The fourth chapter of Clinton’s account of the 2016 election is called, ironically, “getting started.” And Clinton tells the story of the very beginning of her campaign in 2014. I don’t think I can put it any better than she did: “I think it started with something a lot more ordinary: A Chipotle Burrito Bowl.” Clinton tells the story of her Chipotle lunch with Nick Merrill, her press secretary while she was on the road at the time. While it was inconspicuous at the time, Clinton wasn’t even recognized at the time, news outlets soon covered it in some…interesting ways. This is honestly…irritating. Like, what is the point of reporting on Hillary Clinton going to Chipotle? I care about it as much as I care about Trumps’s KFC bucket. This is just more evidence that the election was treated more as a reality show than an election. In fact, the article describes Clinton as a “celebrity”. To quote Hamilton… Can we get back to politics? Please?
Clinton also tells the first of multiple stories about individual supporters that she met on the campaign trail. She starts with a woman named Pam who was taking care of her grandson while her daughter struggles with opioid addiction. She goes on to talk about the opioid epidemic in some detail. It’s an interesting insight in to why exactly she set the policy plans that she did. Everything really makes sense and I can tell why she values what she values.
It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton ran two flawed campaigns. But you know who else did? Barack Obama. Mitt Romney. Bernie Sanders. Ted Cruz. Donald Trump. No campaign is perfect, and Clinton explains how she planned to fix the mistakes of 2008, though she doesn’t pretend that she didn’t make new mistakes in 2016. One of her big hangups was the conflict between needing to establish herself as her own political entity, separate from her husband or the former president, and her hiring many of Barack Obama’s campaign staff fer her own campaign. I see where her logic was, they worked on a democratic campaign that ended in their candidate in the white house. But it didn’t help her image as an establish politician.
Another flaw that Clinton hints at is the focus on the younger voters. That’s not to say that getting young people involved isn’t important. It’s vital. But it’s a fact that Donald Trump’s appeal to older rural Americans contributed to his eventual campaign victory. Also, it’s possible that focusing polls in urban areas led to the misleading predictions and possible complacency.
Still, I doubt that Clinton fully knew what she was getting into with this election. I don’t think ANY of us knew what we were getting into. We expected the type of election that we normally get. In fact, we got about half of one. Clinton describes the fact that she was facing a well planned and organized campaign against, well, Donald Trump. Once again, Clinton offers us some words that sum up her thoughts on the situation:
“Since the election, I’ve asked myself many times if I learned the wrong lessons from 2008. Was I fighting the previous war when I should have been focused on how much our politics had changed?”
I think that she knows very well the answer to that question is probably yes.
Edit: there was a mistake in the title and I fixed it.