Since Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss Tuesday night, I’ve been frozen, alternately grieving or venting in the social media jungle. Statistics that 63% of white men and 53% of white women turned their backs on Hillary (even as people of color overwhelmingly supported her) were just as frustrating as self-serving media pronouncements that Hillary was a “weak, unpopular candidate,” and that we needed a “credible populist” to beat the “Trump Phenomenon.” Here’s the truth: it took all of The New York Times faulty Hillary reportage, 600+ days of nonstop bashing by a craven Beltway Press, 25 cumulative years of GOP attacks, Trump’s hatemongering, Russian hacking, Wiki-leaks, Bernie Sanders falsely calling the primaries “rigged” and her “corrupt,” the misogyny ingrained in our culture, voter suppression in crucial swing states, and the coup de grace, FBI Director Comey throwing the election to Trump eleven days before we went to the polls in order to stop her. And Hillary Clinton will still have won the popular vote by nearly three million votes after all is said and done.
Unpopular? Only to operatives like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd who are paid to say so.
Not credible? Only to those who’ve never spent ten minutes researching her record.
If any man had faced one tenth the scrutiny, bias or disrespectful treatment that Hillary Clinton has endured with grace and class, such a man would be curled up in the fetal position, crying like an infant.
I’ve read the posts of those expressing regret that they “did not do enough” or were not loud enough in their support. I understand the feeling. Though I lost friends by fighting for her in 2008, I was still afraid to put a bumper sticker on my car, then or now – I didn’t want to have it keyed. So I’m one of those beating myself up that I could have been louder this time. Yet I wrote a book focused on her last campaign, exposing media bias and misogyny. The book got on a college curriculum and, since its publication, I must have done over 300 radio, newspaper and TV interviews to change minds and hearts about female leadership in general and Hillary Clinton in particular. I was one of many echoing a positive message. My writing got more traction. For the effort, I got a death threat, continued harassment and my website was hacked several times. Other supporters got worse. But we continued.
Could I have done more? Written more articles, made more calls, given more money? Could you? Would it have mattered?
I watched as Hillary Clinton, campaign manager Robby Mook, her amazing volunteers, and HRC Super Volunteers, worked harder with more fire and heart than I could imagine. But at the end of the day, too many (white and wealthy) people voted for a corrupt, clueless, xenophobe because…penis.
Yup. That is the sum total of my analysis. Penis.
If you have any doubt of this, watch their debates. While I would have thought any sensible person saw her as the clear winner (even a contemptuous media did), there are those who saw something else. In 2016, women’s words are still not given equal weight. A man in a suit, an unrepentant serial liar who can barely string together a cogent sentence on policy of any kind, got the benefit of the doubt.
Still, it looked like she would prevail. She is Hillary, after all. So what happened?
Was it Brexit fever, the wave of xenophobia and anti-semitism sweeping across Europe that has taken hold here too? Sure.
Could the fact that it’s historically difficult for the same Party to hold the White House for a third term have been an obstacle. Absolutely.
Did FBI Director Comey’s phony letter eleven days before the election (and his walk back nine days later) cost her dearly? You bet it did. Likely more than anything.
All these things mattered as did the horrid double standard to which she was subjected by big media. Yet we can’t overlook the “elephant in the room”: Penis. Trump is corrupt and crude, yet as Politico’s Glenn Thrush put it on twitter, being ‘the outrage police’ was not an effective tactic against him. Trump voters simply didn’t care and voted for him anyway.
We come back to the myth of white male superiority, toxic masculinity – mostly white guys not willing to give up their seat at the head of the table – and some women, perhaps afraid to upset the precarious balance in their own relationships or needing to maintain the illusion of the man as “savior.”
And for those offering recriminations, claiming self-avowed Democratic Socialist male Bernie Sanders might have saved us from “Trumpism,” aka white nationalism, Slate’s Michelle Goldberg blows that out of the water:
“I’ve been to Trump rallies in the Midwest, South, and Northeast, and I never saw a single sign or T-shirt about free trade. I never heard chants about NAFTA or TPP. What I heard was “Trump That Bitch” and “Build That Wall.” When Clinton delivered her heart-shredding concession speech, traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange reportedly booed and chanted “Lock her up!” They know Trump’s victory was no rebellion against Wall Street.”
The “leftie” from Vermont with the horrid Republican opposition book on him (see this article from Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald) would have fared worse.
But here is the most painful paragraph from Ms. Goldberg:
“Had Clinton won, she would have done more than shatter the glass ceiling. For 25 years, she has been a synecdoche for unseemly female ambition. (In 1996, a 4,000-word Weekly Standard essay titled “The Feminization of America” ended with these words: “To put it more simply, Hillary is welcoming men to their new role as the second sex.”) Clinton ran for president on an explicitly feminist platform and promised a half-female Cabinet. Her victory would have been a sign that the gender hierarchy that has always been fundamental to our society—that has always been fundamental to most societies—was starting to crumble. It would have meant that men no longer rule. We have to come to terms with the fact that a majority of men would rather burn this country to the ground than let that happen.” [Emphasis mine]
When you have no less than 5 public officials calling for her assassination, be clear that no matter what oath they swear, they don’t want her dead because of “Benghazi” or nothing-burger “emails” but because Hillary Clinton’s very existence coupled with her brilliance is a threat on such a visceral level, they sputter in vain to justify a rage they can never admit the true reason for.
So, no, you couldn’t have done any more than you did. When people are so addicted to knee jerk reactions that a powerful woman becomes a shadow projection for their frustrations or feelings of powerlessness, I don’t know that 10 more GOTV phone calls would have done much to alter it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t continue to call out the double standard where we see it, because certainly, some men and women at the margins can be won over – and that might be all it takes.
The bitter truth is that once again the issue of double standards was swept under the rug by all except those who fought for her. Until we find a creative way to get everyone on board, simply nominating a “better” woman or one with “less baggage” is a frivolous argument destined for failure.
I was so proud of the forward thinking, gutsy campaign Hillary Clinton ran and that we reached higher than just putting another old white male in charge – we went for quality leadership. That was the best and only choice.
The blame here is on corruption by those in charge at the highest levels. Perhaps the outcome will force more people to jump out of their complacency and into the fray, much as her supporters did before election and the way a frightened populace is now protesting afterwards.
I can’t imagine how large a force we’ll need to finally break past the status quo. As Hillary Clinton taught us by her actions every day, it’s worth the effort.
Author’s Note: I have had to re-post this piece after my website was hacked for the 3rd time this year. Apparently, some people find it threatening when you speak up for women’s empowerment — and a powerful woman.
Thank you to those of you who maintain civility, whether you agree with me or not.
***Hillary Clinton/Photo by Jim Livesey, used by express permission***