… and Hillary Clinton

The Washington elite were out-of-touch, the Democrats failed to communicate with ordinary voters, the party machine assumed she was the only possible contender for the nomination.

If I was asked for one word to sum up these deficiencies and explain why Hillary Clinton didn’t win the US presidential election, I would choose this one: smugness.

I think that’s why not enough people fancied voting for her.  They reckoned she was smug.

It’s quite an easy trap to fall into, smugness.  If you believe you are in the right, or you have done really well at something, you are going to be pleased with yourself.  It’s human nature.

In my case, when I’ve convinced myself that I’m right about something, I sometimes have that nice feeling of superiority over people who do not share my view.  So maybe I’m smug – but only about whatever it is that’s just made me smug.  I’m not a smug guy per se.  Indeed, in many areas of life I’m a kind of cautious novice anthropologist, observing but not judging.  I am fully open to altering my view.

Often, even where I strongly believe I am right, I leave the door ever so slightly open in to admit a doubt or two.  I entertain a healthy suspicion that I might not have thought things through quite as well as I should.  And as smugness often comes from a failure of empathy, I try my best to see things through the eyes of others.

Clinton could have rid herself of that air of ingrained aloof smugness that so irked many Americans, working-class ones especially, if she had simply but daringly said she was ready to start again, if she had expressed a desire to ‘disrupt’ – to borrow the IT start-up terminology – the Democratic status quo.

I’ll bet she’s not smug now.