On a cloudy and mild Sunday afternoon my classmate and I were canvassing the hills of Bedford, New Hampshire. A wealthy suburban neighborhood, the houses could be a quarter of a mile apart from each other and took a long time to walk from house to house.
After canvassing many homes without an answer, my colleague and I arrived at a baby blue 70’s style home. We rang the doorbell and waited until a man in his mid-fifties answered the door. His cat scurried out of the door as he began to introduce himself. He informed us right away that he is an avid Hillary supporter and invited us inside to warm up, which we politely declined. Instead he followed us outside onto his deck wearing slippers and pajamas and discussed politics with us.
Many topics were covered in our thirty-minute conversation, but what stuck with me the most is his critique of Hillary Clinton: over the course of her campaign she has lost her sense of humanity. It was a strong critique coming from a supporter, but the more I thought about the idea the more I agreed.
There are two main reasons why Hillary in particular has lost her humanity: first, she has been put up on a pedestal, similar to most of the candidates, and second, voters are unable to relate to her.
In regards to the first point—presidential candidates have turned into celebrities (or are celebrities like Donald Trump). Just last week a video surfaced of a young girl breaking into tears when her mother informed her they would be seeing Donald Trump. Viewing candidates like celebrities has made them out of touch with the public. The media creates the image of candidates and perpetuates those images; some of those images are inaccurate representations of the candidates. Moreover, the media craze over candidates focuses on ideology and personality over policy and goals.
Hand in hand with celebrity status, Hillary faces setbacks in relating to her constituents. One argument voters often make is, “she’s been in politics for too long”. I wholeheartedly disagree with using her experience against her. Yet, it does reflect the sentiment of voters: they are not “insiders” like Hillary Clinton. One appeal of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is that they are party outsiders and do not agree with party elite.
Throughout the campaigning process Hillary has been criticized and manipulated by the media. In response, voters have looked towards other candidates who are more relatable. Even her own supporters, such as the one I canvassed, are having trouble grappling with her celebrity and party elite status. While I do not have a comprehensive answer on how to making candidates more relatable to the average American, but what I do know is grassroots campaigning and town hall meetings allow for candidates to interact with the public.
-Rose is a sophomore at St. Olaf College studying economics and political science. She is in New Hampshire studying the presidential primary process and interning for a political campaign.