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The Woman Who Gave Us Trump

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Some “anti-identitarians” (that is, people who take the position, normally taken by people like Mark Penn, that centering politics around the interests of white people isn’t “identity politics”) of the “left” have found a yoooge factor in the rise of Donald Trump. The media? Hell no — indeed, this faction devoted much of the campaign that elected a white nationalist authoritarian to trying to pretend that inane trivia from John Podesta’s inbox presented a major scandal. Jim Comey? Nah, what power does the director of the FBI working with the media have? No, the person responsible for Donald Trump is…Lena Dunham.

If I might be permitted to state the obvious, Lena Dunham did not materially affect the election in any way. She does not symbolize decisions that materially affected the campaign in any way. The fact that some celebrities who campaigned for Obama also campaigned for Clinton did not materially affect the election in any way. Hillary Clinton’s campaign one was not a campaign of CELEBRITY FEMINISM in which she relied on Katy Perry to conceal the fact that she had no policy solutions to offer to American women. Clinton offered, inter alia, such longtime Goldman Sachs priorities as a family leave plan, an increased minimum wage and better overtime rules, the Employee Free Choice Act, child care funding, Social Security increases, a public option for health care, and support for repealing the Hyde Amendment. You might think that her speeches consisted of analyses of Broad City and Lemonade, but in fact they were mostly arguments in favor of these policies. Should the Clinton campaign have tried to be more creative about finding ways of getting word of this attractive platform out, over the heads of a media that has abandoned policy coverage? Yes. But there was nothing remotely superficial about her policy appeals. Citing her as an explanation would be like blaming a Trump defeat, had the FBI not intervened or if the United States had a democratic system for picking the president, on reading an endorsement from Bill Belichick.

I mean, look, many of us have trivial hobbyhorses we run into the ground. But projecting them onto other people to provide causal explanations that are specious even for campaign strategy just-so stories is silly. I’m not inclined to spend a lot of time tweeting about Lena Dunham or the neoliberalism of Hamilton or whatever, but I make the readers endure any number of idiosyncratic interests and arguments. But at least I don’t write about how Clinton lost Ohio because she didn’t denounce Mike Holmgren for trading up to draft Trent Richardson.

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