Family and Politics
July 31, 2016 11:06 AM   Subscribe

How do I convince my stepfather that Hillary Clinton is not actually an evil, "ice queen", and might be worth giving a second chance?

My stepfather - intelligent, former military, conservative - thinks Hillary is basically the devil, thanks to decades of right-wing witch hunting. However, he also thinks Trump is completely insane. This election cycle, he will probably vote third party, but we live in a swing state. He's also a generally reasonable human being, so I think he could be gently persuaded to give Hillary Clinton a chance if he can get passed this gut feeling that she is a horrible person.

I don't want to actually bully him or pester him, but I would like to see if there are any neutral, or non-liberal sources that might help me persuade him that she's been given a bad rap all these years. It might not work in the long run, but it's always worth a shot.

Does anyone know of any videos or articles that might be persuasive to someone who leans conservative, or might make Hillary seem more "likable"? The more well sourced, the better.
posted by madelf to Law & Government (27 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I read this piece by Caroline McCain, John McCain's granddaughter, today &, while I am not a Republican, thought it was very well stated & speaks to the reasonable people who normally would vote Republican: Bloomberg's remarks to the DNC are also very compelling:
posted by katemcd at 11:17 AM on July 31, 2016 [11 favorites]

This piece attempts to draw attention to how Trump was able to rise to power in the GOP because good people like your stepdad put faith in the conservatives who told him Trump's platform was not the real GOP and who were also the ones telling him Hillary is evil.
posted by anonymisc at 11:19 AM on July 31, 2016

I thought this piece was really interesting - basically it points out that Bill and Hillary both were ideologically centrists, which many people on both the left and the right couldn't stomach.

And I really liked this one, which is fairly just-the-facts about why and when people seem to hate her.
posted by Mchelly at 11:24 AM on July 31, 2016

I... wouldn't worry about this in the slightest. Your stepfather's vote for a 3rd party candidate is just fine, and anyway, his voting preferences aren't any of your business.

Your stepfather has more life experience than you and trying to persuade him on an issue like this is disrespectful and will cause strife in your relationship. This election and these candidates are not worth the damage to your relationship. I know you mean well and want good things for yourself and others. Your stepfather's vote in this election won't meet this worthwhile goal. Preserving the respect and good feelings between you will aid the goal of creating a better world.

His vote is his. Be respectful of that.
posted by jbenben at 11:26 AM on July 31, 2016 [20 favorites]

Hillary Clinton wants to talk to you about love and kindness.

This, in particular, is what I wanted to point out, with regard to a 1993 speech:

The speech and subsequent interviews — earnest, unembarrassed, and decidedly open — are laughed at in Washington. Columnists call her a New Age “aspiring philosopher queen.” One compares her remarks to “a cross between Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech and a term paper on Siddhartha,” with all the “distinctive marks of adolescent self-discovery.” The New Republic asks: “It is good to hear the First Lady is also pro-meaning, but before we sign on, one question: What on earth are these people talking about?”

Another two decades pass, and Hillary Clinton doesn’t sound like she did then.

She's not allowed to be warm and cuddly, or she'll be crucified. Or she'll be stuck in a box where her only significance - a highly-respected lawyer who chose service instead of partner track at a swanky law firm when she graduated from law school - is making cookies.

Here's an NYT op-ed that waxes both cynical and appreciative of the particular struggle involved in being a woman in politics, about her tearing up while answering a question in 2008. And also Newsweek. The Guardian - "loss of control". (I'm fairly certain I remember a similar spate of articles during her senate run, as well, suggesting she was unfit to serve because she got tears in her eyes. I mean, women amirite?)
posted by Lyn Never at 11:37 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think jbenben's point is good - a third party vote is already a very good outcome for a conservative who hates Hillary, possibly the best outcome that is feasible, so do what you can but don't risk disrespecting or burning bridges.
Perhaps use these sources to gain friendly ways to explain your choice to vote rather than overtly trying to shift his choice; why you are satisfied that Hillary's bad rep is undeserved and unfair and there is a worthy candidate underneath. Leading by example and just trying to be a good role model for why its ok for good people to vote for her and sleep soundly at night, rather than being too obvious an advocate and apologist, taking the campaign to his doorstep.
posted by anonymisc at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Jbenben - I actually agree with you, which is why I don't want to bully or browbeat him. But, because I respect him, and know that he is someone who does believe in facts, and is also open to other opinions and my views in particular, I think it's worthwhile to be able to support things in a way he might find persuasive.

He absolutely does not need to tell me who he votes for, and I don't plan on badgering him until the election. I just want to be able to offer him something that might make him think about Hillary in a different light.

Again, if it works, it works. If it doesn't, I'm absolutely not going to harp on him, or damage my relationship with him over politics.
posted by madelf at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

All I have to add is what my high school government teacher said lo, many many moons ago: if you can't vote for someone you like, at least vote for the one you dislike least.

And I understand his thoughts about voting third party as a form of protest: I've done it myself, when both major candidates were equally scummy or it was obvious one candidate was way in the lead. But this is one of those times where, while there are objections to both Trump and Clinton, he is clearly worse than she is, and voting third-party presents an extremely strong risk of splitting the vote enough for Trump to be elected. (Which is why those Bernie supporters who think refusing to accept Clinton as the Dem candidate might just high-principle themselves into a Trump presidency....)

I don't like Clinton either, and distrust her as little more than a carpetbagger and a politician of the most pandering sort; but on the other hand, Trump is a lying, bigoted, racist, misogynist, homophobe bully.

(And if that doesn't work, try this on your former-military stepfather: during the '60s, Trump went to an expensive private boy's high school in upstate NY. He was an all-around star athlete there, including being the football team's quarterback. Amazing how all of a sudden when Mr. Star Athlete got into college he was suddenly 4-F: during his college years, he --- or maybe his rich dad! --- got six, count 'em six, medical deferments from the draft.)
posted by easily confused at 12:02 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe this article:
Hillary Clinton has been trashed right and left—but what’s really fueling the furies?
By Henry Louis Gates

Or this from the Daily KOS:

I'm like your step father in being a veteran, white, male and older than everyone around, but I'm a great admirer of Hillary and have been since her first appearance in LIFE magazine.
posted by X4ster at 12:05 PM on July 31, 2016 [8 favorites]

Mod note: Couple comments removed. Folks, I know it's a charged election season but please make a serious effort to remember this is Ask MetaFilter, not a general debate/argument space, and just focus on answering the actual question asked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just went back and saw that you asked for neutral, not Liberal info. I don't know how people view the New Yorker but the KOS is certainly liberal. That probably won't help you at all. I'm sorry.
posted by X4ster at 12:12 PM on July 31, 2016

Response by poster: X4ster, the KOS article might not help, but the Facebook post it's about might, so thank you! At the very least, it's something I'd feel comfortable posting - with him free to read it or not as he would with anything else I post to Facebook.
posted by madelf at 12:31 PM on July 31, 2016

This post on Hillary Clinton, likeability, and the ridiculous standards women in general and she in particular are held to might give your stepdad some food for thought.

I grew up outside the US and therefore outside the ambit of all the Republican mudslinging at Hillary and it stills startles me how much of the negativity I absorbed.
posted by Tamanna at 12:32 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry I'm on my phone and can't link, but this article by Ezra Klein in Vox. Understanding Hillary: Why the Clinton America sees isn't the Clinton colleagues know.

The tone is very calm, curious, and investigative, and he interviews a lot of people who are well-placed to talk about why so many people think HRC is a terrible person/politician but why everyone she's actually worked with on all sides really respects her. It also gets into the boring, behind the scenes work of what elected officials actually have to do every day, so it's relatively easy to present to someone as an interesting look at campaigns and government in general that just happens to focus on her because of the timing.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:55 PM on July 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

You could highlight Clinton's hawkish side. Donald Trump claims "I know more about ISIS than the generals do," but Clinton's the one who's actually earned their respect. Here's NYTimes, How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk:
Clinton’s education in military affairs began in earnest in 2002 .... The party’s congressional leaders offered her a seat on either the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or the Senate Armed Services Committee. She chose Armed Services .... Armed Services deals with more earthbound issues, like benefits for veterans, and it had long been the preserve of Republican hawks like John McCain. But after 9/11, Clinton saw Armed Services as better preparation for her future. ...

Andrew Shapiro, then Senator Clinton’s foreign-policy adviser, called upon 10 experts — including Bill Perry, who was defense secretary under her husband, and Ashton Carter, who would eventually become President Obama’s fourth defense secretary — to tutor her on everything from grand strategy to defense procurement. She met quietly with Andrew Marshall, an octogenarian strategist at the Pentagon who labored for decades in the blandly named Office of Net Assessment, earning the nickname Yoda for his Delphic insights. She went to every committee meeting, no matter how mundane. Aides recall her on C-SPAN3, sitting alone in the chamber, patiently questioning a lieutenant colonel. She visited the troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day in 2003 and spoke at every significant military installation in New York State. By then — 30 years after she recalled being rejected by a Marine recruiter in Arkansas — Hillary Clinton had become a military wonk.

Jack Keane ... is the resident hawk on Fox News, where he appears regularly to call for the United States to use greater military force in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. He doesn’t shrink from putting boots on the ground and has little use for civilian leaders, like Obama, who do.

Keane first got to know Clinton in the fall of 2001 .... He had expected her to be intelligent, hard-working and politically astute, but he was not prepared for the respect she showed for the Army as an institution, or her sympathy for the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families. Keane was confident he could smell a phony politician a mile away, and he didn’t get that whiff from her.

“I read people; that’s one of my strengths,” he told me. “It’s not that I can’t be fooled, but I’m not fooled often.”

... Sometime during 2008 — he doesn’t remember exactly when — Clinton told him she had erred in doubting the wisdom of the surge. “She said, ‘You were right, this really did work,’ ” Keane recalls. “On issues of national security,” he says, “I thought she was always intellectually honest with me.”
This is someone we're all going to disagree with a lot. Any president is. You might point out that this whole article is a huge negative for the left.

But look at the character testimony here: she's smart, sincere, prepared, works like hell even when no one's watching, cares about the people she's serving, understands the stakes, and she's intellectually honest. And all that's coming from a Fox News commentator. That's what you hear again and again from the people who have actually worked with her. That's what I want in a leader.

You don't sit this one out. You don't let it come down to a coin toss between a leader like this and a guy who thinks he knows more than generals because of what he learned from the TV news.
posted by john hadron collider at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2016 [6 favorites]

I would ask him if there's a such thing as an "Ice King."
posted by rhizome at 2:53 PM on July 31, 2016 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify - I'm not trying to convince him to vote for Hillary Clinton (although, if he chooses to, that would be a bonus). I'm trying to find things that might make him reconsider his idea of her as a horrible person.
posted by madelf at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2016

The best way to attempt to persuade someone is to put the onus on them to state what would convince them. Say "What would persuade you that Hillary Clinton is a better choice?". Then once he tells you present him with what he needs to be persuaded if it is possible.
posted by srboisvert at 5:28 PM on July 31, 2016

The Daily Kos article, which is a re-print of a facebook post by Michael Arnovitz, is excellent. I wouldn't worry about Kos being liberal. That article is well worth reading. Also, you can find it elsewhere online -- for example, here.
posted by merejane at 6:20 PM on July 31, 2016

I was just going to recommend the Vox piece that DestinationUnknown suggested. I'm not a huge Clinton fan (though I don't, like, loathe her or anything) and I found it very informative and enjoyed it a lot and it kind of turned me around on her a bit. It's not strongly partisan and your stepdad might like reading it.
posted by Aquifer at 8:02 PM on July 31, 2016

Can't locate the link, mabe somebody else can supply it, there's a short, recent bit by an elderly historian on YouTube declaring Trump's unsuitabilty since he has no political experience and has never served his country in any way (an arguing point which I think would especially resonate with any former military).

For an article, how about this George Lakoff, Understanding Trump?
posted by Rash at 8:41 PM on July 31, 2016

The traditionally conservative Houston Chronicle endorsed her last week....he might find that compelling (I can't link but the editorial is online).
posted by HoteDoge at 9:14 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I'm trying to find things that might make him reconsider his idea of her as a horrible person."

"I would like to see if there are any neutral, or non-liberal sources..."

Thank you for your updates.

I pulled these two quotes because I think your problem lies within. Your stepfather, presumably, is near my age (46) or older. He's known Hillary longer than you have, and he has more life experience with which to assess her character. He also likely knows that if he's reading a favorable piece about any candidate, it certainly can not be "neutral" or unbiased, especially if it is appearing in a better known publication. Media publications have to make money, and all sorts of complicated relationships pretty much ensure editorial decisions are not "neutral" because they're trying to stay relevant and keep the lights on.

I think you might have better luck starting an ongoing discussion about how women are perceived in society and the difficulties we face in our professional lives. I don't think you can rehabilitate this particular person's image to your stepfather because you'll be asking him to ignore whatever direct knowledge he's acquired over the years. Once the conversation about women generally is ongoing, it may throw some perceptions of Hillary into a new light for him.
posted by jbenben at 10:16 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nothing to add to this other than "The traditionally conservative Houston Chronicle" is demonstratively false. The Chron's reputation is decidedly liberal.
posted by WalkingHorse at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2016

That's not historically true, WalkingHorse. The only Democrats the Chronicle has endorsed for President in the last 50+ years are Johnson, Obama, and Clinton. Their state-level endorsements are a mixed bag, but they've chosen Republican Senatorial candidates, and predominately Republican House candidates.

The real news on the HRC endorsement this year, of course, isn't so much the endorsement itself but the timing of it.
posted by uberchet at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2016

I was also going to link to the Vox piece by Ezra Klein. It's quite good, because it talks about her working relationships. I think that is something that people throughout the political spectrum can appreciate.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:22 PM on August 1, 2016

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