The above image is making the rounds on social media, with many of the captions featuring some iteration of, “Wow, this is the most relatable Hillary’s ever been!” Or “Same.”
Hillary’s camp may have thought she’d have the female vote on virtue of being female alone, which has turned out not to be true and was never a fair estimation. Still, the antagonism amongst women voters regarding Hillary has surprised me. Over the past few weeks in the news and on social media, I’ve seen women unfairly accused of supporting Hillary because she’s a woman, women accused of supporting Bernie Sanders because they want men to like them, and women actually supporting Hillary because she’s a woman. So anyone who wants to say gender and sexism isn’t still a problem in our society — see above. The gender of the candidate shouldn’t have anything to do with anything. And yet.
People say she’s shifty, calculating. That’s valid. It can be said of about all politicians. They say she’s cold. She doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve like Sanders wears his anger as a badge of honor. I used to see that distance between her and her potential electorate as a sign that once you’re part of the 1% you can’t relate to normal people anymore. I’ve come around to the opinion, however, that her emotional distance is carefully crafted to be a personal defense mechanism. I hated Hillary in 2008. Listen. I haaaaaated her. And one of my chief reasons was that I didn’t want to support a woman who didn’t leave her husband after he cheated on her. I’m ashamed of that now. It’s not my place to judge another’s personal life, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that the ability to forgive is more important than the ability to walk away. To forgive…that’s a real power.
Everyone knows about Hillary’s dirty laundry and they all have their own opinions. Imagine pursuing a dream of yours — a real dream, the kind that keeps you up at night, that you agonize over, that you believe is your destiny — and the whole world knows your personal history and is judging you. I’d come across as cold too, when I tried to stay engaged, but guarded. I’d come across as a glacier.
I think that’s because Hillary and I are both women. Every single man running for president, save Sanders, employs the same distance. They aren’t judged for being politicians and doing what politicians do. But Hillary is.
For years I couldn’t relate to Hillary. Over the last year, I’ve begun to see myself in her. I’m an ambitious realist, too. And suddenly Hillary represents all I could ever want for myself and the next generation of women. Not even to mention that her policies are progressive and pragmatic, her experience extensive, her qualifications sound. She’s not the fun, hip candidate — but she’s the right one.
If nothing else this election cycle has proven the ability to relate to a candidate and their message is powerful. Hillary can still win, but she better figure out how to make everyone else relate to her. Some honest, joyful moments — like where she can’t help but laugh at the absurdity that Trump has made it so far — would go a long, long way.