Throughout 2016, our party triumphantly presented itself as the embodiment of America’s multi-cultural, multi-racial demographic future. Of course, our national convention was the peak expression of that triumphalism, featuring Mothers of the Movement, the electrifying speeches by Mr. Khan and the First Lady. I loved every moment. I believed that organizationally tight and incredibly moving convention sealed Clinton’s victory.
Looking back, though, I’m troubled when I imagine watching that convention through the eyes of my own late in-laws. They lived on a modest income caring for their disabled son. Janice was a bookkeeper, and Greg worked in a construction company in central New York. Both would have regarded Donald Trump as a personally disgusting con artist. But I’m not sure they would have seen much at that Democratic convention that spoke directly to them, that addressed the economic devastation in central New York that they and their neighbors had to witness in slow-motion, whose effects they deeply mourned. This was a real failure of messaging and engagement.
…As a matter of human connection, we must acknowledge that these voters had reason to feel condescended to, that we were leaving them behind. That’s a dangerous combination. To their shame and ours, these voters retaliated in a bitterly racialized election.
Listening on election night to disturbing data trickling in from rural Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, I was taken back to my high school English class, when Mercutio’s recounted his fatal wound: “Tis not so deep as a well nor so wide as a church-door, but ’tis enough.”And I wept.