We needed to hug Trump’s ‘Deplorables.’

In the heat of last fall’s U.S. election, Hillary Clinton foolishly claimed that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” These were the obvious Trump supporters who were vocally responding to his speeches that pandered to racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or Islamophobic mind sets. Instead of offering our hand to these people, we scorned them. And we strengthened their determination to vote.

But what was more serious was that by ridiculing these disreputable supporters we quieted the Republican voters who did not want to be identified with the deplorables. We made many of them hide their vote. We were getting all kinds of signals that there was a below-the-surface vote for Trump but it was not volunteering any information. There was actually a school of thought that said these people were turned off by the Trump campaign and less likely to vote.

It is a shame that we have to place the blame on Hillary Clinton. We respected her as a strong and resilient politico but she failed to read the voters in that election. She failed to understand the appeal of her main Democrat opponent Bernie Sanders. Sanders saw the problem that Clinton was ignoring. He saw the demand for change. Clinton had to co-opt Sanders, not ignore him. She ignored the Sanders supporters until it was too late.

Hillary’s major error was in failing to surgically remove a slice of Republican supporters and bring them over to her side. Thinking she was secure with her dominance among women, blacks and Latinos, she left the Republicans alone. She left them no alternative but to vote for Trump.

And she let Trump get away with the big lie of “corrupt Hillary.” To not understand your opponent’s strategy is the most serious mistake a politico can make. The Clinton campaign team had to turn that lie back on Trump. It had to circle back on him. If the lie was black, the response had to be white. It is something like tagging it back to him as “Corrupt Hillary; Bankrupt Donald.” It is the same with his slogan “Make American Great Again: And Greater with Clinton.” By giving the response the same weight as what he is saying, you are taking its uniqueness away from him.

The most serious failure in the Democrat’s campaign was the failure to capitalize on the most obvious opportunity. Mr. Trump was so clearly running against the Republican Party, all that needed to be done was widen the cracks. Just think about the difference in the outcome if the bad guys had been the Republican Party instead of Donald Trump.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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