Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Give 'em hell, Hill


Ezra Klein has a terrific piece asking why it's been so hard for us to recognize that Hillary is actually a phenomenal politician--phenomenal because she's not great at retail politics. She's not a spell-binding speech-giver, or especially charismatic, but she keeps winning anyway.

His argument is that she's pursued a characteristically female strategy of working behind the scenes over the long term. Her detractors, he says, are right that she's an insider, with the support of "the establishment," but they're wrong about what this means or how she got that support:

She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 523 governors and members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; 13 have endorsed Sanders.

This work is a grind--it's not big speeches, it doesn't come with wide applause, and it requires an emotional toughness most human beings can't summon.

But Clinton is arguably better at that than anyone in American politics today. In 2000, she won a Senate seat that meant serving amidst Republicans who had destroyed her health care bill and sought to impeach her husband. And she kept her head down, found common ground, and won them over.

[. . . .]

And Clinton isn't just better--she's relentless. After losing to Barack Obama, she rebuilt those relationships, campaigning hard for him in the general, serving as his secretary of state, reaching out to longtime allies who had crushed her campaign by endorsing him over her.

This really sums up what I love about Hillary--not why I support her policies, which I do generally though not unreservedly, but why I have the kind of irrational love that supposedly no one feels for her. She reminds me of every female mentor I've ever had. She reminds me of all the women I know in business and academia and the arts who just keep plugging away, getting shit done, but who are rarely anointed "stars" even if they become partner, make tenure, write a best-selling novel.

And though I would never in a million years compare myself to Clinton--I don't have half, not a quarter of her toughness--I can't help but think that my previous post is partly about gender. I do know women who emerge from college or grad school fully poised and confident and (seemingly) without a doubt about their intellectual or scholarly authority. But I know fewer of them than I know men, and it's characteristically female to believe that one shouldn't yet do something--ask for a promotion, claim expertise--until she is really, REALLY sure that no one will doubt her credentials.

So yeah. I understand why people might not support Clinton. I understand why people might not like her. But I look at her and I see every talented, relentless, over-qualified woman who has, objectively speaking, achieved a lot, and who would never actually complain--but who still isn't considered as smart, promising, likeable as the charismatic male blowhard sitting next to her. Whose books don't get the same kind of reviews, who doesn't get invited onto the talk shows, who somehow (no one knows why!) just doesn't generate the same buzz or excitement.

Fuck. That. #ImWithHer


Servetus said...

Agree 100%.

nicoleandmaggie said...

I saw that article too (we'll be link loving it) and it is so right.

Your commentary is 100% on point.

Also: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Widgeon said...

Thank you for this! According to my social media feeds HRC is Kissinger and Satan rolled into one. And to celebrate her victory is to be a bad feminist.

Flavia said...


Yep. I've seen some of that too. I'm happy to let people have some space to mourn the defeat of a candidate they really believed in--but does it have to be by demonizing another one? (I have some thoughts about HRC's erstwhile opponent, but I think I've posted exactly one *mildly* critical thing on social media this entire primary.)

Servetus, nicoleandmaggie:

Thanks. And wooooooooo! is right.

AndrewSshi said...

Because I'm not always a good person, I'm actually going to enjoy a lot of the tears of impotent hate that the very fact of HRC's presidency engenders.

It's especially fascinating that someone who's so blandly technocratic generates such hate, but then, HRC's always sort of served as a proxy for people's fears of women wielding power or stepping even a little bit outside of traditional gender roles.

Tony Grafton said...

Thank you for a great post. I can't wait to vote for Hilary Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Long time reader here who never comments, but I just wanted to say that I'm so excited you posted this. I've felt so alone during this primary season because I actually like, respect, and am inspired by Clinton every day. . #ImWithHer

Contingent Cassandra said...

Amen. She's also an inspiration to those of us who, in our early fifties, are wondering what's next/possible. Maybe quite a bit, whether spectacular or just quietly useful?

I voted for her once (in this year's primary; I supported Obama in '08), and am looking forward to doing so again.

Kendra said...

Agreed 100% and I actually cried a bit when she got the nomination.
Your summary is perfect. Exactly what I have been thinking but couldn't articulate myself. Thank you!

xykademiqz said...

Oh yeah! Hillary FTW!

I have always liked her. She is a smart and capable woman, and will be a great president; whoever doesn't see it doesn't want to see it. I also don't really see these "unlikable" or "not a good debater" traits that everyone keeps writing about; one probably needs dudely glasses for that.