Over Twitter, Kevin Drum asked me to identify the Democrats’ three biggest mistakes.
@haroldpollack What were the 3 biggest Dem errors?
— Kevin Drum (@kdrum) November 25, 2016
I have mixed feelings about answering that question. When a comprehensively dishonorable and unfit demagogue ascends to the presidency, all the traditional gatekeepers of our political system have failed: Both parties, the media, the electorate itself. Of course with an election this close, any number of things might have turned the outcome. FBI director Comey’s intercession was probably the decisive endgame factor. He’s not a Democrat.
And whatever mistakes Democrats made, the main responsibility resides with the Republican primary electorate who selected the worst nominee in generations, and with the Republican political professionals who enabled that nominee. They knew exactly who and what Trump was. They supported him anyway, often quietly hoping someone else would bring him down. Had Paul Ryan and George W Bush bluntly announced in late October that Trump is unfit to be president, America would have been spared what we are about to endure.
And Hillary Clinton did a lot right, a fact reflected in her clear popular vote victory. She clobbered Trump in three debates. Her policy shop was maybe the best assembled by any candidate ever. Many of her campaign commercials were outstanding. That should have been enough. It wasn’t.
Still, Democrats must be clear-eyed in assessing how this could have happened—and how we can ensure it doesn’t happen again. In no firm order, here are several mistakes we made*: