Clinton left door open to her defeat

Tuesday’s election proclaimed clearly the degree to which the American people are fed up with Washington’s business-as-usual, as well as the extent to which they’re demanding positive change.

But the seeds for Hillary Clinton’s defeat were planted long before she emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer, and one of the tasks in the post-election healing process must be to acknowledge that.

Still, it remains puzzling why she jeopardized her presidential bid by easily avoidable questionable decisions even as late as the last days — and last hours — of the campaign.

Many Americans’ wariness regarding Hillary Clinton was born within scandals that played out during the years of her husband’s presidency between Jan. 20, 1993, and Jan. 20, 2001.

There was the Whitewater real-estate-investments scandal, the Clintons’ purported connections to a failed savings and loan, an ethics scandal involving the firing of seven White House Travel Office employees, improper access to FBI security clearance documents and suspicions surrounding the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster.

While the Clintons were not criminally charged in any of those situations, the issues poured a foundation of distrust surrounding both of the Clintons that hasn’t dissipated despite the passage of decades.

Many people who voted against Hillary Clinton on Tuesday expressed their distrust for her verbally prior to the day when ballots were cast, even though they might not have retained full recollection of the specifics of those long-ago events. Also dragging down respect for the Clintons was Bill Clinton’s infidelity, especially in the Oval Office, as exhibited by the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

While not a blot on the reputation of Hillary Clinton, the Lewinsky saga and Bill Clinton’s other alleged affairs tarnished the Clintons’ image in the eyes of the American public in ways that only individual Americans could and can relate.

To her credit, Hillary Clinton continued to work in causes aimed at bettering Americans’ lives. And, during the years following her husband’s administration, she demonstrated strong will, a strong sense of commitment to those in need, and growing political strength, eventually winning a New York U.S. Senate seat, followed by four years as Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s first term.

But it was during her “State” service that she made a careless, irresponsible blunder, doing some State Department business by way of her private email server, contrary to laws aimed at protecting the nation’s security.

What can be regarded as “Emailgate” haunted her campaign right up to Election Day.

But Clinton made other noteworthy errors, one of which was her selection of Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, when she needed a more forceful, popular partner on the campaign trail.

She didn’t help herself by labeling many supporters of her opponent, Donald Trump, as “deplorables.”

Meanwhile, failing to visit Wisconsin during the campaign cost her important votes there.

Also, she didn’t work hard enough to soothe concerns of gun owners and the National Rifle Association, and she ignored the plight of the coal industry — in both cases, errors that greatly eroded support for her in the 20-electoral-vote state of Pennsylvania.

Hillary Clinton had great qualifications and significant government experience, but the heavy “baggage” that accompanied her — and those examples of campaign shortsightedness — were what in the end doomed her effort.

Absent those liabilities, Tuesday’s election result could have been much different.