It only took four days for Hillary Clinton to do the inevitable: blame James Comey for her losing the election. The Clintons are always blaming someone else for their problems. Let’s review the bidding because Hillary Clinton supposedly had every possible trump card in this election.
The Clinton campaign and its affiliated groups spent approximately $900 million, significantly more than Donald Trump. The Democratic Party was united, with full-throated campaigning by all its leaders, including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former foe, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
No one argues that, nationally, the Democratic Party had a far superior organization than the Republicans and the mainstream media were very one sided in its support for Clinton. In addition, most of the country’s celebrity star power lit up social media on behalf of Clinton. The demographics of the country seemed inexorably in Clinton’s favor also, with Trump’s apparent alienation of women, Hispanics, African- American and LGBTQ voters. I, too, certainly thought the election was a lock when, with a decided lack of enthusiasm, I cast my vote for the Democratic nominee, as I have done my entire life.
So what happened?
I had to look no further than my own Herald op-ed written in February. I suggested then that Clinton withdraw from the race because the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries showed she ran poorly among white voters of all ages, she was widely distrusted and Democratic turnout was tepid. This op-ed generated more heated reaction than any I had written before or have since. I was called everything from a Republican shill to just outright dumb. Of course, Clinton was not going to withdraw, and she went on to win big on Super Tuesday.
But the point was, her fatal flaws were exposed for anyone to see.
If Ivanka Trump ran a foundation while her father was president and accepted money from foreign governments, what would Democrats be saying? And to make matters worse, what if those same donors had her brothers on lucrative personal retainers? As a person who was in public office, I would say it was an epic ethical, and disqualifying, breach, no matter how many good deeds the foundation performed.
James Comey actually did the Clintons a favor with his ill-advised second letter regarding new emails. It was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike, but it distracted everyone, including the press, from the far more damaging Doug Band memo that revealed how Clinton Foundation donors enriched the Clintons personally. The memo was written to complain about Chelsea Clinton challenging these very unethical activities. After 25 years of drama surrounding the Clintons, one has to think it is not all just a vast right-wing conspiracy.
I recently finished a new biography of Robert Kennedy by Larry Tye, “The Making of a Liberal Icon.” It was a painful reminder of how Democrats once had, but how have lost poor white voters. This is particularly ironic given how well Hillary Clinton performed against Barack Obama among this cohort in the 2008 primaries only to get crushed this year by Bernie Sanders and then Donald Trump this year.
It is shocking to think how the Clinton campaign, with the exception of Ohio, virtually ignored the industrial states. States that voted for Obama twice went for Donald Trump. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin did not suddenly become havens for racists and misogynists. Finally, the Clinton campaign’s only message in the closing weeks was that Donald Trump was unfit. The lack of message hurt. For example, Trump was even more successful among Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney in 2012.
I think we have to accept one other fact. To break barriers in this country, you have to be a superior person in all ways — think Jackie Robinson or Barack Obama. Florida Democrats would do well in 2018 to remember that the quality of candidates matter and should not always be measured by the donor and consultant class.
I don’t understand all the reasons Trump was elected, but to me this is still the same country I always loved and elected Barack Obama twice. We must continue to trust in the remarkable process created by the Founders, and trust that democratic values are written into DNA of the American people.
Mike Abrams is former chairman of the Dade Democratic Party, a former state legislator and currently a policy adviser to Ballard Partners.