Why Do People Like Hillary?
How I Got 120 Answers in a Couple of Hours
(Over the Course of a Month)
To a Question that Hasn’t Occurred to Andrea Mitchell in Two Decades
One night I couldn’t take it anymore.
It was a monstrously hot August evening, and my husband and I were making dinner and listening to the news. As usual, the story was of a racist, or sexist, blooper by the Republican candidate. Or was it murderous? Was he throwing Hillary to the “Second Amendment people?” (Thank God they’re dead, all the flawed but decent people who trained me to respect every human, or at least act like it in public.)
That idiocy was followed by a brief, negative report on Hillary Clinton. Maybe one more high security email, a stray among the thousands she securely sent while one of the most powerful people on earth. Fine. She’s still one of the most powerful people on earth, so let’s make the lamb chops.
Or wait. On that night we were treated to the third wheel of our hellish election tricycle: the so-called question of Clinton’s likability problem.
How was the “question” worded this time? Maybe: Why isn’t Hillary likeable? Or: Why is Hillary the least liked Democratic candidate ever? Or: What should we make of the recent scientific report — from scientists — analyzing why some people don’t like the sound of Hillary’s voice?
Any one of these phrasings is guaranteed to cause the humorless feminist within to begin grumbling, Misogyny, misogyny, misogyny.
But on this night serenity reigned. Because on this night, I remembered that my friends like Hillary Clinton. The New Yorkers I know, the people I spend birthdays with, the man I married — they all think Hillary Clinton is just grand.
There should be (I said to my husband) (after just once muttering misogyny) an Instagram channel of our friends talking about why they like Hillary Clinton. I could watch it before I go to bed at night. I would sleep better.
Peter agreed and continued at the stove. So I turned the camera on.
“What do you think,” I asked, “is the reason for the appeal of Hillary Clinton?”
It was a little unfair. But he’s a good sport, and he had answers ready to go. Roughly, he said that she’s competent, she cares, she’s prepared and we’ve seen her do excellent work before. (You can see it all here.)
When asked how we should hashtag the video — we’ve heard tell of the importance of hashtags — he said, “Why is Hillary so great?”
Okay: #whyisHillarysogreat it is.
Since then, 120 people have told me why they, too, like Hillary Clinton. They’ve told me over breakfasts and dinners, in my own apartment and in restaurants. And since I immediately decided to include strangers in my round-up, they’ve told me on streets and avenues, in parks and on buses, on subways and in taxis and, last week, at a Babes for Hillary meet-up in Central Park. (That’s #babesforHillary, and they’re just terrific.)
The reasons have been wonderful: sometimes edifying, sometimes funny, always comforting. (I knew I was right, knew I wasn’t alone.) Some frankly like Hillary because she’s a woman, one likes her because she “represents minorities a lot,” and many like her because she’s strong — because she “always comes back.” A few like her because, they say, they themselves are smart, and one likes her “because from her very early days as a graduate of Yale Law School, she was able to help children.” An eleven-year-old revealed that Hillary was her role model, but so did a few older peeps. One woman was happy to tell me that Hillary Clinton is a “badass bitch who gets things done” — a direct quotation from RuPaul that works for me. A few have said they like her because she’s not Donald Trump: also works for me. People have also told me why they like Hillary in a few other languages — Europeans love her.
Now, I’ve been told once or twice in no uncertain terms that questions of “liking” Hillary are beside the point, even a tad sexist. One friend strongly objects to the phrasing.
Maybe. On the other hand, I never would have dreamed up the whole enterprise if I hadn’t been informed (for decades) that no one likes her. I wouldn’t be forcing my friends to talk to my phone-camera, stopping people on the street if the hater-narrative — though it’s less narrative than meme, an absurd shorthand for thought — didn’t persist. I wouldn’t be turning my Instagram feed into a river of confirmation bias if the world hadn’t made me so lonely.
And don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to solve the enigma that comes with Hillary Clinton. (For that you might try the chapter on Hillary-hate in Gloria Steinem’s latest book, My Life on the Road. And a few semesters of Women’s Studies classes.) Feminist writer Sady Doyle has said, “Trying to parse Hillary Clinton without parsing Hillary hate is like trying to drink water without touching the glass.”
That’s why I’m sidestepping it completely.
And my thirst is being quenched, Sady.
So it continues. Two weeks ago, I added the #likingHillary hashtag to make the feed easier to find. My dream is to see the hashtag picked up. My dream is to see not hundreds but thousands of people saying why they like Hillary. The woman didn’t get 16 million votes because no one likes her.
My first hater has come forth, of course. He left a gun emoji on one video and a string of hostile words on some others.
I have a guess as to who he is. I suspect he’s suffered from real violence in his world. I believe that, after Sandy Hook, when Fox News told him Obama was coming for his guns, he drove to Walmart to buy an AK-47, then ordered a thousand rounds of bullets from Amazon. And it’s clear that he hates Hillary.
I deleted the gun emoji but leave his posts because he is legion and because, maybe, he’ll keep watching. And because his hostility doesn’t seem much less benighted than that of actual professional journalists like Maureen Dowd or Andrea Mitchell, two famously ambitious women who rain verbal violence and red-hot innuendo on Hillary every chance they get, simply because Hillary is, I gather, famous and ambitious.
Oh, I still like her. I always have.
Check out my Instagram here.