Silencing Hillary

America’s misogynist double standard and why silencing Hillary means silencing women.


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Via Instagram

 

September 12 was the official publication date of #WhatHappened, Hillary Clinton’s memoir of the 2016 presidential election. Her book tour would begin at 11 a.m. in the Manhattan Barnes & Noble. The night before, people were camped out in sleeping bags to be the first to greet the former Secretary of State, senator from New York, First Lady, among the top 100 attorneys in the U.S. and, critically, first woman nominee of a major political party in 240 years of American history.

 

 

Clinton was watching, herself waiting in anticipation, perhaps, because she tweeted back to that group sitting on the Manhattan street waiting for the personal touch of a signed copy of her book. She sent them pizza.

 

 

Nineteen hours later, the doors of the bookstore opened and more than 1,000 people from the blocks’ long rope line were ushered into the store. Clinton stayed for several hours, signing more than 1,200 books and speaking to every person who had come to see her. According to news reports, the first person in line, Bryan Maisonet, a 29 year old Brooklyn hipster, hadn’t voted in 2016. He wished, now, that he had voted for her. He had been camped in front of Barnes & Noble since 3:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon waiting to see Clinton, to buy her book, to apologize.

 

 

The majority of those waiting to see Clinton had voted for her. Not only had they voted for her, they were wearing buttons and T-shirts and other paraphernalia from the election declaring they were "with her" or "still with her" or "I voted for Hillary." What was most surprising, perhaps, was how the majority of those waiting to see Hillary Clinton and buy not just that piece of history which they could order online, but see the woman, the candidate, the person they had hoped was going to be their president—those people were millennials.

 

 

 

The very demographic we were told repeatedly didn’t understand her, didn’t think feminism mattered anymore, didn’t hear Clinton’s message of inclusivity and intersectionality and "stronger together."

 

 

For over a week prior to the official release of What Happened, every male pundit in America seemed to weigh in on why Hillary Clinton needed to shut up and sit down. On September 9, the New York Times queried, "What’s to be done with Hillary Clinton, the woman who won’t go away?"

 

Bernie Sanders has just published his second book on the election of 2016 and has spent nearly the entire year not in the Senate, his paid position, but on the road on an extended book tour and holding town halls with white male Trump voters. Last week he told Stephen Colbert that "it’s a little bit silly" for Clinton to be discussing the 2016 election—which he hasn’t stopped doing since he lost the primary in a landslide defeat of four million votes, 1,000 delegates and 11 states back in May 2016.

 

The Los Angeles Times whined, "Was this book necessary" and asserted "Other Democrats have been dreading this book for months."

 

But it turns out that very few Democrats have been "dreading" Clinton’s book.

The only people actually dreading Clinton’s book have been those who either voted directly for Trump, voted Trump by proxy with protest votes and write-ins or people who failed to vote at all.

Others dreading Clinton’s book were perhaps the pundits and reporters whose only topics were not Clinton’s wonky progressive policy on every issue imaginable, but "those damned emails," to quote Sanders.

 

For while Clinton repeatedly states how sorry she is for failing her supporters and more importantly, the country, by not winning the Electoral College, she does hold the press responsible for their skewed coverage of her for the two years of the election season.

 

While that might seem an excuse to some, the negative bias toward Clinton in the news media has been verified by an independent study at Harvard’s Shorestein Center.

 

 

The Harvard study is explicative and damning. But anyone who was doing reasoned reporting, like I was throughout the two years of the election, was both reporting on Clinton’s policy AND reporting on the bias. First she was a closet lesbian, then she was dying. And all the while the things she asserted about Donald Trump were ignored and dismissed and undercut by the mainstream media.

 

Except now, looking back, we see with full 20/20 clarity, that everything Clinton said throughout the entirety of the election season was correct. She warned repeatedly that the Obama Administration needed to be followed by another, even more progressive, administration. She writes extensively about former President Obama in What Happened (my review will appear next week) and she says quite clearly that he chose her. He chose her over Bernie Sanders, with whom he had also worked in the Congress, he chose her over Joe Biden, his trusted friend and vice president, he chose her because she was the best.

 

And therein lies the problem of the past ten days since men (and some women) began going out of their minds over Hillary Clinton’s book.

 

It’s easy to put all this gnashing of teeth down to misogyny—and certainly a lot of it is, in fact, just that. But there’s more to it: there is guilt and there is shame. There is the clear knowledge that Hillary Clinton as president—even if she had done nothing more than sit in the Oval Office and chat with other world leaders on the telephone and invite fellow Democrats to tea—would have been a calming, reparative figure in the White House.

Hillary Clinton would not, for an instant, have been Trump.

There would have been no Muslim ban. No transgender military ban, no evisceration of the EPA, no withdrawal from the Paris Accord. There would be no denial of women’s equality or systemic racism or science.

 

There would be no Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court for the next 30 years.

 

There would be no white supremacy in the White House.

 

The people who are adamant that Clinton failed America and should be withdrawing from the national stage like the good (girl) soldier she has always been, seem to forget that no man has ever been asked to do that. John McCain is still in the Senate. John Kerry was in the Senate until he was Secretary of State, as Obama’s second choice after Susan Rice. Al Gore is still on the national stage and won the Nobel Prize for his work post-election.

 

Mitt Romney may be running for Senate in Utah next year.

 

Bernie Sanders couldn’t even win the nomination and he’s running around like he’s the leader of a party he refuses to join. Joe Biden, who lost his races for president twice, resoundingly, and once to Clinton herself in 2008, may run for president in 2020 at the age of 79, but he was not Obama’s choice and his politics are to the right of Obama and Clinton and any of the other Democrats who will run in 2020, who are all decades younger than he. So when Biden declared that he would have won in 2016, we have to wonder how the man who never got out of single digits in 1988 or 2008 could believe that. Other than because he’s a man, of course. So the rules for the one woman who was able to beat all conceivable odds to become the first female nominee of a major political party, chosen by a diversity of millions of Americans, are somehow different than they have been for dozens of men prior to Hillary Clinton.

 

We must reject that narrative.

The facts of Hillary Clinton’s presidential run contravene the male narrative Americans are being fed about her–that she’s not likable, that she was flawed, that she lost to someone no one should have lost to.

 

In reality, when Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president, she had an 82% approval rating among Democrats. The same number as Barack Obama immediately after he was elected president. For ten years in a row, she’d been named the most admired woman in America in poll after poll. She was arguably the most well-known female politician in the world, with the possible exception of Angela Merkel.

 

A video compiled by Now Next News of people waiting to see Hillary Clinton at Barnes & Noble Sept. 12, explains just how connected people felt to Clinton personally. One woman with a Spanish accent explains that she waited overnight to see Clinton because Clinton saved her. She was, she explained, in one of the towers on 9/11 and Clinton, then-senator of New York, was hands-on from Sept. 12, 2001 working for first responders and New Yorkers to help in the various recovery efforts.

 

 

That woman appears again at the end of the video with her signed book and beaming smile.

 

I defy you to keep a dry eye as you listen to her.

 

All of which contravenes the ongoing media narrative that no one wants to hear from Hillary Clinton. Not only do people want to hear from her, but the 66 million Americans who voted for her seem to be feeling that for the first time since the election, someone is speaking directly to them.

 

 

The fact of Hillary Clinton—her continual presence on the American political stage—is actually incredibly important to a huge diverse swath of Americans. What the snarky pundit class is missing entirely in their debate about whether or not this historic figure in American politics does or does not get to speak, is that she is the voice for those that very media is refusing to acknowledge.

 

For months since the election, the only voters any reporter or anchor or pundit has spoken to have been The White Male Trump Supporter. Trump won white men by 69 percent and white women by 53 percent. Hillary Clinton still won white women by more points than Obama in 2012 and won women over all by more points than both Trump and Obama 2012. But the focus on the white voter—first by Bernie Sanders and then by Trump—became a fixation for the media.

 

In 2016 Clinton was told repeatedly that she was devoting too much time to "identity politics"—the twin problems of misogyny and racism. But it was those two things that defined the election: White voter after white voter polled about their Trump votes made claims about Obama or Clinton that were evocations of how deeply entrenched racism and misogyny still are in America.

 

That Clinton won 90 percent of non-white voters stipulates to the reality that it was never "economic anxiety" that caused voters to choose Trump, because 80 percent of America’s working class are women and people of color. And they voted for Clinton.

 

 

Disrespect for Hillary Clinton is disrespect for the 66 million Americans who voted for her. It nullifies their votes. It suppresses their voices. It asserts that their choices are invalid and only those of the white male majority—the essential Trump voter—matter.

 

Clinton noted in a Sept. 13 interview on CNN with Anderson Cooper that there had been an aside during the presidential election in France where a commentator said, "This is France, the person who wins the most votes wins."

The person who won the most votes was Hillary Clinton. She should be in the White House. That she’s not is a travesty.

No one should compound that by suggesting, intimating or outright demanding she be silenced. She’s devoted more than 40 years to public service. She’s the only woman in America in 240 years to get close to being president. Americans chose her. The 538 electors in the Electoral College made a different choice.

 

 

We have to live with the remainder of Trump’s term as president. But while we do so, we can also listen to the one person who has been right all along about what we needed to do to stop him, stop foreign interference in our elections, stop voter suppression of women and people of color. We can read Hillary Clinton’s book and listen to her speak and for the first time, be acknowledged for the majority of Americans we are.

 

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