There are two distinct and obvious differences between Hillary and her opponents: she is a woman and a Clinton. With her return to the campaign spotlight, these have been the primary focuses of the media coverage, her critics, and conversations amongst women across the nation.
Yes, she is a woman, and that can play in her favor. Like many women, I would like to see a woman become President of the United States. I also think it’s due. Yet, I do not think that woman is Hillary Clinton—and I’m not the only one.
Why? Bottom line, in my opinion Hillary is not a true champion of women. She does not make the advancements for women that many claim she does. Being a female and occupying the office isn’t enough. It’s the path, the experiences, and the trials experienced while staying true to oneself and one's gender.
First off though, let’s give Hillary some credit. She stood by her man (for better or worse), she had the gumption to demand an office in the West Wing, had a bold, yet wrong, policy initiative as First Lady, and she forged her own political career path.
But that’s where I have the issue; she did all these on the coat tales of her husband. Give her credit for leveraging the opportunity, and yes, she had her own achievements beforehand. However, she hasn’t been authentic. Even the Senate seat she occupied wasn’t her own home state. It was a just a state with an open seat.
That lack of authenticity is also missing as she represents women. While she may be the leader of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit, it’s that pantsuit that does nothing for gender equality. Hillary was the trailblazer of women conforming to a man’s world. Some would argue that’s what she had to do, but I disagree. It’s not only her lack of hemlines and other feminine attributes, but also the policies she had for her office while in the Senate. While in the Senate, Hillary paid women on average 28 percent less than men. She was paying them 72 cents on the dollar, which averaged out to being nearly $16,000 less a year. She had a prime opportunity to change the culture on how women are viewed and paid in the Senate, and she blew it.
While picking up dry cleaning this week in a North Texas town close to where I live, Hillary came up. There was excitement among this group of women. And it was for the fact that Hillary was a Clinton, not because she was a woman.
To these women, it’s not a coronation or a return to the past. To them it’s a return to what worked. As one put it, “All I know is that we had money in the bank and were able to pay our bills (in the nineties).”
These women believed a Hillary presidency could lead to a return of what worked for them personally. They cited the strong economy where they themselves and their families and friends benefited. They went on to describe a time where Republicans and Democrats worked together and had a budget surplus. Let’s also not forget the major reforms made to our welfare system. Yes, there were tax hikes, but when asked, these women shrugged it off. They didn’t mind paying more when they were making more and the government was actually working.
What these women remember about the Clinton presidency is something many in the Beltway and on the campaign trail are missing. Politics is personal. Right or wrong, to these voting women, they currently see a government that is not working and remember a government that did work in the Nineties. It’s not about a third Obama term. It’s about a third Clinton term and woman who has experience governing. This isn’t looking back with rose-colored glasses; this is looking back at a bank account in the black. Forget the pantsuit. It’s the purse.