The Solitude of Clinton

The flip side of my aversion to Trump and the way he blusters through life, seemingly without comprehension or consequence, is my identification with Hillary Clinton.

It’s quite a neat flip side.

Of all the outlandish political plot points that have littered fiction through the years, none seems as contrived and orchestrated as the Clinton versus Trump storyline. The two candidates couldn’t possibly be more different. The know-nothing, charismatic yet heartless braggart faces off against the measured, cerebral public servant who is privately warm and caring.

The grossly unintended irony of them being depicted as the spooky ghost twins from The Shining in a meme almost made me hyperventilate. They are not interchangeable–not personally, not politically, not quantitatively, not qualitatively. No way, no how.

I provide this background in order to come clean about any pretense that I’ve poetically assembled Trump as the representative of everything I am not and Clinton as many things that I am. This companion post to the Trump post from two days ago practically writes itself.

I grew up in rural central Tennessee and southern Kentucky, in a working-class household. There were no environmental indications that I would be a brainiac academic over-achiever; it just turned out I was really good at school–I paid attention, I followed instructions, I turned my empathy into good test-taking skills, and I thought about stuff, even when it wasn’t a homework assignment.

Insert Hillary’s family background and her academic achievement HERE.

I went to college with a mission to change the world. Racial justice and promotion of diversity were my passions. Perhaps feeling like an outsider myself due to my being a gay, lower-middle-class, introverted nerd, I had minimal adoration for the white male privilege I was apparently supposed to be defending. It was no struggle at all for me to come to terms with the fact that everyone deserved respect and equal opportunity. I majored in African American studies and reasoned that, since I was good at school, I could just stay in school forever and become a professor, using that platform to advance my do-gooder impulses.

Insert Hillary actually following through and becoming involved with the Children’s Defense Fund and other social-justice legal causes HERE.

Unfortunately for me and my impulses, I hadn’t allowed myself a a chance to be human. The few friends I had regarded me as robotic, asexual, and, well, Spock-like, to be frank. In reality, I was Pinocchio, waiting to be a real boy. Once I understood that graduate school was an endless cycle of begging for money, coughing up money that you couldn’t get by begging, and writing mind-numbing research papers, I was scared off.

I ended up working in the ice cream shop, the mailroom, the restaurant. I started dating  (and “dating”) and trying to have relationships. I made friends who never went to school with me. I built a respectable distance between me and my nerdiness. I learned how to be a real boy. And my hopes of changing the world started to fade.

Then I went back to school to get a business degree, leading to a now-ten-year career as an accountant. I re-embraced some of my nerdiness, but those who knew me never stopped seeing me as the robot. Only my closest friends saw my more vulnerable side.

Insert Hillary becoming the first lady of Arkansas, then of the nation, then an active politician. Insert also the perception issues that she has struggled with constantly HERE.

Of course, the narrative is well-known that Hillary fails to wow crowds but is charming and personable in more intimate settings. I feel her pain on that. So intensely. I am wooden at social or professional gatherings of more than three people. I only open up readily when I’m with one or two people at a time, and even then only after a sufficient warming-up period.

I don’t have delusions that Hillary and I are twins, but there are sufficient points of identification that I feel like when people attack her, they are attacking me. Whatever self-esteem issues I may grapple with, I am proud to be a thoughtful, quietly caring person, and I resent Hillary’s being berated for being that type of person.

Most acutely, though, I feel some of the solitude that she must feel. There’s literally no one else in the world with remotely the same life experience that Hillary has had. It has to be lonely knowing what she knows, knowing how MUCH she knows, and to some degree feeling victimized because of the absolute singularity of your experience. Shades of Michael Jackson.

I’m not as unique as Hillary, but there also aren’t hordes of Micahs out there in the world. I am not much of a joiner, because there’s no groups that I totally fit into. I am a bit of an oddball, and I get that she is, too. It endears me to her.

It is an absolute certainty that I am not exactly like Hillary. But I’m with her, for sure.


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