This election year has me completely on edge, exhausted and frustrated, but I suppose you might be feeling some of that, too. Truth be told, I spend a lot of time thinking about you, but then, so does most of America. As a woman, I wonder if you will shatter that glass ceiling for us, and if so, how it will feel. I wonder if that historic moment will be seriously tainted by all the negativity attached to your name. I wonder if you will be able to unite such a divided country.
I also spend a lot of time wondering why you are the target of such excessive vitriolic opposition and unfiltered slander. Many opinions have already been written speculating about answers to the why. I have some theories of my own, but instead of adding my two cents to the ocean of pennies, I decided to wonder about something else.
I started wondering how you feel. What does it feel like to be one of the most successful women in history and also one of the most hated? You have your loyal fans, of course, but your detractors are some of the loudest, angriest, cruelest I’ve ever heard. The sheer amount of hatred pointed at you is baffling to me.
Based on all I have seen and heard, I am rather convinced that your opponent in the general election lacks empathy for other humans. I don’t say that to be inflammatory or add to the extremism that seems to be splitting our country in two. I say that as a most sincere and concerned observation. I truly have not witnessed a single empathetic impulse in the man, and this is a person who has received more publicity than perhaps anyone on the planet. All that attention on him and no visible signs of kindness, empathy or concern for others? Maybe I am wrong, but I have not seen any evidence to the contrary. I agree with you that this is not a man we want near our nuclear codes.
So we have one presidential candidate who does not appear to possess empathy (which, needless to say, is beyond alarming). On the other hand, we have you, who, based on the evidence, a vast number of American people have difficulty feeling empathy for. It’s almost like we don’t think you are human.
Why is that? With the scary exemption of a few conscious-void people, almost all of us possess some measure of empathy without even trying. So why is it so easy for huge portions of the American people to throw you under the bus after your dedicated years of service? Granted you’ve made mistakes — even big ones — and not everyone agrees with your policies, and enduring slander and negative ad campaigns is just part of the political game. But what you are experiencing seems to me grossly out of proportion to anything I have seen before.
Regardless of whether we like you, it’s impossible to deny that you have worked really hard to get where you are today, and that you have served your country tirelessly for years. And yet, somehow, people deny it. If I were you, I’d be sinking into a pit of despair. I’d be angry at the American people. I’d be hurt and discouraged and as frustrated as humanly possible. And yet, you keep telling us that you believe in America. You keep showing up smiling. You keep going.
Either you are completely impervious to negative attention and the threats to your well-being (I doubt it), or you believe in your cause so strongly that you are willing to put up with almost anything to work for what you believe in. Either you are a heartless competitor who only cares to win, win, win (although, we all remember how graciously you lost that once, so maybe I’m mistaking you for someone else) or you have so much heart for the people you’re fighting for that you will sacrifice again and again to make their needs known.
I, like you, am an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale, and maybe that is why I feel like I see a “you” not everyone sees. I’ve learned that only 0.8 percent of women are INTJs. I’ve learned that we are easy to misinterpret. I’ve learned that female INTJs sometimes elicit a negative knee-jerk reaction in people who expect women to be more emotive and less competent, more nurturing and less efficient, more warmth and less intelligent, more forth-coming and less private, more spontaneous and less precise, more energetic, less serious. Personally I have a soft voice and an extra petite-frame, which I find often goes a long way in softening my more calculated style. I’ve had to work very hard to develop a relationship with my emotions, which strongly goes against my compulsion to remain rational always. I have to make myself practice being vulnerable, which goes against my instinct to remain private.
But I don’t know if someone in your position can risk being vulnerable. Not when thousands and thousands of people constantly have their weapons pointed straight at you, looking for a weak spot. How could you show us that you are human, when half the country waits to pounce on your every weakness or flaw? I imagine you have been forced to thicken your own skin beyond what is reasonable for any human being, but what choice did you have? If you want to continue your work, you cannot pause long enough to feel all the hate pointed your way, or you would surely crumble. Any one of us would.
Maybe because I am an INTJ too, or maybe because I am a woman in a man’s field too, or maybe because I’ve endured my own small portion of slander too, or maybe just because your life is just so incomprehensibly public, I find myself wondering how you feel.
In the midst of all this political analysis, I am merely writing to say, I care about how you feel. Seems silly, doesn’t it? To talk about feelings when so much is at stake? Then again, from what I’ve seen, most people are voting according to their feelings, then hunting down facts or anti-facts to justify what they feel. So we might as well go ahead and talk about emotions, since they are a driving force in this election whether we acknowledge them or not. Maybe because I know you and I are some of the least likely among all personality types to make room for our feelings, I am (in my imagination) making room for yours over here.
Since just about everyone is making their feelings very clear this election, I find myself wondering how it feels to be in your shoes. That’s all.
I will continue to pray for you and for America.
Grace and Peace,
The Reverend Kyndall Rae Rothaus
The views expressed in this column are those of Kyndall Rae Rothaus and not necessarily those of her congregation.