Viewing Politicians as Human Beings

I’m overly empathetic. I always have been, and I usually consider it to be more of an ‘Achilles Heel’ than a positive thing. I watch people saunter through life with a high degree of self absorption, and think: I wish I could do that. Because – and I might sound self-pitying when I say this – looking around you and¬†seeing all the hurt that exists in the everyday, and feeling that tug at your heart just a little bit,¬†gets really grating after a while.

It’s been a manic 36 hours, a mere 3 of which I have spent asleep. Last night was the night that Donald J. Trump was made the President Elect over Hillary Clinton, against all odds – “the most extraordinary event in politics ever”, if you ask the majority of newscasters. The irony comes in that it occurs just five months after the last “most extraordinary political event”, Britain’s shock exit from the European Union. Where the previously disenchanted members of society have risen up and made for a some rather questionable revolutions in 2016, the previously engaged audience of educated young people like myself are newly forced out and alienated. After all, every democratic decision I’ve ever been old enough to invest myself in has gone completely the opposite way than I wanted it to.

I’m getting off topic; this isn’t another rant about the frankly devastating decision to elect a misogynist racist with no experience to the Leader of the Free World. I want to talk about the concession speech from Hillary Clinton – 10 minutes of television that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Like many others, I view Clinton and Trump as far from the ideal candidates, though I’m pretty sure you can guess which one I preferred. Hillary Clinton has made some very questionable calls in her career – Wikileaks’ exposure of the Clinton Foundation for instance, her nasty smear campaign against dear ol’ Bernie, those emails. None of which are anywhere near as bad as Mr Trump, I hasten to add – God forbid, that Hillary would send some emails whilst doing her job! She’s 69 – I’d like to see my grandma understand rules about private servers. I went into November 8th with slight indignance at the thought that ‘crooked’ Hillary Clinton would be gifted with the honourable title of ‘First Female President of the United States of America’. I shouldn’t have been worried.

But as the chips fell into Trump’s lap, not only did I feel a sense of dread, I also felt a pang of empathy for Hillary. Because let’s be honest, while she might not be the best politician in history, she’s given a lot in service of her country. 3o years, serving as First Lady, Senator for New York, and Secretary of State in that time. A resume which really should have been enough to get her in against a man with no experience (whoops, danger of ranting again). It’s also another failed venture for Secretary Clinton, who has pushed so hard to get to the White House in previous years, but failed (and quite rightly so, when she’s up against a candidate like Barack Obama). Now, I don’t care what you say, everyone in life has experienced a setback, not getting a major goal they’ve tried so hard to reach. Imagine that, times a thousand, for what Hillary must be feeling, not only to have lost the presidency when it was so close to her grasp – but to have lost it to a man like Donald Trump.

It may have been the fact I’d only had 3 hours sleep, but I found Hillary Clinton’s concession speech extremely emotionally powerful. I saw her not as a politician, but as a human being; a 69-year-old grandmother, whose 30 years of tireless service to her country has ended on such a sour note as this. My thoughts turned to how incredibly difficult it must have been for her to take to that stage, face the fans that she had let down, and then hear their cheers, despite her failure. To be loved – but not loved enough. To see everything that she and her colleagues have worked so hard on in the last eight years on the brink of being destroyed. To see the values that she, and good moral people, hold so dear – equality, anti-discrimination, kindness – corrupted.

Despite her frankly LEGO-esque hair (has anyone ever seen it move?), her rather robotic walk, and her awkward conversational manner making her hard to relate to, people need to just take a moment to pause and remember that Hillary Clinton is a human being, and shouldn’t be remembered as anything less than a fighter, that kept going until she had nothing left. Perhaps, when I’m feeling a little less tired and more mentally prepared, I’ll attempt to look at Donald Trump as a human being. But right now, I have nothing but contempt for that man.