The Unlikeables

The Unlikeables November 4, 2016

Election 2016 we are then. Battling in the polls over an election choice between the two least likeable candidates in our history. Their unlikeability is a fact, substantiated over and over by pollsters.

Their flaws are well exposed. That’s part of the problem. In general, we prefer to fall in love with candidates we don’t know too well, and then grow to know their flaws over four or eight years.

And part of it is their emotional clumsiness. Neither of them woos the public well.

Another part of their unlikeability is the opposition labelling that sticks to them and sticks in our perceptions of them.

And another part may be their own personal histories.

Both of them, Trump and Clinton, had bellowing bully fathers, according to their own admission. And we see them, every day, reacting to those long-dead dads whom they dread meeting in every critic.

Trump reacts by refusing to obey any rules at all, and by being the bad-boy before our eyes. And a lot of men and also women who have had fathers who were bullies adore Trump for his refusal to comply with orders. There is something about bad boys that is endearing. In most of us there is a sympathetic rush of feeling, for all of us have been trudging along in the rat-race somewhere for long enough to make us cheer for someone who dares to break the rules. Soon, though, we all see the looming shadow of the bully in Trump, how he loves to use force, and how he enjoys the adulation of those who thrill to the idea of a bully president.

With Hillary, though, it’s more complicated. Over and over and over she asserts, in her shrill-edged voice in which we hear her anger about being undervalued, that she has been a good daughter, wife, mother, and has concerned herself with women and children all her life. All of us have had to make that self-defense somewhere, sometime, the defense of ourselves as living up to traditional expectations. Especially women.

But it isn’t likeable. No one wants to be stuck in a dialogue with someone insisting on having been good. It’s a part of ourselves we do not want to revisit often, if ever. It is an emotional posture in Hillary from which she never seems to rise up for long.

And Hillary does not seem to understand that what is awful about this posture is, there are no A grades for being a good daughter, wife, or mother, because dutiful subservience is  unlikeable, really. Churches, which extol these subservient roles, do not keep calendars of moms, wives, or daughters. They keep calendars of saints, women and men who are heroes of faith, heroes who break a lot of rules in their lives and God loves them for it.

It is in the light of these behaviors that we see both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s flaws.

Donald Trump will not reveal his taxes. We know he is hiding things, and we pretty much know what things. He pays no taxes and he does not give money away except to his own foundation, which he often uses to support himself. Yet, these refusals do not earn him the names Crooked and Liar. Brash, yes. Immature, yes. Vulgar, yes. But not Crooked. Add to this his business failures, failed University, and court trials for cheating people. Still he is not branded a Crook or a Liar.

Yet Hillary, who wants endlessly to be called good, is branded Liar and Crook for her introverted nature and secretive tendencies, all of which are reflexes to defend against the punishing opinions of too many folks, that she is not a good person, not a good Secretary of State, not a good First Lady, etc. Trump says, her experience is bad experience. And thus he condemns her, lock, stock and barrel. And all of us think, maybe that is so, because who wants to have to identify with all her pain, as the daughter of a bullying father, as a betrayed and cheated wife, and as a woman being investigated for her work by the FBI?

The truth is, women are never given As for being good, instead women are nearly always scrutinized for not being good enough.

I find Hillary’s secrecy annoying, as it creates wave after wave of wearying public drama, since secrets never remain hidden. But this does not bother me as much as her insistence that we see her as good traditional woman while electing her as the woman who can break the glass ceiling.

I think she defends herself as traditional because she is always anticipating criticism. And in doing this, she provokes criticism rather than praise.

We all know she can do a fine job as President. And as a Democrat, she will do a better job for the poor, the sick, the immigrant, the lost, the damaged among us, than will any Republican, given their platform. As a Christian, I strive to vote for the values of Jesus. Which are not about abortion or birth control, but are always about God’s special love for the poor and the afflicted. Including women.

Hillary knows this, and testifies to it often. Trump seems to be entirely ignorant of it. Therefore I will vote for my sister in faith, pray for her, and speak out against Trump..
Image: Election 2016

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