Gabby, born in 1972 and living in Alabama, says her mom could not bring herself to vote for Trump. Her mom voted the Republican ticket all the way down the line, but when it came to Trump, she just couldn’t mark it. All the questionable remarks about women’s anatomy and his penchant for Twitter rants created a kind of force field around that particular ballot option and her mom choose instead to abstain from selecting a president. As a person who considers herself a fiscal conservative and social liberal, Gabby also struggled with the selection, though she did end up casting a vote for Trump.

As we talk, it becomes clear that the election is just a side note to her personal story of transformation.

She has a degree in fashion merchandising and owned a bridal shop for 20 years. A few years ago, weary from the ups and downs of small business ownership, she sold the shop and went back to school to become a nurse. Since then, she’s weathered the challenge of being a full-time student while parenting her two kids but she’ll soon be qualified to care for patients in a hospital.

Talking to Gabby, I can hear the optimism in her voice. She’s empowered herself by creating a new vision for her life and then doing the hard work to make it a reality. I know first-hand the difficulty of taking such a risk, especially as a woman in mid-life. The countless waves of naysaying and doubt one will face—many from your own mind. The determination one must pull from deep reserves to keep on the path.

Place that struggle on a global stage and amplify the skepticism to a deafening roar for just a taste of what Hillary Clinton’s been through. I respect the fierce willpower she’s had to possess from a young age, when political aspirations for women were even less realistic than they are today. I marvel at the unflinching focus with which she has chipped away at her goals for 50 years, displaying impressive dedication.

For as clearly as the public saw her as a “female candidate,” I think Clinton herself made too few concessions to her gender to please the electorate. Ambition in a woman is a tricky thing; people tend to label a woman with it as “desperate” or “scary.” If you have it, and especially if you have a lot of it, it’s best to keep it hidden. That way, people will think you’ve stumbled into your accomplishments and they will like you more. Clinton did not take this approach—her drive was clear for the world to see.

One of the reasons she was put off by Clinton, Gabby says, is the fact that Hillary received money from Saudi Arabia, a country that does not grant equal rights to women. Again, Clinton was playing the game of politics, more concerned with being a shrewd competitor than one who weighs with every move the implications of being female.

Gabby may not have liked Clinton, but she wasn’t a huge fan of Trump either. She says, of the Republican nominees, she would have liked to have seen more of Ben Carson. On the Democrat side, she liked Bernie Sanders.

In the months since the election, a question I’ve heard raised among left-leaning voters is, “Would the outcome have been different had the Democratic Party nominated Sanders instead of Clinton?” This is the first I’m hearing a Trump voter say something that seems to bolster the theory that Sanders may have been a more viable candidate than Clinton.

Gabby’s comments force me to form words around a vague hunch: Clinton shares responsibility for Trump’s victory. She was so focused on her goal of being president that she turned a blind eye to evidence that she wasn’t the best candidate. She could not sacrifice her vision even as many Americans were clearly stating that, for whatever reason, they did not find her likeable or trustworthy.

“I seriously would have considered voting for Sanders,” Gabby says. The words are barely out of her mouth when something inside me shifts. For all the compassion I’ve had for Clinton during such a brutal campaign and defeat, for the first time I feel angry at her.

As woman, she couldn’t have soared to such heights without outsized ambition, but it also blinded her to how unpalatable she had become to constituents. A complicated Catch-22, if ever there was one, for harboring ambition while being female may have been the very thing that people found so off-putting.

4 thoughts on “Gabby

  1. I believe it has left us Democrats feeling deeply that we have to start over. I’m not sure we’ve yet arrived at knowing how. While I applaud the parades, the marches and the current jamming of Town Hall gatherings I’m wondering, “O.K., Now what?” I have to say I was not necessarily moved by any of the folks running for Leader of the DNC who were interviewed on CNN Wednesday night.
    I suspect I’m looking for another JFK or Bill Clinton who had the charisma and knowledge and oratory to move people. I haven’t seen it yet. Maybe Sanders but his age is problematic. I find myself moving away from the politics to the realization that no matter our politics we still see ourselves as Americans first. I’m not sure what that means but for me it means having the faith to know that Americans have always righted the conditions that throw us into a topsy turvey melee and we get to spend some time moving once again to a condition of prosperity and peace. Right now I feel like I’m on the Disneyland Tea Cup ride spinning around this way and that, backward and forward. Maybe some of the women you interview feel that way too.

  2. I see we’re still conducting a post-mortem on HC loss even as the deportations begin? My, oh my…

    Re: ‘coulda shoulda woulda’ Johnny-Come-Lately openly Socialist Sanders, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy if you think BS resonated w/those same Rust Belt voters so enamored w/ far-right populist DT promising the Moon & a bag of chips.

    We didn’t see the mudslinging DT Camp had in store for him, since DT camp knew better than attack the enemy of their enemy.

    By withholding fire, the strategy paid off: BS validated DT’s claims of crooked HC in pockets of Wall St, so he became almost as powerful a DT surrogate when ‘BernieOrBusters’ didn’t vote 4 HC (instead they labeled BS as a turncoat). BS overheated the anti-HC rhetoric, betraying party loyalty.

    (not surprising when you consider short period he was a registered Dem.)

    Besides Putin/Wikileaks/Comey, etc. HC was effectively Nadered by 3rd-party candidates (GJ, Kremlin-funded Jill Stein; AND BS, who was written in by many voters, despite not being on ballot).

    74 mil voted for someone OTHER than DT, where 63 mil voted for DT.

    Not that popular vote matters: after decades of Gerry-rigging the electoral college circuit-breaker designed to act as a fail-safe to prevent populists from ascending to POTUS, it paid off again.

  3. Hi Corinna, I’m coming late to your party, but I did catch up by reading all the posts starting in November. Good on you for trying to understand and hear the women who support(ed) Trump. What I was immediately struck by was the extent to which these women voted for personal reasons, rather than what is good for the country and world. Do you think we all vote for personal reasons, deep down? I guess I always saw myself as someone who chose a candidate on the basis of a greater good, on whether they had the character to lead. It seems to me that voting because seeing foreign faces in your town scares you, or because you’re soured on the Mexican community since your husband beat you…is quite selfish. Most irresponsible of all seems to be voting “to hurl a stick of dynamite in the mix and see what happens”. I guess this is what saddens me the most about these posts so far, the selfishness and the lack of compassion in those you interviewed.

    I agree with your hunch that Hillary had a hand in her own defeat by failing to see that We Weren’t That Into Her. Hillary and the Demo Party. The Republican Party had a major hand in creating the monster that is Trump. Really, our government system has let the American people down in a big way. Of course this is nothing new for the poor, the indigenous people, African Americans — for many of them, it matters little who’s in the White House, they’ve been getting shafted by both parties since this country began.

    I’m curious, are you planning to re-interview these same women after, say, a year, to see if their minds have changed?

    • Hi Shelley, thanks for being here. I think it’s really hard to separate the personal experiences that influence your world view that then determines how you vote. But that’s an interesting question. Maybe some people are better at separating the two or have been lucky enough not to have such a traumatic experience? I very much want to follow up with any of the women who are willing to talk to me. I only have a few more interviews to post and then I’ll work on following up. Stay tuned!

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