From Kimberly Strassel at The Wall Street Journal, Here’s What Really Happened to Hillary
Mr. Sanders was an unexpected force in the primary, though mostly because he wasn’t Hillary. Sanders supporters resent this argument, and claim the only reason his agenda didn’t triumph is because the DNC robbed him of the election. If so, why did Bernie’s people and ideas fail spectacularly everywhere else on the ballot?
In Wisconsin Mr. Sanders campaigned for Russ Feingold, who promised a $15 federal minimum wage, an end to trade deals and free college. Mr. Feingold lost to Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. In upstate New York, in a white, working-class district, Mr. Sanders endorsed Zephyr Teachout, who railed against bankers and lobbyists, fought fracking and Citizens United, and opposed trade. Republican John Faso beat her for the open seat by eight percentage points, on a promise to kill Dodd-Frank. Democrats wouldn’t even vote for Tim Canova, the man who primaried Mr. Sanders’s archenemy, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
An extraordinary 79% of Colorado voters said no to a ballot initiative for ColoradoCare, the state version of Mr. Sanders’s universal health-care proposal. This in a state that Hillary Clinton won. Liberal Vermont pulled its own single-payer plug in 2014. In California, Mr. Sanders endorsed and campaigned for Proposition 61, which was designed to impose prescription drug price controls. It went down to substantial defeat in a state Mrs. Clinton won by 30 points.
Progressives will argue that all they need to elect a Bernie or an Elizabeth is the right way of pitching their “populist” policies of free health care or price-controlled drugs to the white working class and independents. But so far they’ve been unable to sell them even to bright blue states. And this wishful thinking ignores that even if voters supported some of those provisions, they’d also have to swallow a progressive agenda that includes an energy crackdown, a retreat from the terror fight, and the culture of identity politics.
Kimberly Strassel properly points to the ideological failures of the Democratic Party. They serve themselves poorly by perpetuating excuses and demonizing Trump. HRC’s humiliating loss was not an aberration, but a trend of her party losing ground for over a decade and accelerated under Obama. Without facing the reality of their loss they are doubling down on what cost them the election.
There is a consistent theme in publications rationalizing their loss that the problem is only one of messaging. This is as insulting as the ‘deplorables’ label. It not so subtly claims that the great unwashed is too stupid to realize how wonderful their progressive policies are, and the Democrats failure is only their inability to properly articulate their rejected policies. This is an interesting self criticism for the party that considers themselves to be intellectually superior.
The campaigns focus on personalities and character rather than policies. It is possible for charm to overcome policy, and that may explain why Obama was rated so high while his party accelerated their losses everywhere else.
Neither HRC or Trump possessed Obama’s cool, and the race came down to the least objectionable.