Free Press Journal

Hillary decodes her election defeat

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Hillary understands that something just did not click with the voters. “What makes me such a lightning rod for fury?” she wonders in the book, adding, “I am really asking. I am at a loss. I think it is partly because I am a woman.” She notes: “I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people- millions and millions of people- decided that they just don’t like me,” adding: “Why am I seen as such a divisive figure, and say Joe Biden and John Kerry aren’t?”

Ten months after she lost the presidential bid, Hillary Clinton is back in the news with the release of her new memoir What Happened last week. The 494-page post-2016 presidential poll analysis offers an intimate account of her life after her losing the elections and an analysis of her defeat. Hillary continues to be a polarizing figure even after her defeat. The new book has evoked a fair amount of criticism as well as support.

Curiously, a day after the book was on the stands last week, there were 1,800 reviews of which 900 negative reviews have disappeared from the Amazon site, according the Telegraph from U.K. It was rated as a number one bestseller on Amazon before its publication, which was not surprising. After all, those who supported Clinton in 2016 would like to hear her side of the story and why she lost.


President Trump’s reaction to the book was typical. “Crooked Hillary Clinton blames everybody (and everything) but herself for her election loss. She lost the debates and lost her direction!” he tweeted on September 13, the day after the book release. Many dislike her still and are willing to believe almost anything negative about the former First Lady, New York Senator, Secretary of State and the presidential candidate. Her critics find fault with even personal things like her voice, her frequent change of her hairstyle, her way of dressing etc. Many believe that she is a liar.

Hillary understands that something just did not click with the voters. “What makes me such a lightning rod for fury?” she wonders in the book, adding, “I am really asking. I am at a loss. I think it is partly because I am a woman.” She notes: “I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people- millions and millions of people- decided that they just don’t like me,” adding: “Why am I seen as such a divisive figure, and say Joe Biden and John Kerry aren’t?”

There are many positives about Hillary. She has done well in her political career as a First Lady, a Senator and Obama’s Secretary of State. She is ambitious and focused in what she wants. She has won the popular vote with 65.8 million ballots in 2016 after winning the nomination of a major political party. She did not think that she would lose. “I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t realize how quickly the ground was shifting under all our feet… I was running a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions, while Trump was running a reality TV show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans’ anger and resentment.”

The two-time presidential loser accepts responsibility for the 2016 defeat, but then blames President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, gender bias, misogyny, FBI chief James Comey, and her rival Bernie Sanders. She still cannot digest that she has lost and continues to say in her book publicity interviews what she would have done had she become the president.

Hillary’s gender card did not work though she won the support of a section of women who identify themselves with her cause. After she lost, she said in her concession speech: “To all the little girls who are watching this — never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” After the book release, a section of women feel that though she has lost, she has shown them the path for breaking the glass ceiling. “There is no doubt that she gets the credit for this and there are others who can follow her in the years to come,” says a die-hard Hillary fan. The future woman US President whenever she wins will have to thank Hillary for paving the way.

The book is quite frank and engaging, which even her critics acknowledge. “I blamed myself,” she admits, noting: “My worst fears about my limitations as a candidate had come true. I had tried to learn the lessons of 2008, and in many ways ran a better, smarter campaign this time. But I had been unable to connect with the deep anger so many Americans felt or shake the perception that I was the candidate of the status quo.”

The book is one more effort on the part of Hillary to show that she is a fighter who does not give up easily. According to an April Bloomsburg poll, she has continued to lose her popularity rating since she lost. In short there is a Hillary fatigue, which she refuses to acknowledge. Since her loss, she has continued to stay in public eye and voiced her opinions. “There were plenty of people hoping that I too would just disappear,” she writes. “But here I am.” Being an ambitious woman she has no intention of disappearing from the public gaze so easily despite the “Hillary, go away” slogans.

The writer is a senior journalist and commentator.