I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.I think there is much to this, but I don't think it is sufficient. Hillary is not just a workaholic and somewhat joyless person; she is a workaholic and somewhat joyless feminist. And that combination repels many Americans.
But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms. For example, on Nov. 16, 2015, Peter D. Hart conducted a focus group on Clinton. Nearly every assessment had to do with on-the-job performance. She was “multitask-oriented” or “organized” or “deceptive.”
Clinton’s career appears, from the outside, to be all consuming. Her husband is her co-politician. Her daughter works at the Clinton Foundation. Her friendships appear to have been formed at networking gatherings reserved for the extremely successful.
People who work closely with her adore her and say she is warm and caring. But it’s hard from the outside to think of any non-career or pre-career aspect to her life. Except for a few grandma references, she presents herself as a résumé and policy brief.
For example, her campaign recently released a biographical video called “Fighter.” It’s filled with charming and quirky old photos of her fighting for various causes. But then when the video cuts to a current interview with Clinton herself, the lighting is perfect, the setting is perfect, her costume is perfect. She looks less like a human being and more like an avatar from some corporate brand.
Clinton’s unpopularity is akin to the unpopularity of a workaholic. Workaholism is a form of emotional self-estrangement. Workaholics are so consumed by their professional activities that their feelings don’t inform their most fundamental decisions. The professional role comes to dominate the personality and encroaches on the normal intimacies of the soul. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once put it, whole cemeteries could be filled with the sad tombstone: “Born a man, died a doctor.”
The modern social justice movement has the same basic problem as Christianity, which is that its goals for humanity are impossible to meet. Nobody is completely un-sexist, un-racist, un-homophobic, un-transphobic, and anti-capitalist all the time. Some people find these rigorous demands uplifting, just as some people are inspired by the words of Jesus to become monks or missionaries. But for most of us, unreachable moral demands must be softened with warmth and humor. Just as we dislike humorless, scolding preachers, we dislike humorless, scolding fighters for justice. And Hillary strikes many, many Americans as exactly that, a humorless, scolding feminist crusader. Of course some people feel that way about her because they want license to be sexist, racist pigs and resent anyone who tells them otherwise. But that doesn't get you to the 57% of Americans who dislike Hillary. Millions of ordinary, ok people, even people who believe in everything Hillary believes in, are put off by her manner, as if they expect her to scowl at them for going shoe shopping instead of launching a voter registration drive.
Personally I don't think that Hillary is really like that; I think she just lacks the social skills to overcome the stereotype that has clung to her. But between the obvious ambition and the un-humorous feminism, she has a mountain of personal issues to overcome before winning over votes.