing), the real story here is that damned glass ceiling. None of this resistance would be happening if she was packing a penis, they said. That is 100% of the story. Her election simply had to happen because she had a vagina. It would be the vagina that launched a thousand ships (which many feared) and inspired generations of girls and women going forward. “I’m with Her” was simply shorthand for “I’m with Her Vagina.”

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m all for electing a female president. I was clamoring for Elizabeth Warren to run at the beginning of this disaster. Elizabeth Warren is brilliant, affable, a progressive who truly understands what’s wrong with our economy and is fighting to fix it. She doesn’t give quarter million dollar speeches to Wall Street firms. They fucking hate her. I like that.

Sanders was, in fact, the “all issues” candidate, and Clinton simply cherry-picked those that wouldn’t change one iota about our current economy. She was doling out breadcrumbs imagining that we would think they were bakeries.

Likewise, I said early on that if Bernie Sanders was a woman, that wouldn’t change a thing about how much I love him and would vote for him. Can you imagine? Our first woman president being a 75-year-old Jewish lady would have been epic.

I don’t hate women. I hate poor strategies, and the “I’m with Her Vagina” strategy was one of the worst in history because it insisted that we ignore everything else about Clinton. It was identity politics played to an untenable extreme. No woman is inherently good anymore than any man is inherently good. Regardless of gender, we are the sum of our actions through time. Even minorities and previously disenfranchised people can be assholes, criminals or unethical politicians. I assume the odds are pretty even across every demographic as to who is pretty good and who is pretty bad. Any strategy that ignores basic assumptions about human nature is a loser. And it was.

Contrast the lack of enthusiasm that strategy generated with the epic crowds drawn to Bernie Sanders’ rallies during the primary. Then contrast that again with the feeble crowds attending Bernie Sanders’ speeches for Clinton during the general election. It doesn’t take a genius to see what true inspiration looks like. No amount of cognitive dissonance can dispute that Sanders’ bold ideas, no matter how aspirational they were, got people off their asses and into the streets for a presidential candidate in a way I have never ever seen in my lifetime. It wasn’t because of his ethnicity or his age or his high profile. It was simply about his ideas. Ideas that energized people to remember what compassionate government should look like.

Clinton, appealing to basic (but vital) women’s issues like equal pay, tax credits for child care, easy access to birth control and legal abortion, was a one-issue candidate, contrary to what she called Sanders himself early on in the primary. Women’s issues are critical to a compassionate government, and Republicans are eroding those year by year to disastrous results. Yet, Clinton refused to admit that income inequality fuels so much lack of access and opportunity that minorities and women endure. She refused to acknowledge that leveling the economic playing field required drastic measures and that it was a critical element of addressing sexism, racism, xenophobia and extreme nationalism. Sanders was, in fact, the “all issues” candidate, and Clinton simply cherry-picked those that wouldn’t change one iota about our current economy. She was doling out breadcrumbs imagining that we would think they were bakeries.

So when we look at that presumptive 5% of uninspired voters who stayed home on November 8th, remember that they were tired of breadcrumbs, possibly so weakened from surviving on them that they simply couldn’t get out of bed to vote.

Hopefully, the Democratic party will see the error of clinging to non-economic issues. Hopefully, they will recognize that focusing exclusively on the symptoms of economic dysfunction that affect minorities and not addressing the causes is an uninspiring and tragically misguided tactic. If another generation of genuinely terrifying conservative rule doesn’t teach them, nothing will.

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