Book Review: Shattered

Shattered – by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

Summary: Allen and Parnes discuss the entire 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, from Hillary’s gaffed launch to the devastating conclusion on November 8th, following mostly the failures along the way that led to the eventual election of Donald Trump.

Review: Now, it’s really hard to relive something that went as poorly as the 2016 campaign did for the Hillary Clinton campaign. I relived my experiences in a post you can find here. But on the ground, you don’t see the nationwide campaign, the actions that take place back at the campaign headquarters, be them in Brooklyn or in Burlington. Allen and Parnes, though they tend to portray the entire campaign as negative, do provide a good explanation of what happened. And they seem to idolize Bill Clinton.

The campaign didn’t get off to a good start, and that cloud stood over them for the rest of the campaign. The problem they explain was that Hillary didn’t have a reason to run. She just thought it was “her turn”. If there’s no vision for a campaign, it can’t go anywhere, no matter what your support looks like.

Parnes and Allen outline some simple problems with the campaign. The first, and most recurring issue, was the leadership structure. After the leadership of her 2008 campaign dealt with infighting that spilled into the media, Hillary was bent on keeping everything covered up. But almost immediately, the team splintered into different factions, based off when and where they became part of the team. This was explained throughout the book, and may have caused decisions to be made that ended up hurting the campaign in the end.

I think the biggest takeaway from the book is what needs to look different in future campaigns. The amount of infighting between factions, the lack of cyber-security, and the lack of vision seem to be the biggest factors that played into the failures of the campaign. Of course, the emails didn’t help things. And so there are fixes that need to be dealt with.

As a former Bernie Sanders supporter, I now believe the DNC needs to stay out of the primary campaign, and let the party members make up their minds without interference. I believe now that campaigns really need to amp up their cyber security, and should have a team dedicated to stopping hacks. I believe that if I were to ever manage a campaign (as I hope to one day), I would instate strict rules that would lead to punishment for campaign staffers who are trying to cause rifts within campaigns. That just leads to more problems than should exist.

And of course, as everyone knows, don’t base your entire campaign off your opponent’s moral lacking. That doesn’t work.

Overall, the book is really insightful into the campaign. I do think it is a little negative, and I think some members of the campaign are portrayed more negatively than they deserve. And they have the issue of using a lot of unnamed sources, so there’s that.

I’d give the book 4/5 stars, or a B+. Pretty good. The end is really hard to read, it get’s deep on an emotional level.

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