I want to clarify something: my view of Hillary Clinton has not changed one bit in recent months. I still think she is a fantastic leader and would have made a stellar president. However, that does not prevent me from acknowledging her flaws as a candidate or recognizing how those flaws led to her defeat.
Clinton is not a charismatic person. Even some diehard supporters like myself cringed at her robotic delivery of scripted speeches. This by no means should have influenced her chances at the White House, but the fact is that charisma does matter, whether we like it or not. History shows us that candidates who are charismatic tend to beat those who are not. Why did the GOP lose the last two elections? Romney and McCain were two fairly boring candidates, representative of the establishment, the elite, and they were running against the almighty Barack Obama, perhaps the best orator in the recent history of the Democratic Party.
Of course sexism has a role in her public image, and perhaps Clinton would have won had Comey not given the false-alarm email announcement, but I’m not convinced. Trump is a disgusting beast of a man, but somehow he understood how to connect with the white working class. His appeals didn’t connect with me, but it’s not hard to imagine how his blunt, conversational tone connected with the voters he was targeting. Modern elections are about candidates galvanizing just the right people. He won over everyone he needed. Clinton did not.
I’m not saying this is her FAULT. No one can control how good a public speaker he or she is. I’m not saying the results of the election are her fault, either. Actually, I don’t care who’s at fault. I care about winning in 2020. And to do that, I think we Dems need to ask ourselves “why did we lose?” I’ve looked at the voter demographics in the former Blue Wall states, and the answer lies in which voters she lost. She lost the regions that supported Bernie Sanders. I’m no Bernie fan, but he’s undeniably charismatic. Yes, she got several million more votes in the primary, but that’s not necessarily indicative of what we would have seen in a general election. I think it boils down to this: there weren’t many Democrats who strongly disliked Bernie Sanders, but tons hated Clinton. It’s not fair, it’s not her fault; it’s just the truth.
Again, I think Hillary Clinton would have made a president for the ages. She remains my idol, and she always will be. But she has flaws that, in part, led to her loss. I can’t tolerate another 4 years of Trump; hell, I can’t tolerate another 100 days. I want to win in 2020, and if that means recognizing her shortcomings as a candidate, that’s what we should be doing.