Ron Radosh

A Note to Donald and Hillary: It's Time to Stop Fighting About the Results of the 2016 Presidential Campaign

Honoree former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Planned Parenthood 100th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

In an interview with Reuters last Thursday, Donald Trump paused in the middle of talking about President Xi Jinping of China and handed reporters copies of the 2016 electoral results with the areas he won marked in red:

Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers, it’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.

Trump’s obsession is so strong, Daniel Politi reports in Slate, that on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC program he asked Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker for the following favor:

He brought out the map, he said, “Aren’t you impressed by this map? Aren’t you surprised by this map?” He encouraged me to take it home to my colleagues at the Washington Post to try to run it on the front page of our newspaper.

Every American knows that Donald Trump is our president, yet when he tells us for the 100th time, it sounds like he is unsure that he is. He is still fazed that he did not win the popular vote, and apparently believes that unless he continually brings up his victory, people will think that he didn’t win the election.

In fact, Trump did assert that he actually did win the popular vote, blaming Hillary’s majority on would-be “millions” of illegal votes cast by undocumented immigrants. No evidence exists to prove that assertion. The result is that many Americans see Trump as so desperate to prove he won both the popular vote and the Electoral College that he must lie about the former, thereby coming off as pathetic.

As for Hillary Clinton, her recent behavior echoes Trump in her need to constantly revisit the election. She maintains that anyone who is honest knows that she should be sitting in the Oval Office. She argued that misogyny caused her loss, even though over 53 percent of white women voted for Trump. Then she asserted that if the election had been held on October 27, she “would have been your president.”

Interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Women for Women International event held in New York City, Clinton explained her loss this way:

I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had. I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off (emphasis added).

Now, there is some truth to her assertion. Statistician Nate Silver ran the numbers and convincingly argues:

Hillary Clinton would probably be president if FBI Director James Comey had not sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28.

Silver does not say it is the only factor. His point is that all the other things she did badly did come into play, but daily polls revealed a substantial shift of a few points in key states right after Comey’s announcement. After Comey released the letter to the public, almost immediately 3 or 4 percentage points moved to Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida. Silver notes that Clinton lost Michigan, Florida, and Arizona by only 1 point, enough to give Trump the Electoral College victory. Of course, Clinton’s Electoral College vote was, as Silver writes, “inefficiently distributed,” concentrated on the coastal states rather than the swing states.

That concentration is the very problem. The Democrats’ base, and Hillary’s in the 2016 election, was composed of Silicon Valley and Hollywood wealth on the West Coast, Wall Street plus New York’s entertainment industry and literary world on the East Coast, and college-educated professionals on both coasts. That, they hoped, combined with the certain victory among African-Americans (who did not come out for her as substantially as they did for Obama) was to make her election a done deal.

As we know, ignoring the plight of the rural areas of America and the white working class was the main reason Hillary Clinton lost. Indeed, in many key swing areas, voters who overwhelmingly voted in 2008 and 2016 for Barack Obama shifted their vote to Donald Trump.

But when push came to shove, Silver shows that the Comey letter “almost immediately sank Clinton’s polls.”

As for Clinton, she tells Amanpour she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for the loss — then she says Trump won because of outside factors, including Russia’s intervention on his behalf. Then, she gives Trump a piece of advice that she should take herself:

He should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote than doing some other things that would be important for the country.

Recall that after Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton magnanimously told the nation how it was important to help Donald Trump succeed:

We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.

But now, she says:

I am now back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance.

The term “resistance” came into use by underground opposition groups fighting the Nazis during World War II in Europe, especially in France. Their cells formed because it was the only kind of action one could take against the Nazis who had instituted a totalitarian Fascist regime in Germany and had total control of the European democracies they had occupied.

The United States, on the other hand, is a democratic country with a legally elected government. One can organize to try to get one’s candidates elected in the next midterm elections by going door-to-door and raising money for their respective campaigns. Should the Democrats retake the House, for example, it would put a big monkey wrench into Republican plans.

There is no need for a “resistance.”

To use those very words is nothing but propaganda to paint Trump’s administration as a fascist regime where the standard operating procedures of a democracy no longer work.

Indeed, instead of reaching out by putting forth serious centrist programs that might have a wide appeal, even to some Republicans, Hillary Clinton has made it clear that she is taking a strong leap to the left. Working with the former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, Hillary announced the formation of a new group that would, as BuzzFeed reports:

… seed members of the loose movement on the left incited by President Donald Trump.

Structured as a PAC, the group would select “progressive” groups to fund and work to create a well-organized network. The group parallels the effort undertaken by Bernie Sanders and his followers. Some who are cynical might say it is a stalking horse for a Howard Dean candidacy in 2020.

Both sides should stop the hyperbole and come down to earth. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should sit down, take a deep breath, and relax. There are far more important goals to accomplish than once again fighting the 2016 campaign.