NON-ADVICE FROM A NON-PUNDIT ABOUT A NON-EXISTENT PROBLEM
You’ve all heard the pundits by now, parsing the last election continually, barely stopping for breath in their rush to determine who is to blame (Hillary), who should have done things differently (Hillary), who should have not even run for President (Hillary), and who should sit down and shut up forever and ever (Hillary). Now even Vanity Fair has entered the fray, giving suggestions for Hillary’s New Year’s Resolutions which include such enlightened and inspiring activities as knitting, but in the end, boil down to sit down and shut up. To be totally fair, in the wake of the backlash about the obvious (to many; not to Vanity Fair) sexism implicit in the resolutions video, Vanity Fair has apologized. Still, the idea that anyone thought this would be a good idea at all leaves one breathless…at least, if one has any breath left after all the other things that have left us gasping for air this past year.
I do not think a week has gone by this past year (hardly a day has gone by) that I haven’t been enlightened and uplifted by some amazingly creative, intelligent, and insightful pundit telling the world what he, and he alone, had been clever enough to spot about the recent strange election – Hillary did it. She ran a bad campaign. She wasn’t warm enough. She had the wrong sort of charisma. She was evil. She was ugly. She was old. She ignored the needs of the ordinary voter and focused on the needs of the coastal elite. She…wait…she what? I followed nearly every minute of the election; it was like a train wreck I couldn’t keep my eyes away from, and I watched the debates, the rallies, the speeches, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Nothing I saw suggested, even for a moment, that Hillary (or Bernie, for that matter) had forgotten the needs of the ordinary voter or the needs of the “heartland”. Nor did I see any suggestion that she was interested only in the needs of the “coastal elite”. (I put quotes around these, because the terms are so malleable they can mean whatever you want them to mean at any given time. Define them yourself; I know you want to).
The thing is, the needs of the ordinary voters and the needs of the coastal elites are surprisingly similar. They need food, clothing, shelter. They need affordable education, affordable housing, and affordable health care. They need child care and transportation of one sort or another. They need security and a reasonable amount of comfort. They need jobs. These are the things that Hillary and Bernie focused on, totally in agreement that these were important, totally in agreement about most of what needed to be done, disagreeing only in the details…and even there, agreeing more often than they disagreed. Hillary was focused like a laser on the needs of the heartland, on the needs of the south, the north, the east, the west, and, of course, the needs of you and me (unless you aren’t from any of those places, in which case I am sure Hillary wishes you well and hopes wherever you are your leaders take good care of you).
The truth is, the truth that not one single pundit, not one single political analyst, not one single hacker or blogger or pontificator or soapbox orator wants to say…even Hillary, Bernie, and all their friends don’t want to say it…is that Hillary ignored not the needs of the heartland, but the desires of the heartland. The desire to criminalize abortion, and punish both abortion doctors and women who dare to make their own decision about their own body. The desire to return to the old days, when children were required to submit to daily prayer and devotionals as the price of their public school education. The desire to shove non-conforming people back in the closet, preferably one with a really bad smell and lots of rats. The desire to keep all foreigners (broadly defined as anyone who looks different from the average rural Midwesterner, including long haired freaky men and short haired freaky women) out of “their” country. In short, the desire to repeal the entire American dream, and replace it with the American nightmare fondly known as the 1950s (nightmare? Surely you jest, 6. Well, maybe. But, if by chance you were born woman, black, or LGBTQ, you probably don’t see things quite so clearly as Ward and June).
The reality of what is being requested of Hillary (and other Democrats) is borne out in the suggestions of Bernie Sanders that we should run a pro-life Democrat in the future. Why would he care? He is unlikely ever to need an abortion, since he is unlikely ever to get pregnant. It isn’t his body he’s compromising with. The force known as The Donald is not giving people affordable education, affordable housing, affordable anything. He isn’t giving them jobs. What he is giving them is non-stop theatre, and they are eating it up. He is filling their days with non-stop hate, and they are loving him for it. He is shouty and vulgar and ignorant and greedy, and still his supporters cheer. Because this election wasn’t about the needs of the heartland. If it was, Hillary or Bernie would be in the White House now. Hillary would have bested Donald by several million votes…wait a minute. She did.
So, for all those who want to “feel the pain” of the heartland, I have an invitation for you. Come on out here. Check us out. If you can determine that our needs are, in fact, so substantially different than those of the “coastal elite”, and that what was lacking in Hillary was the ability to address our needs (and not just our inglorious, hateful desires), I will personally eat my left shoe…with ketchup.