Which Americans does Hillary Clinton love most?

Ask not if Hillary Clinton loves America, but which of its citizens she loves most

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

Announcing her run for the U.S. presidency this week, Hillary Clinton declared in a video: “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.” Her message aspired to a populist tone: A car in every garage! A chicken in every pot! A secret email server farm in every basement!

The best part of the launch came when campaign officials “confided” to sources that Bill Clinton was vowing to remain in the background for the year ahead. A degree of skepticism is perhaps warranted. This is a little like a bottle of tequila vowing to create good decisions.

But did you note Hillary’s choice of adjective in her video? Everyday Americans. It’s a crucial early selection: Every political campaign must decide how to refer to, and engage with, the people it’s trying to win over. This will remain one of the challenges of U.S. political rhetoric until the 2020 presidential election—at which point, all campaign discourse is likely to be delivered in the form of emoji. (Had Barack Obama run for president in the future, “Yes, we can” would have been replaced with Feschuk.)

But for the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton had at least five other potential phrases to choose from. Let’s take a look:

1. “Ordinary Americans.” Politicians used to make frequent reference to “blue-collar Americans”—but that was before the U.S. economy lost its manufacturing edge and became powered almost entirely by televised storage-locker auctions. The need emerged for a phrase that incorporated a wider swath of citizens who can barely scratch out a living.

“Ordinary Americans” has been in heavy rotation ever since. Obama, for one, has made frequent—and sometimes curious—use of the phrase. Discussing the Ebola outbreak last fall, the President declared the risk of contracting the disease to be relatively low for “ordinary folks.” This came off as weirdly informal—kind of like if Roosevelt had proclaimed the attack on Pearl Harbor to be “a day that will live as a real bummer, yo.”

2. “Regular Americans.” A bit inelegant, to be sure. And it sounds slightly off when you say it out loud, doesn’t it? It’s hard to think about “regular Americans” without imagining an array of “irregular Americans,” like some sort of factory outlet mall of citizens.

That said, here’s a piece of advice for aspiring politicians: Use of the phrase “regular Americans” does allow you to position yourself at a distance from “elite Americans,” whose interests you will obviously ignore completely if elected, nudge-nudge. (Important: Do not say the nudge-nudge part out loud.)

3. “Hard-working Americans.” This has become a go-to phrase for politicians, because it works as subtle flattery. It has the added benefit of allowing a politician to pretend to be brave by boldly declaring to the nation, “I, for one, will have the political courage not to advocate for the lazy or shiftless!” [Wins landslide election victory and Nobel prize for Awesome.]

For political operatives, here’s the best part: Pretty much everyone in America self-identifies as a “hard-working American”—even the ones who are browsing your campaign website in between smoke breaks at work.

4. “Middle-class Americans.” This phrase resonates, because it explicitly excludes the rich from a candidate’s list of public priorities. In your face, various Rockefellers! Alas, it does nothing to change the fact that promising obscene favours to wealthy donors comprises 97 per cent of a candidate’s private priorities.

5. “Average Americans.” There’s no denying it: This phrase carries with it a hint of judgment. You are basically reminding potential voters that they are in no way remarkable—which is probably true, but running for president is a weird time for a politician to start being honest.

Nor does the phrase lend itself to achieving rhetorical heights in one’s stump speech: I am running to fight for average Americans—the nondescript, mundane millions who blandly occupy physical space, often at a Waffle House, until, inevitably, they are dead in the ground, having left such little impact upon our country that no one can truly be sure they ever existed. VOTE CLINTON IN ’16!!


Which Americans does Hillary Clinton love most?

  1. On American Poly-Ticks;
    ~i personally feel a whole lot safer now that the yanks have finally admitted defeat to the superior force & form of governance in Cuba.
    I mean 98% literacy!…knowledge being power, it is amazing that the yanks held up as long as they did!
    But it is not like anything is going to change, so we might as well play along with their ‘Election’ thingy.

    I do not really know how to feel about the choices;
    On the last puppet show, Americans were asked to give up either racism or misogyny. It was a tough choice for many of them.
    It all started under the reign of GWB. They realised that the world was no longer laughing WITH them. It must have been as tough as choosing between necrophilia-bestiality & incestial-cannibalism on their waffles.
    ~but hey, addressing one (count ‘em one) human rights atrocity per decade is probably still faster than the Vatican.

    In the hierarchy of whom Presidential candidates deem to pander too, after Real Americans, ..there is a huge void in fucks given, before arriving at my station.
    I do not recall one politician ever having addressed the needs/concerns of Moderately Good-looking intellectual bad-boys of the slack ‘n idle bastard variety. Though slack ‘n idle bastardry is a high calling, (not just anyone can do it), it represents less than 1% of the population, .. why should they care? I guess we should just be happy that they no longer hunt us for sport.

  2. This is a pathetic piece of fluff. McLeans, give your head a shake.

  3. I believe that the answer to the question posed in the headline is, Hillary Clinton”, end of story. By the by, I’ve always wanted to know what she felt when she got the news that her and her husband’s lawyer had committed suicide the night before he was to testify before a Senate committee probing the allegations of corruption and criminality by them while they were running Arkansas. Did she puff out a sigh of relief behind a tight little smile? Or was it even news to her?

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