51ytq5b34jlBook #15: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, Jonathan Allen & Amie Barnes

Hillary Clinton broke through the glass ceiling and became the first female President of the United States of America.  At least that’s what she thought the history books would say.  But in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, after a long and painful election season, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory.  What ended in an early morning phone call started 17 months earlier on a narrow island in New York’s East River.  This book is a fascinating recounting of those 17 months told from the inside of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

#2017bookreview #mattreadinglist

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Personally, 2016 was a painful election year.  The tone of the rhetoric from the candidates and the reactionary vitriol spread by both media and citizenry made for a rather unpleasant exercise in democracy.  So why read this book; especially since I am in no way a supporter of Hillary Clinton?

  1. This book represents a part of our history.  So as a student of history, it is a good (and pretty unvarnished) accounting of the election from the Clinton perspective.  Yes, things were painful.  As a result of engaging in debate on issues, I have been personally called many nasty things.  We are currently in a very divided place in our history as a nation.  But as a student of history I can also be reassured by 2 things.  First, we have been here before.  The election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was by all accounts was as divisive and full of racy accusations as our last election.  Second, while a large cohort of people are displeased with the outcome and a large cohort of people are displeased with Hillary Clinton, we live in a representative democracy, and that democracy still works.  We have a government with checks and balances.  But most importantly, we have a long standing tradition of selecting our leaders and those leaders consenting to the peaceful transfer of power.  Despite our collective disappointment with varying aspects of the 2016 election, our democracy is still strong.  But this comes with a strong warning.  The leaders are representatives for the people, but they also reflect the people.  If we want leaders of higher moral standards, we as a people need to live with those same high standards.
  2. Reading this book will really help you understand the outcome of the election.  For some, the victory won by Donald Trump came as a huge surprise.  Honestly, I think Trump himself was a little surprised.  But even as far back as the primary, the rise of Bernie Sanders was a unexpected development for Hillary.  How could a political independent (albeit one who is extremely progressive in his ideology and caucused with the Democrats) mount a near successful challenge to the most well known (and seemingly liked) Democrat?  America was not in the mood for business as usual, establishment candidates.  Just as Donald Trump represented a populist alternative to the 15 other Republican candidates, Bernie Sanders represented the populist sentiment in the Democratic Party.  Thus it is not terribly surprising that the same populist wind would favor Donald Trump in the general election against Hillary, who was seen by comparison as the establishment candidate.
  3. I believe that in order to be an effective advocate for your position, you ought to know well the opposing side.  This helps in understanding better their position, but also gives you credibility with supporters of the opposing side.  Too many people today are ignorantly opinionated.  As for me, while I do have my personal opinions, and hold those strongly, I do want to read and know the other side.  This is so I can be better informed in my positions, but also to signal to those who do not share my views, that I try to be informed and open to hearing their arguments.  To that end, I encourage you to read this book.

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