Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Clinton: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Eight years ago, in what was really my first few months as a blogger, I opened a post like this:
The most important question to ask tonight is:

Can a woman be elected President of the United States?

I think the answer, at the end of Hillary Clinton's campaign, has to be a resounding "Yes."

No, she didn't win. No, she is not going to be the next President. But it's no longer possible to say that a woman couldn't do it. It is now undeniable that a woman can be a powerful contender for the White House, and that if a few things had gone differently (her campaign strategy; her vote on Iraq) Senator Clinton would have had the nomination.
That was the night Hillary Clinton's first campaign for President ended, with the close of the 2008 California primary.
Last night she proved me wrong and right. I was right that she had paved the way for a woman to gain the nomination and to win the White House. But I did not foresee that the next woman candidate, the first to be nominated by a major party, would be Clinton herself. She has become her own successor, her own political descendant. I wish my mother had lived to see this day.
She didn't go easily eight years ago, and I was in the opposing camp. But I was moved by what she had achieved then, and moved more deeply by her accomplishments today.
In 2008 there were also mutterings that the fix was in, that she had had the race stolen from her by sexism. And then, as now, I thought those mutterings diminished then-Senator Clinton's place in history:
Least of all should her achievement be diminished by claims that the nomination was wrongly denied her, or that it was stolen. It wrongs Senator Clinton, and ill serves the women who will come after her, to imagine her not as the pioneer, the power broker, the master politician that she has become but instead as a victim.


Don't tell your daughters that the nomination was taken from Hillary Clinton. Don't tell them that the door to the Oval Office will always be closed, that no matter how well they do they will never get a fair accounting. Don't tell them that even the best candidate, with the best message and best campaign, will always be cheated by sexism, that a woman's best will never be good enough, or that even great women end up as victims. Tell them the truth: that there is a chance for them no matter what they do, that sexism will always have to be confronted and defeated but that it can be, and that while they will have to work harder and fight longer that in the end they will have the chance both to fail and to succeed, to take upon themselves the responsibility for their own defeats and their victories. Do Senator Clinton justice as a woman who made her own decisions, as a historic figure who held much of her political destiny in her own hands.

Tell your daughters that Hillary Clinton ran a great campaign, but not a perfect campaign. Tell them that she was a great woman, but not the last great woman. There was a better campaign to run, and there will be another woman, on another day, to run it.
The next day has come, and the next campaign, and the next great woman in American politics is Hillary Clinton herself. As long as I have thought I have known her, she never ceases to amaze.

History, here she comes.

cross-posted from, and all comments welcome at Dagblog

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