Hillary Clinton has a likeability problem. Whether looking at favorable/unfavorable ratings and polls, listening to news radio, or perusing the comments section online, you’ve probably noticed that people have a lot of nasty things to say about her. And they have for a long time.
I was in elementary school when her husband took office. My grandmother would listen to Rush Limbaugh in the car and in her kitchen. We had followed the election in my social studies class, and I was the lone Southern Republican in my suburban Iowa classroom.
I didn’t really understand why they talked so much about her, since she wasn’t running for president in 1992. Limbaugh seemed particularly obsessed with mocking her headbands, which confused me as they were both practical and popular. I had a drawer of them at home.
When Bill Clinton had a young low-wage intern suck him off in the Oval Office, again scrutiny went to his wife. I heard that she was frigid, that she’d denied him sex so he’d had to look elsewhere. I was told in a number of ways that it was her fault, or maybe Monica’s, but definitely not Bill’s.
I supported Republican leaders as they impeached him. If he lied about this, what else might he lie about? This was when I was young, and expected politicians to mean what they said, before the next administration lied us into a series of wars we’re still in.
After that came Hillary’s Senate campaign, which I paid little attention to, living on the other side of the country. She held the office of New York Senator for eight years, the totality of her elected public service thus far. All her other positions have been appointed by elected officials, including her husband when he was serving as Governor of Arkansas and President Obama.
When she ran for President in 2000, professional journalists laughed about her pants suits and wrinkles. Her appearance was mentioned as often as her husband, twice as often as her positions.
And of course, the sexist media-fed dislike compounded. Just as I can point to years of vapid negative press, so can those who want to produce more of it. And they can use those years of sexism and lookism that Hillary and other women candidates are subjected to, as justification to continue the trends.
So when I say I don’t like or trust Hillary Clinton, please understand that it’s not because I’m unaware of these influences or primarily because of them. I am here for Hillary’s headbands and pant suits. I am here for a woman president, just not her.
I don’t like her because she’s had her campaign surrogates bashing younger women who don’t support her. I don’t trust her because the crime bill and welfare reform she championed caused untold devastation and I don’t think she’s repented or learned from it. I don’t want her as the first woman president because I want that to be a legacy all women can feel proud of, not just the privileged.