One of the more popular theories seems to be that Hilary Clinton lost the election due to misogyny: American voters preferred to elect a woefully under-qualified man rather than a supremely-qualified woman. Setting aside Trump for a moment, the implication is that Clinton was a near-perfect candidate, one who could be opposed only by retrogrades (or “deplorables“) obsessed by her sex. So for those of you who find this particular argument convincing, I submit the following for your consideration:
- Time and again, when Clinton’s husband Bill saw his political career threatened by accusations of sexual harassment, her response was to deny, attack, or, worse, reportedly threaten the accusers. She consistently stood by her husband and against his victims. That track record alone should have disqualified her as the feminist candidate.
- While all politicians lie, Clinton took it to a new level. No matter how flagrant or easily disproved, no lie is too small or too shameless. Her difficulties with the truth have been so habitual and chronic that, until Trump dialed the art of lying up to 11, she was a plausible candidate for the most dishonest person in federal politics.
- Clinton has long been a warmonger. She was the driving force behind the disastrous US intervention in Libya. She voted for the Iraq War. She was among the voices pushing Barack Obama to intervene more deeply in Afghanistan. Her calls during the campaign to intervene in Syria, taken at face value, were calls to us the US military to confront Russia directly – the consequences of which could have been cataclysmic.
- Sociopathy is no impediment to presidential ambitions, but hers was less subtle than most. Asked about Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddhafi’s unusually gruesome (if richly deserved) demise, Clinton hooted, “We came, we saw, he died!” When Egyptians rose up in 2011 to overthrow Hosni Mubarak after 30 years of tyranny, in a grotesquely warm tribute she described him and his wife as “friends of my family.“
- Few politicians escape accusations of being in bed with big business, but Clinton’s ties to Wall Street run unusually deep. Large corporations have paid her tens of millions for speeches whose content, no matter how interesting, could not possibly be worth several hundred thousand dollars each. More plausibly, there was an expectation (unspoken or otherwise) of what she would do for them once in office.
- It’s easy to accuse politicians of corruption, but Clinton has made herself an easy target. Her family’s foundation – which, in fairness, has received high praise for its charitable work – has received enormous contributions from donors such as the Saudi, Kuiwaiti and Qatari governments. I invite you to browse the list of causes the foundation purports to advance and ask yourself which among them – climate change? women’s rights? – inspired these regimes to become enthusiastic financial backers. The claims that these donations were not intended to influence policy once she won office are implausible at best.
There’s no doubt that Clinton lost some votes because she is a woman, although, in truth, there’s no doubt that she also gained some votes for the same reason. We’ll never know for certain if her reproductive organs were the decisive factor in the election, but it is simply incorrect – and, frankly, insulting to those who opposed her – to claim that it’s mere sexism that explains her defeat at the hands of Donald Trump.