Hillary: It’s Not About Trust, It’s About Power
By Jo Freeman
(Poster originally designed by Tony Puryear in 2008 — and currently featured in the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery)
For months now I've been listening to the pundits and the polls that say people don’t trust Hillary Clinton. It's a very popular topic and has been for years.
These feelings aren't about trust. They are about power. They are a mask for people's basic discomfort with a woman having a lot of power — even one everyone admits is exceptionally well qualified to hold the highest office in the land.
Among the many articles on "trust" is one published by the Huffington Post entitled Hey Hillary, Here's Why People Don’t Trust You in which a New York writer explained that "She is all too willing to manipulate, distort, and deceive to try to score political points for herself."
However you state it, that's what all politicians do; if they didn't they wouldn't get elected. The author essentially accused Hillary of being a normal politician, and found that to be really, really bad. He's not alone.
Polls that ask voters to compare the Presidential candidates with "most politicians" find that almost half think Hillary is less honest than most politicians.
It's a classic double standard. We know that women have to be twice as good to earn half as much. Hillary's generation (and mine) was raised on the admonition that women should be docile and modest. That meant that women couldn't be leaders, except of other women. We heard that everyone wants to hire an aggressive young man; an aggressive young woman is a bitch. As women climbed up the professional ladder and entered professions previously closed to them, we learned that men are assumed to be competent until they prove themselves incompetent and women are assumed to be incompetent until they prove themselves competent. Assumptions and perceptions about women have changed over the decades, but the double standard still applies to any job identified as male.
In this election, the double standard is about power.
The Presidency of the United States is the most powerful position in the country, even in the world. The thought of a woman in that hot seat still makes people uncomfortable, even those who say they'd like to see a woman President. What makes a woman womanly is inconsistent with what makes a man Presidential.
By way of analogy let me tell you about another election that revealed a double standard about power. In May of 1966, I was working for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Macon County Alabama, trying to elect black candidates to public office. The Alabama primary was the first major election in a Southern state since the Voting Rights Act was passed and it was seen as a test of its effectiveness. With an 83% black population, Macon County was the blackest county in the country, not just in Alabama. But the white elite had effectively kept blacks from voting until the VRA was passed the year before, so most of the black voters were new voters.
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