It appears that that “basket of deplorables” was a bit larger than Hillary Clinton expected. I was up to 4 am at Fox participating in the coverage of the election from New York. This was my fourth such presidential election as part a media team and it was fascinating to watch unfold at the campaign headquarters at Fox. History will judge the decisions of Democrats leaders in this election. As I have previously written, many in the Democratic National Committee and establishment (including allies in the media) did everything they could to engineer the election of Hillary Clinton. While they had an extremely popular candidate in Bernie Sanders as well as Vice President Joe Biden, they insisted on advancing Clinton despite her being deeply disliked and the ultimate symbol of the establishment that the public was rallying against. As the close race indicated, the selection of a Sanders or Biden might have produced a sweep of both the White House and the Senate for the Democrats. We will never know of course but what is clear is that Clinton was the least likely candidate to prevail in this environment. Democratic leaders lost possible control of both the Senate and the White House by forcing voters to vote for someone with record negatives. Voters were clear that they did not want Clinton, but the Democrats assumed that the “lesser of two evils” approach would again prevail. They were wrong. Many people voted for third party candidates and many people on the fence refused to pick the candidate most associated with the establishment and the status quo. I expect that history will judge the work of figures like Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and Donna Brazile harshly in the roles that they played and more generally in the failure of Democratic leaders to heed the clear demand from voters for a change in leadership. Hillary Clinton was a talented and historic nominee. However, she was also the very symbol of the establishment and heavily laden with the type of associations that the public was clearly reacting against.
The wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania shows precisely how reckless and cynical the DNC strategy proved to be. Clinton won only 18 states and the District of Columbia, though it did earn her 242 electoral votes. Now for the first time in decades, the Democrats have handed a Republican president both houses of Congress. They solved gridlock but not in the way that they had hoped.
I was astonished to see Clinton decline to speak to her supporters who had wait so loyally at their campaign headquarters. While she did concede over the telephone to Trump, I thought it was bad form not to come down to the headquarters and address the nation and her supporters. They worked incredibly hard and the loss was a terrible blow for them. They deserved better in my view and I felt truly sorry for both their disappointment and effective abandonment at that moment. Looking at the results coming into the headquarters, it was clear that no further “counting” would change the result as Clinton’s telephone call affirmed a short while later. It is the final obligation of a candidate in a presidential campaign to be with your supporters and show the nation that the transition of power would proceed, as it always has, in an orderly fashion. It was highly ironic given the well-founded criticism of the statement of Trump that he might not accept the results of the election — a view driven home by Chris Wallace (who was the gold standard for moderators in these election debates).
The greatest loser in this election was the mainstream media. As I previously discussed, I believe that Trump did bring much of the negative coverage on himself. However, I saw many journalists discard any semblance of neutrality in their coverage, as vividly shown in Wikileaks emails of coordination with the Clinton campaign. The priority for the media should be a serious reexamination of its coverage in this election.
In the end, the public wanted change and they got it. The fact is that many of the public has long felt that they no longer controlled their government and they were right. That is what makes this so revolutionary and transformative for American politics. Whatever a Trump Administration may hold, it will be shock to the system and that is precisely what tens of millions of Americans wanted.