Donald Trump owes his victory to a wide range of circumstances. Among these:
#10 Hillary Clinton gave only one memorable speech during the campaign–and then she quashed any benefits that might have come from it.
This was the “basket of deplorables” speech, delivered at a New York fundraiser on September 9. It was the only Clinton speech to be widely quoted by Democrats and Republicans.
She divided Donald Trump’s supporters into two groups. The first group were the “deplorables,” for whom she showed open contempt:
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic –you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.
“He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people–now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”
Hillary Clinton (Gage Skidmore photo)
But the second group, she said, consisted of poor, alienated Americans who rightly felt abandoned by their employers and their government:
“But the other basket–and I know this because I see friends from all over America here….but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.
“They don’t buy everything [Trump] says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
After giving this speech, Clinton threw away the good it might well have done her.
First, the day after making the speech, she apologized for it: “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’–that was wrong.”
Many of Trump’s followers were racists, sexists and xenophobes–who deserved condemnation, not apologies. By apologizing, she looked weak, indecisive.
Second, having eloquently reached out to many of the men and women who were a prime constituency for Donald Trump, she made no effort to follow up.
She could have used this moment to offer an economic package that would quickly and effectively address their vital needs for jobs and medical care.
But that would have required her to put one together long ago. And all she had to offer now was boilerplate rhetoric, such as: “Education is the answer.”
Worst of all, Trump turned her speech against her, tweeting: “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!”
#11 Neither the Democrats nor the TV networks dared reveal the full intensity of hatred and violence that were hallmarks of Trump’s rallies–and campaign.
Three New York Times reporters who covered Trump’s rallies for over one year routinely witnessed his supporters hurl vulgar taunts such as:
At Hillary Clinton: “Trump that bitch!” “Kill her!” “Lock her up!” “Hillary is a whore!” “Hang the bitch!”
At protesters: “Get out of here, you fag!” “Get him!” “Get the fuck out of here!”
At Latinos: “Build a wall–kill them all!” “Fuck those dirty beaners!” “Send them bastards back. I’m sure that paperwork comes in Spanish.”
At Muslims: “Fuck Islam!” “Islam is not a religion, partner. It’s an ideology.” “You don’t come and talk about America when you’re supporting Muslims.”
At President Barack Obama: “Fuck that nigger!”
H. Allen Scott, a reporter for Fusion, attended a Trump rally and overheard conversations that startled him.
In one, a man marked Arabs as the enemy: “Those sand niggers are out to get us. We need to bomb the hell out of them.”
In the other, the supposed threat came from a different source: “The Donald will get all those Jews out of Washington.”
When protesters were ejected, Trump supporters went wild–and usually turned violent. Protesters were beaten and kicked–often with Trump’s encouragement.
Protesters and supporters duke it out at a Donald Trump rally
Audiences at Trump rallies were overwhelmingly white. Not all were racists, but many of those who were advertised it on T-shirts: “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.” Confederate flags were commonly displayed.
TV news networks and the Hillary Clinton campaign could have aired–repeatedly–such footage. Had they done so, Americans would have gotten a brutal, firsthand look at the anger and racism inherent in Trump’s candidacy–and followers.
Instead, Trump was allowed to appear on late-night shows like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show where he was treated with kid gloves for fun and laughs.
Thus, it is pointless to blame any one person (such as Hillary Clinton) or group (such as those who voted for third-party candidates) for Clinton’s loss. Many factors played a part–including some that, to keep this series at a reasonable length, could not be mentioned.