The Changing Narrative of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is without a shadow of a doubt the most qualified candidate for President of the United States of America. Yet, she is also one of the most ‘controversial’ candidates (or at least divisive) that America has ever seen. The vilification of Hillary in the media has been detailed by many, and pointed out by feminists, politicians, bloggers, and reality TV stars on both sides of the aisle.

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart, © 2014, some rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart, © 2014, some rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton has been torn apart by both the liberal and conservative media, to the benefit of President Barack Obama in the last election, and conservative candidates all around. Before she announced her candidacy she was scrutinized; now that she has announced, I can only imagine what many media critics are gearing up to release. Last election cycle a “Hillary Clinton nutcracker” came out for sale: let’s see what they have in store this time.

The narrative about Hillary Clinton been inconsistent; her story has evolved and changed, from the ‘supportive academic wife’ to a now successful (but vilified) woman in power. One of the most fascinating points about Hillary Clinton is that some seem to think she is unlikable and uncharismatic. People either love her or hate her. But why is she so divisive? Claims that Hillary Clinton lacks leadership charisma are laughable, because Hillary Clinton was First Lady, a Senator from New York, and Secretary of State. If people appoint you, vote for you, and watch TV shows about you, there must be something likable or intriguing about you.

Hillary Clinton has changed just as the times have changed. I do not think Hillary Clinton has masterminded all of this, but rather we have all gradually realized that President Bill Clinton is not the story, Hillary Clinton is. I think they are an amazing example of two extremely intelligent people coming together with a goal to change the political landscape. Call it narcissism or drive, either way, they have changed the world. I do not think Hillary stayed with Bill to ensure she gets politically nominated; the prospect of a divorced woman winning the Presidency is perhaps unthinkable to some.

Hillary Clinton shelved some of her own ambitions in order to support Bill Clinton when he was running for office in Arkansas, even documented as dying her hair blonder and ‘opting for contact lenses and a more conservative style’, and rejecting several possibilities for high profile legal work. Instead, she relocated to Arkansas, and began various different projects, all whilst building Bill’s platform. The supportive role for Hillary is well documented, and she undoubtedly played the part. Now, it’s Hillary in focus, but where is Bill Clinton? Similarly to last time, Bill has eschewed a large role in her campaign. Hillary Clinton was an extremely hands-on First Lady in Arkansas, which continued when she was First Lady in the White House, and resulted in a mixed response from the American public. Hillary championed the Clinton Healthcare Bill (which is pretty similar to the Affordable Care Act). Being improperly politically ambitious is something many a First Lady has been, but Hillary Clinton is likely Number One. It is a difficult line to draw concerning where you can get involved and how far you can stretch it—Michelle Obama has basically told all of America to change their eating habits, but she is celebrated for it—because she is right, but also because she is beloved.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has visited more countries than any other Secretary of State, and faced active scrutiny for Benghazi, for the military intervention in Libya and her most recent email scandal.  The narrative of Hillary has been strewn with criticisms, flaws in her actions, and system faults. However, Hillary bounces back, and I hope she continues to.

A meme came out on the Onion this week reading “America, don’t f*** this up for me” with a picture of Hillary Clinton on it. I think it is pretty accurate. Anyone who thinks elections are still pretty ‘democratic’ should read the news more. America is not a true democracy, and which candidates people vote for is largely controlled. A true democracy reflects its constituents, and we are not exactly seeing that.

Many say America is not ‘ready for a woman’, and if a woman were to become President, it would have to be a Republican. Hillary would be the first female President, just as she was the first female Senator from New York. Having a female president is extremely important for the role model effect, where younger generations of women are inspired to run for office after seeing women in power. I reject the notion that ‘moral feminism’ presents, that women are better leaders as they are inherently more peaceful. .

Having Hillary Clinton as a female President would be something else, and I think her policies would fundamentally change America for the better. A conservative Washington Post columnist recently remarked that Hillary is “carting 30 years of baggage,” but she is also carting 30 years of invaluable experience and insider knowledge. Hillary Clinton has also actively chosen not to champion “women’s issues” and was far more outspoken about women’s rights as First Lady. Hillary Clinton now champions all issues, avoiding the trap many female legislators fall into of being denied into ‘male spheres of politics’ such as economics and national security.

I want to see Hillary Clinton elected because I wonder what she would do for America. Currently, America is no longer the hegemon it once was, and I wonder if it would move further away from its former superpower status, or it will try to bounce back. Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy will undoubtedly involve a further pivot to China, something she has already been criticized for, but could likely resort in a more multi polar system, as we see the continued rise of China, India, Brazil etc. She has also been relatively supportive of military power (examples being Afghanistan and Libya), and I wonder how this would continue to evolve if she were elected. Furthermore, the current ‘Republican war on women’ is revealing a dangerous undercurrent in American society, and a response is urgently needed from a strong democratic leader.

If America does not elect Hillary Clinton it says something about the entire structure we reside within, it says something about the view of women in power, and most importantly it is a serious comment on the political elites (who eventually decide). It has been found that voters actually care more about party association than gender when going to the ballot box; therefore giving women a spot in political parties is the real hurdle.

The narrative that has been created around Hillary, and continues to evolve, is detrimental to her success. How to break this cycle, or ensure her nomination, is a nearly impossible puzzle to solve. Hillary’s Democratic nomination and general election victory are not a given. If Hillary Clinton is not nominated, it is because leaders within Washington D.C. do not want her there. If Hillary Clinton does not win, it is because America still has a long way to go and potentially may never get there because of its system.