Discussing Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss often turns into a high-brow pissing contest where a good old-fashioned opinion is not enough. It’s all about having to defend your argument with (allegedly) in-depth knowledge on what the real reasons were (really? Someone knows the real reasons?). I’m not buying the “oh people were just so tired of the Clintons” -argument. Neither am I convinced by the “there just happened to be two really bad candidates this time”. Bad candidates don’t just happen. US elections are not events that sneak upon us over the bank holiday weekend when everybody totally misses them unless they pay extremely close attention.
Life’s a Bitch; Don’t Vote for One
How about, for the sake of argument, I say that Hillary Clinton lost the election because of the unprecedented attack on her gender? Shortly after finishing Clinton’s own account of “What Happened”, I read “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton” by Susan Bordo, which also gives interesting insights into the 2016 election. The title and subtitles of this post are from Bordo’s book. They were some of the slogans used against Hillary Clinton by the Sanders camp and Trump supporters respectively.
Oh yes, the nasty woman representing the “establishment” (hilarious accusation, especially when it came from Sanders, himself a long term member of the Senate). So Hillary Clinton came from the political establishment. Her having held various offices made her one of the best prepared and qualified presidential candidates ever to run. Yet this was not enough. She was an untrustworthy elitist because she had been playing the political game that 100% of all men before, during and after her have played and will play, until there is politics in the world. There was something dishonest about her. She had trust issues. Never mind that this seemed to be a very fluid concept – trust issues, declared the press. That’s all what mattered. Issues related to the Clinton Foundation, her personal relations with the Wall Street. Benghazi, emails. Bad optics. Women, who can trust them? Not this one, in any case. Untrustworthy Hillary, put that on a t-shirt. Let’s all trust Trump instead, that’s a solid fella.
Put her in prison!
Google-search “medieval witch-hunt” and you will find descriptions of how crowds gathered to chant when alleged “witches” were burned. There was something equally medieval about Republicans cheering and shouting “Lock her up!” in their conventions. And not just Republicans – also Sanders supporters held up “Hillary 2016 for Prison” -signs and tweeted Clinton’s supporters that “vaginas are making terrible choices”. Nothing to do with gender, you said? Have we ever witnessed such attacks on any males who have run for presidency of any country? Have we ever discussed their choices of haircuts to the extent we scrutinised Clinton’s (isn’t she looking a bit too schoolmarmish today)? And her voice. Sheesh, the voice! Was it or was it not masculine enough, or too feminine? Too loud, too shrill? Did she hold her mouth too open during debates? Might that be a signal that she was not being totally honest?
Clinton campaign claimed Comey’s interference was partly to blame for them losing the election. Sore loser, people cried. Almost one year on, the incumbent POTUS still regularly tweets rants about “Crooked Hillary” being a sore loser. Clinton’s book “What Happened” was similarly greeted by many media outlets. Can she not just shut up? The nerve of that woman, explaining herself! And, of course, pushing herself to any news outlet that would have her, such an attention-whore (another totally gender-neutral way of calling a female politician).
In their books both Clinton and Bordo conclude that gender was not the only reason that cost Clinton the election. While I’m ready to subscribe to that, it was still one of the major issues of the 2016 election, which was generally fought on anything else but politics and policy debate. There was one candidate who would have aced that. Instead she was made to endure an unforeseen attack on her gender, and I claim all of us women were a collateral. There went the belief that women’s rights somehow progress in a linear way.
Reading Clinton’s personal account of the election is no feel good read, but a very useful reminder of where the world stands today. What we saw in 2016 was a referendum on how much you can hate and despise women.
You know how her book will end, but I still recommend you read it. Available absolutely everywhere.