Cassie Yusofi – MANILA Hillary, she was the one who was supposed to make it. She was the one who was supposed to be the example of what we tell little girls: you too can be become president if you work hard enough. If anything: she represented the American Dream of breaking the highest hardest ceiling, which now remains un-shattered but not unattainable. Would it have been different if Clinton had been treated as Trump’s equal instead of as the “female” candidate?
The biggest appeal Trump seemed to have was with the white working class. You’ll read many articles on how they felt forgotten and ignored by the elite, politicians and media in the UK prior to Brexit and in the US, according to H. Freeman in her article in the Guardian (2016). It’s just ironic to her how these campaigns targeting the poor white working class were fronted by privately educated false prophets such as Nigel Farage in the UK and Trump in the US, pushing for policies that work against them. She states that while it’s true that they’ve suffered, it’s also the only demographic that has been indulged so much in their pain. What about the black working class? This group of people have suffered far worse structural inequalities and for far longer. And she makes a tremendous point I agree with the most: how is the American Dream only broken when it’s the white working class who are suffering? Why is this latter group not seen as lazy and morally flawed like it is done with the black working class?
The white working class women viewed Clinton as part of the conventional ‘elite’ that ignored them. The despised political establishment. They instead chose to go for the falsely advertised ‘anti-elite’ Trump. T. Brown puts this preference very nicely to words: ‘there are more tired wives who want to be Melania sitting by the pool in designer sunglasses than there are women who want to pursue a PhD in earnest self-improvement’. Further they and their male counterparts thought that Clinton lacked charisma to ignite a feministic fire into her followers and inspire undecided voters for her. Clinton herself admitted she didn’t have the public speaking talent that Obama and her husband possessed, in a Humans of New York post, but that she also grew up in a different time to be a woman. T. Brown argues that Clinton always had to cover up her pain, after being born into a generation that had to prove itself worthy, and wounded from a marriage that caused her a lot of public embarrassment, she basically had PTSD by the time she announced her candidacy. And I agree, because I think women these days don’t realize how much of a way was paved for them by others who failed, worked hard and stood their grounds as the ‘firsts’. We take the equal opportunities we have for granted because we don’t know what it was like to not have them or even worse, to be denied of them due to our gender. Despite of being born in Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous countries to be a woman in the world, I grew up safe and empowered that I could be anything I wanted in Europe.
Hillary built her campaign on the historic nature of her candidacy: for the first time there was a woman to vote for as the president of the United States.
She relied on women to help her make it to the oval office. But this reliance proved to be too bold: usually 90% of voters in each party vote for that party’s candidate, states C. Cain in her article in the New York Times (2016), and there is very little evidence that women vote for women because of their sex, a feat that has been around since the moment women got the right to vote according to J. Adams who in his article in the Oxford University Press blog (2016) cites Federal Judge Mores Hallot: ‘the presence of women at the polls has only augmented the total votes. It has worked no radical changes, it has produced no special reforms, and it had no particularly purifying effect on politics.’
A. Marcotte finds in Salon (2016) that women are tempted in many cases to believe that if you join in with the misogyny, you’ll be spared: call another woman a slut and you will appear more pure. It is sad to acknowledge that women do not support each other in the same way men tend to do. The qualities that make Clinton the perfect person to run office if she was a man, make her so unpopular as a woman. Ambition is still being seen as a bad thing, and you couldn’t possibly be a good person and ambitious at the same time as a woman.
Clinton may have had her faults, but not a single person running for office has been scandal free. She was disproportionally scrutinized by things a man would not have. C. Alter thinks in her Time article that ‘it’s possible that a male candidate would not have faced the same scrutiny and suspicion, or have been held to the same impossible standards. It’s possible a male candidate would not have had such trouble connecting with voters.’ It’s shocking to realize what men can get away with. Trump winning this election shows nothing more than that old white men couldn’t stomach having to answer to a woman. How else could he get elected otherwise if 61% of his voters disapproved of him and 7 in 10 were bothered by his treatment of women? The numbers don’t lie, misogyny is still alive and kicking today the same way it has been for centuries.
Clinton had to endure more scrutiny and criticism than any other man with her reputation would have to endure. The white working class, her lack of charisma, party affiliation and misogyny were her downfall. But what really failed her in my opinion was female support. This was not only a loss for her, but also for the progress of female equality.