Clinton, therefore, must win without spiking the ball. If she’s not careful, her victory will only strengthen Trump supporters’ belief that the forces of “political correctness” are oppressing them. And the political violence that has become a feature of the Trump campaign may continue in other forms. As crazy as it sounds, Clinton must approach the 2016 campaign a bit like Nelson Mandela approached his campaign against F.W. De Klerk in 1994. Her presidency, following Barack Obama’s, would represent an inversion of America’s racial and sexual order almost as profound as the one that Mandela brought to South Africa. Like Mandela, Clinton must show the vanquished defenders of the old order that it’s still their country, too.
She has started to recognize that. Ten days ago, in a clear reference to Trump supporters, she asked her audience “to just for a minute, to put yourselves in their minds,” the minds “of people that feel their best days—and therefore our country’s best days—are behind us.” After talking about the ravages of the Great Recession, she then admonished her backers not to see Trump’s followers merely as racists. “When we see people running for president who are literally inciting bigotry and violence,” she declared, “it’s easy to say, ‘I’m not even going to pay attention to that.’ But that would be wrong because we’ve got to reclaim the promise of America for all of our people. Every single one of them.”
Clinton needs to say this again and again. She needs to make it central to her campaign. And she needs a policy agenda to match.