I’m not voting for Hillary because… I can’t. I may have spent the last nine months in the United States, but I’m still British, so I don’t have the right to vote. I apologize to those who clicked on the link expecting a take down of the presidential candidate – you won’t find it here.
Nonetheless, I’ve still found the different reactions to the news that Hillary’s running for president fascinating. Before I get to the reactions, I have to say I LOVE the way Clinton announced her long-anticipated decision to run for the White House. The video was modern, slick and switched the emphasis away from Hillary and onto voters. The ‘new beginnings’ theme is a clear attempt to draw a line under what’s come before. Her numerous recent appearances at women’s conferences indicate that Clinton is putting women front and center of her campaign, in a way she failed to do in 2008. There’s a focus on diversity and a distinct acknowledgement of the issues faced by women: work, childcare, healthcare.
The video was accompanied by an understated tweet:
Lady, I like your style.
Of course, a Twitter-storm ensued, but her campaign team would have been ready and waiting for the onslaught. What I can’t understand is the news coverage of said Twitter-storm. Today’s big story is the trending hashtag: #WhyImNotVotingForHillary. ‘Hillary Haters’ is the only headline about Clinton’s campaign on the front of the BBC News America page. For those of you unfamiliar with the hashtag, a teenager tweeted #WhyImNotVotingForHillary to some high-profile Republicans who re-tweeted it. The hashtag went viral amongst people who won’t vote for Hillary. Big news right? Yes, one hell of a story. Great analysis BBC: Republicans won’t be voting for Hillary. Other media gems include the Huffpost gallery titled Hillary Clinton’s Style Evolution. It’s a series of 83 pictures of Hillary in different outfits. Seriously, does anyone care what the woman wore to a Presidential rally in 1992?!
Then there’s been the acres of footage dedicated to the ‘Hillary for America’ logo. I clicked on a link to one article with the headline ‘Everyone’s Freaking Out About Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign Logo’, expecting genuine scandal. Nope, nada, none. Some people don’t like the logo because the arrow points to the right/the ‘H’ looks like a hospital sign/it’s a bit boring. Three words for you: IT’S A LOGO.
So far the coverage in the media has been dismal and I’m not even scraping the tabloid barrel. I haven’t been anywhere near the stuff that decries Hillary on the basis of her gender, her age or her scrunchies. This stuff is the mainstream.
And of course it’s her gender that’s the remarkable thing about Clinton. If she wins she’ll follow Obama in creating a new image of leadership. She’ll further disrupt the notion that the president is white and male. But if Clinton moves back into the White House the presidency will face a new diversity challenge. The list of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton, reads more like a line of monarchs than leaders of the free world. It will reinforce the fact that only a wealthy political elite has a shot at power in the ‘land of the free’. Suddenly, America feels a lot more like home!
While the media commentary has been dismal there was one piece in the Guardian that caught my eye. A comment piece by Hadley Freeman outlined that she wants Clinton as president, not because she’s female, but because she’ll stand up for women. I couldn’t agree more. I would love to see a woman in the White House, but most of all I’d love to see a woman president ready to stand up for women’s rights.
So often, female leaders shy away from identifying with their gender. Sometimes it seems the only way to the top is to behave like men. I understand this 100%. But it would be a real breakthrough if the first woman in the White House put gender at the top of her agenda.