as someone who grew up and still lives in the Midwest, this is what it is all about.
Bernie has a lot in common with the only Democrats that still win difficult races in Ohio - folks like Sherrod Brown and Tim Ryan, and they win because they give a shit about peoples’ jobs and they make that abundantly clear. They’re unashamedly pro-worker, they show up to factories and community events, and they make eye contact and shake your hand the same way a neighbor does. Even people who don’t 100% agree with them at least respect them. HRC wasn’t doing anything to truly convince anyone that she would have cared about something like the GM Lordstown plant shutting down, or Carrier moving jobs from Indiana to Mexico. Trump, even though I think it is mostly bullshit, at least talks about that stuff (and throws blame on things like NAFTA, which is directly connected to the Clintons) in ways that people can get behind when their job or industry is in decline.
With all due respect, this reads like the analysis of a “NYC-classical liberal type with some fondness for Wall Street”, not that of someone who has any idea what it is actually like to live here. Bernie won Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, West Virginia, and a bunch of the plains states in the primaries. Which states just barely flipped for Trump and effectively lost the election for HRC? Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.
My parents and my partners’ middle-class Ohio parents all voted for Trump. They also all liked at least some of what Bernie was/is about, and at least would have considered voting for him in the general. There was no way my parents would ever vote for another Clinton, even though my mom voted for Bill in 1992. Blame it on “drain the swamp”, Fox News, or whatever you want, but they wanted to at least have the hope that things were in for some kind of change to the pandering political vibe and maybe some economic improvement as they get into their retirement years (there’s a whole other conversation there about baby boomers fucking everything up in the first place with their politics and voting habits, but that’s a different story).
My parents left their “Trump 2016” sign in the yard for probably a year after the election. They also explicitly said they would have maybe voted for Bernie in the general and they voted for Ted Cruz in the primaries. Does that make sense? Not really (edit: NO), but it’s still true, and I don’t think they’re that much of outliers.
Around here, I think 2016 came down to the economy and people sick of half-measures from the literal same family as the out-of-touch millionaires who at least helped put us in the situation we’re in. I’m not convinced that a law professor from Harvard is who people in the Rust Belt/Midwest will trust to get us out of it, but a plain-speaking weird old guy from Vermont gets the point across, even if in overly-simple terms.