Congratulations, Democrats. You were right all along, as it turns out the election was never really close. The President-Elect won Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and my home state of Pennsylvania. It was a decisive night, unfortunately not in favor of our candidate.
I was one of the 94% of black women voters who cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in this Presidential Election. I am a lifelong Democrat and an advocate for the economically disadvantaged and disenfranchised. I am a Democrat because I believe that this party best represents my values. That being said, I believe that we have lost our way during this election.
If your first reaction to Hillary Clinton losing is to merely blame the racism, sexism and misogyny of white people in Middle America, then you can rightfully take your share of credit in our defeat. That kind of lazy intellectualism and self-righteousness cost us dearly in this election cycle. Throwing empathy into the dumpster was easier than talking to people who believed differently than us. We failed to articulate why our way was better for those that are struggling in the country regardless of their race.
Are there some racist and sexist people that voted for Donald Trump? Yes, of course there are some. But to pretend that we as Democrats don't have our own racial issues is naïve and dishonest. African-Americans voted in lower than expected numbers because many of us were unwilling to vote for either candidate, who we believed would fail to significantly address the concerns of black Americans. Hillary Clinton was seen by some as the candidate who called us "super predators" and played a role in the creation of the mass incarceration system that has devastated the black community. These issues made it hard for Hillary to muster the enthusiasm of many young black voters. Bigotry unfortunately is bipartisan and we still have not adequately addressed our own questionable racial history as a party.
In addition, we never fully ran against the incredibly flawed Donald Trump, but instead decided to take on his followers who we labeled as a racist "basket of deplorables" that were too dumb to see the truth of the supposedly evil Hitler-esque Trump. We demeaned them so viciously that if they had wanted to change their vote we never made them feel welcome to come back home. The tactic of shaming and ridiculing our friends, family and neighbors into thinking and voting the "acceptable" way surprisingly didn't work (sarcasm). With that kind of political outreach, is it any wonder these voters turned against us? If you don't believe me, ask the Republicans how the strategy of shaming, name calling and lack of empathy has worked with them and African-American voters who vote over 90% for Democrats.
The spectrum of blame is wider than just our candidate or party. Our unholy alliance with many in the media who put front and center their obvious disdain for Donald Trump and adoration of Hillary Clinton in seemingly every news story made the system appear rigged against not only Republicans, but also for other candidates in our own party like Bernie Sanders. The hacking of email accounts in an attempt to impact the election is outrageous, but we also can't willfully ignore the content of the emails showing time and again those in the media privately aligning with, and even outright helping, the Clinton campaign. The repercussions of these actions will be felt for many elections to come as every journalist is now suspect as a biased mouthpiece of party elites. The Fourth Estate has been irredeemably damaged by steering stories for their own candidate. We even had journalists openly declare that doing anything besides actively trying to get Hillary Clinton elected was immoral. The reason I am frustrated by this behavior is that it was all so unnecessary. We had the better and more experienced candidate. I believe we had better policies that would have helped working and poor people and if we had only let the process play out fairly, I have no doubt that Donald Trump would have sank his own candidacy.
I understand the shock that many of us are still experiencing the results of this election but upon further reflection, I wasn't entirely surprised by the inaccuracy of the polls. The data collected wasn't wrong it was just incomplete because we failed to take into account the culture of Trump-shaming that we created in our outrage over Trump's words and actions.
Trump-shaming became a popular sport on social media, in workplaces and among friends. If anyone even vaguely referenced Donald Trump or any of his policies in a remotely positive manner or failed to completely repudiate him or his followers than you were cast as racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist, sexist, sexual assaulter, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic. If you were constantly threatened with not just these labels, but actual real-world threats of boycotts and possibly even violence because you failed to support Hillary Clinton, would you have admitted support for Trump?
Seriously. Ask yourself the question. If you knew that strangers, let alone people you knew, would attempt to find out where you worked to get you fired from your job because you believed a different way than they do, would you admit these feelings to anyone except your immediate friends or family? This is the environment we created. Not only was it wrong from a moral standpoint, but from a strategic point of view this became our fatal error in this election. We never bothered to understand the voters so we could not adjust our message accordingly and therefore never knew we were in trouble. We created our own elitist echo chamber.
Now that the election is over you would think that cooler heads would prevail and we would do a self-assessment to figure out how things went so horribly wrong. Well if that is your guess, you would be absolutely incorrect. We have decided to take a page out of the Republican Handbook. We rightly decried the obstruction of President Obama by the Republicans in 2008 and beyond. It wasn't right to grind the government to a halt and not work together for the good of all Americans. Now that the tables are turned, we have determined that Donald Trump is so evil we need to discard the arguments we made eight years ago and stop anything and everything he tries to accomplish regardless of its possible benefit.
We, the party that fervently supports immigrants and women's rights, have taken to posting nude memes on social media of our incoming First Lady. We have decided to both slut shame and disparage the immigrant status of the nation's first immigrant First Lady since Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife of our sixth President, John Quincy Adams. We spent the election cycle defending Hillary Clinton and saying she was not responsible for the sins of her husband, while now vilifying Melania Trump for the questionable actions of her husband. We have given up the moral high ground we thought we held and we don't even realize it. Our party is eagerly embracing what we claimed to hate and fight against.
The only thing worse than losing the election is the fact that the media and party have decided to double down on the divisive rhetoric that lost us the election in the first place. The unwillingness to take any responsibility for what has occurred and make the necessary changes to reclaim our base is a sign that we have not learned our lesson and are doomed to repeat it. If we don't correct it, not only will we have lost in 2016, but we will continue to lose for the foreseeable future. I implore my fellow Democrats to drop the intolerant language you feel morally justified in using. Treat those that disagree with you in the way you would want to be treated. Your children are watching not just what you say and stand for, but also HOW you act towards those who disagree with you.
We love the phrase coined by Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high." Instead, we're racing to the bottom. We've been so quick to tell others to check their privilege that somewhere along the way we forgot to check our own.