Hillary Clinton’s Journey—and Ours

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tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016



Eleanor Clift covers politics for The Daily Beast. 

The idea of a woman president has been talked about for longer than most people have been alive. In 1956, when John F. Kennedy was a senator, he wrote in Everywoman’s Magazine, the precursor to Family Circle, that the first woman president would possess these attributes: the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt, the leadership of Joan of Arc, the compassion of Queen Victoria, the cleverness of Clare Booth Luce, the determination of polio nurse Sister Kenny, and the courage of Helen Keller.

He might have added it would help if she didn’t have the baggage of a political figure who’s been in the public eye for a quarter century. That’s part of the arc of history that brought us to this point, the hazing that Hillary Rodham Clinton survived with such stamina and grace to stand on the precipice of victory.

The excitement is not there the way it was for the first black president, but there will be moments, beginning on Inauguration Day, when it will seep into the culture how dramatic the shift is from that long line of white male presidents to Barack Obama and then his chosen successor, a woman whose talents and toughness he witnessed firsthand as he battled her in the 2008 primaries.

This has been too long and too dispiriting a campaign to feel the joy that should accompany such a breakthrough for gender equality. But once Clinton is elected, assuming the polls are right, and she is sworn in and starts moving on the core ideas for the economy and women and children and families that she has long championed, we’ll know that significant change has happened.

Clinton will become a woman president, and not just a president who happens to be a woman. Just as Obama’s special place in history was revealed when he talked about racial issues, or went to a black church and sang “Amazing Grace,” moments that no white president could duplicate, Clinton will become a woman president over time. She will have those moments that more deeply reveal the way she thinks and who she is, which for her has been remarkably consistent over a very long period of time. ...




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