Why We Lost A Country

December 5, 2016

Did anyone here see “Meet The Press” with Chuck Todd on MSNBC yesterday? Did anyone else almost put a foot through the screen when Chuck asked Hillary’s campaign manager Joel Benenson what he would do differently, knowing what we now know, three or four weeks out from the election? His answer was basically that he would do more of the same. Exactly the same. Just more of it. Dear God!

Let’s be honest for once, shall we? Hillary is smart, experienced, and she’s even quite good-looking in her well-heeled way, but the public never really warmed to her. Why? Isn’t it finally enough to know that, no matter how we tried to dress her up and trot her out, they didn’t? And yet, we had an eager, experienced candidate that the people loved, young people, old people, people of color, LGBT people. What did we do? The Dems did everything but short-sheet his bed. The women at the top of the DNC acted like the mean girls in a teen movie. Bernie was shunned, kept out of the limelight as much as possible, was ignored by the press, and still he made an amazing showing. Polls were unanimous in predicting that, were he to run as the Democratic candidate, he would trounce anyone the Republicans had to offer. He was pretty much a dream candidate, too. Grandfatherly, no scandal, so charming that a  tiny bird landing on his podium at a big rally stopped him in mid-sentence as he admired the little thing and gave us an insight into the freshness of his character.

The political establishment were scared out of their wits by Bernie. He was a populist. He wasn’t afraid to call social programs and those who supported them “socialist.” He had innovative new ideas that the public warmed to, but instead of helping him find ways to implement these ideas, the Dems and everyone in the mainstream media kept insisting that these things couldn’t get done, couldn’t possibly happen. Like Trump could build a huge wall that Mexico would pay for? There were lots of talking heads on major news outlets who spent their days and nights talking about the whacko Republican field during the primaries because it was entertaining, but who were willing to make the automatic assumption that Hillary was the only serious candidate on our side, thus ignoring Bernie. He was treated as a footnote. Funny, my neighborhood was full of Bernie signs, and people who never had been politically active, or had always been Republican, were suddenly energized for Bernie. College students were registering to vote in the hope of getting someone who finally appealed to them. I guess the Dems didn’t notice that things have radically changed. The American people are looking at personality, likeability, and trustworthiness in their candidates, and even if you know that Donald Trump was able to con half the country with his lies, at least admit that they kind of liked him because he had a quirky, entertaining personality. He brought them along with him the way Jay Leno did in his monologues, letting them in on his take on things, nutso as they were, in a way that Hillary never did or could.

We could have had Biden, I believe, if Hillary hadn’t already been crowned two years before the election. There’s a guy with a likeable, warm personality, a great up-from-the-working class story, wonderful family, nobility in the face of genuine heartbreak, and experience up the wazoo. He’s also the darling of labor, and for good reason. But no, he didn’t want to unseat the Chosen One. He saw what the DNC was doing to Bernie Sanders and wanted none of it.

Was the DNC so focused on getting the first woman president that they completely overlooked the cult of personality that has developed in this country over the last 10 years? You know what Obama has that Hillary will never have? Lethal amounts of charm, that’s what. The guy isn’t just brilliant, honest, sincere, and good-looking. When he croons along with Al Greene, goes ga-ga in public over his wife and daughters, delivers his funniest lines with the wry wit that any standup comedian would kill for, and sings “Amazing Grace” in church after yet another horrific mass shooting, we open our hearts to him. We love him. Him, the person. We are touched by the fact that he is touched by us, by our joys and our pains. We see his dignity in the face of unbelievable mistreatment at the hands of the Republicans for eight years and we admire him. We feel safe in his capable hands. We know in our hearts that he is the best of us, that no one could have done more or better. It isn’t because he is the first Black president. No, he is the first real president in a long, long time. Americans, misguided though they may be, want a real person in the white House. We gave them a policy wonk. Oh, a really smart, experienced, dedicated policy wonk, but someone without an ounce of charm. We sort of liked her, and felt sorry that Bill cheated on her. We rooted for her against the Anti-Christ that Trump no doubt is. But given half a chance we could have really loved Bernie or Joe.

Had we just watched a few episodes of “The Bachelorette” or “American Idol” we might perhaps have gotten it right, seen the kind of person who gets picked in the end. No, the DNC has been faithfully watching the PBS News Hour and Nova. Apparently they still are. Good luck with that.

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