Lately, everyone has been focused on the emailgate scandal and the political implications for the Clinton campaign. I suppose that’s fair, since it’s an identifiable news story – but the story itself is really just a concrete example of an overarching problem that will likely doom Hillary’s candidacy: Hillary Clinton is just one of the most unlikable people in America.
The scandal itself is serious on the merits, and will probably become more serious when (not if) we get confirmation that a foreign government cracked Hillary’s “private” server. But Clinton has weathered similar, equally serious scandals without a dent to her political ambitions before. What’s been especially damaging to Clinton about this scandal has been the way it has reminded America about all the things they hated about the Clintons – the overbearing sense of entitlement and privilege, the secrecy, the endless parsing of words, the flagrantly stated belief that the law doesn’t apply to anyone with the last name Clinton.
People tolerated this with Bill Clinton because he was such a likable fellow, personally. Hillary, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Bill, personality-wise. Where Bill was always ready with a charming smile and an affable handshake, Hillary is always ready with a patently fake and bone chilling cackle and disdain for the media. Where Bill Clinton embraced personal contact with voters wherever he could find it, Hillary has always strove to keep the riff raff at the greatest distance possible.
You have to consider this subtext in the ongoing saga of Hillary’s courtship of union endorsements. While Hillary has had a pretty good run already in terms of locking up Democrat super delegates, she hoped to do the same with union endorsements in order to forestall the exact sort of challenge that she is now facing from Bernie Sanders. After all, Hillary’s relationship with the black, inner city voters that drove Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012 was tenuous before 2008 and downright hostile after her bruising campaign against Obama.
Hillary’s base of support has always been white, rust belt blue collar voters. Support from unions should have been relatively automatic for Hillary going into this campaign. But here her assumption that she would not face a legitimate primary challenge has hurt her chances. While Bernie Sanders was out blasting TPP publicly, Hillary decided that she didn’t need to say anything at all publicly on an issue that was of great import to union leadership. So now she faces a union constituency that is at the very least determined to make her experience some heartburn, even if it’s likely inevitable that they will endorse her in the end:
Labor leaders are “playing hard to get” with Hillary Clinton in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Many of the nation’s top unions are sitting on the sidelines, content to let Clinton sweat it out while they withhold endorsements.
Some labor officials are frustrated with Clinton for not coming to their aid in the fight over trade legislation in Congress, while others are skeptical of her commitment to their issues.
The face of the labor movement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, has not endorsed Clinton while seemingly courting her biggest rivals in the Democratic primaries: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Vice President Biden, who is weighing a run for president.
Hillary’s campaign suffers from many of the same structural problems that the Jeb Bush campaign did – in that it is almost totally dependent on inevitability and electability for its appeal. Problematically, Hillary’s inevitability has taken a huge hit from the surprising strength of the Sanders challenge and poll after poll demonstrates that she is also possibly the least electable Democrat in the field, in terms of the general election.
With so many labor leaders openly rebuffing her efforts, one wonders where, exactly, Hillary’s base of support will come from in this primary campaign. Hillary still has a relatively comfortable lead, but it’s increasingly apparent that her support among Democrats is butter soft and voters are longing for literally any alternative to save them from having to pull the lever for Hillary on election day.