So what happened? And how we need to be ready for the fight to save our public schools
I've been hesitant about writing about the Presidential election for many reasons. I am as shocked and appalled as many others, and have no special insights or expertise to explain what happened. But one of the smartest guys I know, Tad Devine, a top adviser to Bernie Sanders, was on NPR and explained Trump's election this way: "most voters in the states that decided the election wanted change. He represented that change. She did not. And I think that was enough for him to win the election."
Clearly, many people, especially the Rust Belt voters who decided the election, wanted change desperately. There was no way to argue that Hillary represents change. The more that Obama tried to point to what a great job she did in his administration and her years of experience probably just underscored how she had been part of the system for 20 years or more.
I remember that Bill Clinton’s convention speech was focused on the claim that Hillary represents change. He was smart to focus on that issue as he had correctly diagnosed the temperature of the electorate, but in the end his argument was unconvincing.
Does that mean Bernie Sanders would have won? Who knows. No matter how anti-establishment Sanders is, Trump could have argued that he’s been in Congress for 27 years. On the other hand, Bernie beat Hillary in some of the primaries in the same states that went for Trump. Whether Trump will deliver the sort of change these voters yearn for or bring their factory jobs back seems unlikely, and how much damage he will do to marginalized groups of immigrants, Latinos, blacks and others in the process we will have to see.
The other reality is this: Because Hillary has been part of the system for so long, a lot of negative feelings and even hatred has accumulated towards her personally over the years. This attitude is largely irrational and unfair, but it was not easy to dispel – especially when the email scandal erupted twice via FBI director Comey’s letters during the last two weeks of the campaign. To witness just how intense the hatred is for Hillary among many women and men, you should watch this excellent CNN series with Van Jones interviewing Trump supporters in Gettysburg PA.
The real tragedy is that Obama could have probably brought more real change into these communities if the GOP in Congress hadn’t blocked nearly everything he tried to do, whether it was increasing the minimum wage, infrastructure spending, tax reform etc. The GOP in the House and the Senate had a highly partisan strategy to stand in the way of Obama accomplishing nearly anything since they took control -- including reforms that could have helped a lot of those people in the Rust belt and throughout the country -- and their strategy won.
I also think we need to remember the stunning data that came out last year showing that for the first time in this nation’s history white death rates are increasing sharply – which seems to be the result of increased rates of addiction, alcoholism and suicide. Meanwhile, black and Latino mortality rates are NYC Public School Parents: So what happened? And how we need to be ready for the fight to save our public schools: