Why We Are Skeptical of Hillary Clinton

When I read Katharine Seelye's NY Times article titled, Women Supportive of Clinton, But Skeptical, I found myself wondering….


Why do so many want to want to vote for Hillary Clinton, but won't?

Is it a question of competence?

Most would agree she's quite capable. So — No.

Is it because we don't agree with her politics?

Within a few seconds, I rattled off the names of several women for whom I would vote despite our differing political views. So again — No.

If it's neither a question of competence, nor of political views, then why are we skeptical?


1) We don't identify with Senator Clinton's hero's journey — As with Katie Couric, there's an archetypal mismatch, though for an entirely different reason.

While we don't doubt that Senator Clinton can successfully take on Psyche's four overwhelmingly difficult tasks, it feels like she's taking on the adventure for herself, not for us. That she's ready and willing to do some genuine head-butting, rather than to wait and pick up the fleece off the fence once the rams have gone home. In other words, she seems to want power, not for us, but for her. That's not the female hero's journey that resonates with us, so we can't quite get comfortable.

Ok, she's not perfect, but isn't there a double standard here?


Most of us feel quite comfortable if men are ambitious and even a little bit ‘naughty' — after all, ‘boys will be boys' (remember Arnold Schwarzenegger smoking his cigar in the tent near his office), but with women….

2) We want a fairy godmother — The Princess Diaries, provides a great look at this archetype. The film stars Julie Andrews as Queen Clarisse (for anyone over the age of 40, she is the practically perfect fairy godmother Mary Poppins) preparing her granddaughter Princess Mia, played by Anne Hathaway, to ascend to the throne of the imaginary kingdom Genovia.


Princess Mia is qualified to be a princess because she's “bright, sensitive and caring,” says Queen Clarisse. (Imagine Senator Clinton, let alone the male presidential candidates, described as such!) Further reinforcing the fairy godmother archetype, Queen Clarisse sings to Princess Mia:

When they tell your story,
They'll call your heart of gold your crowning glory,
The most glorious part of you

In other words, inscribed in our minds and in our hearts, is the view that a woman who leads us must be smart and capable, and most especially good and kind.

That her hero's journey, no matter how difficult, is ultimately undertaken on our behalf.

And that whether Princess Mia, Mary Poppins, or Psyche — she'll be our fairy godmother.

If you are comfortable with Hillary Clinton, what are your thoughts on archetypes? Is there one that fits?

There was an interesting article in the Australian papers not too long ago titled When one man's ambition is another woman's evil curse, comparing and contrasting how people respond to ambition in women versus men.

Given how beloved Bill Clinton is, and what I understand to be an uncanny ability to make people feel that it is all about them, could he be the key to her winning?

What are your thoughts on other presidential candidates? Which archetypes are working for or against them?

P.S. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece (Oct 31 2007) titled Hilary La Francaise, Cherchez la Femme? which certainly underscores the comments (see below) made by Margaret Busse and Elizabeth Harmer-Dionne. Also interesting to read Ms. Dowd's comment, “Maybe the qualities that many find off-putting in Hillary — her opportunism, her triangulation, her ethical corner-cutting, her shifting convictions from pro-war to anti-war, her secrecy, her ruthlessness — are the same ones that make people willing to vote for a woman.” May this not be true.

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