Despite the best efforts of Congressional Republicans to call for an investigation into the “Hillary Clinton Administration,” the reality is that there is no Hillary Clinton Administration.
Hillary Clinton was not elected president on November 8, 2016. Hillary Clinton, to the detriment of America and its ideals, lost the election and Donald J. Trump sits in the Oval Office of the White House. I am made eminently aware of this sad fact every time I attend the daily White House press briefings and, at times, witness Trump attempting to read from the teleprompters at a ridiculously embarrassing third-grade reading level.
His reading level, though, is the least important of all of the embarrassments he brings to the presidency. Our descent from the world stage and the loss of status as the leader of the free world along with the loss of respect by our allies is quite a bit higher on the embarrassment list.
So how do we fix this catastrophe? How do we learn, or rather re-learn, the lessons of the 2016 presidential election as we approach the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential election?
Let's start with something we learned in the two elections of Barack Obama as president of the United States: “If all minorities band together and vote, they become the majority.”
That, of course, did not happen in the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton was consistently portrayed as representing a “third term of Obama,” yet the black vote did not come out in sufficient numbers, especially in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia, resulting in Clinton's loss of three key battleground states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. This turned out to be the difference of the less than 80,000 votes that turned the election to Trump.
This dynamic was the key to that somewhat historic vote in Alabama and the election of Democrat Doug Jones as senator. Yes, Alabama derailed the Trump train, but it wasn't all Alabama voters; it was the black vote in Alabama that changed the course of politics in that reddest of red states. In that state white men account for 35 percent of voters and 74 percent of that vote went to Republican Roy Moore. White women account for 30 percent of voters in that state and 65 percent of their vote also went to Republican Roy Moore despite all of the credible (make that incredible) information outing him as a pedophile.
How, then, did Doug Jones defeat Roy Moore, considering these numbers? It was the turnout of the black vote which accounted for 30 percent of the vote. In that 30 percent, black men account for 12 percent of the overall vote and 92 percent voted for Doug Jones. Black women accounted for 18 percent of the overall Alabama vote and 97 percent of them voted for Doug Jones. What did not occur in America in the 2016 presidential election, occurred in Alabama on December 12, 2017 and the result was of historic proportions. Lesson re-learned.
Another lesson that needed to be re-learned from the results of the 2016 election was a lesson learned during the 1992 and 2000 elections. Voting for third-party candidates, while they have no chance of being elected, do impact the results of the election. Just as the candidacies of Ross Perot in 1992 and Ralph Nader in 2000 had direct impact on the elections of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, so, too, did the votes that went to Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in 2016.
Even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by some three million votes, it was, once again, the narrow margin of victory of less than 80,000 votes by Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that turned the election. The votes that went to Johnson and Stein very well could have and more than likely would have kept a totally unfit president out of the White House. “Believe me, believe me!” Hear that, Nancy Floreen? Lesson re-learned.
Controlling the narrative is another very important lesson that we seemed to have forgotten during the 2016 election. That lesson should have been well learned during the 2004 election when Democratic candidate John Kerry allowed Republicans to control the narrative by creating the “swift boat” controversy.
John Kerry was a war hero who served honorably in Vietnam. Upon his return he testified before Congress about what he perceived was an unjustified war. You can agree or disagree with his position, but I, personally, found anti-war sentiment a great deal more credible coming from someone who served in Vietnam than from someone who did not.
George W. Bush, his Republican candidate and the incumbent, you may recall, served during Vietnam in the Georgia National Guard even though he was a resident of Texas. Ah, the benefit of daddy's influence. I, fortunately, had a high draft number and didn't have to ask Bush senior for any help.
To minimize the glaring differences between the service of the two candidates, the Republicans came up with the “swift boat” controversy to tarnish Kerry's war record by questioning details of Kerry's military service and the awarding of his many combat medals. Although completely discredited by all of his former crewmates, the distraction created by this concocted controversy did serve the Republican cause well and negated the comparison of both candidates’ war records.
Now jump to 2016 and the Democrats, once again, allowed the Republicans to seize control of the narrative. This time around it was all about email management. Why Democrats weren't better prepared to counter Republican efforts to focus on email management and, thereby, take the spotlight off all of the enumerable Trump controversies, too numerous to list here, including the Russian influence in the outcome of our presidential election, is mind-boggling. Yet, this is one lesson that better be learned, or re-learned, prior to 2020 if not 2018 because that tactic will be used no matter who the Democratic candidate turns out to be. When no longer held accountable for truth, there are no longer any rules. Lesson re-learned.
How to address the constant glut of Trump daily lies? How about a daily fact-checking press briefing on the floor of Congress at a specified time each day for a Democrat to counter/fact-check the Trump lies from the previous day? This does not have to be only Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi but could be any Congressional Democrat as long as the session is held at the same time and place daily.
Relying on cable news, alone, to perform the fact-checking is not enough since not all voters are CNN or MSNBC addicts. If voters hear lies over and over again they become credible even if not true. Each and every lie from Trump must be exposed on a daily basis just to keep track of all the incessant lies coming from the Trump administration. Since the vast number of lies is so immense, capturing the daily lies in a database for use during the upcoming campaigns will be invaluable. Moreover, it will expose the lies before they become too entrenched in the minds of voters. (Fox News viewers will just have to be written off as too brainwashed to be saved from themselves.)
Final lesson to be learned: elections have consequences. Voters must take those consequences seriously to prevent placing another unfit individual in the highest office in the land. Votes matter and turnout determines elections. A 77 vote victory by Marc Elrich in the Democratic primary for Montgomery County Executive is clear evidence of that fact. VOTE!