I have great respect for American democracy. Its endurance and underlying ideals have been a beacon for the world including younger and rawer democracies like India's.
But this election cycle and the past few years have been frustrating to watch. It appears Americans don't value what they have and are unwilling to even leave their homes to vote for it, much less fight for it.
The LA Times reports, Hillary Clinton lost because millions of Democratic voters didn't vote.
Democrats stayed home
Clinton lost not because of a Trump surge, but because she will end up with several million fewer votes than President Obama got in 2012.
Voters supporting Trump turned up to vote for what they believed in. Democrats and those leaning Democrat didn't. That wasn't her fault. It is theirs.
Anecdotally one hears 'I don't like her', 'I voted for Obama the second time, I was not voting for her' 'She lied' 'Washington is broken and she is part of the system '.
It is like Democratic and Democratic leaning voters are teenagers having a temper tantrum and they put the responsibility of dealing with the terrible consequences of their own actions on others.
To be honest, I too didn't have a good opinion of Hillary Clinton until I happened to watch many hours of her 11-hour long testimony to Congress on Benghazi in October 2015. I was enormously impressed. She answered hostile questions and repeated accusations of bad faith with unflagging patience and detailed meticulous answers, and she did it for hours when no end was in sight. It was a witch-hunt and she submitted herself to it as if it was legitimate process.
What Hillary Clinton's performance demonstrated to me was her respect for the processes of democracy even when these processes were being used by Congressional Republicans as egregious abuses of power.
What the Republicans on the Committee should have asked her about and subjected to public scrutiny was the Obama administration's decision-making behind its push for regime change in Libya. But they preferred to attempt character assassination instead and yet with her patience, she chose not to resist angrily but to uphold the legitimacy of the legislative oversight process.
I understood that whatever her personal and political weaknesses, Hillary Clinton sees the function of government and legislative process as promoting the good of American citizens, even when these are going after her.
In my estimation of their proclivities, Donald Trump and his fellow travelers have no such belief in the powers of government as force for public good - they see the executive, government and legislatures as weapons of power to exact revenge and confer harm on their political, ideological and personal rivals for power, influence and money.
Trump is a know-nothing who can't control his revenge impulse even while tweeting, Gingrich famously shut down government a few times, and Giuliani has been conspiring with retired and serving FBI agents to indict Clinton. There is no reason to think any other Trump loyalist has any better or higher principles regarding use/misuse of state power than he himself and his close associates do.
So Democratic voters who stayed home, handed over government and Congress to Trump's minions parading revenge and punishment as morality, because 'they don't like her'.
So Democratic voters who stayed home, have given up on a woman’s right to choose, because 'they don't like her'. Way to go, women, you have likely given up control of your bodies because you 'don't like her'.
Democratic voters who stayed home 'because they are fed up of Washington gridlock', handed over Washington wholesale to the same Republicans who caused the gridlock in the first place. Because they 'don't like her' and held her solely responsible for this gridlock.
Democratic voters who stayed home gave up the fight on big money in politics and Voting Rights, i.e., put their own voting rights in jeopardy because 'they don't like her' — they refused to admit to themselves the big money backs Republicans, too.
Democratic voters who stayed home have put 20 million Americans’ health insurance at risk because they 'don't like her', 'he said we could keep our doctor'. No insurance is better than Obamacare. Good job!
Now one hears 'analysis' on how it is all her or the Democratic Party's fault that enough Democrats didn't get up off their couches and go vote though the choice was very clear - Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
The choice was not a pink unicorn or Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. The choice was clear — either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
She was not responsible for protecting the fundamentals of American democracy and your democratic rights in this election, you were. She did her part by running for President. And you chose to stay home. Good job!
Democrats' genuine political grievances against Hillary Clinton on health care, trade deals, loss of jobs, immigration, and potentially hawkish foreign policies certainly existed, but could have been raised within the framework of the Democratic Party and the democratic process. She was not running for dictator. Now these issues and the mechanisms to deal with them are in sole control of Trump and the Republicans. Good job!
American democracy is 240 years old and again, a beacon to the world; but sadly, it is not written in stone that it will survive for ever.
Certainly non-voters with the temperament and judgement of teenagers having temper tantrums who refused to vote because 'we don't like her' cannot be the ones preserving it. Good luck.
PS: Thanks so much for the recommended tag. Also, thanks to all who read and commented.
PPS: A political party and its platform can survive only on the strength of those voters who turn up to vote on issues they care about-no party can survive on the strength of phantom supporters too high-minded to vote, especially at crunch time.
PPPS: Thank you so much for your recommends, and thanks again to all for your comments.
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