We recently discussed how, within minutes of the loss on election night, Clinton aides began to spin the loss and entirely the fault of FBI Director James Comey — a spin picked up by Clinton herself the next day. Many of us have questioned that spin in light of Clinton’s long-standing low polls on truthfulness and her ranking as (with Trump) the most unpopular nominee of a major party for the presidency. Now, former Clinton campaign communications director Jess McIntosh has come up with a new culprit. Of course, it is not the Democratic establishment that engineered the nomination despite ample warning signs in the polls. It was not the campaign that preferred spin to honesty at every turn. And it was not the candidate herself. No, it was the self-loathing and inherent sexism of women.
In an appearance on MSNBC (which seems at times to be moving through the stages of grieving of Kübler-Ross), McInstosh insisted that the problem was with sexist, self-hating women: “Internalized misogyny is a real thing and this is a thing we have to be talking about as we go through and see.” She added “We as a society react poorly to women seeking positions of power. We are uncomfortable about that and we seek to justify that uncomfortable feeling because it can’t possibly be because we don’t want to see a woman in that position of power. As we go through these numbers, as we figure out exactly what happened with turnout, it seems to be white college-educated women . . . We have work to do talking to those women about what happened this year and why we would vote against our self-interest.”
Of course, there could be a more obvious answer: people really did not like Hillary as a leader regardless of her gender. It may be that the large numbers of women refused to vote for Hillary simply because she was a woman. Clinton and Trump were the most unpopular politicians ever to be nominated for president and over 60 percent of voters viewed Clinton as fundamentally dishonest. None of that stopped the DNC from engineering her victory over Bernie Sanders who presented precisely the populist campaign that many voters were looking for. Clinton had the Democratic establishment and many allies in the media — everyone agreed except the public. That was enough . . . until the voters had their say on November 8th.
Jess McIntosh is the Communications Director for Emily’s list and previously served as spokesperson for Senator Al Franken.
McIntosh’s statement reflects what turned off a lot of women that I spoke with. The Clinton campaign hammered away at different groups “voting their interests” and specifically drum beat the notion that women had to support Clinton as the first possible female president. It was all about “self-interest.” That pitch itself can be viewed as sexist. Many women did not trust Clinton and saw nothing in her that spoke to their lives or the difficulties of their families. Notably, Clinton was losing among various female groups to Sanders in the primary. Again, Clinton staffers spoke of educating women to see their self-interest, but tended to avoid the anomaly of running female-centric themes without the support of most women. For many women and men, picking a president is not about “self-interest” but the best for their country and their families.
According to the New York Times, Clinton carried only 54 percent of the female vote against Donald Trump. However, nearly twice as many white women without college degrees voted for Trump than for Hillary and she basically broke almost even on college-educated white women (with Hillary taking 51 percent). Trump won the majority of white women at 53 percent.
The dismissal of white women by the Clinton camp as self-loathing, sexist robots is another effort at avoidance. The Democratic leadership and consultants proved out-of-touch with the public despite polls that gave ample indication that Clinton was the worst possible candidate to put forward in this anti-establishment period. Nevertheless, the Democrats appear to be rallying around again many of the same leaders and the Clinton family (including reportedly grooming Chelsea as the new “brand” name candidate). The position of aides like McIntosh is that the fault is that white women simply did not listen or learn. It was not the message or the candidate or her campaign. It is a remarkably insulting spin but it seems to be preferred to the more difficult questions raised by the campaign.