Sarah Jones writes in the New Republic that “the Clinton campaign’s simpering celebrity feminism” was “tone deaf” to the needs of white working class women who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
From the New Republic:
Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” tape, the sexual assault and harassment allegations against him, and his selection of anti-abortion, anti-LGBT Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate all bothered college-educated white women, but not their working class peers. White women without college degrees—an educational status correlated to lower income—overwhelmingly supported Trump, enough so that he won white women as a category.
That did not have to happen. But the Democratic Party for years has packaged superficial progressivism as real social justice, and the Clinton campaign’s simpering celebrity feminism ultimately proved tone deaf to the vital women voters who were more concerned about their pocketbook than “grab them by the pussy.”
Clinton’s campaign strategy, especially when it came to appealing to white women, indicates that she and her staffers didn’t quite grasp these dynamics. Her campaign employed a candy-colored brand of female empowerment seemingly based on the assumption that white women’s political priorities are influenced by the pop culture they consume. White working-class women weren’t going to vote for Clinton just because Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, and Sheryl Sandberg were.
These celebrity overtures were out of step with the priorities and concerns of white working-class women. How can you “lean in,” as Sandberg implores working women to do, when it’ll cost you your minimum-wage job? And if you can’t afford HBO, how likely is it you even know who Lena Dunham is, much less care about her political opinions?
Yet Clinton’s campaign relied heavily on these endorsement gimmicks. It saturated its messaging with the same superficial celebrity feminism that anoints everyone from Taylor Swift to Madeline Albright as role models for would-be girl bosses. It assumed that this branding, and Clinton’s bid to make history, would be enough to attract the white women she needed to win. Not only did this tactic fail in that regard, but it alienated some queer women, women of color, and even millennials.
Clinton and her staffers should have anticipated this outcome. Breaking glass ceilings doesn’t feed families.
Read the rest here.