This election proves that outlier candidates can win against the machine when people are riled up. I therefore strongly suggests that Bernie probably had a better chance of winning than HRC did in this cycle. Hillary lost this election because she was the Mitt Romney of 2016. As Romney was not a channel for angry conservative voters in 2012, neither was Clinton a channel for angry Progressive voters in 2016. The angry voters who stayed home in 2012 came out for Trump in 2016 and that's why Clinton lost counties in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan that Obama won in 2012. I think that Bernie would have won those counties had he run.
For me, if we could go back six months and look forward there were three likely scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Trump wins and the GOP has majorities in Congress. Republicans must govern now instead of obstruct. This is what in fact we got.
- Scenario 2: Sanders/Warren wins with a Senate majority and is in position to make the case to Americans to give them the House in 2018. They restore sanity. This is what we could have got had Sanders been nominated.
- Scenario 3. Hillary wins with one or both houses of Congress still held by Republicans. Washington remains in stasis. Working class anger intensifies. Scenario 1 is made likely in 2020.
From where I stand, Scenario 2 would have been the best possible scenario, but I am inclined to think that Scenario 1, as scary as it is, might have long-run advantages that Scenario 2 would not have. As I argued yesterday, Scenario 3 probably leads to Scenario 1 in 2020. But Scenario 1 probably leads to Scenario 2 in 2020. Clinton's win, Scenario 3, would have continued the stasis; at least Scenario 1 breaks the logjam gives the Reds the chance to govern instead of obstruct, and in doing so to show who they really are.
Scenario 1 is what we got, and so now Scenario 2 should be something possible in 2020 in a way that it would not have been had Clinton won in Scenario 3.
Can Trump and his Republican majorities do a lot of damage? Yes, of course. It would have been safer and less nerve-wracking to have a Clinton presidency, but it would not have been as politically healthy. It's better for things to be in motion.
There is a real opportunity for the Progressive left to mobilize now if it can find a way to respond to this as an opportunity rather than as a tragedy. And one of the most important things that it needs to do, is get away from identity politics and focus on the structural issues regarding economic justice and wealth distribution. But more on that when I have some time. It also needs to find better candidates than John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.