Speaking during a trip to India last month, Hillary Clinton offered her views on her failed bid for the presidency in 2016.
“I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s GDP. So, I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards,” she said.
The remarks spawned a predictable reaction from conservatives who for more than 25 years have made a cottage industry out of criticizing the Clintons. It’s a given that there’s virtually nothing Hillary Clinton will say in a public forum that won’t subject her to several news cycles of outrage on Fox News, talk radio and across the right side of the blogosphere.
Trump’s campaign, Clinton continued while speaking in India, was built on “you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian-American succeeding more…whatever your problem is, I’m gonna solve it.”
“So,” she concluded, “it was a symptom, but it was also a cause, because having someone run for president who voices those ideas, who rejects so much of the American story and our values, was also the underlying cause as well.”
And that’s how a failed candidate for president whose prospects for running again are virtually zero ends up back in the news.
Clinton won 472 counties. Those represent 64 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Trump won 2,584 counties. They represent 36 percent of the GDP.
So a fact-check of that portion of Clinton’s remarks is spot on. However, pointing it out is one thing. Doing something about it is another.
Of course, that’s the broad picture. Closer to home, the reality is somewhat different. We will set aside the fact that many of the 12 Alabama counties Clinton won in 2016 are some of the poorest in the state — Greene, Perry, Hale and so on.
Is it too much to ask that candidates for national office run on a promise of growing wealth in downtrodden parts of the United States so they will be just as “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward” as their big-city neighbors?
There’s got to be a better way than dueling campaigns — one that has serious problems appealing to the regions left behind in the new economy and another that sells unworkable solutions to repair “American carnage.”
The Americans who live in places that have seen the factories close, the military base shut down, the local population shrink and the most talented students move away and never come back deserve better. They need confidence that Social Security and Medicare programs are strong. They need quality public schools that train the workforce of future generations for greater prosperity. They need good-paying jobs and a healthy local economy.
Writing in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, liberal writer Thomas Frank characterizes some Democrats’ strategy in the Trump era. “They would rather sit back and expect Robert Mueller to rescue them. They would rather count on demographic change to give them a majority somewhere down the road.”
Either that or, as Frank suggests, they spend their time tsk-tsking Donald Trump. “Who needs to win elections when you can personally reestablish the rightful social order every day on Twitter and Facebook? When you can scold, and scold, and scold, and scold,” Frank writes. “That’s their future, and it’s a satisfying one: a finger wagging in some deplorable’s face, forever.”