Yesterday I snarked on Facebook:
So, exactly how cartoonishly evil does a candidate have to be to not get elected president?
The answer appears to be: “female”
I felt this distilled much of my conflict and disbelief about the election, and after a day of reflection I’m even more convinced that this is the right place to start in trying to digest what happened. Let me explain why.
All the news surrounding this election had surprisingly little substance in terms of policy and governance, instead being focussed entirely on the personal baggage of the two candidates. We heard about Benghazi and Hillary’s emails, and we heard about Donald fat-shaming beauty contestants and calling Mexicans rapists. When we did hear about actual policy proposals, Trump’s were always so impractical they were never seriously considered by the press. Build a wall? Everyone knew that was never going to happen. Deport 11 million people? Inconceivable. Meanwhile, Hillary’s were so practical as to be simply non-newsworthy. It was easy to label them as ‘more of the same’ compared to Trump’s bellicosity, and so we got very little news about them. But we certainly did hear about the personal issues — Trump’s distain for Muslims, Melania’s plagiarizing, Bill’s old infidelities and Hillary’s pantsuits.
And as the news coverage devolved into ever increasing scrutiny of the two larger-than life candidates and away from details of what their presidencies would mean for the country, the two candidates became cartoonishly evil figments of our imaginations.
I and many other Hillary supporters saw a cartoonishly evil Donald Trump, brazenly declaring that he would run as a Republican because the Republican voters are the “dumbest group of voters”. Well, Donald never said that (check out Snopes, folks), but we could see every day that he would string together lie after lie, and folks actually seemed to believe what he was saying. He became the Mr. Burns of the campaign, so dastardly that when he did say he could “shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”, it really didn’t shock anyone — of course that’s how he viewed himself. Of course he won’t show us his tax returns, because everyone knows Mr. Burns exploits all the loopholes and never pays taxes.
Meanwhile, Trump voters knew even before the campaign began that she was corrupt and evil in every way — that she was behind the murder of Vince Foster, she was the inventor of the infamous Obamacare death panels, she left our people to die in Benghazi while she was napping, Whitewater, Troopergate, The Clinton Foundation, Foggy Bottom, and the endless parade of Fox news slander. And when Bernie Sanders seemed to have all the enthusiasm in the primaries but Hillary won anyway, the ‘fact’ that corruption and insider dealings had secured her place as the nominee was very easy to believe. Clinton was the cartoonishly evil Democrat insider.
Which is why, throughout the Fall, we heard that these were two deeply disliked candidates. And how did the American Public choose?
Like many liberals, I believed that America would see the horrifying open racism and sexism of the Trump candidacy, and be recoiled by it. Many might hold their nose while voting for Clinton, but at least she could be trusted to not fire off nuclear missiles because someone insulted her tiny hands.
Alas, America did not vote that way. America, it seems, is just fine with Trump’s disdain for people of color, is just fine with his casual “grab ’em by the pussy” sexism, and is just fine with his cozy arrangement with white supremacists and his anti-semitic ads. What America wanted, it seems, was someone who could lead them in chants of “U-S-A”, “Lock her up”, and “Build the wall”. Could a male candidate have been spun into as cartoonishly evil a character as Hillary Clinton was? I doubt it. Villains, by nature, are hated, but the sexist distaste of a woman in power has been key to building up the level of hatred for Hillary.
Trump, by the way, knows his cartoonish villains. Liberals would probably learn a lot more about why we lost the election by watching pro wrestling than by looking at voter demographics. America didn’t want a candidate pretending to be a face, it wanted a heel.
Steven Spielberg, reflecting on the making of Schindler’s List, said “when we were making ‘Schindler,’ Liam [Neeson] came up to me one day and asked me if I could ever make another Indiana Jones movie where the Nazis are cartoon villains. I said, ‘Never, never.’ Right now I can’t conceive of anything that’s simply entertainment.” And there’s the key to seeing the left wing mistake in this campaign — we let our villian become a cartoon, entertained by his apparent incompetence and unfocussed on the horror underneath his comical orange hair. We were certain that a majority of the country could clearly see the cartoonishly evil villain on the ballot. Indeed, they did, just not the same one we saw.
So, yeah, “female”.