No Machine Can Win Without Real Vision and a Messenger

istock_000017113782small-646x363Little Rock   There are a million lessons from the recent US election campaign but many of them are reminders of what we always knew in our guts, but intellectually tried to rationalize away for lack of better alternatives. The most basic is that it “takes a horse to beat a horse.” That’s especially true in a horse race. A machine can’t run in a horse race. It has to be horse, those are the most basic rules. Election Day seems to have told us not only that a movement can always beat a machine, but that a machine can’t run the race without a horse that can really carry it the whole way to the finish.

In some ways we were reminded of this over and over again, whether we wanted to believe our lying eyes or not.

Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination should have been more than enough to let us know that there were real signs that winter was coming, though in our desperation to ignore all the weather reports, we forced ourselves to believe differently. But, even before Trump, Bernie Sanders and his close contest in the Democratic primary should have convinced us that without huge adjustments we were in trouble. Look at the incredible odds Sanders had faced. Start with the unlikely phenomena that he was older than dirt, and millennials were pushing and shoving to get in his rallies and support him. Add the fact that in the minds of many Americans, he was stone cold “red,” as a self-declared Socialist, which a couple of decades ago would have disqualified someone from being elected dogcatcher, but was water off a duck’s back in this contest.

Take money and its role in politics which is huge and corrosive. Money was still way too big a factor in race after race, but both Trump and Sanders turned the tables on the billionaire sweepstakes, especially Sanders. The early money “primary,” seen by the pros as so fundamental, was won by Jeb Bush and of course Hillary Clinton. They didn’t win on the money as much as they lapped the field many times over. Trump claimed he was largely self-financed, but even so he ran such a non-traditional campaign that he needed less money and made up for it with earned media and the willingness to provoke. Sanders, the novice fool that he was, refused to take big donations and PAC money, and created a small donor phenomenon of support and went head-to-head with Clinton through most of the primaries. Meanwhile Clinton spent valuable time throughout the campaign, even after winning the nomination, currying donations from the rich, while the big money, including the Kochs and others, pretty much stayed clear of Trump. Who in America who wants change could have missed how important this was?

Contrary to what some are saying, I can’t see how anyone can blame Sanders or hold his campaign responsible for Trump’s victory. Yes, a tough contest exposes weaknesses in the opponent, but it also should make you stronger and teach lessons. It’s not fair to blame the teacher for the student not doing homework when it comes time for the real test.

Finally, the real email damage to Clinton may have come from WikiLeaks as much as from her own server stumble. The emails showed her as weak and indecisive, rather than having core commitments and vision. For every time Trump seemed to be resisting and saying he would do it his way, it seemed like she was running by committee and coming to positions with polls.

For people wanting change, they have to see the vision, and believe the messenger. Trump and Sanders were wildly unlikely and deeply flawed messengers, but their ability to deliver a vision, consistently and clearly, moved people to accept the messenger. The same could be said for Obama and his campaigns that were powerful enough to allow the first African-American to be elected. We just didn’t get that with Hilary, and we knew that, no matter how much we tried to wish it away.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

I’m Sick of This Campaign! Can it Get Any Crazier?

election2016Grenoble   This presidential election season seems like a nightmare that just will not end! The whole season feels like Halloween with all tricks and no treats. It feels like the whole country is not living in suspense, but something more along the lines of a feeling of constant dread. What will Trump say next and who and how many millions will he offend? What will be revealed next in the Clinton staffers’ emails, and now, unbelievably, what in the world is the FBI doing in the middle of the election, jumping into the middle of the mess days before the voting, like we are living in Egypt, Turkey, or Russia, rather than the good ol’ USA.

Looking back over the last year is not a highlights, but a low-lights, reel.

Trump is like an abusive comic in a bad reality show. He’s attacked Muslims, Mexicans, all manner of immigrants, African-Americans, other candidates and their wives, parents of soldiers, and of course women by the tens of millions. And, no doubt, I’m forgetting others by the score. We’ve heard him on tape flaunting sexual abuse as he’s established a new standard for crudity and crassness in electioneering, and, yes, that includes comments on the size of hands and sex organs. We’ve heard him take pride in tax dodging and pat his own back for not paying taxes, while he’s running for the job of spending everyone else’s tax dollars and clearly not paying any of his own. Commentators have expressed concerns about allowing younger children to even watch Presidential debates for goodness sakes! Is there no end to this?

Meanwhile, we have this email train wreck that won’t stop running over in the Clinton wheelhouse. It starts with a terribly bad decision when she was Secretary of State to use a private server rather than the department’s email system. Anyone can make a bad call, but then the tendency towards secrecy without much of a mea culpa just exacerbates the trust issues, and can’t be put to bed and tucked in for the night. The FBI finally puts an endless investigation to rest with a couple of hand slaps, which are mistakenly called exonerations, and then, darned if they don’t reopen the whole mess, breaking their own internal policies by doing so, and offering hardly a smidgen of information. Worse, it seems to involve a former Congressman and estranged husband of one of Clinton’s closest advisors who once again is caught in a sexting scandal and unbelievably shared some electronic devices with his ex-wife that may have contained secret information. Talk about crass and crude, and stupid as a rock. What the frick!

Can any of us believe we are living through any of this at the highest levels of our political life?

And, that’s not all. Thanks to WikiLeaks and likely help from the Russians we also are treated to a daily dose of email drops from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta with way too much tacky talk and inside baseball play-by-play of the functions and dysfunctions of the Clinton campaign. We thought we had drama inside the Trump campaign, well, hold on, here comes the Clintonistas, too! Oh, and sure, video drops of dirty tricks to boot.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I can’t take anymore.

Tuesday, November 8th, can’t come quickly enough for any of us. In some countries and in union elections there’s a quiet period before the vote for campaigning to stop. Can we get some of that now?!?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail