Why do people hate Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Candidate for 2016 U.S. Elections, so much?” That’s a question almost everyone has on their minds…other than who to vote for. Americans definitely have a tough choice to make in November, 2016. It’s one that they have dreaded ever since the race to the White House began last year.
I recently read an article on Slate.com, which I’ve decided to repurpose and curate on my blog with my commentary below.
In 1996, the New Yorker published “Hating Hillary,” Henry Louis Gates’ reported piece on the widespread animosity for the then–first lady. “Like horse-racing, Hillary-hating has become one of those national pastimes which unite the élite and the lumpen,” Gates wrote. “[T]here’s just something about her that pisses people off,” the renowned Washington hostess Sally Quinn told Gates. “This is the reaction that she elicits from people.”
It might seem as though nothing much has changed in 20 years. Many people disliked Hillary Clinton when she first emerged onto the political scene, and many people dislike her now. She is on track to become the least popular Democratic nominee in modern history, although voters like Donald Trump even less.
But over the last two decades, the something that pisses people off has changed. Speaking to Gates, former Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan described “an air of apple-cheeked certitude” in Clinton that is “political in its nature and grating in its effects.” Noonan saw in Clinton “an implicit insistence throughout her career that hers were the politics of moral decency and therefore those who opposed her politics were obviously of a lower moral order.”
Noonan’s view was a common one. Take, for example, Michael Kelly’s 1993 New York Times Magazine profile, mockingly titled “Saint Hillary.” “Since she discovered, at the age of 14, that for people less fortunate than herself the world could be very cruel, Hillary Rodham Clinton has harbored an ambition so large that it can scarcely be grasped,” Kelly wrote. “She would like to make things right. She is 45 now and she knows that the earnest idealisms of a child of the 1960s may strike some people as naive or trite or grandiose. But she holds to them without any apparent sense of irony or inadequacy.” Kelly’s piece painted Clinton as a moralist, a meddler, a prig.
Few people dislike Hillary Clinton for being too moralistic anymore. In trying to understand the seemingly eternal phenomenon of Hillary hatred, I’ve spoken to people all around America who revile her. I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible. Recently, Morning Consult polled people who don’t like Clinton about the reasons for their distaste. Eighty-four percent agreed with the statement “She changes her positions when it’s politically convenient.” Eighty-two percent consider her “corrupt.” Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.
1. Brian Greene, Chicago
Brian Greene is a 49-year-old accountant and financial analyst who lives in the Chicago suburbs. He was a conservative in the 1990s and despised both Clintons. “I thought she was someone who came off as a bit entitled and kind of full of herself,” he says of Hillary. His view then, he says, was that she was “Bill without the charisma.”
Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.
Greene became disillusioned with the right due to the Iraq war; he supported Howard Dean in 2004 and now describes himself as a libertarian-ish liberal. Yet while his politics changed, his aversion to Clinton did not. He actually voted for her in the Illinois primary—Sanders, he says, didn’t seem like a plausible president. But he did so with a complete lack of enthusiasm. Had the Republicans elevated someone “sane” such as John Kasich, he says, he’d return to the GOP in November. “She strikes me as so programmed and almost robotic,” he says of Hillary. “I don’t think her recent move to the left, or being more populist recently, is part of who she is but more of a reaction to Sanders in the race.”
Greene says he’d have preferred to vote for Elizabeth Warren, even though Clinton’s more centrist politics are closer to his own. He’s not sure that likability should matter to him, but it does. “I like to think it’s more about policy and what they do, but for me it’s like, do you want to see this person on television for eight years, or four years,” he says. “For better or worse, the president is someone who represents the country and will be part of your life.”
2. Michele Aburdene, Washington D.C.
There are certainly people who don’t like Clinton because they don’t like her record and her proposals. Marcella Aburdene, a 31-year-old market researcher in Washington, D.C., has a Palestinian father and is horrified by what she sees as Clinton’s hawkishness and allegiance to Israel. “She is disingenuous and she lies blatantly, but that’s what a lot of politicians do,” Aburdene says. “It’s definitely more of a policy issue for me.” She plans to vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein in November.
For many, however, resistance to Clinton goes beyond policy. “It’s not that I just don’t like Hillary’s positions,” says Margo Guryan Rosner, a Los Angeles songwriter (her work has been recorded by Julie London, Mama Cass, and Harry Belafonte, among others) and Sanders devotee. “I don’t like her.” Like many of the people I spoke to, Rosner’s antipathy doesn’t follow a precise ideological trajectory. Now 78, she says her negative feelings about Clinton first arose during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Rosner says she was especially irritated when, in response to criticism of her work at the Rose Law Firm, Hillary said, “You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession.”
3. Margo Guryan Rosner, Los Angeles
“That bugged me,” says Rosner. “She was putting down regular women, people who stay home and take care of kids and bake cookies.” It’s not that Rosner was offended on behalf of housewives; she herself has always had a career. “I just thought it was a stupid comment,” she says. “I don’t think she’s as smart as most people think she is, or seem to think she is.”
Rosner also makes a fairly standard progressive case against Clinton. “I don’t like her support for the Iraq war,” she says. “She didn’t support same-sex marriage until it became a popular issue. Her email stuff—she is the only one that would not testify, and I think that’s bullshit. I don’t like her friendship with Netanyahu. I think they’ve destroyed the Middle East with Iraq. I don’t like that she takes money from big banks. She doesn’t support universal health care. For all those reasons. I think she’s more a Republican than a Democrat, and I refuse to vote for Republicans, ever.”
All the same, Rosner says she would happily vote for Joe Biden, who also voted for the Iraq war. In the Senate, Biden was known for his deep ties to the credit card industry, and as a presidential candidate, he didn’t support universal health insurance. “Yeah, Biden does not have all the positions I would like, but he has a certain kind of humanity that touches me,” she says.
Several of the people I spoke to see Clinton as lacking in humanity. It’s not just that they don’t like her—they also feel, on some level, that she doesn’t like them. “I don’t think she has a clue what people in my position need in life and certainly wouldn’t stoop to, quote unquote, my level,” says Mindy Gardner, a 49-year-old in Davenport, Iowa, who works in the produce section of a Hy-Vee grocery store. “If I could make her a profit she’d be my best friend, but I can’t, so she doesn’t know I exist.”
4. Mindy Gardner, Davenport
Gardner, who raised two children as a single mother, says she felt vaguely positive about Bill Clinton when he was elected in 1992. In 2008, she supported John McCain, and in this election she’s become a passionate Sanders backer. She sees Hillary Clinton as integral to the economic system that has left her struggling. “I’ve been working since I was 12. It seems like when I was working as a kid, my money went further than it does now as an adult, just trying to feed the kids. I could work 40 hours a week and go live in the Y because that’s all you can afford,” she says.
The Clintons, says Gardner, “removed a lot of sanctions against companies and changed a lot of laws so companies could pay their workers less, fight unions, fight health care.” Employment used to come with security and benefits, she says. “That was just common knowledge, all those things you got when you worked your butt off for a company.” Clinton, she believes, had a hand in taking all that away. “Bill and Hillary’s friends were all rich, they were the ones who owned all these companies, why not use your power to let everyone in your circle get as rich as humanly possible?”
Several of the policies Clinton has put forth would help Gardner. When I ask her about Clinton’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour, Gardner says, “I would like to make $12 an hour, that would be nice.” But it almost doesn’t matter what Clinton’s policies are, because Gardner doesn’t trust her to enact any of them. “If she was moving her lips she was probably lying about it,” she says.
5. Uday Sachdeva, Athens, Georgia
Sachdeva, the son of Indian Hindu immigrants, produces a podcast about sports and politics with a childhood friend, and he offers a precisely detailed—if hallucinatory—Clinton demonology, like a fantasy-football obsessive spitting out statistics. “There’s 47 suspicious deaths around Hillary Clinton. Eleven of them are her personal bodyguards, and you have Bill Clinton’s alleged rape victims,” he says. He lists a number of these figures, explaining the dubious circumstances of their demises. Some of the names are familiar, like McDougal, who died of a heart attack in a Texas prison in 1998. Others are more obscure, at least to anyone who hasn’t put in hours on conspiracy websites.
“Paula Grober, Clinton’s interpreter for the deaf, traveled with Clinton from 1978 to 1992, died in a one-car accident,” Sachdeva says. “There was another one where they found the brakes cut of a motorcycle and he slammed into the back of a truck. That would be Keith Coney.” (According to Clinton conspiracy theorists, Coney, 19, had information about the death of two 17-year-olds who’d witnessed a drug-smuggling operation linked to Bill Clinton.)
“It’s just a bunch of suspicious circumstances that all these people were friends of Hillary Clinton,” Sachdeva says. I asked him where he was getting his information, and he listed a number of sources, including Snopes.com—which has indeedreported on rumors about the Clinton body count but only to debunk them. When I mention this, Sachdeva is unfazed. “I have a propensity to think that there’s a little bit of fire in the smoke,” he says.
Not all the likely Trump voters I spoke to were quite so febrile, but like Sachdeva, they express a loathing that transcends ideology. Denny Butcher, a 44-year-old Army veteran in Raleigh, North Carolina, thinks Barack Obama’s politics are worse than Hillary Clinton’s but finds Obama far more personable. “I was against him from the very beginning, because I feel like he is about as left as left can be, until Bernie Sanders came along,” Butcher says of Obama. “He believes the opposite of what I do on almost every issue.” All the same, he says, “If I met Barack Obama on the street, there’s a good chance I’d say he’s a decent guy. I don’t get that feeling from Hillary Clinton. I don’t feel like she’s a likable person at all. At all. I think she feels like she’s above the law, and she’s above us peasants.”
She is an admirable public servant, despite her obvious flaws, which are mostly the consequence of her decades in positions of authority. Every coin has two sides. I am, however, concerned about her health and about her ability to follow logic and common sense. The Health Care reforms she introduced in 1990s were a disaster. The email scandal was simply immoral and we still do not know the truth about what happened. As Arkansas’ first lady, she turned a $1,000 commodity-futures investment into a $100,000 windfall. She also “lost” the Rose Law Firm billing records that were under subpoena for two years. The records proved that she lied when she denied participation in a sham land deal. And just recently, she paid Khizr Khan $375,000 via Clinton Foundation to bash her opponent.
I also believe that Presidential Candidates should be younger because they can easily relate to the younger generation – the ones that are still paying taxes. She’s almost 70 years old! If elected, she’d be come the second oldest President. Her health now is not the best; can you imagine what it would be like in 8 years? She’s just not ready!