“What did that bitch Hillary ever do to you?”
It was that simple comment I saw in an internet comment thread that helped start me on my intellectual journey away from a very strong, hard-fought Bernie-or-Bust stand I took in February on this site.
I don’t recall ever being one to call her “Hitlery” or “$hillary” or “Killary” or “that bitch.” The strongest epithet I recall using was “Hillary->,” a reference to her campaign logo and the idea that it shows her moving to the right. Maybe I did; the internet never forgets and I write thousands of words on it every day.
But I have always had a seething hatred for Hillary Clinton. I have thought of her as a ruthless, conniving, opportunistic, corrupt, congenital liar. I’ve written thousands of words explaining exactly why I’ve thought so.
Someone on the internet was going off on “that bitch Hillary” and the question back, “what did she ever do to you?” had me all ready to fire off a well-researched response.
She voted for the Iraq War! Yes, and so did Senators Cantwell, Feinstein, Landrieu, and 26 other Democrats in the Senate. Why do I not hate any of them like I do Clinton?
She promoted worldwide fracking! Yes, and so has the Obama Administration, generally, and many other Democrats in office. Why do I not hate any of them like I do Clinton?
As I went down my list of things I hated Hillary for, I started realizing that many of those things were also supported by politicians I don’t hate. In fact, I love some of those politicians, like Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted for that terrible Clinton Crime Bill that Hillary promoted, or former Senator Max Cleland, who voted for that terrible Iraq War.
I also made mountains out of molehills to justify my hatred. She lied about sniper fire in Bosnia. OK, so what terrible effect did that lie have? Her husband lied under oath about an Oval Office blowjob from a subordinate during a deposition in a sexual harassment lawsuit and sunk Al Gore’s chance at the presidency. Why do I not hate Bill Clinton like I do Hillary?
That whole “super predators … who need to be brought to heel” comment of hers, is another example. It’s still not a great comment, but she was referring to specific people (violent gang members) and not all black kids or all black people. And if black Democratic voters have seemed to forgiven her, why am I getting upset?
Or her stand against gay marriage in 2004, only to “evolve” to support it in 2013. Would I prefer that she remain anti-gay marriage? Am I afraid she’s going to go back to being against it? If she’s now fighting on my side, why do I care how long and what reasoning it took to get her there? And if gay Democratic voters have seemed to forgiven her, why am I getting upset?
I am a self-employed, able-bodied, intelligent, tall, white, cisgender, heterosexual, American male. I am just a Bible short of winning the Privilege Decathlon. As I addressed the dissonance between my hatred of Hillary and how black and gay Democrats overwhelmingly supported her, it opened up my mind to the possibility that my opinion of Hillary Clinton is malignantly shaped by sexism.
I’ve never agreed with any politician 100 percent. But if I make an honest list of my policy positions and personal beliefs, Hillary Clinton aligns positively with a majority of that list. There are still plenty of points on that list where we disagree. But when I find another politician with the same score, they don’t seem to engender the same emotional response in me. You have to rise to Ted Cruz / Louie Gohmert / Tom Cotton / James Inhofe levels of ignorance and policy disagreement to equal my Hillary Clinton hate.
Maybe Hillary Clinton is what she is because only those qualities and decisions would propel a woman far enough against the current of institutionalized sexism to make it to the presidency. Maybe the grandstanding lies and the political calculations only seem so heinous when they’re done “backwards and in heels”. Hillary Clinton is still not a politician I can say I like, but I think I’m beginning to see her now as simply a compromised corporate-owned centrist Democrat (like a lot of them) and not as evil incarnate.