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Clinton loss spurs second guessing about platform, primary process

By CHEN WEIHUA | | Updated: 2016-11-14 14:14

There is a Chinese saying called shihou zhugeliang, which means it's easy to prophesize after an event or to be a Monday-morning quarterback, as Americans like to say.

After a historic win on Tuesday by businessman Donald Trump, pundits and TV commentators who fervently supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton started to talk about what went wrong with her campaign.

It is not clear that they knew all the problems during the dirty campaign, but at least a few had pointed them out before Election Day.

I was observing the election on Nov 8, including at a polling place on Connecticut Avenue near the Duke Ellington Bridge. A young man I talked to said he came to vote for none of the candidates but to vote against all of them.

Such protest voters were not a small group this year, as many Americans felt they had to choose the lesser of the two evils, a situation I described in an earlier column.

In the days after the election, many Clinton supporters or anti-Trump voters took to the streets to voice their opposition to the president-elect, who will be inaugurated on Jan 20.

Many still had not realized that the problem of the Clinton campaign was that she represented too much of the status quo after aligning herself with President Barack Obama, whom she served as secretary of state during his first term.

That means she could not genuinely criticize the many problems in US society and address the concerns of many Americans.

Those problems and concerns, such as income inequality and the role of money in politics, have become so dire that Americans were angrier than ever going into the 2016 election.

In that regard, an endorsement by Obama was both a blessing and a curse for Clinton, who lost many traditional Democratic districts to Trump.

As an outside observer, the vision for the United States represented by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been the best of all candidates', an America I would truly respect.

The election result might have been different if Clinton had embraced more of Sanders' campaign platform after she won the Democratic primary.

I wrote six months ago that I never understood why Americans would regard Sanders as too idealistic and unrealistic given John F. Kennedy's moon speech in 1962: "We choose to go to the moon in the decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard …"

Sanders lost to Clinton in a primary that was not played on a level playing field, given the revelations in emails obtained by WikiLeaks showing that the Democratic National Committee had worked against Sanders' campaign.

Clinton's close connection with the super delegates also disadvantaged Sanders during the primaries.

A story by Daniel Strauss on Politico on Saturday quoted Severin Beliveau, a former Maine Democratic Party chairman who supported Sanders in the primary, saying that Sanders people feel strongly that they were mistreated during the primary process and the conventions.

It then described how many Sanders supporters are working hard to get their progressive candidates elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.

There was little doubt that the Sanders campaign was the healthiest and most focused on substance, unlike the name-calling between Trump and Clinton, their superficial presidential debates and their negative ads on television.

Early on, some polls had shown that Sanders had a better chance to beat Trump than Clinton did.

In an op-ed in The New York Times on Friday, Sanders said he was saddened but not surprised by the outcome.

"It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo."

Filmmaker Michael Moore said on CNN on Thursday night that Sanders "absolutely" would have won the election if he had been the Democratic nominee.

"Democrats need to start running people who are inspiring. … Why don't we run people who are beloved by the American people?" Moore said.

That is something the protesters should reckon with while venting their anger at President-elect Trump.

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