By Michael Milton
I am so tired of hearing people say I dont trust Hillary, or, even more idiotically, I dont like Hillary. The latter, especially, has become a sort of hip memetic for conservatives and liberals alike. Who cares whether you like her or not? Shes like kale. She has everything you need. You may not think you LIKE her, but shes good for you.
Like has, until recently, is a word that has NEVER figured into American politics. Historically, candidates for our countrys highest office have never been required to be liked by the electorate. The President doesnt need to be your best pal, folks. If you want good skin tone and a convincing smile, vote for Jennifer Aniston.
Did voters like Herbert Hoover? Harry Truman? Or even James Madison? OK, maybe Dolly liked him.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Thank God Ghandi didnt need to appeal to a television audience in order to move forward his world vision![/perfectpullquote]
Did the American electorate like Dwight D. Eisenhower? His term in office still represents for many Republicans dreamy years back in the American mists, an era some current candidates would like us to reverse our Dodge Rams into pronto in an effort to make America great! again.
Eisenhower was admired. He was respected. He was appreciated. Liked? Who knew him enough to like him? He was a general who helped us get through World War 2, and for that we were in awe; in awe enough to elect him president of the United Statestwice. How Ike would fend politically and on likability charts in todays technologically invasive atmosphere is anyones guess.
And after Ike, came television.
The importance of being liked or disliked for politicians has risen in equal measure to the evolving omnipresence of television and her ADHD offspring–computers, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, selfies and the rest. In short, technology created the notion that our restless and vaguely bored populace needs to be entertained, much like the throngs of ancient Romans who filled the Coliseum daily to observe the gladiators they liked split open the Christians they disliked.
People still talk about the sweat on Nixons upper lip back in 1960s infamous televised debates between Nixon and Kennedy, one of televisions first inroads into selling a candidates likability. Yes, television DID make Nixon look a trifle uneasy.
But did anyone then (or even now) suspect that the reason Kennedy didnt appear nervous was, at least in part, due to the fact that he had been shot up with Demerol before the debates began? Kennedy suffered enormous pain both from Addison disease and a back injury sustained during the war; I know from my own personal experiences with Demerol how extraordinarily calming it can be, no matter the stressor!
Television created a new set of rules of composure for candidates; its not enough that they understood the workings of the jobs they aspired to. No. They also had to appeal to us and entertain us, at least as much as an EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND episode might. And what exactly is it that technology encourages us to like or dislike? Hair style? Accent? Posture? Sense of humor? Attire? Pore-less skin? Crows feet? Hairpieces? Teeth? Smiles? Thank God Ghandi didnt need to appeal to a television audience in order to move forward his world vision!
Who is that humorless, dark, skinny guy with the bad teeth, thick glasses and the diaper? I dont like him!
As much as I would love to disregard the whole I dont LIKE Hillary meme, I am going to address it anyway in the simplest way I can;
SHE IS A WOMAN RUNNING FOR AN OFFICE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN HELD BY A WOMAN.
Let me say that one more time:
HILLARY CLINTON IS A WOMAN RUNNING FOR AN OFFICE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN BEFORE HELD BY A WOMAN.
Is it possible the folks who insist that they dont like her could simply be momentarily befuddled because she isnt a familiar power archetype? I believe no matter who the female politician was to first run for president, the issue of trust and likability would be similarly attached, based solely on the issue of gender.
Without wandering too far afield into Oedipal or Madonna-whore complexes, I opine that many men (possibly women, too) overly emphasize female hormonal issues: What happens when she is on her cycle?? Or, if older, What will she be like during menopause?
Well, we all KNOW that women are C-R-A-Z-Y then!! Dont want either of THOSE lady energies near the nuclear button!!!
By the way, men have cycles, too, a biological fact often shrugged off by you guessed it .men, much the way some react to any mention of global warming. My observation is that men (myself included) can be a whole lot crazier and more self-pitying during our metaphoric time of the month than women, for the simple reason that most men dont accept their monthly vulnerability.
Guys, denial doesnt make it untrue, though that is a stratagem that has for many millennia helped define patriarchal societies. One need look only at the billions of dollars men have thrown at prolonging their sexual time in the sun, by way of Viagra and Cialis, a blatant refusal to accept times inroads on male libido. When I look at Donald Trump, I see an ageing roue being dragged kicking and screaming into his twilight years, a malfunctioning appendage guiding him blindly towards one big last bang.
I think that women accepttrained by Nature–their monthlies, and are, because of it, taught lessons of patience and forbearing, both good traits for a big job, say, in the White House. Women know from experience the truth of the words this too shall pass.
We in American arent sure what a matriarchal society looks like. We dont have an image for it. Sure, we can look to Germanys Angela Merkel and Englands Theresa May or even back to Margaret Thatcher a few decades past. (Did anyone actually like Margaret Thatcher?) Certainly, she didnt have to wrestle with the behemoth technology has become in the 21st century.
America is a far more vast and complex empire than any other a woman has been held accountable for. We havent had the opportunity to relate to women in positions of such massive power; sure, some Senators and Representatives, a few governors, four Supreme Court justices. I discount Sarah Palin for all the reasons one might discount a toad attempting to operate a back hoe.
But this is the presidency of the United States of America, yall!
What Secretary Clinton is currently being forced by us to dowhile running for the office of the most powerful person in the worldis figure out how to be likeable. We are asking her to provide us with an image for a woman occupying a position that we only know of as a mans job.
How feminine will we allow her to be? How masculine? How opinionated? When does outspoken become bitchy? When is forceful considered crazy? We, the voters, dont even know the answer to these questions. After all, laugh tracks usually supply us with the answers.
So, yes, Clinton might seem to some a bit stand-offish. She knows her business, we can all agree to that. But HOW to present herself to us? Who does she look to for visual and performance cues in a universe where a conception for female performance doesnt even exist yet in most of our imaginations.
Untrustworthy? Crooked? Disliked? Or is she simply cautious out of gender-ized necessity?
Look, I dont think its my business, or any of yours, frankly, what Hillary Clinton went through when the scandal broke. We all suspect that little Monica wasnt the first and perhaps not the last. And I think we would be foolish to think that Mrs. Clinton wasnt aware of her husbands activities way before we were, as well.
How many of us know our partners are cheating on us? How many of us are still with those same cheaters? How many of us made deals with ourselves or with our partners as to how our futures after infidelities would play out? Should Mrs. Clinton talk about how she handled the hurt and shame created by that very public scandal? Would that make her more knowable? More likable? Most trustworthy?
She doesnt have to explain it to me and Im sure thats a big burden off her shoulders. An intrusive constituency, nonetheless, chews on the bit: How did you live through it? How did you answer your daughters questions about it? How did you face your husband day after day after day? How did you take his hand the first time out in public?
What is clear is that–however she did it–she came out on the other side; she gave of herself over and over again to the public, to her constituents, to her job; she rose above whatever bitterness and embarrassment she experienced, raised her daughter, became a grandmother, ran for office, became Secretary of State and somehow, somehow managed to maintain what appears to be a very good relationship with her husband.
So, yes. Perhaps you dont like her because you cant possibly understand her. She does NOT have the same characteristics or qualities as you have. And in my observations of people lately, that difference is probably a very good thing for America.
No. We dont need to like her. Aspire insteadspeaking to a different definition of the word– and seek, perhaps, to be more like her.
There is no compass charting true North for any woman running for president. In fact, Americans have historically only very recently begun to accept any matriarchal presence politically. Secretary Clintons coming to power will take us yet another step in that direction and, I, for one, welcome it.
The patriarchs, after all, havent done such a great job.
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