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Dear Madam President
An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World
- Read in 12 minutes
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- Contains 7 key ideas
Dear Madam President (2018) explores the factors that led to Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 US presidential election. The blinks give an insider’s perspective on the discrimination and controversies Clinton faced in her fight to become America’s first female president.
Key idea 1 of 7
Hillary Clinton’s election hopes were thwarted by sexism.
The author Jennifer Palmieri will always remember November 9, 2016, as one of the worst days of her life. That was the night that, against all expectations, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. As director of communications for the Clinton campaign, Palmieri was horrified and in a state of disbelief. How could Trump’s hateful rhetoric have won the day? Why had Clinton, an experienced political heavyweight, lost?
Palmieri now believes that sexism played a big part in the outcome of the election.
Consider the media’s reaction to Clinton’s concession speech: Clinton conceded that Trump had won and stated that she would accept his presidency for the good of the American people. Many in the media confusingly said that this speech had been her campaign’s best. They even claimed that this was a side to Clinton they hadn’t seen before – a softer side that would have gone down better with voters during the contest.
Palmieri believes that the media’s response to this speech demonstrates their sexist attitude toward Clinton. Why? Because she acted the same way she did throughout her campaign – the one difference being that she was graciously accepting that a man had defeated her. The media only liked her concession speech better because it was more in line with their expectations about how women should behave.
This incident demonstrates that society is more comfortable when women concede to men for the greater good. We view women less favorably when they display ambition like Clinton did when she sought the presidency.
As part of Clinton’s communications team, Palmieri already knew about society’s problems with ambitious women. During the early phases of her campaign, experts warned Clinton that people tended to view ambitious females as selfish and pushy. To combat these perceptions, she had to ensure she always framed her presidential ambitions in the context of wanting to serve others.