First, I don't think it needs to be said, but this was not so much an election that the Republicans won, but an election that the Democrats actively lost. Trump was never (or should never have been) a serious candidate, and he should have been easily beaten. He wasn't, and while its trendy to point fingers at people who voted third party, or didn't vote at all, the fact is that the Democratic party is to blame for this.
First, they nominated an unpopular candidate. Fairly or not, Clinton has been dogged by investigations, accusations and insinuations over her handling of Benghazi, and her private email server. The first had no real substance to it, but the Republicans got a lot of mileage out of it anyway. It was baggage that a candidate did not need. The second should not have been an issue if she had just been honest about it. First she lied about it, and lied about deleting emails before finally owning up, but in a smug and dismissive manner as if she regarded the whole thing to be beneath her. It did not give the impression of an honest or reliable person, let alone presidential material. It should not have been a problem, but she let it fester into one.
The primaries were biased and rigged. We know that they were rigged because it seems that Democrats have a problem with securing their email servers. Even without their party chair actively working against Clinton's main adversary, the whole process is set up to allow the party to appoint the candidate of their choice. The voting process gives a pretence of power to the party members while their cabal of elite super delegates ensures that the candidate that the party actually wanted is the one who gets picked. Yes, I know that it is a private organization and they can run it however they want, but it makes a mockery of choice, and does not speak well to the principles of the party.
At least Trump was fairly elected by his party.
When Debbie Wasserman Schultz's little web of corruption was exposed in the email leaks and she was forced to resign, that would have been a good opportunity for Clinton to express fake shock and outrage, and to distance herself from the process. Instead she heaped praise on Schultz and immediately hired her for her campaign. It was an amazing display of hubris and cronyism on Clinton's part, and showed how little regard the party insiders had for their members. I heard a wonderful quote a few days before the election, from an undecided voter who lamented, "Clinton represents everything I hate about politics. Trump represents everything I hate about Americans." Clinton demonstrated that she would reward bad behaviour as long as you were a friend.
After Sanders lost what many of his followers felt was a rigged nomination process, Clinton's followers almost seemed to go out of their way to antagonize and alienate the Bernie Bros. I cringed a bit at the patronizing tone I saw flowing from her camp. "There there, we're sorry that your candidate lost. Now be good little Democrats and vote for our person." I think what's worse though is that her camp just assumed that they would flock to her once he was eliminated. She made a few token promises with regards to progressive policies, but I never really got much sense of conviction out of her that she would honour any of them once she got elected. I suspect a lot of them felt the same way.
Speaking of taking things for granted, she ignored an important part of her base. While Trump was off talking to the working poor and promising them all sorts of things he will never deliver on, Clinton was off holding secret meetings with elites and bankers and
She picked a dud for a VP. Maybe she was afraid of being upstaged, or embarrassed if she picked a progressive running mate, but a house plant would have been just as effective.
Ultimately though, she was simply unpopular. One can argue all they want about all of the reasons whe she should not have been unpopular. One could cite sexism, or any other number of isms, but that does not change the fact that a lot of people did not like Clinton. The Democratic party knew this - there had been many polls during the primaries that showed this quite clearly. Worse, when Clinton, Sanders and Trump were the only fish left in the pond, there were polls that showed that she would lose in an election against Trump.
The Democratic party chose to ignore the polls and anointed her anyway. They knew that she was fairly widely disliked, but they were steeping in enough hubris to assume that people would vote for her anyway because Trump. It was a gamble, and it failed. They subverted the democratic process in their own party, alienated potential supporters, ignored other supporters, hopped into bed with Wall Street and rewarded bad behaviour. It's like they wanted to lose. When you look at the voting results, Trump pulled in less people than Romney did in the last election. The big difference was how much lower Clinton's numbers were than Obama's. Democrats stayed home in droves.
In the end, it turns out that people disliked Clinton more than they feared Trump.
Oh, and they effectively siphoned money away from downstream races to put all of their eggs in the presidential race. You can see how well that strategy worked in the house and senate. One would hope that the Democratic party would learn from this, and do some housecleaning before the next election.
And then Leonard Cohen died today. This has been a crappy week all around.
We get interesting sunsets on the prairie.