I suppose it’s about time I posted something commenting on the results of the Presidential election, eh?
“Shocking,” “stunning,” “blindsided,” and “historic upset” are just a few of the terms people have used to describe Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, though personally, I’d go with “predictable.” I had a pretty strong feeling by March that, should the Democrats be stupid enough to nominate her against Sunny-D(onald), she would probably lose. By June, I was confidently declaring her incapable of defeating him, and the 5 months that followed of cocksure Establishment Democrats, and condescending media blowhards citing blatantly rigged polls in order to argue otherwise only strengthened my belief.
I wasn’t the only one. More knowledgeable people, less prone to humorous hyperbole than I, knew it as early as February. Nathan J. Robinson over at Current Affairs was perhaps the most on-the-nose, not only predicting Trump would win against Hillary, but nailing exactly how he’d do it. The Democrats couldn’t have asked a shotgun-wielding time-traveler, sent back to protect them from a Dayglo Orange spray-painted Terminator, for a better rundown of how to avoid their impending doom, but I guess they thought “come with me if you want to live” was some kind of pick-up line, prompting them to mace their would-be bodyguards while blowing on their rape whistles.
Yeah, ladies, there was a rapist in the room, all right—but it wasn’t any of the “Bernie Bros” trying to help you evade his tiny grip.
One important point Robinson brought up in his analysis, now undeniably confirmed by the election results, is that Hillary Clinton sucks at campaigning. She always has, and if she has the audacity to try running for President again—don’t scoff: her insistence that we should repeat the mistakes of Iraq in Syria after already repeating them in Libya illustrates her belief in the problem gambler’s maxim, “third time’s the charm”—she always will.
The warning signs were there from the moment she announced her campaign for 2016, embedded in the very heart of her branding, when she selected for her logo a cheap, David Spade-like imitation of Obama’s 2008 mark. People all across the internet promptly derided it, some design professionals explaining in very clear terms exactly what was wrong with it. But, unlike the Trump campaign, which quietly retired the infamous T-P logo almost immediately after it was similarly scourged the following year, Hillary chose to ignore these criticisms, just like she went on to ignore the Midwest.
She probably paid a lot of money for the best, most obsequious yes–men to tell her that logo was a good idea, but it turned out a roomful of boot-licking toadies was no substitute for Trump’s neural-net processor.
On that note, I actually was pretty surprised by the Trump campaign’s demonstrated ability to learn from their mistakes, especially considering how they were tasked with promoting the poster child for remaining perpetually nine years old. When he announced his candidacy, his campaign logo looked like the kind of thing someone puts on a construction project that’s nothing but a façade, in order to fleece investors and then screw off to Mexico before anyone notices the building is completely hollow—I actually wondered aloud, “is that Copperplate?” But by the time August rolled around, his people were releasing television ads that looked genuinely slick, in terms of style, and far more professional than Hillary’s “residents at the old folks’ home try to make memes” aesthetic.
If it had just been the logo, that might not have been so bad, but every other aspect of Hillary’s campaign branding and marketing was inept, from her choice of official typeface, which in her designers’ hands seemed to give even the letterforms themselves a snotty, “I’m dumbing this down for you morons” attitude, to her unbelievably narcissistic campaign slogan, “#ImWithHer,” so easily turned against the candidate, that one so inclined needn’t even change the words, and Trump was able to repurpose it into the much better, “I’m With You.”
I tried to tell friends of mine this stuff mattered, but my concerns were dismissed as silly, written off as irrelevant compared to Hillary’s supposedly-insurmountable “ground game.”
Well, well, well! Looks like her “ground game” was more of an “UNDERground game,” huh?
Here’s the thing: it may indeed be ridiculous that good marketing can trump good policy, strategy, or overall vision, not that Hillary had much in the way of those, either. However, it’s still a reality one must be prepared to confront, so that it doesn’t bite you at a crucial moment, to say nothing of hobbling you during the entire race. The importance of modern branding in 21st century politics was at least one of the major lessons of Obama’s game-changing 2008 campaign, if not THE lesson.
I contend that, with better branding, Hillary would have won, not just because of the branding itself, but because the branding she did have reflected deficiencies in organization, strategy, and the candidate’s personality which produced most of her other fatal unforced errors.
On the topic of strategy, my cartoon addresses the revelation that Hillary and the Democrats purposefully “elevated” Trump, foolishly thinking he would be easier to beat while weakening the entire Republican slate. This “Pied Piper” approach was quite possibly the dumbest campaign strategy ever conceived—the Springtime for Hitler of politics. Even if it had worked, as it did for Claire McCaskill (Remember Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin? You can blame his misogynistic idiocy getting a national platform on her!), it would still have been criminally irresponsible. In addition to empowering Trump, Hillary’s reckless bumbling also legitimized white supremacists by popularizing the term, “Alt-Right,” galvanizing them to join forces beneath it as a banner.
I am, of course, very disappointed Trump won the election.
But I’m not at all disappointed Hillary lost. It’s a shame she hasn’t lost more often! We’d all be better off now, and she’d probably be a better person for it, too!
Hey, maybe she’d even be good enough to become President, someday!