I May Not Like Hillary, But I Empathize With Her

Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/ Getty Images.
Stacy London is a fashion consultant, author, and magazine editor. The views expressed here are her own.

This upcoming election sucks. I don’t know how the hell we got HERE anymore than I understand how I’m actually 47. The mudslinging disgusts me. I rarely pay much attention to who’s on the ballot and usually just vote for my party. But as someone who cares deeply about things like health care, a woman’s right to choose, equal rights for men and women of all colors and gender identities, and not destroying the earth with chemicals, I am surprised by how conflicted I feel. I don’t necessarily like either of my options.

I can’t vote for Donald Trump. His sexism is truly shocking in this day and age and at this level of politics. (Thanks for the disgusting conversation on a leaked tape I can never unhear!) I don’t believe that he is the great businessman he claims to be, and his leaked tax reports prove this. I can’t vote for a man who makes fun of the mentally or physically challenged. I can’t vote for a man who treats immigrants as an offense to this country instead of respecting them as one of our nation’s greatest assets. I can’t vote for a man whose rhetoric stirs up fear and anger and prejudice — that was barely beneath the surface in some to begin with — for the sake of his own ego. And perhaps most importantly, I can’t vote for a man who is running for the president of the United States without ever having held any office of any kind. You may say that it makes him an outlier, but let's be clear on what he really is: a privileged white male.

I know what it is like when you feel like you have been set up to fail.

But I can’t say I love Hillary. I can’t. Given my alternative, I truly wish that I could. I have my doubts about her authenticity. I have my doubts about her past behavior. I would be lying if I didn’t say what I feel to be true. And yet, when people tweet at me that they would never vote for #Killary, or that she is the devil, or that she is quite literally EVIL, I simply don’t know how to respond to that kind of talk. I don’t know if she is to blame for Benghazi, or believe that she is responsible for the mess in all of Washington. And, yes, maybe it was completely stupid to have a private email server. But how many others who have been secretary of state may have had one? How many presidents?

Here’s the thing: If I think of America as a big, beautiful, shiny car, don’t I want a driver who’s been through every kind of weather, every long stretch of road, for 30-plus years? Or would I prefer someone who DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A LEARNER’S PERMIT?

Forget all of that for a moment. Well, don’t forget it. Put it on pause.
Photo: Photofest.
Yesterday something dawned on me. I know what it’s like to be strongly disliked, even hated. Perhaps not on the level of Hillary, but I have had my own experience with it nonetheless. When I started What Not To Wear, people hated me. They said I was a bitch, that I had no right to tear people down, and who in the hell did I think I was in the first place. Some people may still think that. But my intention, even if it wound up hurting a few feelings, was never to hurt anybody. When I found a Facebook page dedicated to “Hating Stacy The Jew London,” where people wrote that they hoped I would trip and fall and break my huge nose and crack all my teeth, I was left weeping on the floor. I know what it is like when your intentions are misinterpreted; when you simply cannot convince people otherwise until you prove yourself through action; when you feel like you have been set up to fail. I didn’t create the format of What Not To Wear. We were told to be snarky by directors and by the network. And it took at least four seasons for audiences to come around to the true ethos of the show, to see what we wanted for each and every participant: to help break down their blind spots and build them back up with a sense of self-esteem they deserved.

It takes time and effort to change opinion, and frankly, we haven’t given Hillary much of a chance to prove what she can do. We’ve been judging her and making her defend her past decisions, instead of listening to her plan of action. Just because she has been working inside a system of government that has been pissing people off doesn’t mean she can’t work to change it from the inside. She can do that with our help. Which means not simply voting for her, but voting for more diversity in all branches of government. Did you know that there are women running in seven of this fall’s Senate races? And if five of those women win, it will be the first time in history we make up 25% of the Senate chamber?

This, my friends, feels like what this race SHOULD be about. The presidency is not enough to make the changes we want to see in this country. (And Donald Trump is lying when he claims he can do this all on his own.) I’m not saying Hillary is the answer to our prayers. But she, and a more diverse group of representatives, can drive legislation that helps our whole country, not just a chosen few. Women are more empathetic to people who are different. We are more likely to use compromising as a source of power.

I used to say that What Not To Wear was never about the clothes. It was about what the clothes could DO.

This election isn’t simply about Hillary. It’s about what she can do. And with our votes, let’s get her the people to help do it right. No excuses. So vote. Just go vote. I won’t even give you shit if you vote in sweats. Just do it.

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