Opinion: Don’t Blame the World, Blame Yourself, Hillary | Sarah Stook
From The One Show (God that was a painful thing to watch) to Andrew Marr, Hillary Clinton has been doing the rounds to promote her new election/post-election memoir, What Happened. Apart from having to relive that awful read (see my review), having Hillary Clinton blaming the world for her problems all week has been somewhat tiring. I suppose that I have no reason to watch it, but being the political creature that I am, I will continue watching her appearances.
There has been a recurring theme. From Trump to Russia, from America’s apparent misogyny to a lack of voters, it’s not Clinton’s fault that she lost. Yes, she did win the popular vote, but due to America’s Electoral College system, she lost. It was fairly close, with 3 million votes in it- yes, that is close when one regards the huge population of the United States, and that the 2012 the difference was 5 million. Even with that level of closeness, we still have to accept that there would be no President Clinton.
It was seen as a shock, of course. I predicted Trump would win after the Brexit victory, but even I was completely shocked as I sat in a bar, watching him gain Florida and ultimately, the Presidency. On the day, it was put as a 92% chance of Clinton winning, yet, she didn’t. The former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State was, on paper, the most experienced candidate. Contrast with Donald Trump, who it seemed as though had picked up politics as a hobby. He had gone through a variety of political parties, and was not very experienced. Nobody took him seriously when he announced his candidacy, believing he would either bow out early or be obliterated during the primaries. He rose to the top, beating more likely winners such as Ted Cruz and John Kasich, eventually nabbing the nominations. As the controversies arose, he was looking less likely to win- many notable Republicans pulled support after the infamous tape, with nearly everyone expecting Clinton to win. Yet, she didn’t, and nearly a year later, she is awkwardly sitting through an interview with Marr instead of being in the White House.
Whilst writing this, I wish I could be a little more impartial but I am not going to beat around the bush here: I am not a fan of Hillary Rodham Clinton. She may be a strong, powerful woman but she is also disingenuous, has little to no personality, has had many a scandal attached to her name, has questionable policies and is all round not a great politican. I understand she has a lot of female followers due to her strong feminism, and I do believe having a woman reach the title of Presidential nominee is a great thing, but I wish it would have been someone better than Clinton. No, that does not mean I support Trump- I definitely wouldn’t have voted for him, but it means that I am not aboard the Clinton Train. I never would have made it to the station.
Mrs. Clinton blames the world for winning. Brexit was a precursor to Trump, the Russians hacked the election, America wasn’t ready for a female President etc. Not once has she considered that maybe she is the problem. Bernie Sanders may be a socialist to the core, but he is far more principled and some would argue would have made a better President, if we disregard his ideology. Do you think Theresa May believes that she shouldn’t take some of the blame for losing us a majority this year? I think not, she accepts that there were a lot of factors, and that the party needs to take a long, hard look at themselves. Unfortunately for Clinton, she hasn’t quite accepted that pointing fingers at everyone but herself won’t work.
There are a good number of reasons, and she really needs to look at that.
America is ready for a female POTUS, just not you- Ok, misogyny and sexism still exist. There are inequalities in many ways, from your gender to your social status, the world is not an equal place and it probably never will be. Clinton claims that ‘sexism and misogyny’ led to Trump winning the White House. Yes, Clinton received a lot of gender themed abuse, and the constant theme of that was pretty appalling. The thing is, she isn’t exclusive in that respect- other women will have received abuse when in politics. It wasn’t sexism that completely stopped her from shattering the glass ceiling. America could have a female President. There are plenty of women who are capable, intelligent and poised- Susan Collins, Nikki Haley and Tammy Duckworth amongst others. Yes, there would be voters who don’t want a woman in charge of the White House, but they will be in such a minority. Yes, there have been no previous female candidates for Clinton to compare to, but hopefully there will be in the future. Clinton wishes to be alive to see a woman in the White House, and I pray that she sees it so that she can understand America isn’t holding women back. Yes, the UK is a more liberal society, but we share similar women’s rights in the US in a lot of respects, and we’ve had two female PMs (one brilliant, the other needs to redeem herself). At the end of the day, many voters who didn’t like Hillary didn’t like her because she is Hillary, not because she’s a woman. Those who do are sexists, but that isn’t the majority.
Bernie, Bernie, Bernie- Clinton believes that Bernie ‘split the Democratic party.’ First of all, the Democrat party isn’t just a centrist heartland. Like every party, there are many wings- liberal, moderate, progressive and conservative. Clinton, this was a primary race. You didn’t own it. People sometimes challenge the incumbent President who is going for a second term, but that is extremely rare, hence it occurs when an old President isn’t running. Not every Democrat thinks you’re a God- a lot of them dislike you. Some are socialist like Bernie, or would prefer a different candidate. Gove may have split the race to allow May to win, but how do we know that Boris would have won had Gove not backstabbed him? Clinton should not have assumed that she would have had an easy ride to the White House- she was not some sort of Queen. Welcome to democracy, Clinton. Shame it didn’t do you well.
Trump tapped into voters- There is a very interesting titbit in the thoroughly interesting book The Brexit Club by Owen Bennett. In it, there is a section regarding Iain Duncan Smith’s Chingford and Woodford Green. On the day, IDS received a phone call saying that there was an extremely high turnout- around 80%- at the council estates. Usually, 30% would be a high number, yet people were arriving, many having never voted before and asking for help. In another cases, people knocking on doors were receiving answers such as ‘yeah, voted already’ and ‘going to pop down after work’ instead of the usual non-voters. These voters, who now truly believed they had a voice, won us Brexit. These were the same people who won Trump the presidency. Clinton often talked about the middle classes- which is admirable, but can we say she really tapped into the working class vote? She talked about protecting workplace rights and increasing the minimum wage. By contrast, Trump focused on the poor, white working class. These blue-collar workers would usually vote Democrat, but after the mines and steel works closed, they were left with nothing, bypassed by Obama’s economic success. They were angry. Clinton caused controversy when she said that they were going to put a lot of miners out of work- something she was called out on by one of those men when she paid a visit to a mine. She meant in it the sense that she would drive towards more sustainable solutions, but it was still a mind-numbingly stupid thing to say. Clinton couldn’t get the usual non-voters, especially in the swing states. That cost her.
Russia- I’m not even going to go into this.
The Media- “Many in the political media … can’t bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump, from providing him free airtime to giving my emails three times more coverage than all the issues affecting people’s lives combined.” One acronym: CNN. Ok, maybe that’s unfair- Fox News has a love for the Republican. Having watched American news networks, I know they are scarily biased- and to be fair, it’s usually against Trump. Free airtime? Trump was the Republican candidate; of course he is going to get airtime. So are you. Clinton has a troubled relationship with the media at best, and both of them are to blame. As for the emails- oh God, please stop. Yes, you shouldn’t have done it. It was stupid, and people are going to be worried about it, because it shows a lapse in security we don’t want in a Commander-in-Chief. I’m sick of those bloody emails.
Other Candidates- Exempting Bernie from her own party, Clinton is also upset with Jill Stein. “There were more than enough Stein voters to swing the result, just like Ralph Nader did in Florida and New Hampshire in 2000.” Greens did well to get over a million, which is quite impressive since we didn’t hear a lot of them- or at least the media didn’t report on them. Personally, I believe that a lot of lefties who wanted to vote, but not for Clinton, voted for Stein. In 2012, they got less than 500K votes, and managed to double it. Ok, people aren’t always going to vote for a party they like, especially if they don’t like the candidate. Lots of Republicans- including George W. Bush voted for a non-Trump candidate. That means Democrats will. Again, Clinton, you don’t have a monopoly on the left.
The Clinton Problem- People often judge a politician on their persona. People like Corbyn because they think he’s a man of the people, something he shares with Sanders. Macron was popular because he was new and shiny, seemingly untainted by politics. Hillary Clinton is not a liked woman. She hasn’t been for years. In her time as First Lady she was polarising- praised as a strong woman by some, criticised as a Lady Macbeth by others. Many believe that Claire Underwood of the TV show House of Cards was based off of her. Many believe she is disingenuous- if one watches her interact with a crowd, or when she is interviewed, she seems so cold and unfeeling, and her smiles ever so forces. Theresa May struggles with the same issue, but behind it, she seems as though she is a fundamentally good person who struggles to show her feelings. With Clinton, you just feel like she doesn’t care about anything but winning. Bernie and Trump, whatever their motivations or feelings, ran for President because they wanted change. Clinton ran for President just so that she could be President. There is nothing wrong with ambition- many people want to be President or PM, but you need more than a motivation than wanting that leadership job.
Before Trump won, many believed that anyone would have won against Clinton. Even after the Tories ran a completely disastrous campaign (looking at you, CCHQ), they managed to get more seats than Corbyn, even with a great momentum (if you’ll pardon the pun), behind him. The email scandal made her unpopular- the question of safety came in, but then you have Benghazi. That killed Americans- and the good people of the United States don’t take kindly to their own being murdered by terrorists, especially when it could have been prevented with better security.
In response to her husband’s indiscretions, she had this to say:
“You know, I’m not sitting here – some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.”
Also in the same year, she had this to say:
‘I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfil my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.”
53% of white women voted Trump. As a whole, women tend to be more liberal in US elections and vote Democrat- Democrats often are seen as having policies more favourable to women, such as encouraging maternity leave and being more in favour of birth control access. Generally, however, whites are more likely to vote Republican, and white women are more conservative than ethnic minority ladies. A lot of these women seemed to be against Hillary Clinton’s brand of feminism. This is unsurprising- a HuffPost (sorry)/YouGov poll from 2013 stated that only 20% of responders called themselves ‘feminists,’ including 23% of women and 16% of men. Interestingly, 8% called themselves ‘anti-feminists.’ Whether they’re against equality or feminism, especially in its contemporary form, is up to interpretation.
With that statement, even one that is 25 years old, she caused controversy. Singer Tammy Wynette called her out on the first comment, and she received a huge backlash from homemakers and traditionally-minded women regarding the second. I don’t blame them.
Feminism is about equality, that is true, but often in third-wave feminism, there doesn’t seem to be a role for conservative and right-wing women. During the 2017 Women’s March, there was controversy when pro-life feminist groups were not allowed to attend, or were not given as much focus. Whatever you think about the abortion debate, we all know that not every woman will be pro-choice, and those who are pro-life deserve an equal amount of air time. A woman who stays at home and looks after her children is equally as valuable as a doctor or a teacher. Her life choices are equal to the other. Perhaps the woman is looking after a disabled child, but it doesn’t matter if they are not, because it is her choice. We must remember that the older voters come from a generation where women did not have the career opportunities we have now. A recent article stated that the current generation is more conservative. When you go to university and are surrounded by brilliant women studying brilliant degrees, you almost forget that some of them may choose to stay at home after having children, for a short time or a long one. If a woman wants to bake cookies and have teas, good for her, I hope she makes nice ones. If a woman wants to run for President, good for her, I hope she’s a great candidate who will make a great President.
Ultimately, Clinton lost because she is Clinton. It wasn’t From Russia with Love, it was from America. At the end of the day, no amount of book tours or Graham Norton appearances will change that. God knows if she does 2020, but one thing she didn’t do was 2016.