Here’s a quiz for you. Which one of the following facts actually counts as noteworthy news?
- Jaden Smith wore a dress
- Kim Kardasian went overseas representing her country of origin
- Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy
- None of the above
The answer is #4.
It’s actually a trick question, because no one is surprised that Hillary is running again. In that sense, it hardly qualifies as news.
It may still be a man’s world, but the most powerful leader could soon be a woman. In a way, the principle itself is not so revolutionary; It is just a change in title. If we think of who has held the “power behind the throne,” so to speak, from the Lincolns to the Roosevelts to the Reagans to the Clintons to the Obamas, we have seen the impact a First Lady can have on policies, public representation and even foreign relations. Certainly Hillary was a prime example of that. Now, there’s a chance (and a good one) that she could be our Democratic candidate for President.
However, for everything we think we know about her, she remains elusive on a personal level. In a 2007 interview with NBC, she said, “I’m probably the most famous person you don’t really know.”
While that’s highly debatable, it is curious that she lacks that trait which wins so many elections: relatability. When John McCain ran for president, a large percentage of his supporters consisted of those who simply thought they “knew him” well enough. He was familiar, and despite the common saying about familiarity breeding contempt, virtually every scientific study on the matter shows that we see people (and even hear music genres) in a more positive light simply through consistent repeated exposure, close proximity or prior awareness. It seems McCain overestimated this phenomenon, and it’s prudent for Hillary to avoid making the same assumption. The only thing more important than press, or even good press, is emotionally-relatable press. When people know you, they may or may not vote for you, but when they feel like they know you, those feelings are much more likely to transfer to the polls.
Just read some of the comments on any trending article regarding Clinton’s announcement. Many will admit to not necessarily supporting the entirety of her former or current campaign, but they trust her because they feel like she is the most experienced, they feel like she is a “good American,” and they feel like it is time for a woman president.
I, for one, feel (and think) it is past time for a woman president. However, I also think that emotions regarding woman’s progress in America should not sway American voters towards a candidate whom they would otherwise not support. After all, blind followers find it difficult to follow their leader. Thus, it seems reasonable for the public to take a close look at the woman she is, has been, and who we can predict her to become.
We know, for example, that she is a force with which to be reckoned. At a young age, Clinton was quick to take the intiative. Upon faculty recommendation, she delivered the 1969 commencement speech at Wellesey College—something no student had ever done. It is easy to imagine this type of personality in the board room negotiating with foreign leaders (*ehem* Iran?) without caving in or backing down. She also has demonstrated resilience to accusations of scandal, personal criticism, political disagreements and the highest level of public scrutiny. A recent NPR article by Tamara Keith brought up her ability to fend off verbal attacks and answer scathingly judgmental questions during a 1994 Press Conference, where she spent over an hour simply defending herself, her husband and the Democratic party on a number of issues.
Even now, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul calls her a hypocrite, citing her willingness to accept donations from nations such as Saudi Arabia, insisting in Carrie Dann’s NBC article that “Hillary Clinton has taken money from countries that rape victims are publicly lashed.” He added, “I would expect Hillary Clinton if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia. Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.” Not only did he suggest she explain herself, but his campaign will be running an ad calling her run “a path to the past.”
Actually, Mr. Paul, if she was running to her past, she would be…running as a Republican. Yep, that’s right. Maybe the most surprising aspect of her career up to this point is not only her continuous interest and involvement in politics (beginning far before she met Bill), but her changing beliefs. She began as a young Republican, quite well versed and respected in the community. In the book A Woman In Charge, by Carl Bernstein, Clinton is said to have considered herself a “Rockefeller Republican” who ended up supporting and volunteering for Democrat Eugene McCarthy in his 1968 presidential campaign.
Of course, since her volunteering days, she has gatherered more love and hatred than many political figures, in no small part due to her no-nonsense approach and upper class lifestyle. (Hey, one gets used to having meals cooked for them and being driven to every destination.) It isn’t crazy to ask how she could relate to the average American. However, it is crazy to think that sets her apart from the majority of our presidents and presidential candidates in the past two decades.
So let’s take another quiz. Who is Hillary Rodamn Clinton?
- A Yale Law School alumni who wrote several often cited articles, most notably the 1973 “Children Under the Law,” which defended a child’s right to a case-by-case determination of legal competence.
- A former first lady and our 67th Secretary of State, who was also found to be the 6th-8th most liberal U.S. Senator in a 2004 analysis by Princeton and Stanford scientists.
- A woman shrouded in political rumors and discord, from the Whitewater controversy to her husband’s very public affair and changing record on wartime decisions who yet retained the title of “most admired woman by Americans” for 13 consecutive years in Gallup polling.
- All of the above.
The answer is, once again #4. And once again, that’s hardly a surprise.
Photo Source: CHUCK BURTON/AP