Hillary Clinton may be a friend to UFOlogists, alien truthers, and all manner of unexplained aerial phenomena enthusiasts, but she's probably not going to get their votes.
A recent New York Times article highlighted Clinton's repeated openness to addressing UFOlogist concerns. "It is her unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials that has struck a small but committed cohort of voters," the Times wrote. Joseph Buchman, who moderated the Citizen (as in, not Congressional) Hearing on Disclosure in 2013, was excited by her repeated commitment to open any government files that pertain to UFOs (and aren't classified to protect national security). "Hillary has embraced this issue with an absolutely unprecedented level of interest in American politics,” he told the Times.
But the UFO enthusiasts I spoke to were less impressed. Jan Harzan, who serves as the director of the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, told me in a phone interview that Clinton's position on UFOS is "not going to affect" his vote. That is, in part, because Harzan's been burned before. "Jimmy Carter said [that] when elected president he would release all of the info on UFOs, and it never happened," he said.
Harzan told me that Clinton's caveat—not to release any information that puts the U.S. at risk—was one reason he doesn't think she'll be able to give the UFOlogist community what it wants. President Clinton's inquiry into government knowledge on UFOs would be, he says, predictable. "I think she will look into it." Harzan told me, and "I think she will be told she can't talk about it, and that'll be the end of it."
The only solution to an alleged government suppression of information on alien encounters, Harzan says, would be a third-party investigation into Area 51. Perhaps, Harzan says, a presidential invasion—something he doesn't think Clinton is prepared to do.
Alexander Wendt, who sits on the board of the crowdfunding UFO detection and tracking project UFODATA, also said that Clinton's UFO-friendly attitude won't affect his vote. "It would not make any difference at all in my vote," he told me over the phone. Peter Davenport, who operates the National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC, took a similar stance, telling me the issue "would not sway how I vote."
I posed the same question—would you vote for Clinton based on her statements on UFOs?—to MUFON's director of communications, Roger Marsh. "Absolutely not," he told me. Marsh is also used to campaign promises that don't pan out. "As much as you want to believe it," he told me of vows to open sensitive files, "our reaction is basically, yawn, yawn, yawn."
Marsh added that Clinton's statements have so far been too vague to get his attention. "If she had said information is being withheld I think I would have believed her even more," he told me.
Marsh and Harzan's concerns were also present in online forums. In a thread titled "Who thinks Hillary Clinton is going to release all the top secret UFO files," on the website alien-ufos.com, people expressed doubt.
"Hillary (assuming she'd even win the presidency) has absolutely no incentive to disclose any sort of 'UFO files', if they indeed exist," one skeptic wrote, adding "The UFO community has zero political leverage for her to take any action."
Another wrote, "even IF the files were released the would be so heavily redacted they would be of no use at all… i expect the files to be released about the same time the administration clears all student debt— don't hold your breath—lol." A third wrote, "The problem with releasing the files intact would be an admission by the US Government and agencies that had they had kept everyone in the dark and had actually lied to the American public from the beginning regarding ufos. I can't see Hillary blowing the lid on this one."
Her views aren't extreme enough to win the alien truther vote. They're not convincing enough to win the skeptic vote. And if she went too far, she'd lose the votes of those UFOlogists who recognize that a president shouldn't be elected based on her commitment to uncovering ET secrets alone.
I asked Marsh if the UFO issue is enough to swing his vote, and he said that "as close as I am to this subject, the answer would be no… I'm more interested that we elect someone competent."
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.