It's an Election, Not a Popularity Contest

By Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, with Helen A. Berger, PhD, resident scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and author of A Community of Witches.

Don't sell your vote for the hope of a beer with the president. It is a poor test of competence and no president is likely to invite you for a drink of any sort. It ain't going to happen.

Our election seems to be sinking into a dialogue that is more commonly heard among young adolescents in a school yard. Kids taunting one another; saying mean things to each other as though it was fun and funny. The mean girls and boys we thought we left behind in junior high are back and getting serious news time. How can that be happening? Our adolescent nightmare is here. Americans have been trained to laugh at putdowns by the laugh lines in situation comedies. We have become desensitized to verbal cruelty. It has become normalized. Trump is a master of the putdown. Is Trump likable? Do you really like a bully? Do you enjoy a name caller?

Hillary is never liked. She is very private and wonkish. She understands more than we do, she is more experienced, more competent. She makes us feel that we don't measure up and of course sexism plays a part. You say you don't believe in sexism, check out student evaluations of teachers. Female students get lower grades; male professors get better ratings. When articles are sent to academic journals with a male name they have a higher acceptance rate than when the same article is submitted with a female name. The academics who are reading the articles are not conscious sexists. Most of them would point to all the ways they have fought against sexism. But, unconscious bias is there, often invisible and hence hard to address.

Hillary's lack of popularity has little to do with her emails. In fact, we would say it is the other way around. Bush/Cheney deleted how many million e-mails? Condi Rice and Colin Powell both used personal email accounts. These electronic missives have become a focus for people to say, "Ah that's why I don't like her" or don't trust her. Think back to the days when you were dating and you were with a guy or a woman that you just weren't that into. Eventually you ended the relationship because your date did or did not do something. But someone who knocked your socks off could do the same thing, maybe objectively worse, and you would brush it off.

As Obama once said, "Hillary is nice enough." Those who know her say she is very kind, very nice, very concerned about others. Check out #sheinspiresme on Twitter for firsthand accounts.

So why is Hillary so disliked?

Here are our hypotheses. Think about them:

1. She is a woman who is putting herself forward. She is not being a traditional self-effacing female; She says, "I deserve this office because I have experience and I am the most qualified." She is acting in many ways like male politicians including Trump. She even wears pantsuits--multicolored pants suits with heels but pants suits. She is brighter and harder working than most of us and she doesn't camouflage her intellect and accomplishments with giggles or smiles.

2. She is private; she is formal.

3. She is a wonk; wonks never inspire because step-by-step solutions are boring. They require work. Hillary takes the larger picture for granted. She wants all Americans to live decent lives regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ideology--that is really her message. What could be more motherhood and apple pie, more American than that? The woman understands that we can only get a decent life through making policy changes. She lacks Trump's salesmanship. But, do you really trust the guy selling you that used car? Or a Trump University degree?

4. She isn't selling hope, something we all need.

Trump is coated in Teflon; Hillary is coated in velcro.