“I’m a liberal Democrat. Should I be mad at Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Barack Obama or just mad at myself?” —Liberal Louie
It’s been a great year for finger-pointing. Assigning blame is one of the things our society does best and devotes so much of its energy toward. The entire internet is basically a delivery system for porn and outrage. And outrage porn. But after last year’s election, we’ve taken it up a notch. Someone is to blame for the outcomes of that election. All the bad policies and all the terrible governmental decisions that have followed. And it certainly isn’t us or our friends or whoever we voted for.
Thankfully, Hillary Clinton has written a post-mortem on her experiences during the election. They are a bit colored by the fact that she lost in surprising fashion to Donald Trump. Ever since, we’ve had to endure the endless ball-spiking of seemingly moronic people that Only They Saw This Coming. Somehow, Trump’s advisors have become prescient truth-seers in a world full of incredulous doubters. Which suggests we might have to reassess whether the sky is actually blue or not.
Would Bernie have won? Probably not! Would the Cowboys have beaten the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl instead of the Falcons? I have no idea. I have no idea how anyone would have any idea. It never happened. And therefore, it’s a difficult calculation to make, but somehow we’re supposed to believe that Bernie would have won some of those rabid Trump fans in states Hillary just didn’t visit enough. I find this very difficult to believe.
I never understood the allure of Bernie Sanders. I’m not very interested in populism, because it just sounds too good to be true. If we had this exact Congress and just Bernie Sanders at the top, would we be on the way to Single Payer Health Care? I somehow doubt it. We’d definitely feel better, because I don’t think Bernie Sanders wants to nuke the Earth. But I also don’t think he’d be able to get states to pay for his “Everyone Goes to College for Free” thing. Would I like it if it did work out? Yes. I think some private colleges would go out of business. Bernie could have run as an independent for President against Clinton and Trump. Nothing was stopping him. Instead he threw his support behind Hillary when he lost to her. How much should you blame Bernie Sanders? Not at all.
I’ve never expected the world from politicians. They all promise the world and then come up very much short of the world. I still feel like the Nobel Prize people ought to get their Peace Prize back from Obama. I voted for him twice, and compared to the current occupant he seems like Abraham Lincoln. But we mustered only moderate change, a lot of which is currently being undone. How much should you blame Barack Obama? Not at all. He did what he could under some very unprecedented circumstances to try to stop Trump from becoming President.
So yes, Hillary Clinton has written a new book about the election. (I am waiting for the movie; that will probably be amazing.) But she casts blame far and wide. I generally have always blamed Clinton’s teams for her Presidential losses. She’s smart, thoughtful and right most of the time. She does things people don’t like, like making speeches to bankers and having an email server in her basement. I don’t feel like those things should have kept her from being President, and I think we’d all sleep a lot better if she were president. I don’t think it serves much purpose to know who she blames for her loss.
Anthony Weiner might be a good person to blame. He is perhaps most responsible, and I am totally fine blaming him. Should we blame Hillary Clinton? Nah. She got 3 million more votes than the other guy. The assigning of blame may make you feel better, like getting vengeance on all your foes, but it is an empty good feeling. Trump and his morons are still running things and chances are Democrats will somehow blow the 2018 midterms, too. President Trump will probably get re-elected in 2020 because no one will want to admit that they made a mistake electing him the first time. And, ultimately, politics will never make you feel safe or useful. We have a majority of people in this country who would rather deny we have any problems than do anything about it. The easy way out is always the American Way. Let them print that on our graves.
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works in a bookstore.