Usually it’s all I can do to strike up an interesting conversation about politics with my friends and co-workers. Most don’t follow the news that closely, and many in this traditionally conservative Christian town have already decided to vote for John McCain in the fall. But mention Hillary Clinton and all of that changes…
Suddenly everyone has an opinion. Guys roll their eyes and mutter under their breath. Women who rarely swear call her the b-word. I know several people who claim they will up and move to Canada if Hillary Clinton gets elected, (which I find a bit ironic seeing as Canada has just the sort of health care system both democratic candidates are promoting), and sadly, I’ve even heard it suggested that her assassination would be an act of God. Suffice it to say the mantra of “anyone but Hillary,” is a common one here.
So what’s going on? Why do these people hate Hillary Clinton so much?
(I suppose I should mention here that I voted for Barack Obama in the primaries. If Hillary Clinton is the democratic nominee, I will likely vote for her in the fall. Although I consider myself pro-life, I also feel strongly that we need to reform the healthcare system in this country and stop spending $200 million a day in Iraq.)
Of course, conservative Christians are not the only group of people opposed to a Hillary Clinton presidency. But I’d like to focus attention on the religious right because it is from that camp that I sense the most hostility.
Here are some possible explanations for the phenomenon:
1. Her policies. This is an entirely logical reason not to support Hillary Clinton. She is unabashedly pro-choice, and most republican voters would oppose her positions on universal health care, gun control, immigration, and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Yet the religious right doesn’t talk about Barack Obama or John Edwards the way it talks about Hillary Clinton. I just don’t hear the same angry rhetoric directed toward other democratic leaders who hold similar political positions. One of my Republican friends voted for Barack Obama in the primaries for the sole purpose of voting against Hillary Clinton. Yet Obama and Hillary share nearly identical views. I can’t imagine that this is based solely on political platform.
2. Her past. Whitewater, “vast right wing conspiracies,” butting heads with congress over healthcare, representing New York without ever having lived there-I wonder how much these memories play into the attitudes of conservative voters. I’ll admit that Hillary’s history of secrecy and her reluctance to make her tax records public make me a little nervous too. (Haven’t we had enough secrecy in Washington?) When people refer to Clinton as a “polarizing” figure, I wonder if this is what they’re thinking about.
3. Her gender. I have a suspicion that sexism plays a more significant role in the religious right’s fierce opposition to Hillary Clinton than some would like to admit. I’ve always believed that the qualities it takes to become president of the United States-ambition, tenacity, political know-how-are not considered flattering qualities in women, as unfair as that may be. This attitude is perhaps amplified within the conservative Christian community, where women continue to face discrimination in the religious workplace and where the roles of women remain somewhat limited.
Let me know what you think!
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