A Tale of Two Hillarys: The Power of a Story

Barbara Kinney/Hillary for America
Photo and Copyright by Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.

I recently heard two Senators speak on behalf of Hillary Clinton: Kirsten Gillibrand of NY and Cory Booker of NJ.

Each spoke glowingly of Hillary Clinton, the person they want as the next President of the United States. The response was enthusiastic applause. Similarly, they both told stories about Hillary.

Senator Gillibrand shared how Hillary, unknowingly, inspired her to run for office many years ago. Hillary gave a call to action and the now Senator, then not holding political office, felt the sweat on her brow, as if Hillary told her specifically to ACT! And act she did. Ten years later, when she decided to run for Congress, she contacted Hillary who consistently worked to get this young upstart elected against stiff odds. Hillary is committed to the success of women and supporting down ticket democratic candidates. Now, more than ever, when Women’s Rights are in jeopardy and a Republican-controlled Congress is not functioning, we need this commitment.

Senator Booker talked about campaigning with Secretary Clinton. Unmoved by how CEOs and billionaires were treated, he wondered, how did she treat everyday people? Who was Hillary at her core? After campaigning and not eating all day, the waitress approached their table at a diner, but instead of ordering, Hillary engaged her in conversation. How much are you paid? Do you have children? What happens when your child is sick? What happens when YOU get sick? Senator Booker said it was just two mothers chatting. Making $2.13/hour, having to work when you’re sick (in food service no less), taking unpaid days to stay home with your sick child, these are all things that need to be rectified, and Hillary wanted to learn about them first hand.

Stories humanize us. We connect over common ground, eradicating differences. TED talks succeed because they are told in the context of stories. They break down barriers. Roger C. Shank, a cognitive psychologist and artificial intelligence theorist said, “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic: they are ideally set up to understand stories.”  Which explains why policy, experience and accomplishments cannot combat accusations of ‘Benghazi!, email server, she lied.’

Change gears. Everyone can tell stories. No training required.

It is a tale of two Hillarys. The first is the GOP propaganda creation, told for so long, it became Hillary canon. You know the one. Talking about her candidacy, in opposition, instead of policy disagreements, you are faced with, “Benghazi!’ as if that explains all.

The second Hillary is the accomplished lawyer, advocate, First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who became the first woman to secure the nomination for Presidential Candidate of a major political party in the U.S. This Hillary produced years of true stories through her work for myriad people that must be told.

Bill Clinton could have adeptly spoken about policy at the Democratic National Convention. But he told stories. He talked about Hillary as a student, a mother, an advocate. He took his best opportunity with the largest audience to sell Hillary and chose storytelling.

We have mere months to reach the independents and undecided voters and tell those stories. How did she help you personally, if you have such a story? How did she help when she was Senator as a New Yorker? …as an Arkansan years ago? …as a Veteran? …as a beneficiary of the CHIP program? …as an employee of the State Department and her revolutionizing policy for the LGBTQ community? Even the cursed e-mails reveal a very caring person that dispels the myths. Use it all to humanize and connect.

It is an uphill climb to eliminate decades of media propaganda that turned Hillary Clinton the mother, lawyer and political advocate into someone her friends do not recognize. We can do it. Share stories when you are on Facebook or volunteer to GOTV and make phone calls. Campaigns turn on people, and minds are changed one at a time.