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False Equivalence and Dallying Democrats

All strategies are plans of action with strategic priorities; however, they must respond to unforeseen events as they develop. Donald Trump executed his plan to the limits of his ability, while the failures of the Clinton campaign included an inability to identify the issues, a lack of focus, and an incoherent strategic response to the credible threat of the Trump campaign. The inadequate responses to the changing campaign environment, ultimately, were the downfall of the aspirations of Clinton and the Democrats.


Questioning Trump´s capabilities to lead either a business or a government was a hallmark of the response from his opponents. This action, however, did not bring his downfall. His unfitness to serve would have, under most circumstances, resulted in losing not only the primary but also the general election. Trump not only survived; he thrived despite his liability. In this outcome lays the story of Trump´s success.

A Numbers Game. The difference between Bernie Sanders and Trump during the primaries had a little to do with money, and a lot to do with having one powerful adversary or many little ones. Trump´s ability to stay in the primary was because his twitter barrage focused on one opponent at a time. Trump’s strategy of fighting isolated battles worked because the other candidates and the Republicans never coalesced around a single candidate. Whether this was the group or individual hubris by the Republican establishment is irrelevant, Trump´s response to the challenge enabled him to stay in the primaries and eventually win.

In contrast, the Democratic regime already had preselected their chosen candidate, primaries notwithstanding. Bernie was fighting a similar battle as an outsider; however, he was only one person against a powerful and established adversary. Bernie could not pick off any other competitors because they did not exist. The miracle of Bernie´s campaign was that he persevered for so long against a focused foe that understood how to respond to a specific threat. While Bernie supporters sought to change the establishment as did Trump´s supporters, Bernie’s opponent was to entrenched to overcome.

Failing to Respond. While some will call Trump´s victory a lesson in strategy, time will most likely show that their downfall was a lack of a coherent strategic response by Clinton and the Democrats to the threat of Trump. The target was white, rural Rust-Belt America for Trump´s campaign and they focused on it exclusively. Combined with the divisive Democratic primaries that repelled some Bernie supporters, the lack of a more focused response from the Clinton campaign is tough to rationalize after the fact, even more so given what they did do might have worked against them.

This outcome is the tragedy for Clinton and the Democrats: it was most likely avoidable even if they initially failed in their identification of the issues and developing a focused strategy to address them. A proper evaluation of Trump´s campaign options and the development of a credible response would likely have achieved the outcome that the polls indicated.

A Distinction Without A Difference. The weaknesses of candidate Trump were well enumerated. Minimizing his liability could occur in two ways: offer convincing rebuttals or create a false equivalence. The inability of Trump to stay on any message necessitated that the campaign focus their efforts on reducing the turnout for Clinton from idealistic white liberals, young woman, and African Americans.

There is little doubt that Trump leveraged the system to his benefit. Whether it is the