Hillary Clinton, former Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State, will take her book tour to the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium Oct. 24 –– and a multitude of opinions, fans and critics await her.
As the Democratic presidential nominee, Clinton proved to be an incendiary figure, and her book is creating a similar buzz. Clinton's publishers said the book, titled “What Happened,” outlines the “rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows” accompanying her journey as the first female nominee of a major presidential party.
But some University students aren’t interested in “What Happened,” and question Clinton’s motives for offering a retrospective look into her loss. A Facebook event titled “Bring your pony to Hillary’s salty book tour” indicates some perspectives students have of the event.
LSA junior Meaghan Wheat agreed, and said despite her support for Clinton in the election, she doesn’t see what productivity this book offers.
“I’d like to focus on what we can do now to build policy and build advocacy for certain groups,” she said.
Though the cost of the book and tour concerns some — pre-sale tickets for the Ann Arbor event are currently around $82 to $170 range — many point out nearly every recent president has sold a book and gone on a pricey tour. Wheat said many politicians, including Joe Biden, who will visit the University on his book tour in December, offer pricey books, but those books usually have some kind of advocacy or goal involved. She said this seems to be lacking from Clinton’s book.
“A lot of people, after losing the presidency, go through a lot of public service campaigns, like Al Gore and environmentalism,” Wheat said. “Her book seems to be just about her side of campaign events. That’s definitely worthwhile reading but at the same time, with the current political atmosphere, I want to know what’s the bigger point, what’s the bigger issue, whether it be humanitarian or anything.”
LSA junior Jim Stehlin, however, sees politicians’ book tours as problematic for our country’s interests in general. Rather than focusing on policy, Stehlin said the “hero-worship” of politicians makes us focus on how politicians function as celebrities (Biden’s ice cream habit, or Obama’s humor, for example), rather than how they functioned as public servants.
“I find myself consistently disappointed by the hero-worship within the Democratic Party because it distracts from the policy issues that actually affect people's lives,” Stehlin said. “Former presidents often do release books, (but) Hillary was not a former president. She was a presidential nominee who failed to win the election.”
Others are upset that despite the book’s title, Clinton doesn’t really offer an answer as to what happened. Stehlin explained that while Clinton does plenty of talking about how Bernie Sanders, Russia, James Comey, and voters' sexism negatively impacted her campaign, she does little to explain her decisions that may have hurt her campaign — like her Iraq War vote, her Patriot Act vote, her orchestration of interventions in Libya and Honduras and her abandonment of single-payer healthcare.
“For me, and many others on the left, the problem isn't that Hillary Clinton chose to write a book and do a speaking tour, but rather the content of the book and the ways in which she has tried to rehash the 2016 election in order to set a narrative that fits her worldview.”
Engineering sophomore Lincoln Merrill, publicity chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, agreed Clinton focuses too much on placing blame. He said the high costs of her tour seem contradictory to her calls for equal access to education and resources.
“She continues to shamelessly take people's money to boost her own self esteem after a year in denial that the only person she has to blame for losing the election is herself,” Merrill said.
Stehlin added that Clinton fails to explain the downfall of her campaign and that of the Democratic party as a whole.
“The Democrats have lost over 1,000 seats in the Congress and state legislatures since Obama's election in 2008,” Stehlin said. “Clearly, the status quo is not working, yet Hillary's analysis fails to explain this trend.”
Regardless, many are still excited for the opportunity to hear from one of our country's most influential politicians. LSA sophomore Emma Wergeles said she already purchased tickets to the tour.
“As a woman who is incredibly driven myself, the opportunity to see someone I have looked up to my whole life is something I can’t pass up,” Wergeles said. “I am also in the middle of reading her book and hope to gain more insight on the current political state from hearing her speak.”
Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel, communications director of the University's chapter of College Democrats, said many Democrats are eager to see such a prominent political figure to come to campus.
“We're excited Hillary is in town and a few of our members are either attending or working the event.”