I come not to rebuke Hillary Clinton, who remains by far the most capable presidential candidate. I come bearing advice for her campaign.
Hillary, this is something you sorely need:
1. Understand that New Hampshire didn’t owe you anything. “New Hampshire had been good for the Clintons,” we kept hearing. Its primary saved Bill’s hide in the 1992 presidential race. In 2008, it gave you a needed boost when the sisterhood, enraged at perceived sexist attacks, rushed to your defense.
But what did any of this have to do with 2016?
2. Women don’t owe you anything, either. Which side was paying Gloria Steinem to disparage younger women who chose to vote for Bernie Sanders? She said they were chasing boys; can you imagine? And what prompted Madeleine Albright to say that women should vote to help other women as opposed to helping their country?
This was an assault on female intelligence. It also mildly embarrassed women who support Clinton, not out of a desire to elect a female president but because she’s the most qualified candidate. And oh, please call off the celebrity brigade. Not everyone regards Lena Dunham as a font of wisdom.
3. Bill’s presidency was a long time ago. Bill left America in wonderful fiscal shape, and every class prospered. For we who remember the Bill Clinton years, it was a golden age.
Problem is, how many of us remember? Today’s 20-year-olds were 4 when Bill left office. Furthermore, much has happened since then, which brings us to the next item.
4. The Great Recession changed everything. In 2008, the bottom dropped out of the economy. The years that followed have proven a hard slog for young people trying to gain an economic foothold. Blue-collar workers, meanwhile, continued to lose what they had. They are all angry at Washington’s tireless service to the moneyed masters, and with reason.
Now, contrary to his spiel, Bernie Sanders is the candidate of Wall Street. That’s because if nominated, he would almost certainly lose to any Republican running against him. Note how right-wing media isn’t laying a finger on Sanders. On the contrary, by looping the pumped-up charges that Hillary can’t be trusted, the right is feeding the Sanders campaign.
You know this, Hillary. What you must do is brush it aside and speak directly to the hurting electorate. That means getting out of yourself. Let others talk about what you represent, your impressive resume or your massive capacity for hard work.
It’s nice to tell the younger liberals flocking to Sanders that you’ll be listening to them. Better, though, to say that you’re going to take on the powers crushing their economic prospects.
5. Hillary, you are the candidate, not “the Clintons.” In other words, drop the dynasty nonsense. (How’s that going for Jeb Bush?)
Chelsea should not be speaking for you. Bill is more complicated in that he’s a former president. But rein him in.
Bill should not have berated alleged Sanders followers for writing nasty things about a female liberal pundit supporting you. It came off as both paternalistic and dated. Social media has opened a cesspool of anonymous creeps working out of unclear motives. Anyone who can’t ignore that doesn’t belong in the arena.
Hillary, the voter demographics in the coming primaries and caucuses are more favorable to a candidate like you. But you still must replace some of your caution with from-the-heart fire. Open the doors and windows of the lamentably labeled “Clintonworld” and send the hangers-on packing. The more you are yourself, the better you will do.
Email Froma Harrop at firstname.lastname@example.org.