I’ve listened to more political commentary about the 2016 presidential election than I ever have in the past. Despite that, I don’t really consider myself a political person. If anything, I’m a libertarian. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t trust the political system in general. I suspect many Americans feel the same based on this election. The truth is, the whole political machine is so far gone few of us feel we’re a part of it.
We vote because it’s our civic duty, and to teach our kids to do the same. But do we really expect any meaningful change when we elect a new candidate? Personally, I’m just trying to pick the person who will keep us out of war, keep the economy in tact, and preserve our civil liberties.
So I was so surprised by my deep emotional reaction to the 2016 presidential election election.
Let me start by saying my feelings have little to do with Hillary Clinton as a candidate. While I think it’s absurd that a woman hasn’t been elected as the leader of our country by now, I wasn’t “all in” for her. I felt from the start that she was too divisive a figure to be the best fit as a candidate, purely from a Democratic branding standpoint. But her loss is meaningful because it’s a reminder of a societal problem I think a lot of us want to believe doesn’t still exist.
Let’s just look at the facts, taking politics out of the equation. Love or hate her, you cannot dispute that Clinton was/is qualified for the job. Think she lied? Maybe she did. Think she’s corrupt? She may be. Is she part of a system people distrust? Indeed. But you can’t blast one candidate with that argument if you’re not going to hold the other one’s feet to the fire with the same accusations, too. I’ve heard excuses from what I’ll call reluctant Trump supporters that he was the lesser of two evils; people wanted change so desperately they’d vote for any outsider. I won’t get into political arguments, but that sounds a lot like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Regardless, that’s my opinion and we all know the saying about those. But humor me for a moment and put your emotions about the 2016 presidential election aside. Look purely at the facts. We turned away a highly qualified female candidate in favor of one with no experience. If this were a job interview for an accounting position at a business, it would sound a little fishy if a female job candidate with twenty plus years of experience lost the job to a male candidate who had no experience relevant to the industry, if both were willing to do the job for the same amount of compensation. Am I right?
So when I take emotions out of the equation and look at the election through that lens, the reason this outcome feels so unsettling to many women is clear. We just got a living, breathing confirmation that the roadblocks I think we hope are slowly going away really haven’t at all. Yesterday, we got a big slap in the face message: Commitment to serving others, dedication to a cause or profession, education, passion and intellect are not enough. Work as hard as you want but at some point in your career, you will lose the job to a man.
I’ve seen a lot of social media posts like “boo hoo, get over it, your party lost.” It’s not about that all; I don’t consider myself a card carrying member of any party. I’m not ride or die Hillary Clinton. But as women, we share common ground we both wish we didn’t: We’ve been humiliated by the actions of a man, talked down to, disrespected, marginalized, and objectified. Paid less than a man to do the same job. Stared at by ogling men driving by, whistled at, called “hot” or “cute.”
Regardless of if your candidate won or lost, all women have a right to be offended by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The country told us in no uncertain terms: You’re still not in power. You’re still subject to whatever actions a man wants to bring upon you. Whatever your political leanings, let’s all agree that women deserve better than that.