I've got a new essay up at BNR about the false equivalency embedded in the narrative that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both historically unpopular candidates:
There is literally not a single one of all 62 of Gallup's demographic categories in which Donald is above 50 percent favorability—not even white men 50 and over.There is much, much more at the link.
Just in sheer numbers, the disparities between Hillary's favorables and unfavorables are fundamentally different. But the context of those numbers is critically important, too: She is liked by a majority of the very same groups who are consistently under attack by Donald, his surrogates, and his supporters.
Donald is disliked, in large part, because he is a bigot and a bully. And Hillary is disliked, in some part, because she refuses to alienate the same marginalized people that Donald targets.
...The modern Republican Party didn't invent the identity-based divisions in this country, but they have ruthlessly exploited them, fomenting profound resentments against marginalized people—resentments which Donald has now made the centerpiece of his campaign.
Hillary, on the other hand, has spent her campaign talking about what she is going to do to help the marginalized people harmed by these resentments and the institutional systems of oppression that have been erected to safeguard privilege. "Breaking down barriers" is central to her message. Opportunities, access, justice for people who are denied these things.
I cannot put this any more plainly: Donald is polarizing because he traffics in bigotry. Hillary is polarizing because she advocates eradicating it.
And, of course, because she has herself been subjected to decades of public personal attacks on the basis of her identity. To conflate Hillary's unpopularity with Donald's while casually eliding her womanhood is deceptive in the extreme.
We still live in a culture where being a woman matters. A lot.
The truth is, Clinton's unfavorable ratings are largely driven by people who are angry that she's failing to exclusively center the concerns of straight, white, cisgender men—many of whom are under the misapprehension "that they, the others, enjoy privileges, resources, and status to which we are denied access."
It is a misapprehension carefully and deliberately cultivated by conservative politics, whose thought leaders cravenly offered up marginalized people as scapegoats, attentively nurtured their base's hatred of those scapegoats, cynically peddled a dangerous obfuscation between rights and privilege, then held themselves out as heroes who offer to stand on the line between their base and all of those people who are supposedly clamoring to take away their "rights."
The Republican Party has built its messaging very explicitly around hating people like her, and the people whose interests she represents. And that's reflected in the way people talk about her—even self-identified progressives who sound like they're reading a transcript of a 1990's Rush Limbaugh episode when they talk about her.
Trump, meanwhile, isn't disliked because of decades of unfair tropes and personal attacks repeated ad infinitum for decades. He's disliked because he says and does terrible things so publicly and unabashedly that even tilted media coverage can't help him.
To be abundantly clear: I'm not saying that there are no valid reasons to dislike or not support Hillary Clinton. What I'm saying is that the unique (as we keep hearing) levels of dislike for her are not simply attributable to policy differences. And that the reasons she is disliked to the degree that she is are not at all the same reasons for why Trump is.
And I really wish the media would stop pretending otherwise.