October 7, 2016
As the presidential election nears, the attacks on both candidates have grown more fierce and mean-spirited. I’ve read with dismay the many posts decrying the lack of fitness on both sides–not only because both candidates seem to fall far short of what we all probably would have hoped for, but also because I wonder how we are ever going to move past the vitriol and hatred once one of them is elected our president and commander in chief.
What probably surprises me the most about this election isn’t the unprecedented level of bizarre behavior and personal attacks, but, rather, the extent to which some women hate–and I mean, DESPISE–Hillary Clinton. People who I know to have made it a career of criticizing President Obama now post statements he made in 2008, when he was running against her for the Democratic nomination, in which he questioned whether she was the right person for the job–as though what he had to say then is now, suddenly worth listening to. And while I can appreciate that many dislike and disagree with her ideals, why is it that they abhor her?
I asked myself this question because I’ll be honest–I’ve never been a huge Hillary fan. I recall her sitting next to her husband during an interview on “60 Minutes” amidst his first presidential campaign saying, “I’m not one of those little women staying home baking cookies,” and there was a certain level of condescension in her tone I didn’t like.
Later, I wondered where she got off running for the senate when she’d never even held elected office before…were we supposed to vote for her simply because her husband had been president? Because that’s all I really knew about Hillary Clinton, other than she’d gone to a Seven Sisters college (like me), and was a lawyer (also like me).
You would think that a raving liberal feminist like me would have jumped on the Hillary Bandwagon a long time ago, and yet, she just rubbed me (and, apparently, a lot of women) the wrong way. Why? Why indeed.
Obviously, the lack of transparency is troubling, and it needlessly raises questions that distract from more important and relevant issues of policy and qualifications. Then, too, there have just been so many dumb mistakes that, while not illegal, have unnecessarily caused people to draw conclusions that probably aren’t accurate but are nonetheless understandable.
And that troubles me, because Hillary has squandered, to some extent, the promise of her tremendous intelligence, legendarily exhaustive preparation, and enormous passion to serve. But that’s not what bothered me the most.
I am embarrassed to admit this, but the thing I just couldn’t get past was that Hillary was so damned ambitious–my gosh, she really thought she could be president!–and she never, ever apologized for it. I realized that I hated Hillary for the same reason a lot of people love her opponent: Because hating what she represented made me feel better about all the things I’d never accomplished.
Hillary Clinton is not a perfect woman. She’s not the person I would have picked to be the first woman nominated by a major political party to run for the highest office in the land. I guess I’d like that person to be a bit more demure and a bit less obvious about just how very much she wants to be our next president. Which it would never have occurred to me to say about any other person who has ever had a serious shot at the presidency in the last 240 years. Because men are suppose to be bold and brash and possessed of the single-minded determination and self-confidence that it takes to be a great leader. Women, not so much.
And so, the card carrying raving liberal feminist had to rethink a few things, like maybe it’s okay to be ambitious, and it’s okay to be confident, and you shouldn’t have to apologize for that, especially to other women.
I don’t purport to speak for any other woman out there, but I bet I’m not alone in my reasons for wishing that Hillary didn’t seem quite so much like a pushy broad fighting her way to the top. But you know, that’s often the way that a lot of “firsts” get there…after all, it’s not like the rich and powerful white guys just said to them, “hey, come on in and be the only non-white/male/ straight/Christian in our little club here…welcome!” Sometimes you have to be a little pushy so that those who follow you, don’t.
Dislike her for her politics, or because you think she lacks integrity and judgment (which would put her squarely on par with her opponent), but if you’re going to hate her, just be sure it’s for the right reason.