I knew this was going to happen…literally. Check out the piece I wrote months before Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump:
Many, many people were considering her a sure-fire thing. Hell, I bought into it because the polls looked like they always did in the rust belt and elsewhere. I put my faith in the FiveThirtyEight algorithm like a ton of others did, and it bit me in the ass on election night. But just as I wrote back then, it is no one’s fault but Hillary’s that she lost. She and her campaign ignored voters that they took for granted. That’s it. Simple as can be. Well, at least that’s the simplest and probably most important reason she lost, but that’s not what partisan Democrats — you know, liberals who were suddenly not-so-anti-war when Obama came in, and the ones who turned a blind eye to his Corporate Democrat ways? Yeah, they have someone else to blame.
Jill Stein…or Gary Johnson if people voted for him instead. But mostly, Jill Stein. Partisan Democrats jab their fingers at the votes that Stein got, insistent that they meant the difference between Clinton’s loss and our first female president. That is absolutely, positively ludicrous 0n its face.
For starters, no one, literally no one can predict who the Stein voters would have voted if she hadn’t been in the race. They could have been the kind of voters who vote for Mickey Mouse every year. We’d never know. But to just blindly assume all the Stein voters would have changed their very principled reasons for not voting for Hillary just because Stein wasn’t in the race is pretty much Democrats burying their heads in the sand.
Oh, and while we’re tossing blame around — why don’t Partisan Dems attack the millions of eligible voters who didn’t even bother to cast a vote? Rough estimates are that about 46% of the people who are totally legally allowed to vote, simply didn’t. There’s a reason Hillary lost, right there, but it’s so much more convenient, I guess, to blame people who at least cared enough to vote, because heaven forefend they vote for someone you didn’t want them to vote for, right?
Then have you square yourself with the fact that third parties are always on the ballots. Every year. Sometimes they get more votes, sometimes they get less votes. But again, even if you just blindly assume that every vote Jill Stein got was because it was a protest against Hillary — that still means Hillary lost because of fucking Hillary Clinton. That’s it. Come to grips with the fact that the Democratic National Committee was tone deaf. Come to grips with the fact that as qualified as she was, she wasn’t the right candidate in the right areas for her to win.
Now, if you want to argue that she’s a victim of the Electoral College, and that the Electoral College is an antiquated piece of shit bit of anti-democracy left over from our country’s Stone Age? I’m on that boat with you. The fact of the matter is that more Americans did want Hillary than any other candidate. But because of an arcane election mechanism, she lost. If the Electoral College didn’t exist, you’d have zero reason to bitch about Jill Stein, or any other candidate, taking votes away from Hillary, because Hillary would still have the most votes.
Here’s a little known bit of information that I think more partisan Democrats should keep in mind. In 2000, when Al Gore lost Florida, it’s been widely assumed (by those same partisan Democrats) that it was Ralph Nader’s fault. Not only has that never been conclusively proven, there is plenty of evidence, real evidence, that Democrats voting for Bush cost them the election, as well as other key demographics.
Don’t believe me?
Here’s an excerpt from a piece in Salon dated back in 2000, when woebegone Dems were again trying to figure out why they’d lost an election after winning the popular vote.
Now it gets really ugly for the Gore campaign, for there are two other Florida constituencies that cost them more votes than Nader did. First, Democrats. Yes, Democrats! Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush. Hello. If Gore had taken even 1 percent of these Democrats from Bush, Nader’s votes wouldn’t have mattered. Second, liberals. Sheesh. Gore lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader. (source)
Now, stop and ask yourself this — in the rust belt, is it possible that some Obama voters cast ballots for Trump? It’s maybe unthinkable to us, but it’s absolutely, positively true. You know, as much as we mock Republicans for not acknowledging the ideological switcheroo the parties did during the civil rights era, the same mocking should be heaped on Democrats for essentially behaving the same way. Parties aren’t monoliths, or at least their members aren’t, and Democrats of all walks of life had real reason to not vote for Hillary.
Ultimately, the argument against Trump and for Hillary was mostly just against Trump. The Clinton campaign knew it had enormous baggage. After all, they’d lost to an upstart junior African-American senator eight years ago. No one ever thought we’d have a black president, but Clinton was so poisoned by then that voters went with Obama instead. In a way, 2016 was just 2008 played out on a bigger stage. Clinton didn’t have the bombast to match Trump’s, and again, when she turned her back on and took Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania for granted, she was sunk then.
So there you have it. Blaming Jill Stein for Donald Trump is intellectually lazy. It discounts several factors involved in people’s voting decisions. It pretends as if Hillary was a perfect candidate, and not a deeply flawed one, qualified as she was. Remember — I voted for her. I didn’t see her flaws as insurmountable. A lot of people did though. And I have feeling when the dust settles and someone does a real deep-dive on what happened in the rust belt states, it’s going to be Democrats who voted for Trump, not Democrats who voted for Stein, who did the most amount of damage.
I know this won’t stop partisan Democrats from blaming Stein. They still blame Nader for 2000, no matter how much evidence is there that Nader was far less a factor than he’s blamed for being. This is just me standing on my little soapbox here, trying to shout sense into people. You’re never going to learn any lessons if you keep repeating the same mistakes — in this case selecting a qualified, but uninspiring candidate who had baggage for days and then pretending the candidate herself had nothing to do with her loss, and it was all that pesky third party candidate’s fault.
Enjoy your bubble and bullshit, Partisan Democrats. I’ll keep hoping a real progressive party comes along at some time. But I won’t be holding my breath.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.