[Marxism] Trump Defeated Clinton, Not Women

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 16 11:59:35 MST 2016

NY Times Op-Ed, Nov. 16 2016
Trump Defeated Clinton, Not Women

For a great many women around the world, Donald J. Trump’s defeat of 
Hillary Clinton feels like a painful setback not just for democracy, but 
for our gender.

Voters chose a loose cannon of a man with zero government experience 
over a calm, collected and supremely qualified woman. The root cause of 
this injustice, many have suggested, can only be sexism — proof that the 
glass ceiling protecting the highest reaches of power cannot yet be 

The reaction is understandable. It’s also wrong and unnecessarily 

Of course no female or nonwhite candidate with Mr. Trump’s lack of 
experience, angry outbursts, boasts of sexual assault or trail of broken 
marriages could have gotten elected. That Mr. Trump did, while spouting 
such ugliness about women and minorities, speaks to deep and persistent 
strains of misogyny and white supremacy in American society.

But we can recognize all this yet still reject the idea that all women 
who reach as high as Mrs. Clinton will meet the same fate. Yes, she had 
a gold-plated résumé that more than qualified her to be president. But 
that overlooks an important fact: Virtually everything about Mrs. 
Clinton’s biography made her uniquely unsuited to draw blood where Mr. 
Trump was most vulnerable.

This election needed a Democrat who could call out, again and again, the 
myriad hypocrisies and absurdities of Mr. Trump’s claim to be a hero for 
the downtrodden working class. In the debates, Mrs. Clinton landed 
points when she exposed Mr. Trump’s history of outsourcing and tax 
dodging. But by then Mr. Trump had already spent the summer mocking his 
opponent for her private parties with oligarchs, painting her own 
lifestyle as profoundly out of touch with ordinary Americans (which it is).

In short, she landed on many of the right messages, but she was the 
wrong messenger.

Similarly, there was much to be made of the scandals at Mr. Trump’s 
foundation and at Trump University. But the Clinton Foundation — and its 
various entangled relationships between private corporations, foreign 
governments and public officials — made Mrs. Clinton’s attacks far too 
easy to turn back at her.

We’ll never know what it would have looked like for a woman who is 
outside the Davos class to have run against Mr. Trump, because voters 
were not given that option.

And then there is Mr. Trump’s record with women: the open talk of sexual 
grabbing without consent, the career made rating women’s bodies as if 
they were slabs of meat, the infidelity and serial marriages. Once 
again, these were all weaknesses that Mrs. Clinton was poorly suited to 
fully exploit. Not because she is a woman but because, as Mr. Trump 
pointed out in the most public and humiliating of ways, Bill Clinton has 
repeatedly been accused of sexual assault — and Mrs. Clinton has an 
on-camera record of working with her husband to discredit his accusers.

Mrs. Clinton’s behavior during these personal crises may be 
understandable, and she is certainly not responsible for her husband’s 
actions. But the fact remains that no matter which major party won, a 
grabby man was about to move into the White House residence. Would the 
election results have been different if Mr. Trump had faced a female 
adversary who could credibly have pledged that, under her watch, we 
would be free of this kind of seedy drama?

Here is the biggest problem with elevating sexism to the defining 
explanation of Mrs. Clinton’s loss: It lets her machine and her failed 
policies off the hook. It erases the role played by the appetite for 
endless war and the comfort with market-friendly incremental change, no 
matter the urgency of the crisis (from climate change to police violence 
to raging inequality). It erases the disgust over Mrs. Clinton’s 
coziness with Wall Street and with the wreckage left behind by trade 
deals that benefited corporations at the expense of workers.

In this version, it’s all about sexism. And that is the surest way to 
ensure that the Democratic Party’s disastrous 2016 mistakes will be 
repeated — only next time, with a man at the top of the ticket.

Letting this early draft of history go unchallenged also means accepting 
a powerful constraint on the full potential of American women of all 
backgrounds and ideologies. Right now, all women are being bombarded 
with the message that they will be perennially kept down by that highest 
of glass ceilings — never mind that this barrier could well prove 
significantly more fragile than it seems.

That Mrs. Clinton could be defeated by the likes of Mr. Trump remains 
disgraceful. But Mrs. Clinton was too flawed a candidate for this 
disgrace to go down in history as a defeat for her gender.

Come January, Donald Trump and the Republican Party will have a great 
deal of power. Let’s not hand them power they have not actually earned — 
the power to crush the possibility that the right woman may one day 
become president.

Naomi Klein is the author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. 
the Climate” and “The Shock Doctrine.”

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