Hillary Clinton knew the keys to the White House weren’t under the streetlight…. (More)

“Because the light is better”

There’s a joke about a guy studying the sidewalk under a streetlight. A cop walks up and asks what the guy is doing.

“I’m looking for my keys,” the guy says.

“Where did you drop them?” the cop asks.

The guy points to a shadowy corner. “Over there somewhere.”

“So why are you looking here?” the cop asks, confusion evident in his voice.

The guy flashes a confident smile. “Because the light is better.”

And that’s The Really Big Story of the 2016 election.

Hillary Clinton was the favorite throughout the Democratic primaries. She never trailed Bernie Sanders in national polling, or in pledged delegates. She’s also been the favorite throughout the general election campaign. Donald Trump drew close in late July and mid-September, but he never led in polling averages. And Clinton is now the overwhelming favorite.

But both Sanders and Trump drew bigger crowds at rallies, and the 2016 campaigns have featured a seemingly endless parade of think pieces on the angry white men who were both Sanders’ and Trump’s bases.

That focus on white men may merely reflect the white male dominance in our media. It’s hardly surprising that white men are more likely to empathize with other white men. In that sense, white male reporters interview and write about the concerns of white men because “the light is better here.”

“The Clinton voter has not made the same kind of impression on the media”

But most voters are not white men and that mismatch between Who Reports On Whom and Who Votes seriously skewed the election narratives of 2016, as Vox’s Matthew Yglesias writes:

Polls give every indication that Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump, just as she beat Bernie Sanders – who also drew larger rally crowds and more think pieces than she did – in the Democratic primary. Clinton crowds aren’t as big, and her voters aren’t as loud or as interesting to the media. But there sure are a lot of them. And it’s about time we acknowledge them and their emergence as a new silent majority that reelected America’s first black president and is poised to elect its first woman.

Women alone are a majority of voters – casting 53% of the votes in 2012 – and men of color are estimated to total another 13-14% in 2016. Together, they’re roughly two-thirds of voters, but Yglesias says they’re not as loud:

Clinton led in the Democratic primary from the first day to the last, and has consistently led in general election polling since the beginning of the campaign. Yet the Clinton voter has not made the same kind of impression on the media, in part because the new silent majority voter offers less visible evidence of being fired up and the new silent majority’s signature politicians – Clinton and Obama – do not do grand performance of anger, even at a time when rage is all the rage in American politics.

Partly that’s because surveys show women and people of color are more optimistic about America’s future. And partly it’s that research shows women and people of color (and especially women of color) are not allowed to be publicly angry. If you’ve decided Rage Is The Big Story of 2016 … well, you’ve chosen a story that largely excludes two-thirds of voters.

And Heather Digby Parton writes that viewing an election through the lens of white men’s concerns is hardly novel to 2016:

You wouldn’t know it from this year’s election reporting  but there are tens of millions of women who are voting enthusiastically for Hillary Clinton because of her stand on the issues and the fact that she’s going to be the first woman president which is a meaningful milestone to them. Very few people have bothered to profile them or look into what they’re thinking. (There’s so little time for that what with the need to focus, as we do in every election, on the much more important angry white males who are voting Republican.) These women are the invisible people in this election just like they are often the invisible people in this world.  But whatever, they are working to get her elected and they will vote and then go back to doing whatever it is they do that nobody gives a shit about.

But Hillary Clinton does.

“We saw ourselves and our experiences reflected up on the national stage”

Part of that is a simple matter of identity, as Jill Filipovic writes for Cosmopolitan:

Last night, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton didn’t so much play the gender card as simply show up on the debate stage a woman. What a difference it highlighted between her and her opponent. And how incredible it was to hear a female candidate talk about women’s issues not as abstractions, but as deeply personal, as fundamentally normal, and just as universal as men’s experiences.

Filipovic contrasts Clinton’s and Trump’s answers on the Supreme Court and abortion, not just in terms of policy but in terms of who matters:

Too often, abortion is discussed as a moral or religious issue, the central question being where life begins. The woman is routinely erased. Clinton shifted that narrative, focusing instead on abortion as women actually experience it: not as a philosophical debate, but as a very real and often necessary medical response to a pregnancy that isn’t wanted or, because of medical complications or heartbreaking circumstances, simply cannot be. The decision, Clinton said over and over, has to be a woman’s, not a government’s. Notably, in his answer to Wallace’s abortion question, Trump didn’t say the word “woman” once.

She concludes that a Clinton presidency will show women that they can lead:

This is what having more women in power does: It normalizes being female. That’s no small thing in a country with more than 200 years of uninterrupted male executive leadership, where for more than half of our country’s existence women couldn’t vote, and where never before has there been a woman in Clinton’s current position. Of course her opponent, who she is trouncing handily, thinks she’s nasty – women everywhere know that feeling too. But finally, we saw ourselves and our experiences reflected up on the national stage. Women in power may not be the new normal quite yet, and even a Clinton presidency wouldn’t usher in an era of completed feminism and perfect female representation. But last night, we got a taste of what it would be like to have a woman in our country’s highest position of power. For the many of us who have spent our whole lives hearing men talk about us, seeing a woman talk about actually being one of us was thrilling – and not nasty at all.

Small surprise that Trump’s “nasty woman” remark galvanized women.

“Because you don’t know ‘them.’ You can’t even see ‘them.’”

First Lady Michelle Obama made a similar, broader case yesterday in Arizona:

Trump, she said, lives in a bubble, rarely exposed to people unlike him or to people who are struggling – and that makes him less empathetic to people who are struggling and unable to see what makes America great.

“It’s easy to dehumanize ‘them.’ To treat ‘them’ with contempt,” Obama said. “Because you don’t know ‘them.’ You can’t even see ‘them.’ And maybe that’s why this candidate thinks certain immigrants are criminals instead of folks who work their fingers to the bone to give their kids a better life, to help build the greatest nation on Earth. Because he doesn’t really know them.”

She gave the same defense of Muslims: “He really has no idea who they are. He doesn’t understand that they are us. They are our friends, our family, our neighbors, our colleagues, people of faith just like so many folks around the country.”

Trump, she said, views women as “objects solely for pleasure and entertainment rather than human beings worthy of love and respect.”

Hillary Clinton’s is winning precisely because she recognized that women, people of color, Muslims, LGBTs, and all of the other people left out of the GOP’s ‘Real America’ are in fact The Real Silent Majority. She has been looking for the White House keys in the shadowy corners were most voters are … while white men looked under the white male streetlight.

They had more light, but it looks more and more like she found the keys.


Photo Credit: Reuters


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