Like this overly clean historical narrative, some of Clinton’s limitations are bound up in her identity. “I think Clinton comes from a background that is a bit disconnected from women of color,” said Farrah Khan, a Pakistani American candidate for city council in Irvine, California. “Our struggle is a bit different than hers might have been. When we’re running for office, when we’re moving ahead, we’re not only moving ahead as women—we’re moving ahead as minority women.”
While Clinton can’t help that she’s white, her whiteness at least partially determines who she can claim to speak for and represent. “She doesn’t seem to understand my everyday experience as a black woman,” said Leapheart.
Especially because Trump has so little support among black voters, it’s often assumed that Clinton has “black women in her pocket,” said Amaryah Armstrong, a theology Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Earlier this year, women on Twitter started the hashtag #GirlIGuessImWithHer, expressing reluctant support and feelings of distance from Clinton. “It’s everything from how much she spent on her suits and jackets—that’s so far from any reality that I have,” said Leapheart.
This is another factor that distinguishes Clinton from most American women: Like the vast majority of other national political figures, her household income puts her in the top 1 percent of earners in the U.S. Armstrong said this is the most alienating factor for her. “I don’t think it’s the fact that she’s a straight, white, cis woman,” she said. “Honestly, I think it’s the circles that she travels in—she’s a wealthy and elite white woman, and because of that, doesn’t have to deal with the kind of realities of living under the economic system that we live under.”
On a symbolic level, Clinton’s wealth matters—few women can identify with her life. “There’s a sense that for upper-middle-class women, or elite women, she represents this breaking-down of glass ceilings,” said Armstrong. “But when I think about poor women and working women, it’s hard for me to see her nomination as a victory in such a complete sense that she tries to portray it.”
From a political perspective, Clinton’s personal wealth highlights a divide within the Democratic Party, especially following a primary in which wealth and income inequality were central issues. “I think she’s courted the middle, and she’s made herself a very good Republican,” said Liu, the UC Irvine professor. For women looking for a radical vision of politics, including economic policies that would benefit poor women, Clinton’s platform may be unsatisfying.
“I don’t think there’s anything from her, tangibly, that’s different from a lot of other white, male candidates I’ve seen growing up my whole life,” said Junauda Petrus, a performance artist and activist in Minneapolis. “I wouldn’t sit down with these old-ass white people under any other circumstance to hear their opinions. But because they’re running for president, I’ve got to care.”