The unthinkable happened, and Democrats cast about for a scapegoat. Whether #BernieorBust, the millennials, the Greens, James Comey or Gary Johnson, surely someone is to blame other than the Democratic Party's own corruption and ineptitude in anointing a candidate with the second-lowest approval ratings of any candidate ever, even as tens of thousands of the previously unengaged electorate turned out to support Bernie Sanders.
We've heard this before. Sixteen years later and there are still those who blame Nader for 2000 and everything that followed, because doing so is so much easier than looking critically at our broken electoral system and working to fix it. Who among the Nader critics have thrown themselves into initiatives that would enable ranked-choice voting? Who has devoted themselves to abolishing the Electoral College, without which nether Bush nor Trump would have prevailed? Who has challenged the unimaginably convoluted and archaic and inconsistent ways in which states conduct their primaries, ways that suppress the vote of the very voters--Independents--who decide general elections?
These are reforms that Bernie Sanders and his supporters championed. They likely would have won the election and enacted them had they not been obstructed every step of the way by a Democratic Party that violated its own standards of neutrality, corporate media that were often indistinguishable from the Clinton campaign itself, and Superdelegates who declared their allegiance before a single citizen had voted. The irony is that a Sanders presidency would have revitalized a terminally morbid Democratic Party and perhaps even salvaged the careers of the very politicians who sabotaged it, while simultaneously addressing the despair and impoverishment that fueled the white working class anger that swept Trump into power.
Economic modeling suggests that Trump voters were motivated not primarily by misogyny or racism or homophobia, though those noxious undercurrents are still disturbingly alive and well in America. They voted because of the economy, while failing to recognize that Trump is hardly the figure to address the forces that have funneled the vast majority of recent economic growth to the class that contains himself and the Clintons. It is the Democrats' failure to acknowledge this reality that sealed their fate in 2016, and will spell their demise for as long as they avoid the painful but necessary introspection.