Opinion

How to bungle an election, Democrat style: Robyn Urback

Nothing was left so utterly decimated in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s staggering victory as the integrity of the Democratic Party, which somehow managed to concede the election to a man who made his political debut by accusing the president of being a Kenyan impostor.

Donald Trump didn't win, Hillary Clinton lost

Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton show their disappointment at her election night rally in Manhattan. (Reuters)

There were many casualties of the 58th U.S. presidential election: general decency, fact-checking, FBI director James Comey's reputation.

But nothing was left so utterly decimated in the aftermath of Donald Trump's staggering victory as the integrity of the Democratic Party, which somehow managed to concede the election to a man who made his political debut by accusing the president of being a Kenyan impostor.

The Democrats didn't just lose any old election. They lost to a man who dared Russia to commit espionage against the United States; who boasted he would kill the innocent family members of terrorists; who thinks global nuclear proliferation is a great thing.

This is a guy who has made disparaging comments about women, Hispanics, blacks, veterans, people with disabilities, journalists and the parents of dead soldiers. He is the first president-elect to have not released his tax returns in 40 years, the first to take over the White House with over 3,500 lawsuits under his belt and the first to churlishly declare he would not accept the results of the election unless it went his way.

Trump won the election despite many controversial comments and scandals. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Yet on Tuesday night, knowledgeable, experienced, polished Hillary Clinton lost to a narcissistic reality television star who once misspelled "dumber" on Twitter. That's not just a defeat for the Democrats — it's an utter humiliation.

The race arguably should have been over the moment Trump ousted Senator Ted Cruz to win the Republican nomination. By that time — and even more so a few weeks later — the Republican Party was in such tumult it seemed all but certain it wouldn't survive the election intact.

Hundreds of prominent Republicans had unabashedly come out against Trump, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Ohio Governor and primary rival John Kasich. Many others, such as former presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, opted to abstain rather than endorse Trump's behaviour, much less his campaign.

Unpalatable choice

The Democrats thus had an opportunity to reach beyond their base and appeal to disgruntled, principled Republicans looking for a viable alternative. Instead, they put Hillary Clinton — one of the most consistently disliked, distrusted politicians in recent American history — on the top of their ballot, dragging along her many decades of scandal, waste and controversy.

Leaked emails revealing that the Democratic National Committee actually favoured Clinton as its candidate during the primary race made her all the more unpalatable choice for reluctant turncoat voters, as well as for disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters who, like Trump diehards, aren't keen to play the roles assigned to them by the so-called Washington elite.

The polls that predicted a victory for Clinton proved to be well off the mark. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

It took more than them, obviously, and while the coming weeks will reveal exactly how Trump pulled off his surprising win, it's clear that millions of Americans who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 chose to vote for Trump in 2016, despite Trump's pledge to undo nearly every major policy plank of the Obama era.

It's a shift that hardly makes any sense. Unless, of course, the Democratic ticket includes a name so repellent to the average voter that he or she would rather vote for the guy endorsed by the KKK than the proscribed successor to the first black president — even if he got their vote last time around.

Trump supporters celebrate at his election night rally in Manhattan. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

There will be plenty of morning-after shame to go around when America realizes its next president will use his state of the union address to peddle his brand of steaks, but nowhere should the shame be felt more profoundly than among the Democratic Party establishment.

Indeed, they handed this election over to a bigoted, misogynistic, semi-lucid celebrity. One could say this was the Democrats' race to lose, but then again, there really shouldn't have been much of a race to begin with.

This column is part of CBC's new Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Robyn Urback

Columnist

Robyn Urback is an opinion columnist with CBC News and a producer with the CBC's Opinion section. She previously worked as a columnist and editorial board member at the National Post. Follow her on Twitter at:

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