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The Psychology of Clinton Supporters

Wide-eyed Hillary Clinton
Written by Cindy A Matthews

Clara Jeffery, editor-in-chief of Mother Jones magazine, recently tweeted how third party candidates (such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein) attract young voters more than her favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton. Jeffery stated, “I have never hated millennials more.”

The low turnout at two Clinton rallies at college campuses, headlined by Bernie Sanders, probably doesn’t make Jeffery any happier, either. But why express such negativity in an open forum? Why assume expressing hatred toward voters would inspire them to love your preferred candidate enough to vote for her? As the old adage says, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

For those of us who have worked in the mental health field, blanket statements of hatred, like Jeffery’s, raise concern. When individuals readily accept the reality of a situation (i.e., your candidate isn’t popular), the mentally-healthy thing to do would be to strike a positive tone and take steps to rectify the situation. For example, Clinton supporters could ask millennials how to make their candidate more acceptable, apologize for past smears made toward this group, and remain open to feedback on how to address these issues. Once Clinton supporters better understand the needs and perceptions of the millennial generation, they could pass this information along to the candidate, who, in turn, could make adjustments in her platform.

Lashing out indiscriminately at whole blocs of voters for the perceived slight of not liking your preferred candidate seems to indicate a rigid, close-minded personality, unable to bend and flex, when necessary, to accommodate others’ needs. Rigid personality traits are often seen in abusers (spouse/child batterers) and their victims. Several online memes illustrating this trait have been observed lately. “Clinton supporters suffer from Stockholm syndrome” says one popular meme, continuing, “There is help–leave the abusive relationship now.”

Stockholm syndrome is described as a form of traumatic bonding, not necessarily requiring a hostage scenario. It demonstrates “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” (D. G. Dutton and S. L. Palmer inTraumatic Bonding)

Ms. Jeffery’s caustic remarks against millennials aren’t unique. Clinton supporters have been observed using harassing, abusive, and intimidating language toward supporters of other candidates in forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+  and Reddit. These tactics may indicate some individuals have formed a deep bond with a candidate who holds a negative outlook on certain groups of voters, because these individuals themselves hold these beliefs and wish another “stronger” party to act out their frustrations against those who fall outside their abuser/victim bond.

In simple terms, abusers often attract those who have been bullied in the past and who then go on to bully others. On online forums, such bullies are called “trolls.” Trolls lash out with hate-filled language and shocking imagery. A troll named Casey Champagne was hired, along with other trolls, by David Brock, founder of the pro-Clinton Super PAC “Correct the Record,” to post child pornography images/links on Bernie Sanders supporters’ Facebook pages before the New York primary. My page received one of Brock’s hired trolls’ child porn images. Facebook pulled our pages down, insisting it was our fault for allowing the trolls to post the illegal material in the first place. It took several hours to restore our pages.

Trolling– an election year example of an abusive relationship in action.

Obviously, many Americans are in need of mental health care, if they have fallen into an abusive relationship with a candidate, so much so that they openly heap abuse upon others, instead of focusing on the positive aspects of their preferred candidate. Mental healthcare for all Americans as a right–not a privilege only the rich can afford–is the first step to helping these hurting souls and to healing divisions. Only one presidential candidate is for universal healthcare: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.

Focusing on positives, stressing what we can do (not what we can’t), including all groups of all ages at the table and welcoming the diversity that is America, the Greens can bring an end to the Stockholm syndrome foisted upon the public by the bullying of the establishment parties’ candidates. There is hope. Like the meme says, “Leave the abusive relationship now.”


Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues–The Bernie Blog:


  • As a critic of Clinton’s on her left, I’ve been taken aback by the hostility I’ve received from her supporters – folks I’ve always felt politically allied with. One thing I’ve wondered is if the discomfort of being the “conservative in the room” (within the context of the debate on the left) accounts for some of it. With Sanders in the primaries, plus her own shaky record on “progressive” issues (war; wall street; transperancy), this is the position they’ve been forced into and it’s hard to be the defenders of the establishment at an anti-establishment party. Worse they are weathering the charge that every “proud liberal” hates: Conservative. Political identity is something people protect fiercely, and it feels like some of the reactions I’m experiencing are a result of HRC supporters struggling with a political role they kind of resent…

    Does that make sense at all?

    • There has to be something positive in every candidate, even if it’s only her saying, “Have a nice day!” to everyone she meets. If people truly support a candidate (and not acting out of fear of another candidate) then they’ll come up with something positive, right? Otherwise, why support this candidate in the first place?

      • I guess it depends what you consider a positive. I don’t count, “Trump is a scary orange monster,” and “I’m a woman, so I’m different.” Those seem to be her only two selling points. She can’t run on her record. She can’t run on ties to corporations. She can’t even release her speeches. She has ZERO charisma. Of everyone I’ve spoken to (and that’s a lot of people), the ONLY two reasons I’ve heard for supporting her are because she’s a woman and because Trump is Hitler. That’s it. It’s not surprising that she had to cheat to beat Bernie.

  • You state “Obviously, many Americans are in need of mental health care”. I concur, and let’s start with the 47%.I’m less worried about the 53% who are working and contributing.

    • I’d be concerned with 100% of Americans. I know many “working people” who are suffering from severe mental stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. It’s one thing you do learn working in the field–nobody is “immune” to mental illness. It can affect everyone–young, old, male, female, rich, poor, black, white, red, yellow, brown, green plaid… No one is immune to mental illness. Therefore, it is necessary for all Americans to have access to health care the moment they first start to show symptoms or feel they need help. Everyone needs help now and then, and it is no crime or shame to say, “Please help me.” The only shame is a society that refuses to acknowledge the needs of its people and provide the care they need. Thankfully, we still have one candidate who talks about the “right of health care for ALL Americans”–Dr. Jill Stein. A Harvard trained medical doctor, Jill Stein understands that a country is only as strong as its weakest members. We should all want our fellow citizens to be strong and fit and have access to the health care they need. Only that way could America ever truly become “great”.

  • Cindy, if you think this is bad (and it is) I implore you to check out Stephanie McCrummen’s Washington Post yellow hitpiece “Finally Someone That Thinks Like Me”. It shames a mentally ill person supporting Trump, and the comments section is closed. It just ran yesterday. Thanks! – Bleach

    Here’s link:

    • Melanie’s story is very sad. I think it’s even sadder to think that perhaps hers–and many other American’s–mental health problems could have been prevented by keeping American jobs here instead of allowing trade policies such as NAFTA (and the coming TPP) take jobs and hopes away. Her hometown becomes a ghost town, the jobs are gone, the hope is gone–and then there is no government support net to help her and other like her with health care, both physical and mental. A society that demonstrates no compassion for its citizens is an open door to fascism, or as Mussolini called it, “corporatism”. The establishment party (or parties if you actually see any differences in their actions) only wants what is best for corporations, their biggest donors to their campaign war chests. The little people like Melanie in that article are used, abused and tossed aside… Her mental illness is an indictment of the greed and selfishness of the system that supports the 1% at the expense of the 99% All human being deserve health care and compassion. Look what happens when they don’t get it.

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About the author

Cindy A Matthews

Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of The Bernie Blog.