15 Jun The problem with Hilary…..
I was out with a group of young female democrat voters last night and in between Bhangra moves (don’t ask!… But for those who do… we were having dancing lessons) I said this was a big time for Hilary and could be an historic time for the Party….I got nods – was that in agreement or part of the routine? “So you’re all Hilary fans?” There was a pause. My assumption, rather than the complex moves, had proved to be a conversation stopper!
It turned out they were Bernie Sanders fans. But between Trump and Hilary?….. Their lips curled. “You’d sooner see Trump win?!”. A veritable Mexican wave of shrugs passed their shoulders. What? The same Trump who called Megyn Kelly of Fox News a ‘Bimbo’ and other women he didn’t like as ‘fat pigs, dogs and slobs’?
What’s that all about? Hadn’t they heard the Madeline Albright expression – ‘There is a special place reserved in Hell for women who don’t stand up for each other.’ And this was no ordinary woman, this was the woman who had the candidate nomination for their party.
Their replies were interesting – “She’s a machine not a woman”, “She’s all about power not beliefs”, “She’s too remote, not authentic”. “She doesn’t seem trustworthy”.
Although the young voters couldn’t put their finger on why exactly they didn’t trust Hilary they did single out how she handled her husband’s infidelities. It wasn’t that she stood by her man, although an anathema to them, they got it – it was how she was complicit in the shaming of his mistresses afterwards. As they saw it, she sold herself out, and then sold out the other women too.
But wouldn’t you like to see a woman in the top job? “Yes”, they replied, “but feminism is more than just wanting a woman in the top job, modern feminism casts its net wider. It looks at issues of class, sexuality and colour – being a female isn’t the only issue”.
Whilst I didn’t disagree, feminism needs to reflect the mood of the time in order to remain relevant (I’ll dig out a piece I wrote on feminism a while back and put up on my blog) but even so, these did just sound like a lot of excuses to me, all pointing in one direction, they weren’t prepared to vote for Hilary.
Looking at some of the latest polls by the Wall St Journal and NBC 60% of US voters had a similar negative opinion about Hilary, including 1/3rd of voters within her own party. The polls do, however, have Hilary with a higher lead with women, Trump with a higher lead with men, but Trump’s lead with men is higher by a couple of percentage points than Hilary’s with women. So Hilary needs to either start winning these women over or start appealing to more male voters.
And surely part of the Democrat strategy must be to woo the female vote. She’s up against Trump for God’s sake! He couldn’t have put any more stilettos in his mouth over this campaign.
Analysis indicates she needs to be less polished, more natural. Less machine, more human. Less processed, more flesh and blood. Less soundbite and more real life. She needs to bring out the ‘real Hillary’ and not hide behind overplayed platitudes. But can a woman who has been part of the political machine for over 30 years do this?
Her strength as a candidate is her formidable knowledge of the system and the props that go with it. The polls she listens to (the ones she has seen her husband win with) sharpen her answers but lessens her authenticity. Her years in the system has ensured she develops the thick skin she now wears, the same thick skin that affords protection from the battle wounds of politics but also diminishes warmth.
This inside experience is working against her to the younger, idealistic voters, the ones the outsider, Bernie Sanders, has captivated. It would be ironic if the years spent on the inside of politics had given her confidence and the tools to be able to challenge for President and yet at the same time had removed her ability to win by diminishing her authenticity and trustworthiness. Whether she has the strength or the nous to give up the props that have helped her so far, only time will tell. But it appears should she win it’ll be the system that has helped her and should she lose it’ll be the system that has hindered her.