I have always been at least mildly interested in Politics. I remember even as a child pointing out all the posters and stickers in people’s windows and in their gardens, and as I got older I studied it at A Levels, volunteered for a political party during University, debated switching to study Politics, and all the while I never trusted my instincts in what I believed. As I come nearer and nearer to a decision on whether to do a Masters in Politics, I think it is time that I just write what I believe. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong, and I will research better next time. The American election has impacted everyone this year, and I don’t think anyone can write anything new about it it has been covered so much and in such depth. There are good articles and there are bad articles, this is just my ‘article.’
I think a big mistake in Hillary Clinton’s political campaign, and the PR utilised for it, was assuming that the fact she was a woman would be enough to galvanise white women to vote for her. That every woman in America was waiting with bated breath for a chance to have their feminism shine through and openly choose a woman over a man. Everything they focused on was because of her gender; even the attempted take down of Trump was focusing on his language and treatment of women. To a certain extent they were harmed in their assuming that women would automatically see themselves in Clinton, and want to vote her into office. In a year where there has been so much at stake politically, and so many tensions running high for a number of reasons, Clinton’s campaign instead focused on her ‘breaking the glass ceiling.’ Of course, it would be amazing to have a female President, but I’m sure a lot of older British people would take back our first female Prime Minister, and in a way, it’s insulting to Clinton to say she would have only won because of her gender.
She was the most qualified candidate, and she has worked throughout her whole life in politics to get to that glass ceiling, only to be beaten by a racist misogynist businessman. There are many arguments as to why people voted the way they did, and I don’t really think it can be reduced to any one, or even a few. It’s unfair to say that people voted for Trump because they were uneducated or racist or inherently hated women (I’m sure for some this is true however) and this marginalisation of voters is a reason why they are rebelling against modern politics. 53% of white women did not want to be marginalised and told that they should be voting for Clinton, because she represented women. My gut reaction when I heard the figures was to be sad that there were so many women out there who respected themselves so little that they would vote for a man that had spoken so despicably about women and possible sexually assaulted many. But that many women are not all stupid. They are not all pushing aside Trump’s words as ‘boy talk’ and they are not all stay at home housewives who want to feel appreciated. Many of them made a calculated decision to vote for Trump and I can’t tell you why that is. No one can, apart from the people who did. But Clinton was not the right choice just because she was a woman. She could have been the right choice for many reasons, for her years working in politics and her undeniable knowledge, and in fact her first-hand knowledge of being married to a former President, but a lot of the choices she made and actions she took in her active years made people distrustful of her, and the fact that she was a woman was not going to change that.
You could argue, and indeed I have, that many of her actions would have been excused if she had been male. Or if the tables had been turned on the accusations against Clinton and Trump, any accusation of sexual assault would have sent her campaign down in flames, while a suggestion that Trump had used the wrong email server would have sent people laughing. I don’t think people trusted either of them, and indeed I hope they don’t, but whereas Hillary showed a face that had been in politics for many years, had had a husband who had been accused of many things in his terms, and showed a temperament that is nothing if not deeply, traditionally political, with skipping or turning potent questions around, Trump barrelled in with big promises and big answers to difficult questions. Lets be honest, no major leader has any idea how to defeat ISIS, but Trump promised to ‘bomb the shit out of them.’ Every country struggles with immigration, and most leaders aren’t sure how to compromise on it, but Trump promised to ‘build a wall.’ The market for jobs is shrinking, with automated jobs growing every year, but Trump promises more jobs and less taxes. Although he did try to hide when he went back on something, there are hundreds of videos online of him backtracking, of taking back words he had promised. People knew he was lying. It was blatantly obvious, but it was also shoved in their faces constantly by the media. I think, most of all, people got tired of the media and Trump’s calls of a rigged election and rigged media rang true with a lot of people, so as the media desperately tried to prove that he was lying, the people just shrugged. They knew that. By the end, nothing about him was hidden anymore. So while the media was full of congratulations for the first woman President, the people rejected her.
Too much emphasis was placed on the fact that Hillary Clinton was a woman, and too much emphasis was put on the place that this election should take in history. Obama was the first black President, but in the lead up to him being elected, there was so much more to him than that.I don’t think his aim was ever just to win ‘the black vote.’ But in the 2008 election, Obama was the unexpected candidate. He was the one that no one thought would succeed. This time around Hillary couldn’t have been more expected if she tried. Which is maybe why she failed.
Are there misogynist, sexist, racist undertones to this election? Absolutely. This election, and Brexit before it, have been utterly repugnant in how they have been carried out. I don’t think any sector or people or person of society should feel safe in today’s world. However, I don’t think Clinton lost because she was a woman. I could reduce the result to that reason, or the fact that people wanted to ‘shake politics up’ or the fact that more people voted for third party candidates this year because they hated both candidates, or the fact that voters are uneducated, disenfranchised, poor, stupid, racist, but the one thing that this year in politics has shown us, is that it can no longer be predicted. And so the Clinton campaign made a massive error so early on, in assuming that so many votes, most particularly the woman vote, was safe.