Since her loss in November 2016, a loss that shocked the Democratic presidential candidate who seemed to feel that the Oval Office was her birthright, Hillary Clinton has spent substantial time and energy pointing out the external factors that caused her to lose the election. There’s James Comey, the Russians as a whole and Vladimir Putin in particular, WikiLeaks, Donald Trump and his legions of unwashed and sweaty followers and Bernie Sanders and his Bros among others. A recent interview on NPR with Rachel Martin looks at a rather surprising group of voters who share part of the blame for Ms. Clinton’s loss, at least in her own mind.
Here’s the key exchange:
Rachel Martin:You mentioned, and you spent time in the book (What Happened) talking about the forces you feel were working against you. You also say sexism was one of them, but you yourself, in the book, acknowledged that a good number of young women didn’t vote for you, which is presumably not a sexist choice. They just weren’t inspired by your message.
Hillary Clinton:I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. I did win the women’s vote. I didn’t win the vote of white women, but I got more white women votes than Barack Obama did. I think it’s much more difficult to unpack all of this, and with respect specifically to young women, I do think that for a lot of young women, gender is just not the motivating force that maybe it will be in the future. But then it wasn’t. The same way that being African-American was really motivating and exhilarating for black voters. But as I point out in the book — and I think that chapter I wrote on being a woman in politics really will be of interest to a lot of women and men. I talk about a conversation I had with Sheryl Sandberg, who has really helped to put into perspective a lot of research that supports common experiences. And she said, look, the research is absolutely definitive. The more professionally successful a man is, the more likable he is; the more professionally successful a woman is, the less likable she is. And that when women are serving on behalf of someone else, as I was when I was Secretary of State, for example, they are seen favorably. But when they step into the arena and say, wait a minute I think I could do the job, I would like to have that opportunity, their favorabilities goes down. And Sheryl ended this really sobering conversation by saying that women will have no empathy for you, because they will be under tremendous pressure — and I’m talking principally about white women — they will be under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for “the girl.” And we saw a lot of that during the primaries from Sanders supporters, really quite vile attacks online against women who spoke out for me, as I say, one of my biggest support groups, Pantsuit Nation, literally had to become a private site because there was so much sexism directed their way.
Does Ms. Clinton give part of her key demographic, the highly educated and independent women of the new millennium, so little credit that she actually believes that their “fathers, husbands and boyfriends and male employers” have such power over them that they could prevent them from voting for Ms. Clinton in November 2016 in a secret ballot? Ms. Clinton’s grasp on why she lost the race is tenuous at best and is, perhaps, providing us with all of the evidence that we need to show us how she was not the right candidate for president, despite the fact that she got the majority of the votes. Unfortunately for the voting public, the pickings for the POTUS were rather slim in the 2016 election cycle.
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