Written the week of the election, and posted the day the Electoral College votes: A tribute to a bright light of 2016.
The darkness and shock of the wee small hours of Wednesday, November 9 will forever be etched in the memory of Hillary Clinton’s supporters. And awakening to a low ceiling of gray cloud hanging over New York City served as a reminder that the last, highest, toughest ceiling of another kind remained intact in 2016.
I spent much of 2016 appearing as a Clinton supporter and democratic strategist on Cable TV and radio. Nearly a year of early mornings and late nights. Juggling commentating with a full time job, a weekly column, a husband, and a toddler. I never met Hillary Clinton. Just like the hundreds of thousands of Americans who volunteered for her, cheered for her, defended her, and fought for her. We did it because we believe in her inclusive vision of America, and we believe in her experience, temperament, and leadership. We kind of loved the pantsuits too.
Although she won’t be our 45th President, Hillary Clinton has achieved more than most women of her generation thought was possible. And she has championed the right to equal opportunity for all – not just with her two, groundbreaking bids for the presidency, but in a long life of public service, dedicated to the rights of women, children, the disabled, and the disregarded.
Hillary Rodham was first called to serve right out of Yale Law School. Working for the Children’s Defense Fund, she worked to end the incarceration of teenagers alongside adult prisoners in South Carolina and to guarantee public school admission to children with disabilities in Massachusetts.
As first lady of Arkansas, along with her official duties, Clinton kept her job at the Rose Law Firm. She made partner the year Chelsea was born. And she famously quipped during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign that she could have “stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession.”
As First Lady of the United States, Hillary led the President’s Task Force on Health Care Reform. Her efforts meant eight million low income children received healthcare coverage. No first lady had ever directed such an important and complex policy initiative.
As Senator for the State of New York, Clinton secured tens of billions to redevelop the World Trade Center site and took a lead role in investigating the health effects suffered by 9/11 first responders.
As Secretary of State, she traveled to 112 countries, repairing relationships strained by the Iraq war, and elevating women’s rights into the realms of foreign policy and national security.
In her first presidential bid, she modeled grace and humility as she accepted defeat after a bloody primary race, and then worked her heart out to elect Barack Obama.
Although this week Hillary Clinton was passed over by the electorate as a member of the political establishment, Clinton has in fact long rejected the status quo in favor of the “what might be.” A revolutionary in her own right, she has, for nearly fifty years, shunned the norms, expectations and limitations of her class, her gender, and her station.
There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton will be a crucial part of Democrats’ post-election autopsy, and in elevating other women to serve and lead in domestic and international politics.
Another run for office? It’s unlikely. But continuing as a civic leader who will live her Methodist faith’s instruction to “do all the good you can, by all the means you can …as long as ever you can? Absolutely. Hillary Clinton is a national treasure, whether we all realize it yet or not.