Arguably the biggest problem that women face in terms of political representation is that women don’t support women. I understand that as women, we have a tendency to deny this emphatically. But given that women still aren’t adequately represented at any level of government, I think it is only fair that we question if it just maybe is a possible reason for Hillary Clinton’s falling likeability. By no means am I implying that we should always support women just because they are women, or because the alternative is neither man nor woman, but some mythical Satanic creation.
The comparison between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin is impossible for the media to avoid. Palin was unpopular due to her being racist, pro-war, and not qualified – not because they ‘just don’t like her’. If the rhetoric against Hillary Clinton were prefaced with even the slightest acknowledgment of pros, the smear campaign could be slightly more justifiable. But it almost never is.
Clinton’s popularity among voters does seemingly increase with every one of Trump’s catastrophic missteps. But given her troubled health recently, the media firestorm surrounding Clinton’s likelihood of becoming the next POTUS has been reignited. Surprisingly, Democrats are some of her biggest critics.
Below are the top four reasons that Democrats would not support Clinton according to a Gallup poll assessing that pros and cons of a possible Clinton presidency, with analysis as to why these reasons are perhaps not as solid as they seem.
Bill Clinton would be back in the White House
The first thing taught in Feminism 101 is not to let a man ever define a woman. So for anyone who even remotely cares about women’s rights to even suggest that her husband has anything to do with her ability to be President is at best disappointing, and at worst preposterously hypocritical.
Not qualified, would not succeed
Hillary Clinton graduated from Yale Law School and spent the formative years of her professional career serving on various Senate and Presidential Committees. As Faculty at the University of Arkansas Law School, she continued to expand her academic and legal careers.
She was twice named one the top 100 most powerful lawyers in America. In her capacity as First Lady, she focused on the advancement of children and women’s rights, as well as health care reform. She has served as Senator in her own right, and even served as President Obama’s Secretary of State for 5 years, becoming fourth in line in succession of his presidency before even entering the race.
President Obama and Former President Bush both graduated from Harvard. President Obama had one of the most impressive political records of any presidential candidate, and he still falls short of matching Clinton’s.
President Bush, on the other hand, served (debatably) with the Texas Air National Guard, forfeited his struggling oil company, and owned a below average baseball team. It is jarringly obvious that this argument is completely unfounded.
On a side note, why was Bush ever President? In the spirit of honesty, impartiality and fairness, lengthy research was done on the subject only to find that his biggest accomplishment in life was owning an awful baseball team? I tried, I really tried.
Just don’t like her
This is most likely related to her “Scandals and Baggage” as outlined below, which is understandable. But if we say we ‘just don’t like’ Clinton, we must acknowledge how immature reasoning this is.
Many past presidents have done far worse things for America, but when Democrats are asked why they didn’t support George W. Bush for example, they would probably cite some actual issues or the fact that he can’t count past 5. Just Youtube “Farewell to Great Moments in Presidential Speeches” if you don’t believe me.
In fact, this phrase has never professionally been used to explain a lack of support for a president. Why? Because they have all been men. It would be unconscionable to judge a male presidential candidate based on his qualifications and political stances, however it is apparently fair to judge a women on any mythical aura one seems to feel through their television.
One of the prominent campaigns against Clinton asks “Which Hillary?” we are to believe – the one who fostered so much problematic legislation in the 90s, or the one that is preaching justice and equality for all today. Clinton has in response asked us to “Hold [her] accountable”, and rightly so. But this should be for her decisions, not her personality.
Scandals and baggage
Like all humans, (yes politicians are also human), Clinton has made some ‘mistakes’ as she herself would characterise them. Her ongoing email scandal varies from a non-issue to a complete game changer depending on the voter you ask. Notably, while serving as Senator, Clinton notoriously voted for the war in Iraq. This was the most catastrophic foreign policy decision of our era, possibly ever. But it’s important to remember that this was not solely Clinton’s decision.
According to a Gallup poll in 2003, 82% of Americans supported the war at that time. So to hold Clinton’s emotional, fear fueled mistake following one of the deadliest attacks on American soil against her would be to hold it against the vast majority of Americans. Whether or not it should be, is a separate subject, but factually it isn’t held against the vast majority of Americans with the same harshness.
As we live in relative comfort compared to those in Iraq, it is very easy for Americans to say that the war in Iraq was a mistake. But it is an even bigger mistake to refuse to acknowledge that the outcome of not going to war with Iraq will never actually be known.
Clinton has also been painfully behind on many social issues. She opposed same-sex marriage until 2013 and has a history of supporting legislation that has further contributed to the hardships of African Americans in the USA.
As First Lady in the 90s, Clinton aggressively supported “tough on crime” legislation that essentially punished those born into systematic racism and poverty by implementing three strike laws, reducing the budget for rehabilitative programs, and expanding the death penalty (which Clinton still supports to an extent).
Clinton has since apologised, not only saying the laws she enforced decades ago were not only mistakes, but “terrible mistakes”. I realise this is convenient for me to say this as a white, upper middle class, educated person, but while it is certainly just to criticise Clinton for her past decisions, it doesn’t make sense to give them more weight than her current sermon.
I deliberately refuse to mention Clinton’s opponent, and encourage mainstream media to do the same where possible. Even though not ideal, Clinton must become the next POTUS. Despite the many positive aspects of Clinton’s campaign that we must acknowledge regardless of our personal opinions, I still believe, like many Democrats, that Bernie Sanders was the stronger candidate. But he isn’t a candidate anymore, and everyone still “Feeling the Bern” needs to get a firm grip on reality, and possibly some allergy medication.
At this time, I think it is fair, and even prudent, to suggest that a change in our approach to her candidacy is warranted. Regardless of the issues she doesn’t represent well, the issues that Clinton does represent, such as feminism, education, experience and social infrastructure and more, are already hard enough sells as it is in a country full of citizens who still insist the Confederates won the Civil War.
The last thing these issues need is to have the already very limited population that supports them turn away from them in outrage for any reason, let alone because they ‘just don’t like’ the only woman who is in a position to potentially advocate for them as President. While we so often accuse politicians of not practicing what they preach, perhaps it is time to consider accusing ourselves of just that very same mistake.
Illustration: Amy Regan