We deserved eight years of him and then four of Trump? Good lord. This may be the single most cutting thing he’s ever said about Americans.
Buried in the subtext of his remark is his theory of the election: Democrats didn’t turn out in the numbers they should have (“if you don’t vote and you don’t participate and you don’t pay attention…”), ergo they’re being punished with a Trump presidency. There’s a grain of truth in that but it misses the big picture. It’s true that turnout among some core Democratic groups, most notably black voters, was down from the Obama era, but it wasn’t missing Democrats that ultimately swung the election. It was the Obama voters who did turn out — and voted for Trump. At least two analyses have reached that conclusion, one by Nate Cohn and the other by a Democratic firm:
Those Obama-Trump voters, in fact, effectively accounted for more than two-thirds of the reason Clinton lost, according to Matt Canter, a senior vice president of the Democratic political firm Global Strategy Group. In his group’s analysis, about 70 percent of Clinton’s failure to reach Obama’s vote total in 2012 was because she lost these voters…
“This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn’t work,” Canter said. “We have to do both.”
It wasn’t apathy that decided the outcome, it was discontent with Obama’s legacy and/or the prospect of a Clinton-flavored reimagining of it — even among many of O’s own voters. “What made me understand leadership,” Obama says, ironically, “was when I could see somebody who thought they didn’t have a voice, thought they didn’t have influence or didn’t have power, and teach them how to speak up on the things that were affecting their lives.” That’s an efficient summary of Trump’s key retail advantage over Hillary, though. Trump’s voters saw him as a champion for their interests, an empowering agent for the disempowered. One of the seminal lines from the campaign was him vowing that the “forgotten men and women” of America would be forgotten no longer. Clinton never made that sale and never could given her dynastic pretensions and Wall Street baggage. For cripes sake, her campaign actually toyed with using “Because it’s her turn” as a campaign rallying cry. You don’t get the politicians you “deserve”; typically you get the politicians who inspire you. You would think this guy, of all people, would understand that.