Election 2016

SNL Hillary Clinton Singing 'Hallelujah,' Or How Political Correctness Gave Us Trump

'It's almost as if the political acumen of Beyonce and Jay-Z counts for nothing!'


Screenshot via SNL

Consider Saturday Night Live's reaction to Donald Trump's improbable victory. A comedy show once known for skewering politicians and celebrities decided the occasion called for a maximally somber note: comedian Kate McKinnon, portraying Hillary Clinton, singing the recently departed Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

It was an emotional performance, and a nice tribute to Cohen. But Hillary Clinton isn't some defeated hero—she's an incredibly flawed politician with a track record of duplicity, corruption, and unfathomably bad foreign policy judgment. Trump becoming president is terrifying, but the person most responsible for his victory is Clinton.

The cold opening might have worked better had it been clear that SNL was actually in on the joke, and was making fun of mawkish coastal elites for treating Clinton's loss like it's a second 9/11. Alas, this was not the case. It was the reverse of SNL's recent, brilliant skit about a Trump voter playing Black Jeopardy: confirming expectations, rather than subverting them.

If the McKinnon number brought you to tears, and you didn't see Clinton's loss coming, and you don't want to live on this planet anymore, stop reading. If the first two things apply to you, but not the third—if you actually want to understand the Trump phenomenon so that you can stop it from ever happening again—there's a second video you should watch.

"It's almost as if the political acumen of Beyonce and Jay-Z counts for nothing!" rants British comedian Jonathan Pie in a definite video explaining why Trump won. (Pie is a satirical news reporter played by Tom Walker, but that doesn't make what he's saying any less valid.)

The entire thing is worth watching. Toward the end, Pie hits on something well worth repeating: Leftist overreach on political correctness is partly responsible for the present situation. As Pie says:

"When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted or labelled? So now if you're on the right or even against the prevailing view, you are attacked for raising your opinion. That's why people wait until they're in the voting booth. No one's watching anymore. There's no blame, or shame, and you can finally say what you really think and that's a powerful thing. …

All the polls were wrong, all of them, because when asked, people can't admit what they think. They're not allowed to. The left don't allow them to. We've made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down. They're embarrassed to say it. Every time someone on the left has said 'you mustn't say that,' they are contributing to this culture. …

It's time to stop ignoring your opponents or worse trying to silence them, it's time to stop banning people from speaking in universities, it's time to stop thinking that reposting an article on your Facebook page is political engagement, that banning a gymnast from doing what he's good at because he insulted someone's religion somehow achieves something."

It's something Bill Maher seems to understand as well. On his weekend show, "Liberal Redneck" Trae Crowder explained that the Trump voters he interviewed wanted to send a message to politically-correct liberal elites.

Too many liberals respond to such a contention with some version of, well, what's wrong with trying to make people less racist? Nothing, of course. On the contrary: promoting non-racism is a good thing. But Trump's win should give liberals pause about whether shouting racist! at the less-educated white working class is a tactically sound strategy for defeating racism.

That doesn't mean politically-correct liberal elites are wrong about everything. In fact, they're right about a lot of policy matters—that free trade is good, for one thing. But they have utterly failed to explain why they're right to a huge segment of the country that was put-off by outrage-of-the-day culture. Sharing a John Oliver takedown on Facebook, pining for Jon Stewart, and singing "Hallelujah" with SNL is a feel-good exercise for a lot of people, but it isn't changing minds.