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The Fault, Dear Brutus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Liberals around the land are shaking their collective fists at Republicans and a good chunk of independent voters for bringing us President-elect Donald J. Trump.


In the best traditions of the American Left, it was everyone's fault but their own.

It was FBI Director James Comey's fault. It was the media's fault. It was the pollsters' fault. It was the schedulers' fault (see, also, attending an Adele concert in the waning days of the campaign). It was the San Andreas fault.

Want to know who's fault it was? The Democrats. Why? They nominated the only person in the solar system who could possibly lose to Donald J. Trump: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I hold no animus toward Secretary Clinton or her people. She worked hard on the campaign trail. Her campaign staff put together a machine worthy of any we have seen in decades. They had all the pieces. All the procedures. They could have elected a President or directed a mission to Mars.

They were that good.

Join me and Mr. Peabody and hop into the Way Back machine.

It is the 1980s. Republicans in the House are hopelessly mired in the minority. After the 1982 elections Democrats held a 269-166 (+103) seat lead. We used to say the GOP Members could hold a Conference meeting in a phone booth and have room left over for the staff.

We bounced around in that minority situation even in the face of two Executive Directors of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Nancy Sinnott Dwight and then Joe Gaylord assembling an astonishing array of talent. And me.


We could walk into just about any Congressional District in the nation and put together a credible campaign. We could set up a fund-raising operation, press, volunteers, scheduling. We could find someone to handle the polling and the printing. We could find a candidate who, at a minimum, would not embarrass themselves and we could flip a switch and voila! A campaign would spring forth fully formed and ready to … lose.

We sometimes lost by a lot. Usually lost by a little. But, we mostly lost.

I forget now who came up with the metaphor, but someone said we had not created campaigns, but a methodology to build campaigns. Much as the Clinton people did. They were like a stainless steel high-tech factory: All gleaming surfaces and purring parts.

What were we missing? Soul.

We couldn't build in passion. We had not found a way to, as we say now, energize our voters. We couldn't help them see that we believed they were the most important cog in our beautiful machine.

We couldn't help them see that, because we didn't believe it ourselves.

It was Newt Gingrich (along with the aforementioned Joe Gaylord) and others (I was not involved) who discovered the Rosetta Stone of politics; the way to not just translate Newt's vision, but transfer that vision to voters who, in 1994, turned out in droves and drove the Democrats from the Majority for the first time in 40 years.


Back to current day.

We giggled at the Trump campaign for having temerity to even call itself a campaign. In the face of the election machine the Clinton people had constructed, Trump was nothing more than a large production meeting for a reality show.

Trump had none of the fittings of a real campaign. The communications shop consisted of a couple of people whose principal job appeared to be not returning calls. There was no fund-raising because they didn't spend that much money. Polling was … who knows?

What Trump did have was an understanding that it was not the pipes, valves, and fittings of a campaign that matter. It is the voters.

In the end, all the video of sobbing supporters following Clinton's loss didn't matter. And, don't tell me about how she won the popular vote. We don't count that way.

Trump will have won all or some part of 30 states by the time that counting is done. 30 out of 51 electoral units (including the District of Columbia). Nearly 60 percent of the States.

But, we don't count that way, either.

So, when actors on a stage write new lines to end their show as the cast of "Hamilton" did the other night, and when people (many of whom never voted in the first place) take to the streets to protest the election they are barking up the wrong tree.


Republicans and independents didn't need all the nuts and bolts. They needed a vision and Donald Trump described one; a vision that rung true to voters.

So, don't blame Trump, or his supporters. You know where the blame lies.

As Cassius said in Act I, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, more than 400 years ago: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."


On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: Links to the Way Back machine, to the chart of Rs and Ds in the U.S. House through the years, and to a review of the election of 1994.

The Mullfoto is of the last warm day of the year in Old Town, Alexandria, VA.

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