Saturday, November 12, 2016

Election 2016: Where Did We Go So Terribly Wrong

On election day, I’d spent the day nervously checking headlines and social media looking for election news. I was encouraged by Hillary’s strong poll numbers despite FBI director Comey’s possibly illegal attempt to sabotage her with that endless email scandal. In the evening, I went over to a friend’s house with a bottle of champagne to watch the returns and celebrate the election of the first woman president. But it was more than that. As President Obama has pointed out, no candidate has ever been more qualified to be President of the United States. Looking at her opponent, no candidate has ever been more ill-qualified or poorly prepared for this office.
As the returns began to drift in, I began to get a disturbing feeling that something was wrong. There was an undercurrent that this would not have a happy ending. We sat in stunned silence watching state after state fall to Trump. The angry white masses had spoken with their votes. No one slept well that night, and the next day we wandered around in a fog.

We began to imagine what a Trump presidency might look like, and it was chilling

I thought of what this country looked like after eight years of Bush/Cheney—we took big steps backwards on the environment, science and technology. Forget an unnecessary war for now. One of the first things Bush had done when he got into office was to try to shut down Planned Parenthood. I read about our new VP Pence, who doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming. Both Trump and Pence believe that women should be punished for having abortions. Pence wanted women in his state to be forced to have funerals for fetuses. This is positively medieval.
What kind of cabinet would these men assemble, what kinds of advisers? Trump clearly placed no value on women except as objects of gratification, so there likely would be no smart women bringing their unique experience to his cabinet. With a Republican Congress and Supreme Court appointments, I simply can’t imagine what America will look like in four years.

So there’s a marketing lesson here

Let’s face it. Hillary is not for every taste. She has always been a divisive public figure. People are seldom neutral on Hillary. But as Oprah said, “You don’t have to LIKE her. Just vote for her.” She’s simply extraordinary, smart, prepared and hard working. She never gives up.
Hillary spent millions on a comprehensive multichannel marketing campaign, using print, TV and electronic media to communicate with her audience. Donald benefited from more than an estimated $3B in free media. In the end Trump did pour a significant amount of money—much of it his own– into advertising – and it apparently outperformed Clinton’s.

Marketing 101: Identifying, listening to and responding to her audience

Clearly, the biggest problem with the Clinton campaign was not listening to her audience and telling them what they want to hear. A total disconnect. This is Marketing 101. Hillary ostensibly won all of the debates because she was superbly prepared, articulate and polished, as compared to her bumbling opponent. But every time she talked about the ideals of inclusiveness—the very tenets upon which our Democracy is based—she drove a wedge into that mass of angry white voters. Every time she featured a disabled person, a Latina, Muslim or African American in an ad or one of her many very moving videos on YouTube, she turned off another one of the white working class (WWC) voters.

They’re not interested in inclusiveness

They see these people of other races as threats, taking their jobs, bringing multiculturalism to their communities. Instead, Donald Trump has empowered the WWC to hate the disabled and those of other races who have come to America seeking opportunity just as their own ancestors did. As Hillary reveled in our Democratic legacy, the angry white masses rejected it and voted for Trump.

No one predicted an upset

Everyone missed the signals–the pollsters, the political operatives and the media. Clinton’s team apparently didn’t go into the countryside, the little towns where people are struggling and many aren’t making it. What does the liberal elite know of this demographic? Apparently not enough, but this is where there were masses of Trump signs for the masses of angry white voters.

So what can we do?

Be aggressive. We still have a voice. Get to know your congress men and women. Work for change. Four years of Trump is one thing, but we can’t bear eight years.
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