There are many theories as to why Hillary Clinton lost the election.
As a website on social dynamics, I will focus on Hillary Clinton’s personality and the social aspects of her campaign.
Overall, one aspect shines pretty clearly: few people really liked Hillary Clinton.
That’s what we will find out here.
#1. Hillary Clinton Seems Fake
Hillary Clinton comes across as fake.
And by fake, I mean not natural, not honest, and not genuine.
It feels like she always needs to be liked instead of being herself, and like she’s always trying to tell people what they want to hear instead of saying what she believes.
Clinton Fake Smile
This is particularly clear in her smiles, which never seemed genuine and have already been scrutinized several times by body language experts (here is an example).
Why It Mattered
We like genuine and honest people, and we dislike fake ones.
We cannot trust and rely on fake people.
If they praise us or say anything positive today, we feel they only say it because it’s good for themselves.
But if tomorrow’s stabbing us in the back will pay off, then they’ll stab us in the back.
The most popular word to describe Hillary Clinton was indeed liar, which is closely related to fake.
How To Avoid Being Fake
To avoid being fake, pick a few values you believe in and do not renege on them for anybody.
The more you stick to your values, even when it would be convenient for you to ditch them, the more you gain respect.
It’s also helpful if, to quote John Maxwell, while you think highly of yourself, you also think less of yourself.
Meaning you focus more on your goals and the people around you instead of how you will come across.
Which, accidentally, makes you come across as more genuine.
#2. Many Felt She was Amoral
By “amoral,” I mean it literally.
Hillary Clinton rarely showed any hint of a strong set of morals and values she believed in.
Trump ran against the politician’s clique.
Obama campaigned for change.
Why was she running?
It felt like she didn’t have a big enough why, a reason underpinning her candidacy that was about the American people.
And since she didn’t have a strong enough “why”, it was easy for people to fill that vacuum with their own criticism: Clinton’s WHY was winning.
That “winning” was self-referential, of course, it was about her.
In that, she seemed like the typical politician who tries to keep it as safe as possible while at the same time telling you what you want to hear.
This was especially clear with her policies’ flip-flopping when pandering to the audience she had in front:
Why It Mattered
Liar, dishonest, and crooked were the top 3 most common words to describe Clinton.
It might not be a coincidence that most religious people, who tend to care more about values, voted largely for Trump (check the source).
Compare it to the grassroots movement Bernie Sanders commanded instead.
Sanders had a large grassroots appeal because it was clear he had strong values and beliefs.
It was clear Sanders wanted to get on top to help those on the bottom.
That’s why people were willing to mobilize and campaign for him.
But those without morals who only care about themselves…? We are happy to see them bite the dust.
How To Avoid Being Amoral
Start caring about something and someone besides yourself.
And drop the mentality of “the end justifies the means”.
Put among your top values some that are about others and helping others. And then stick and honor them.
Also very useful here is what we mentioned before: shift the focus from yourself to others. Tony Robbins says the best way to be happy is to make others happy.
#3. Clinton Seemed Sneaky
By sneaky I mean trying to avoid direct confrontations and harsh truths or trying to weasel her way out of uncomfortable situations.
As also evident by her reaction after the loss, Hillary rarely took full accountability.
And her refusal to face major issues head-on helped fueled the flame of her “crooked” nickname.
You might disagree with Trump or Sanders, yet you wouldn’t call them sneaky, right?
Even though Trump is a master power mover, you still wouldn’t call him sneaky (weird people humans, eh? 🙂 )
Hillary indeed was not only unable to attack Trump with the same efficacy but also unable to effectively clear her name.
The shadow of her lazy backroom deals and big corporation entanglement never left.
And very much tainted her.
When confronted with difficult questions, she was always on the defensive and always looked sneaky.
Notice as she replies she gesticulates, looks down, and stutters.
She never addressed the issue convincingly. She changes the topic, but in a rather awkward way that doesn’t fool anyone.
And also notice how she walks backward at minute 6:52.
We move backward when we are uncertain and we want to move away from our own stories.
Why It Mattered
Nobody wants a crook as a leader.
Many who didn’t want Trump simply couldn’t turn up to vote for Hillary. Notice that Trump lied too and he was also faced with big, big scandals.
And yet, like it or not, he never looked as sneaky as Hillary did in confronting them.
Yes, he either denied or blatantly lied sometimes, but he didn’t look as sneaky.
How To Avoid Being Sneaky
When you are accused, attack back if you’re not guilty or own up to your mistakes.
Address the open issues and you get to write the last word.
More times yes than not you can even look better off when you own up to your mistakes (check Extreme Ownership).
And if you try to sneak your way out, you never clear your name or get to write the word end.
This is especially true in an electoral campaign with people full-time busy throwing dirt at you. Your issues will just keep popping up.
And Trump never stopped scoring big points at “crooked Hillary”, the shill for big corporations.
For example, she could have said:
Well yes, I did give a speech at Goldman Sachs.
And yes, it was very well paid.
And we can both guess why they paid me a lot: because they probably wanted reassurance I will not legislate against them.
And I gave the speeches and I took the money.
And you know why?
Because I am running a very expensive presidential campaign and I need all the money I can get to become president and enact the positive reforms I want.
I don’t want to punish Wall Street, I will enact the reforms that will bring Wall Street to work for Main Street.
Without getting rich on taxpayer’s money and without leaving anyone behind.
And if to enact my pro-American reforms will take me giving speeches, I am happy to do that.
A response like that would have addressed the root causes because she would own up to it while at the same time putting a positive spin on it.
Once she owns it, she can’t be accused of it anymore.
#4. Hillary Clinton Came Across As Masculine
Clinton has often been accused of being overly ambitious.
And some people said the only reason she’s accused of unbridled ambition is that she’s a woman.
And those people are most likely right.
Ambition above a certain limit is a trait people don’t always appreciate, but as Sheryl Salzberg notices in Lean In, that’s all the more true for a woman.
But that’s how it is, and you gotta live with reality even when you don’t necessarily like that reality, as Ray Dalio recommends.
Blaming Americans for misogyny makes no sense: Hillary needed Americans’ vote, not the other way around.
It was Hillary who had to convince them, not the Americans who had to change their mindset for Hillary.
And Hillary Clinton could have done more to seem more likable.
Another masculine trait she embodied a few times and that certainly damaged her is aggression.
Clinton often looked rather ugly with her aggressive bouts towards non-aggressive constituents:
Finger pointing, screaming with voice cracking… As a professional politician, she should know better than that.
Why It Mattered
Hillary lost big among men, in rural areas, and among those with low education.
Exactly with the ones who are most likely to see -and to prefer- women in a more traditional role.
What We Can Learn
Hillary should have avoided shouting, finger pointing and generally looking like an angry hyena.
At all costs. In those situations, she just looked mean.
We also talked about a bit femininity and how to be powerful and feminine at the same time in how to be feminine.
Where She Got It All Wrong
Hillary is not a monster.
As a matter of fact, I think she would have been far better for the US and for the world as president.
And she’s probably not a bad person by any stretch. Her biggest weakness was that she trapped herself in a “need to please” and “need to win”.
I feel like she was trapped into a mindset that she needed to be “better”, which for her translated into “likable” and “stronger”.
She then swung like a pendulum from trying too hard to please -with all her fake smiles- to being strong -with the angry shouting-.
That’s also where her nervousness and discomfort came from: it’s because she was not being herself, she was acting.
And of course, in her effort to please, she abandoned her morals and values.
When you try to be someone you’re not, you end up being everybody.
And you’re always checking if your actions and beliefs are “good enough”. And when you’re afraid they’re not… Your bulk.
… And then, you lose the election.
I feel that once she stepped into big-time politics “stronger” often led Hillary to be more aggressive.
Since that wasn’t her natural self, she ended up overcompensating.
Some people say indeed behind the curtains Hillary Clinton is warm and charming.
Keith Ferrazzi says Clinton remembered the name of his kid and asked him how he was doing.
But we’ve rarely gotten to see the warm and welcoming Hillary during election time.
Clinton Before Big-Time Politics
I base this analysis not only on looking at election-time Clinton but especially by comparing election-time Clinton to old-time Clinton.
If you look at her old interviews, you will notice she was much more natural and came across as more genuine, like in this example.
And more feminine even when discussing serious politics like in this example.
She was more vulnerable and likable, and often even more confident.
That’s striking, considering younger Clinton didn’t even have a third of the experience election time Clinton had.
I think that if Clinton had managed to bring that younger, more natural self to the election, she would have cleaned it.
Hillary Clinton Personality: Summary
Hillary Clinton came across as fake, a liar, sneaky, and self-centered.
Part of it is because she was too focused on trying to tell people what they wanted to hear and, trying to be who she was not, was often either too insecure or too aggressive.
As much as I hate this piece of simplistic and often useless advice, it would have probably been great for Hillary Clinton. And that is: “just be yourself” (and stick to it)”.