What do people lining up for Clinton’s What Happened think happened?

What do people lining up for Clinton's What Happened think happened?.

by Rachel Withers · September 12, 2017

Yeah but what happened?
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Opinions on what happened in the 2016 election are like assholes: everybody has one.

Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election because of Russia but also because sexism; because she didn’t go to Wisconsin but also because of the media; because she wasn’t likeable enough or because she didn’t show her personality enough; because Americans are angry, or gullible, or racist, or simply wanted change; because Comey, because Bernie. Emails, Benghazi, Pizzagate.

Now Hillary Clinton—who might have had a bit more at stake in the election than most—is offering her two cents on why she thinks she lost the biggest race of her life. Though many online pundits wish she could just, like, not, Hillary supporters in New York queued up for blocks Tuesday morning to get their copy of What Happened signed by the author and to hear what she had to say.

I asked those in line for Tuesday’s book signing for What Happened a basic question: “What happened?”

Here’s what they had to say.

Answers have been condensed for length and clarity.

Brian LeBlanc, 24, writer, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

A lot of it was the James Comey letter, a lot of it was WikiLeaks, then a lot of it was Bernie Sanders. I think a lot of the people that voted for Bernie Sanders decided to be part of the scorched earth campaign and then they all stayed home on election night. I think people have had 25 years to develop a hatred for Hillary Clinton, whether or not any of it’s founded (most of it’s not). And then a lot of it is, most people can’t get behind a woman. You know frat bros, it’s very hard to see them being like “yeah Hillaryyy!” whereas they’re cheering shirtless for Bernie.

Luis Cabalquinto, 82, freelance writer/poet, New York (originally from the Philippines)
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

I think three things. Hillary underestimated the people in the rural areas. Second, the Russian connection. And third, the electoral college. Hillary is actually the president—if this election was held in the Philippines, where I am from, she would be the president.

George Begelman, “I’ll pass on the age,” retired life insurance salesman, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

Basically what she said: the email controversy was the thing that really gave her the most difficulty. She could never get past that. I think that was the main reason why she lost.

Elizabeth Tharakan, 32, lawyer, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

I think Hillary Clinton tried to make herself approachable to the public but she didn’t succeed in making herself open enough, and connecting well with voters. I think Donald Trump was more authentic, and more believable as a character, and people trusted him more. That’s a shame. And I like the fact that Hillary Clinton is now making herself vulnerable, and opening herself up the public.

Lisa Halprin, 55, marketing, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

This may be controversial but I do think there was a Bernie factor, not so much Bernie, but by some of his followers that just never wanted to get behind Hillary in the end. I think that that did some damage. I also think there were a lot of dirty politics at play particularly from Russia. And I think that Comey’s release of the emails from Anthony Weiner’s computer was really a devastating blow at the end. But at the heart of it, I really do think that there’s a lot of misogyny and bias against women, and women being held to a higher standard in order to have to go above and beyond to prove their capability, which she did, in spades.

Jamie Spencer, “way too old to tell you,” currently unemployed, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

Everyone beat up on her. Comey beat up on her. Bernie Sanders beat up on her. Donald Trump, the ultimate toddler and bully, beat up on her…. I think people mistook the presidential election for a popularity contest. Hillary Clinton doesn’t come across very authentically but she was more qualified than anyone else on the ballot, and people thought they were electing someone they liked instead of someone who was going to do a good job, and they were really not thinking with their heads very clearly.

Christine Santisavan, 34, pediatrician, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

What happened? Women are not held to a fair standard in politics. It’s completely patriarchal, and it’s misogynistic. If she had run a campaign other than what she ran she would have been burned for it absolutely that much more I believe. It was a perfect storm. Fake news pulled out through social media, the Russians, the email investigation, diverging political ideology in our country. I think it all came together.

Elisa Petrini, 50+, writer, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

I think it was a perfect storm of things. It was gerrymandering, it was voter suppression, it was demonization by Bernie, it was demonization by Trump, it was Russian interference, it was hacking, it was everything. But I think above all, it was that Hillary has been demonized for 30 years. A lot of it is sexism, a lot of it has been sexism from the beginning. I mean the way she was attacked as Bill’s wife, for being the first president in history who had a wife who has an actual job and thought that she was going to make a meaningful contribution. She was attacked for that and told that she should be baking brownies and had to change her hairdo and all that stuff because she thought that she could have a role. I think that people are so ambivalent about the role of women and Hillary will never be forgiven for being female. Alas!

Susan Toomey, 69, retired ballet dancer/teacher, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

Russia happened! Russia happened! Yes, Russia happened. He knew [about Russia] at the second debate—when he was practically up her ass walking behind her. (She should have kicked him!) Just as the debate was over, he said something to the effect of he knew he was in. Like I can’t remember his exact words but he knew that he was going to be president. And don’t tell me that Donny Baby Junior didn’t tell Daddy about his meeting with Russia, at Trump Tower. Don’t tell me that Trump didn’t know about that. I mean Donny wanted his father to be proud of him, because he’s proud of Jared, he wanted him to be proud of him. Give me a break.

Iffat Nur, 19, student, New York
Voted for Hillary in the primary and the general

I do think Bernie Sanders refusing to bow out of the primary after New York was a problem because by staying in the race he kept on implying to his supporters that he still had a chance, and if it didn’t change their vote it certainly made them less supportive of Hillary Clinton. He was mathematically eliminated a long time ago but people were still looking to him, and he kept on playing into these conspiracies that were built around his losing, the whole rigging thing, that incident in Nevada where his supporters messed up the rules but he claimed it was actually a rigged primary…. it was stuff like that that depressed the support for Hillary Clinton later on, which turned out to be a huge problem.

Richard Raphael, 63, from Australia
Couldn’t vote

He’s a great snake oil salesman, and he’s a very good marketer. He’s very effective at getting a message across, and I think he used all that charm that he’s got—false charm, but charm nonetheless—to appeal to the people that live in fear. The discerning person I can’t imagine would vote for Trump… So anyone that’s thinking about what’s happening would not vote for him. But people who live in fear don’t think clearly…

JC di Maria, 16, student, New York
Couldn’t vote (but went into the booth with his father)

I know there’s was a lot of different factors but the most prevalent in my opinion was definitely Russian interference. In 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Vladimir Putin, and Putin is one of the world’s most famous blacklisters. And when she started running I kind of got the feeling that he wasn’t going to let her get away with it, at least not without a fight, and you know, she still won the popular vote, so, she was a strong enough candidate for that.

Amber, 32, writer, New York
Voted for Bernie in primary then Hillary in the general

I don’t think you could go from a Barack Obama figure, someone who was so amazing in terms of what we’ve seen before, to go back to someone who’s so heavily tied to all those politics that we knew prior. I don’t think you can go back.

If it was her time it would have happened in 2008…. I don’t think it’s her fault, it’s just the way that it went down.

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