I can see why Donald Trump is so unpopular. He’s rude, abnoxious, vulgar and many other dreadful things besides. But as someone observing from the other side of the Atlantic, I never could get my head a round why Hillary Clinton is such an unpopular candidate for president.
She currently has the lowest favourability ratings of any person to run for president in modern history, only surpassed by Donald Trump. But to a casual osbserver she is a centre of the road Democrat, maybe not the most charismatic person in the world, but she has heaps of experience and policy knowledge. You’d think would be just what the doctor ordered for the presidency.
In order to understand this wierd phenomenon, I think it helps to start with one basic question. What does Clinton do for fun? We know that Obama enjoys a game of basketball, we know that Bush likes his golf and we have a little too good an idea what Trump does for fun.
But when it comes to Clinton people don’t know. They may have a sneaking suspicion that what she does in her spare time is to pour over policy papers and read brieing notes. I imagine they’re not actually too far wrong on that score.
They also suspect that the rest of her time is taken up in champagne receptions schmoozing with the elites and taking massive donations. In other words, being a typical politican.
In this year of political outsiders (see Sanders and Trump), however, it’s not too surprising that a quintisessential politican might have a hard time. Clinton has been in the game for a very long time, something that makes her superbly well-qualified to be president. It also means that a lot of the resentment that has built up against Washington and political elites can be projected onto her.
People talk about the email scandal and Clinton Foundation as big problems for her, but they are just symptoms of a broader ‘credibility problem’ that she has. She might have been careless when it came to the email server, but she did nothing criminal. She may have schmoozed closely to bring in money for the Clinton Foundation. But again, that’s what politics is like. It’s just rather unpleasant when we see the dirty laundry aired through some of the leaked emails.
Clinton has done nothing wrong beyond being a politican in an anti-politican year. Had the Republicans had a candidate able to exploit Clinton’s actual weaknesses, rather than fictionalised version of them, they would have had a good chance in this election. As it is, however, it looks as though the politican will win out. Just.