|Clinton's problem - a lack of honesty
Copyright Washington Post
So, what went wrong in an election that was her's to lose all along? There appear to be reasons that have to do with the nature and history of the candidate as well as some reasons that relate to Clinton's policies. Let's look at the latter first.
The American society and economy never quite recovered from the shock of the 2008 crisis. Whilst the Obama administration showered some industries with subsidies and bail outs, it could not arrest the long term decline of manufacturing that had started in the 1990s. Whatever you think about the forces of globalisation (cheaper consumer prices in the shops; mobility of labour and capital), it left an entire stratum at the bottom of society bereft in a sea of hopelessness. Those who benefited from globalisation were largely the intellectual and professional elites in urban places. Neither Clinton nor the Democratic Party in general ever found a formula to address the concerns of those left behind.
That should not surprise us. Liberals (the American left) are most comfortable with the language of universal rights, unfettered by notions of place and belonging. It is this universalist perspective that prevents them to grasp the anger amongst many Americans with illegal immigration which, incidentally, provide the large Latin American workforce cleaning the houses and mowing the lawns of the country's elite.
It is this vacuum that Trump managed to fill and which, whatever the electoral outcome, politicians on both sides need to find answers to if they want to prevent a repetition in four years time of the dog-whistle politics so successfully championed by the billionaire.
The second aspect of Clinton's candidacy and the deep reservations it evokes amongst Americans is personal in nature. Clinton comes with baggage, not least a philandering husband, and the thought of Bill Clinton roaming the White House to sexually target young female interns fills most ordinary people with horror. Yet, the personality problem extends beyond her husband and goes to the very core of her own character. Hilary Clinton must appear to most Americans as one of the most dishonest politicians of modern times. Lying her way through the Benghazi Committee hearings must surely be the pinnacle of a political career that was marked by deviousness, double-dealing and betrayal. Despite having deleted thousands of official emails, and thereby violated any rule in the book for government officials, her sense of entitlement to the presidency is palpable and must be grating for everyone who thinks that politicians are in office by virtue of the democratic will of the people. Her lies and distortion would be the stuff of comedy (see Saturday Night Live) if they would not have been so serious and contributed so much to the disenchantment of Americans with politics in general.
In the end, it must be the most agonising choice Americans ever faced: to chose between a Republican who is unfit for the office of President and a woman who is a disgrace to her fellow Democrats. One hopes that a majority prefers the corrupt liar over the misogynist.