Naked Politics Blogger
‘There is still a very large proportion of the population that is uneasy with women and so the easiest way to kind of avoid having to look at someone on her merits is to dismiss her on her looks.’
– Hillary Clinton
These are words that we have come to expect from the veteran politician. Ever since her unexpected loss to businessman Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has been finding ways to explain how she, a stalwart of American politics lost to a man who many say picked politics up as a hobby.
There have been a variety of reasons that have been suggested: a ‘whitelash,’ Russian meddling, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders amongst them. Of course, the real reasons are more complex and definitely more likely than what has been listed by her supporters. What seems to be the most popular explanation, however, is misogyny. According to Secretary Clinton, misogyny lost her the election. As she said: the American electorate is apparently uncomfortable with having a woman in the Oval Office.
It’s as simple as this: it’s not.
This is an argument, which like many, can be completely disavowed with facts, the very things that Hillary Clinton is uncomfortable with.
Firstly, she actually won the popular vote- 65,853,514 to Trump’s 62,984,828 and had it not been for the Electoral College system, she would have won. It’s not hard to understand; more people went into the voting booth and pressed the button for the Democratic ticket as opposed to a Republican ticket. Unfortunately for Secretary Clinton, getting more votes did not help in this situation but the point still stands- she got more votes. It’s as simple as the Conservatives getting more votes than Labour in 2017, it shows a simple preference. So if we ignore the 45.3% of Americans who did or could not vote, the majority of ballots were cast for *gasp* a woman.
Perhaps the Secretary is confusing her own unpopularity with apparent misogyny because she has, in the past been popular. She exited the State Department after four years with an approval rating of 69%, something pretty good for any political figure.. Sweeping away scandals such as the Benghazi attacks and mishandling of the Libyan succession crisis, Clinton remained popular with the public at large and perhaps would have if she’d stayed on for a second term.
Whilst she has had her ups and downs, especially in her time as First Lady when leading the fight or healthcare reform, Clinton has been reliably liked by swathes of the population. Apart from when Laura Bush won in 2001, Clinton has been Gallup’s most admired woman for every year consecutively since 1997, as well as topping it in 1993 and 1994. Though she seems more popular when in office, it seemed her four year break from politics still had her as one of America’s most popular politicians.
She is not the only woman to have failed to break that glass ceiling, but it is hardly because of gender. Sarah Palin did not become VP because Obama clearly captured the population and because she was completely out of depth. Geraldine Ferraro also failed because Reagan was hugely popular and won by a landslide. Many have only ran on minor tickets, with the rest failing to win simply because they could not prove that they were the best person for the job. If Hillary Clinton had an ounce more popularity and had run a better campaign, there is a very real chance that she would have won the presidency- she won the popular vote after all.
Currently, the most popular politician is Nikki Haley- a woman no less. 63% of independents and overall polled approve of her, 75% of Republicans and even a majority of Democrats (55%) do. Clinton does have a history of ignoring the achievements of women who are not herself, especially those on the opposite aisle such as Ambassador Haley.
Most of all, it is not the misogyny of the populace that is the problem here- it is the misogyny of Secretary Clinton herself. She has claimed many white women voted for her because her husband, her son, boss or another male in her life told her to do so. Internalised misogyny is a word I do not often use as I believe it is a made-up term for women who disagree with others politically, but if it does exist, this is a case of it. Hillary does not actually believe that women can vote with their own minds. 55% of white women voted Republican, which is due to them being more conservative than their ethnic counterparts. Some even perhaps just do not like Clinton.
So it’s not a woman problem, it’s a Hillary Clinton problem.