Dems: Let’s read important, self-critical articles on the election

There is an overwhelming need for discussion and activism. Here are some thought-provoking articles to get us started.


Dear Democratic Friends,

Recently many articles have been published that are extremely helpful for us to read to understand the election results, including the massive failure of the Democratic Party which –  was it the party of the people – should have taken 70 percent of the vote, in my opinion. Let’s veer from blaming Hillary’s loss mostly on racism and sexism and focus on the alienating, silencing, and largely unproductive approach used to try to convince many American to vote for Hillary during the primary and the general. Minority voters, third party voters, the Voting Rights Act, the electoral college, etc., are important issues, sure. But the bulk of our time should be allocated to asking questions of those who have been critical of the Democratic election strategy for many months. We must ask who should lead the Democratic Party, what communities and movements should be allied with it, and what should be its agenda and vision.

To help frame the larger discussion that arises from these articles, it’s worth considering the following three things:

1.       The Democratic Party was largely unable to take on corporate power so they emphasized from the Convention on the message of inclusion, diversity, and the first woman president. Not smart. Yet the larger issue was then their behavior (actions speak louder than words) reflected the opposite. The gaslighting, abuse and putdowns of Sanders’ supporters – as sexist Bernie Bros, etc. – in the primary was PREDICATED on the bias, favoritism and dysfunction of media institutions, with the Washington Post among those who discredited Sanders in every way, above and below board. This continued with the heavy reliance on gender over policy, which was its own form of silencing and gaslighting, during the general election. Along with the uninspiring, corporate-symbol of a Democratic presidential candidate and the real lack of party commitment to minorities (see war, unwillingness to commit to #blm leaders, etc.), the Democratic Party was darn LUCKY to have won so much of the following votes: minorities, Sanders primary voters, and those who believed Hillary was not trustworthy.  By rights, against any other candidate, she should have been 10 points or more down.

2.       Second, the incredible elitism borne of controlling major institutions was a loser. People know when they are being manipulated. Why should voters have supported Hillary when there was massive media bias such that her flaws in the general were ignored, and Trump’s completely pounced on? When she refused to respond to evidence of massive Democratic National Committee collusion and media manipulation, knowing the bulk of the mainstream media wouldn’t cover it, making blaming in the “Russians” (the new Bernie Bros) in a neo-McCarthyite and jingoist way feasible? Even as she should have answered serious, proven accusations about institutional and party corruption and pushed for accountability? When the party deliberately and purposefully favored fringe Republican primary candidates whose policies often hit minorities the hardest (potentially sacrificing them), then nominated the weaker candidate? When the media’s support for Hillary allowed the party to refuse to have a discussion about who was the stronger primary candidate vis-a-vis the polls, crossover votes within the party, independent support, etc.? When the media largely refused to report or conduct polls against Trump and urged the stronger candidate (Bernie) to get out of the race? Did the party think voters would: 1) ignore that, or 2) play along, or 3) be blind to it?

3.       Why did Democrats believe they deserve to win? The appeal and value proposition of Democrats is that they are the party of the people, who have integrity or as I was told what seems like a lifetime ago, “Democrats don’t like their politicians corrupt.”Maybe the argument was that the Democrats could not have run a progressive candidate because we reside in an oligarchy: thus they had to reject banker accountability, single payor health care, a financial transaction tax, questioning wars, strong climate and environmental action, etc. If so, that should have been the major focus of the last 18 months, and should be the predominant focus now. But it’s a message absent an ethical core, and therefore a very weak one for the left.

The good news: all the “we’ll focus on issues [single payor, war, etc.] just after the general” which showed little evidence of materializing, now might. Fortunately much of the country is willing to question who heads the Democratic National Committee and what it stands for.  It gives all of us the space for such discussions, which would not have happened had a tiny percent of the electorate voted otherwise, and Hillary had won. Ye there still would have been an overwhelming need for discussion and activism. It’s one sliver of a silver lining that provides little comfort. Yet out of it materializes an opportunity upon which we must seize.

Here are thought provoking articles I’ve read this week and a key excerpt or summary of each. I do not agree with every word of every article. But, I believe, the arguments and assertions they make are worthy of serious consideration. Also, generally, if you’re a white male or female who strongly supported Hillary and lauded her strategy (especially during the primary), we’ve been listening to you. Time to sit back and relax and take in others’ analysis. Similarly, if you’re part of a corrupt institution (the mainstream media, Democratic National Committee, pundits, “progressive” think tanks), please just listen. You batted zero percent and ran the institutions that have delivered minorities – yes, much more so than you –  to the wolves.

You Won’t Believe What Donna Brazile Said About Cheating for Hillary Clinton by Tim Black – for humor, because it’s going to get pretty dark.

On “Woke” People Advertising Their Shock that Racism Just Won a Presidency by Courtney Parker West – “For a lot of people of color, this election was really about trying to find the lesser of two evils. America asked us: ‘How do you prefer your racism — blatant or systemic?’ And when we couldn’t answer immediately, white liberals patronizingly walked us through our own history and experiences to guide us to the candidate that best suited their needs.”

Politics is the Solution: Why We Can’t Move to Canada and Hide Under Our Bed, This is A Moment to Embrace Democratic Politics, Not Repudiate Them by Megan Erickson, Katherine Hill, Matt Karp, Connor Kilpatrick, & Bhaskar Sunkara – “Elite liberalism can’t defeat right wing populism.”

How You Lost the World by Sam Kriss (strong language, but please listen outside the echo chamber) – “Hillary Clinton had nothing to offer people; all she could give them was fear and herself. … Clinton all but outrightly told vast swathes of the American working classes that they were irrelevant, that she didn’t need them and they would be left behind by history, and then expected them to vote for her anyway. Clinton was playing at politics; it was a big and important game, but it could be fun too; it was entertainment, it was a play of personalities. Her campaign tried to reproduce the broad 500-channel swathe of TV: an intrigue-riddled prestige drama and a music video and the 24-hour news; they forgot that trashy reality shows always get the highest ratings.”

Logging Out: By Asad Heider and Salar Mohandesi – “[We need] to log out – to leave the digital fortress that imprisons left-wing intellectuals in a comfortable petty-bourgeois culture and reduces our politics to idealist wandering. Wander we must, but not on our Twitter feed. We need to leave our bubbles. Those in the cities and suburbs need to investigate them as if they were new to us. Those in the countryside and small towns need to leave our zones and push further into rural America, to knock on doors and talk to people across the country. We have to talk to Trump voters, of course, but also to those millions who didn’t vote this year and the 100 million who can’t vote.”

Clinton Couldn’t Win Over White Women by Claire Malon – “Throughout these many months, the Clinton team made it clear that they believed her historic candidacy had the potential to sway portions of the electorate, most especially women voters. They were counting in no small part on the support of sisterhood. … But Clinton’s stunning loss Tuesday night showed that issues of culture and class mattered more to many American women than their gender.”

Donald Trump is Moving to the White House and Liberals Put Him There By Tom Frank – “Start at the top. Why, oh why, did it have to be Hillary Clinton? Yes, she has an impressive resume; yes, she worked hard on the campaign trail. But she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment. An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine.  …

“And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest. They chose Hillary even though they knew about her private email server. They chose her even though some of those who studied the Clinton Foundation suspected it was a sketchy proposition.”

The Hubris of the Democratic Elites, Clinton Campaign Gave Us President Trump by Kevin Gosztola – “Most progressive groups, like all presidential elections, demobilized or essentially became mechanisms for the Clinton campaign to mobilize voters from August to Election Day. This allowed the message of ‘Never Trump’ to dominate as the only challenge to Trump, and without a real vision for lifting up the many Americans enticed by Trump’s campaign, the nation ended up with an end result similar to Senator John Kerry’s campaign, which ran primarily on the fact that he was not President George W. Bush. … It did not help the Clinton campaign that she had a reputation for supporting regime change wars, which have greatly destabilized parts of the world.”

Comparing Hillary Clinton’s Top Donors to Bernie Sanders Top Donors by Ben Norton – “Compare Hillary Clinton’s top donors to Bernie Sanders’: 90 percent of the top 20 contributors to Hillary Clinton are corporations or provide services to corporations. 95 percent of the top 20 contributors to Bernie Sanders are unions.”

Michael Moore, Who Predicted Trump Win, Calls for a Democratic Party Takeover – “’You live in a country where a majority of its citizens have said they believe there’s climate change, they believe women should be paid the same as men, they want a debt-free college education, they don’t want us invading countries, they want a raise in the minimum wage, and they want a single-payer true universal health care system,’ Moore writes. ‘None of that has changed. We live in a country where the majority agree with the ‘liberal’ position. We just lack the liberal leadership to make that happen.’”

It Was the Democrat’s Embrace of Neoliberalism That Won It for Trump by Naomi Klein – “Elite neoliberalism has nothing to offer that pain [poverty, powerlessness, etc.], because neoliberalism unleashed the Davos class. People such as Hillary and Bill Clinton are the toast of the Davos party. In truth, they threw the party.”

Why Did Trump Win? Blame the Failed Policies of the Democratic Party by Glenn Greenwald  – “And I think that if we’re going to have any kind of constructive discussion in the aftermath of Trump’s victory, it has to include, first and foremost, a discussion about why the Democratic Party has become such a small minority party, a minority in the House, a minority in the Senate, lost control of the White House to someone like Donald Trump, is obliterated on the state and local levels. What is it about the Democratic Party that has caused huge portions of the American voting population to turn their back to it and to reject it? And I think we’re seeing Democrats scrambling around, trying to avoid that discussion by casting the blame on everybody else. And I think that will only ensure that this kind of event will continue to replicate itself in the future.”

Bernie Sanders Would Have Been a Stronger Candidate Against Donald Trump by Glenn Greenwald – “And I think that what you just contrasted, in terms of how Trump was treated and how Sanders was treated, shows a really important truth about how media operates, which is, if you talk to most journalists who work at major media outlets or newspapers, as you know, and you say to them, ‘You have all kinds of ways that you censor certain opinions, that you have of excluding certain viewpoints,’ they’ll insist that that’s not true, that they never are told what to show or not to show, they’re never told what to say or not to say. And, of course, that’s true. And yet, embedded within all of their editorial judgments about who is worth hearing from and who isn’t worth hearing from are all kinds of ideological and partisan biases. So the idea that Donald Trump, the billionaire, celebrity, TV star, should constantly be heard from, whereas Bernie Sanders, the old Jewish socialist from Vermont, who nobody took seriously, doesn’t need to be heard from, with all of his boring speeches about college debt and healthcare and the like, in that choice is a very strong and pedantic ideological choice that the American media embraced and played a huge role in enabling Trump to march to the primary.”

Donald Trump Will Be President: This is What We Do Next by Jon Schwartz – “The role for older, richer white liberals will be important but painfully different from what they’re used to. They’ll have to support other people’s priorities, put up money for things they don’t control, and use all of their social power to protect Muslims, immigrants, and every threatened minority. … What white progressives can and must pursue is outreach to Trump’s white base.” (It’s also great on the storytelling the Democrats aren’t doing.)

Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit by Glenn Greenwald – “Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination. … The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people.” 

The End of the Pantsuit Nation and the Force of Subliminal Messages by Federiga Bindi – She writes about the “Clinton Brand”, messaging, Russia, Bernie, and pantsuits.


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Veena Trehan writes on policy and the responsibilities of politicians and institutions. She has written for Reuters, Bloomberg News and NPR. Trehan is an active citizen with a passion for issues including inequality and human rights, environmental justice, and the safety of women on college campuses. Before her career in journalism, she worked in government consulting and information technology. Trehan studied Electrical Engineering at MIT and did a Master’s in Journalism on a Reuters Fellowship.