Hey, Democrats, where were you? Hey liberals, where were you? The potential train wreck that is the Hillary Clinton candidacy didn’t just become evident last week when ill-chosen words about 25 million “deplorables” and a public near-collapsetanked her polls to make this a tied presidential race.
No, Democrats and liberals, the possibility of Hillary crashing and burning was there from the outset of her candidacy. And yet you stood there and let it happen.
You Democrats and liberals who did not “feel the Bern” but desperately wanted a Democratic president to succeed Barack Obama — you did nothing to prevent the potential cataclysm that is upon you now. Instead, you’ve spent more than a year chortling at Republican failings, expressing disgust at the rise of Donald Trump and convincing yourselves that your ideological tendency is on the cusp of multigenerational rule in the United States.
And in the process, you failed to do your due diligence on your own candidate — which means you failed as a party, you failed as a movement and you failed as citizens.
The first signs of trouble came in June 2014. That’s when the rollout of her book “Hard Choices” was marred by Hillary’s declaration that she and Bill had been “dead broke” upon leaving office in 2001. Hillary was then viewed favorably by 54 percent of Americans — down from a high of 63 percent but still amazingly good for one of the most divisive figures in recent political history.
In March 2015, The New York Times revealed Hillary had created an unsecure communications system at the outset of her tenure as secretary of state to shield her e-mails from future discovery — which was followed by a disastrous, defensive, angry and entirely deceptive press conference she held to deal with the matter at the United Nations.
Two months later came the revelations of the conflicts of interest between her family’s foundation and her role as secretary of state in the book “Clinton Cash.”
Taken together, these three should have set off warning sirens within the Democratic Party that the frontrunner was damaged goods — a tone-deaf spokesperson with serious ethical and moral issues that might blow up in her and her party’s faces.
But no. You convinced yourselves that anyone who expressed deep reservations about Hillary Clinton’s honesty and who raised questions about her tone-deafness as a candidate was just a Republican shill or an ideological nutball and should be ignored.
What’s more, she knew you would — and she played on that to secure your support. She and her team worked tirelessly to convince you that raising any questions about her honesty and the e-mails and the knowingly false claim that the attack on Americans in Benghazi was due to a YouTube video would put you in the same camp as the “vast right-wing conspiracy” she blamed in 1998 for the political troubles stemming from Bill’s disgraceful personal behavior.
You believed it because you wanted to believe it. The dynamic in this country has now become zero-sum. If you’re a partisan Democrat, you hate Republicans. If you’re a partisan Republican, you hate Democrats. If Republicans and conservatives are investigating Hillary, they’re doing it in bad faith and must be stopped.
This was such an axiom in the Democratic Party that, in the worst political blunder of the season, Bernie Sanders slammed the brakes on his own suddenly potent protest campaign in the first Democratic debate by declaring that he was “sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails!”
The implicit theory of the Sanders campaign was that Clinton had been corrupted by Wall Street money (and was bad because she had voted for the Iraq war). A rational and far-thinking campaign would have understood that his message would have gone a lot farther if he had connected it to the news about her server.
But doing that would aid Republican inquiries on Capitol Hill, which were deemed out of all permissible bounds. And so Sanders hobbled his bid to topple Hillary just as it was getting going in earnest.
Oh, sure, there was talk in the summer of 2015 as polls began to show a marked downward trend against Hillary that Joe Biden should jump in the race. But it seemed evident President Obama did not agree, and Mrs. Clinton and her team had deftly arranged it so her only mainstream rival was the colorless and uninteresting former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
And besides, wasn’t the Republican Party on the verge of committing suicide anyway? Donald Trump took the lead in the GOP race in July 2015 and never let go. Democrats and liberals reacted with shock and horror at his words and deeds — but also with no small amount of glee and triumphalism. Trump was unthinkable, unfathomable and unelectable, and he was going to take the party they hated down with him.
He may yet, and their glee has been matched by the dismay of a great many Republicans.
And here’s one salient difference between Trump and Clinton: Mainstream Republicans battled feverishly to prevent him from securing the nomination. Scott Walker got out of the race early and said he was doing so to help the party coalesce around an anti-Trump. Rick Perry did the same. Jeb Bush attacked him. Marco Rubio attacked him. John Kasich attacked him.
Conservative media joined in. My magazine, Commentary, published harsh articles about Trump, as did the Weekly Standard. National Review did its now-famous “Against Trump” issue.
Trump wasn’t defeated in his quest for the nomination, but it wasn’t because the party or the conservative movement lay down and rolled over for him. Indeed, all the lines of attack being raised today by Hillary Clinton against him, from Trump’s footsie-playing with racists to his foundation’s high jinks to Trump University, were introduced into the national discussion and aired out on the Right for months.
Democrats and liberals, by contrast, did not adjudicate the matters now dogging Hillary’s candidacy during the primary season. Instead, they left all opposition to the ministrations of a 74-year-old socialist who wasn’t even a Democrat until 2014.
And his surprising strength in running against her — Sanders ultimately secured 44 percent of the Democratic primary vote — should have made clear that whatever the mainstream Democratic view, ordinary Democrats did see her as shifty, untrustworthy and someone they did not wish to vote for.
Well, here we are. And here you are, Democrats and liberals. There will be a lot of blame to go around if Trump wins. But a significant share will go to you, because you live in a bubble so impervious to reality, you didn’t realize that nominating a widely disliked person with legal and ethical problems might come to bite you in the ass in the end.
FILED UNDER 2016 ELECTION , 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION , DEMOCRATIC PARTY , DONALD TRUMP, HILLARY CLINTON