The opinions that follow are courtesy of guest columnist Eric Bailey. His opinions are his own, and do not reflect the views of ChuckingRocks.
The media had a lot to do with it—giving far more coverage to Trump than any other Republican candidate during the primary season, essentially limitless free advertising.
Russia was a big part of it—their hacking of Democratic e-mails and their strategic releasing of information via WikiLeaks changed the presidential campaign narrative at critical moments.
Clinton herself had a ton to do with it—nominating a candidate with record high unfavorable ratings certainly made her a less than ideal choice to take on a Donald Trump.
And FBI Chief Comey may have had the biggest impact of all—the letters to Congress, just days before the election, and indeed while millions of people across the country were already voting, probably flipped just enough votes to doom Clinton.
But I want to ask another question. And it’s a question that I can’t stop thinking about since the election’s end.
Trump won Wisconsin by just 26,000 votes (less than 1%). He won Pennsylvania by 58,000 votes (again, less than 1%). And he won Michigan by a mere 10,000—just 0.3% of the vote!
These states were all part of the “Clinton firewall”—states whereby, even if she lost all the so called “battleground states,” she still would have won the presidency.
Flipping just those three states to Clinton would have created this result instead; a 278-260 Clinton electoral college victory:
All three of these states have significant union membership, and are traditional union hubs. They are blue collar Democratic Party backbone states.
Far away from these Eastern/Midwest states, in Oregon, a major fight took place over a ballot measure called Measure 97. The measure would have levied a 2.5% tax on gross (not net) sales over $25 million for companies, regardless if said company had made a profit in the previous year or not. Many supporters admitted the measure was faulty, but pressed for it anyway, hoping that the Oregon State Legislature could simply fix it’s several problems on the back end. But AFT, AFSCME, SEIU, the NEA, the OEA and other unions went all in despite those concerns—pouring in money from national political coffers (PACs). A grand total of $17 million to be exact.
To put things into context, that is $3 million more than the entire MoveOn.org famous PAC spent on the 2016 election cycle—at all levels. (source: Opensecrets.org) It’s a significant amount of money.
And the question I keep asking over and over is—what if that $17 million was spent in a much different way? What if that $17 million—in spite of the horrible job by the media, in spite of Russia’s meddling, in spite of Comey, etc.—had been spent on shoring up Clinton’s firewall states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Reaching out to targeted voters, making sure solid Dems made it to the polls and were able to circumvent strict undemocratic voter ID laws, etc. What if they had used that $17 million in those three states on targeted ads, exposing Trump’s bad business deals, his use of Chinese steel in his buildings, etc. If these unions—all of which were largely in support of Clinton already and opposed to all Trump stood for—had spent their money in this way…would we be facing a President-Elect Trump right now?
Hindsight is always 20/20, and we will never know for sure. But I think the answer to that question is no, we wouldn’t. Instead, we’d be celebrating the ultimate glass ceiling being broken, and getting ready for our first Madam President of these United States. And we wouldn’t be fearing such things as a potential “Muslim registry,” the end of “Net neutrality,” the end of Medicare as we know it, the pulling out of the “Paris Accords” and all recent work done to combat climate change, and the nominating of potentially a few conservative Supreme Court justices—with the prospective of solidifying the devastating Citizens United ruling, the plausible overturning of Roe vs. Wade, etc.
$17 million spent. Nothing gained for it. And, potentially, decades of progressive work decimated by it not being spent a different way. And in my opinion, that is truly one of the tragedies of this election.
Eric Bailey is a guest contributor.
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