Ever since election night—when Hillary Clinton tanked and Donald Trump became the next leader of the free world—the most prominent allies and alumni of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign have maintained a succinct message for Team Hillary: We. Told. You. So.(%$# mine)
In the final months of the brutal and chaotic 2016 campaign, there were plenty of Democratic activists freaking out about Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (the three states that ultimately cost the Democrats the White House) and Clinton’s fatal shortcomings there. Many of them were envoys of the Sanders camp who wanted to help fix those problems, including Clinton’s difficulties with the block of the mythical “white-working-class,” economically anxious voters who Sanders had championed during the primaries.
“They f%$#ing ignored us on all these [three] battleground states [while] we were sounding the alarm for months,” Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist and former Sanders surrogate who served on the 2016 Democratic National Committee platform committee, told The Daily Beast. “We kept saying to each other like, ‘What the f%$#, why are they just blowing us off? They need these voters more than anybody.’”
According to Konst and multiple other people involved with these discussions, the Clinton campaign agreed to a meeting with a cadre of Sanders surrogates during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in July. The purpose of the meeting, which included Clinton’s national political director Amanda Rentería and Team Hillary’s progressive outreach coordinator (and former Sanders senior aide) Nick Carter, was to address the concerns many Sanders camp alums were voicing about Clinton’s strategy going into the general election against Trump. Carter declined to comment on this story.
“We were saying we are offering our help—nobody wanted [President] Donald Trump,” Konst continued, noting that the “Bernie world” side was offering Clinton’s team their plans—strategy memos, lists of hardened state organizers, timelines, data, the works—to win over certain voters in areas she ultimately lost but where Sanders had won during the primary.
“We were painting them a dire picture, and I couldn’t help but think they literally looked like they had no idea what was going on here,” she continued. “I remember their faces, it was like they had never f%$#ing heard this stuff before. It’s what we had been screaming for the past 9 months… It’s like [they] forgot the basics of Politics 101.”
Assurances were then made with various Clinton senior staffers that they would follow through with subsequent meetings and phone calls to address these gaps and warnings. Instead, meetings were canceled and “rescheduled” into oblivion.
“We not only screamed about this, we wrote memos, we begged,” Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party chair and another Sanders booster who was at the DNC meeting, said. “I spent a good chunk of time writing memos about how [Bernie’s surrogates] could be utilized on the campaign trail, about ‘issue voters,’ about the environment, Black Lives Matter, Dakota Access Pipeline, rogue cops, you name it… I was [also] talking specifically about rural communities, and how [Hillary] completely ignored and abandoned anything that we cared about.”
“The Clinton campaign believed they had the strongest and brightest people in the room… and they had no concept of why people would choose Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton,” Kleeb continued. “They mocked us, they made fun of us. They always had a… model that was supposed to save the day. We were street activists and they don’t get that. And that’s a fundamental divide. They ran a check-the-box, sanitized campaign. And voters don’t think like that. You don’t win elections that way.”
“A ham sandwich could beat Donald Trump,” Melissa Arab, a Michigan delegate for Sanders, told The Daily Beast during a protest outside the Democratic convention in July. “And Hillary cannot beat Donald Trump.”
"Strongest and brightest" is not the proper term. The proper term is "Best and the brightest", who, after all did SUCH good job in Vietnam.
I suppose that I could psychoanalyze why this happened, but I am an engineer, not a psychologist, dammit.‡
*The cycle of the classic Greek tragedy: Hubris — Ate — Nemesis translated to Arrogance — Insanity — Destruction.†
†Apologies to fans of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, etc. for conflating their works and the Clinton campaign.
‡I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!