Sunday, November 20, 2016

Identity Liberalism And The Lost Election

Donald Trump based his campaign on the broad theme of "Making America  Great Again"  He also told his base that liberalism was the enemy that had weakened our nation.  A vote for Trump was a vote against liberalism and "political correctness".  Hillary Clinton's campaign is described by the quote below:

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.
The Clinton campaign was based upon the premise that she could turn out the vote from minorities and liberals who shared her commitment to inclusiveness.  She also took advantage of the flaws in Donald Trump's character, that he made obvious in the campaign, as well has his qualifications for the presidency.  The majority of Americans believed that Clinton was more qualified for the presidency than Trump but she lost several states that she was expected to win which cost her the election. The turnout for Trump in Republican areas exceeded the turnout for Romney in the last election.  The turnout for Clinton in areas that voted for Obama in the last election was lower than Obama's.  This article argues that it was a failure of the identity politics that informed the Clinton campaign.  To some extent her use of identity politics was apparent in her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders. Sanders based his campaign on the broad problem of income inequality and the steps that he would take to reduce income inequality.  Clinton focused her campaign on programs that would benefit each of the constituent groups that she had identified.  She defeated Sanders in states with large minority voters but Sanders did especially well in states that had fewer minority groups.  Sanders campaigned with Clinton in the general election but the election was really about Clinton versus Trump and the turnout advantage, especially in rural areas, that won the election for Trump in Democratic states.

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