Hillary, a Lifelong Champion for Women and Families

06 Feb 2016

The Enduring Power of Hillary Clinton’s Beijing SpeechHaving published an article reminding mainstream media of Hillary Clinton’s historic win at the Iowa caucus, I hit a nerve as many women and fair minded men shared the piece, fighting back against an elite punditry who attempted to spin away her accomplishment. I was shocked to also get responses from young women who had no idea of Hillary’s lifetime of work on their behalf.

Recently, Hillary Clinton won the endorsement of Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the 2009 federal legislation that Clinton helped sponsor which makes “it easier for women to challenge their employers over unequal pay.” Per the Washington Post, Ms. Ledbetter said “Clinton is a “fierce and uncompromising champion for women, for basic fairness, and for opportunity for everyone”:

“Under this law, no one else will ever have to accept the gender discrimination I faced without the chance to challenge it in court,” Ledbetter wrote.

“Hillary understands that these issues can’t be dismissed or pushed to the sidelines. They’re not just ‘social issues’ — they’re fundamental to our country’s economic future, and they are at the heart of everything she’s fighting for on this campaign. For Hillary, this is about more than politics — it’s personal. She just gets it, plain and simple.”

This week in Huffington Post, Rep. Rosa DeLauro vented frustration with those who pretend Clinton needs to prove her progressive or feminist bona fides. DeLauro detailed Hillary’s groundbreaking work with HIPPY:

“…Originally designed in Israel, it’s an amazing approach to helping parents prepare their children for school, and for life. And it was first brought to Arkansas by Hillary Clinton….

Today, it’s in 23 states, helping the most vulnerable kids in over 15,000 families nationwide.

HIPPY is just one of many meaningful social programs that Hillary has championed, and early childhood education is only one of her many passions. From criminal justice reform, to improving access to credit, to pursuing universal health care – she has always worked to even out the odds for the most vulnerable Americans.”

Moreover, Hillary has made the “unfinished business” of women’s and girls’ empowerment one of the centerpieces of her presidential campaign, linking women’s economic participation and parity with the health of families and our economy overall. Hillary stressed that women hold two thirds of today’s minimum wage jobs: “We talk about a glass ceiling, but these women don’t even have a secure floor under them.”

Hillary earned Planned Parenthood’s first ever endorsement, as a longtime advocate protecting women’s health and reproductive rights. She’s now discussing the importance of repealing the Hyde Amendment, which Slate’s Christina Cauterucci states is “a long-overdue step toward addressing the intersection between economic insecurity and reproductive health.”

In addition to her seven years with the Children’s Defense Fund right out of law school, she did groundbreaking research on early childhood brain development, took on cases of child abuse, offered free legal services to the poor, and was instrumental in rebuilding the Arkansas education system.

As First Lady, she worked to successfully lower the rates of teen pregnancy, initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act, helped to create SCHIP, providing insurance for 8 million children, helped to create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice, and played a key role in bringing the issue of human trafficking to the forefront of United States policy.

Editor Tina Brown called Hillary an example of “what real female power looks like” and a “dedicated policy wonk who worked on behalf of oppressed women in unpronounceable places long before it was fashionable.”

Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations, reported that as Secretary of State, Clinton “persistently connected the dots between women’s rights and major foreign policy concerns such as global economic development, food security, extremism and political stability,” even while facing criticism for “degrading the office” by meeting with so many women farmers, small business owners and grassroots activists.

Who else is going to take up these battles? The fact is we get women-friendly laws when women are in office. 1992 was remembered as the first “year of the woman” in Congress for just that reason. Yet, no matter Hillary’s qualifications, getting the former Secretary of State elected as our first woman Commander in Chief still represents our toughest challenge as her lifetime of work is obfuscated by opponents and pundits playing games to score points and ratings.

Not unlike Lilly Ledbetter, Hillary’s career has demonstrated that women often have to be better in order to be considered equal.

Look no further than a recent Democratic Town Hall – unlike Hillary, neither Bernie Sanders nor Martin O’Malley (who has since dropped out) even got a foreign policy question. She stated that foreign policy will occupy 50% of any president’s time, whether they like it or not: “You can’t just pick the issue you want to work on.” Her response to a question on our foreign policy prescriptions going forward was a tour de force in itself. Does she always have to be twice as good to get half the respect?

Likewise, women in the workplace still receive more critical reviews on their performance than men. It is telling that we are instructed not to be “abrasive” or “aggressive.” Men get no such feedback. What kind of seismic shift will it take until our society drops the requirement that women be pleasing in all respects? And win equal praise, and reward for doing the same job.

In that vein, the American people must once again do the media’s job for them, looking to Hillary Clinton’s achievements and lifetime of work on behalf of women, education, the poor, kids with disabilities, first responders and veterans, even while pundits push tired double standards – like “respected” journalist Bob Woodward who complained that Hillary is “shouting” when she passionately shares the causes she believes in.

Hillary Clinton is a powerful touchstone in an environment where 73% of U.S. women are in the workforce and 40% of women are now head of household or sole breadwinners.

The odds of Hillary being elected increase in direct proportion to our willingness to see past media click bait and research her efforts on our behalf, to allow her to have the “warts” we would allow any man and see her as less of an inkblot representing the things we dislike about ourselves and then project onto her. If we have at last come to the place where we can judge a woman solely for her accomplishments instead of demanding she hold up the banner for all womanhood, then the bumpy journey Hillary – and all women – took to get here will not have been for naught.

In the fight for equal pay, paid family leave, affordable childcare and reproductive health care, women would have no better champion than Hillary Clinton as President.

***************************

Anita Finlay is the bestselling author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin.  Sharing the untold story of Hillary’s 2008 campaign, Dirty Words exposes media sexism in a society not as evolved as advertised.  “The book tells it like it is for women aspiring to power.”  #1 on Amazon’s Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.

Like Anita Finlay, Author on Facebook.

Follow @AnitaFinlay on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. As you stated, “we have at last come to the place where we can judge a woman solely for her accomplishments instead of demanding she hold up the banner for all womanhood.” I would not vote for a man with her record either. Her civil rights record is mediocre at best. Her and her husband’s campaign financing is (though fairly typical for people that have been in politics as long as they have) incredibly troublesome. Her dismissal of her husband’s victims and mistresses statements is also worrisome. I do not trust that she has my (or other lower-income American’s) best interests in mind when she does most things. I think she is wealthy, entitled and willing to say and do most things in order to remain in power. That she is also a woman is of no consequence. Praising what she has done that is positive, while ignoring the many truly negative and disturbing things she has said or done is not enough to induce me to vote for her. Her positives, being a woman included, are not enough to outweigh the many, many negatives against her, especially compared to say, Elizabeth Warren, for whom there are many more positives than negatives.

    • As Hillary told the young woman at last week’s forum, “you may not be for me, but I’ll be there for you.” She has been an advocate of women and children and working families her entire adult life. Yes, she’s a wealthy person now. Yes, over 20 plus years she and her husband have been paid well to speak to different corporations, groups, cities, and schools. This is no different than most politicians have done. He is a well liked former president, she is the former first lady, a US senator, and then Secretary of State. There is no other woman of her caliber when it comes to issues impacting the people of not only our country but all across the world. That’s why they want her to speak, her opinion carries weight. I admire what Sanders stands for, but it is not at all possible in today’s political climate. He just can’t do it. He knows it and he’s misleading a lot of young people with promises of great things to come. Shame on him for not being honest with them. I have to admire Hillary for telling the truth about not making promises she can’t keep. She promises us realistic progress, not a “revolution” that we are not ready for.

  2. James Rogers Bush Says: February 7, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, And The Impossible American Dream (Edited)
    JAMES ROGERS BUSH·FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2016
    The United States was built on dreams. Dreams of a new life in a new world. Thats why we call it The American Dream.
    From the pilgrim’s dream of a heaven on earth, to the dream of going to the moon and beyond, attempting to make the ‘impossible dream’ a reality has always been a part of the magic of being an American.
    But there has also been another side to this dream, a side that has included slavery, exploitation, and an expansionism that meant walking over the dreams of some others, such as the Native Americans who lived on this continent long before the white man came with his dreams of a new life in a new world.
    Dreams and reality have often clashed in the building and growth of the United States, where one man’s dreams sometimes became another man’s nightmare.
    In the midst of these American dreams and nightmares, there has also been an internal struggle between it’s citizens, over what the American Dream should look like to it’s people.
    Some have promoted and fought for fairness, equality, and equity, above all else, while others have promoted and fought for individual success, and the acquisition of wealth and power, above all else.
    Today we are living at time in United States history where the imbalance between these two tendencies is especially pronounced. A very few at the top are enjoying wealth and power not seen since the time of the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age, while the majority of middle class and working class Americans are seeing what looks to them like the slipping away of all their hopes and dreams for a better life, both for the themselves and their children.
    Many young Americans see no future in the ‘haves and have nots’ situation that they now see themselves maturing into. They feel that their grandparents and parents have not left them a world that will allow them to fullfill their dreams of success, fulfillment, and happiness. To them, the world looks polluted and corrupted – environmentally, economically, and politically. They feel that they have been left with nothing to look forward to, other than a meaningless drudgery that will lead to nothing substantial, not even a Social Security cushion in their old age. For them The American Dream looks like The Impossible Dream.
    Then, along comes an old dreamer, with another angle on the American Dream. He is an old man, but he carries with him a dream that he has harbored since he was a young man, and the young of today have taken notice. This old man is telling the young that he can ‘do whats never been done and win whats never been won’ and he has sparked a fire within them. He brings the young hope and promise of a possible future of fairness, equality, and equity – and they like it.
    But this old dreamer is not the only seller of sweet dreams inhabiting the political landscape in this election year. On the other side of the political divide, there is another Pied Piper of hope, and he is rekindling the other side of the American Dream – the one that promises individual success, and the acquisition of wealth and power, and he has all three to prove it.
    Dreams are a funny thing. We know that dreams are amorphous, and we know that we should balance them with reality. We are taught that believing in Santa Claus, for example, is a nice thing for children, but not for adults. Even the Bible talks about “putting away childish things.” And yet, we all tend to sometimes hold onto false hopes, long after we have learned that real dreams only come true with good planning and hard work, and even then they sometimes don’t come true. We forget that the dream is only the beginning.
    Well, there is a third dreamer in the mix today. But this dreamer has learned, through hard work and struggle, what the difference is between a dream that can be made real and a dream that is just a dream. She has learned that no matter what one’s dream is, it can only be made manifest if one is willing to work hard in the real world – which means making sacrifices and compromises, in and with that world, because that is what the real world demands. She has learned to follow her dream of equality and never give up on it, but she has also learned that the world would only follow her dream with her, if she learned how to play the games the world plays. And she knows that, even then, it can take a long time to make a dream come true.
    This is a hard lesson for all of us to learn. It is especially hard for young dreamers to learn. Young dreamers are naturally idealistic. For them, what is right or wrong is easy to see. They cannot understand why sometimes their parents and other adults cannot see it too. To them, many adults appear to have sacrificed their dreams and ideals for wealth or security, or some other vain or fearful reason. They are told by some adults that their dreams and ideals are immature and impossible. They are told to grow up and be realistic. They are told to compromise.
    Then comes Bernie Sanders, promoting free college and healthcare, and telling the young that he can make their dreams come true. And a wealthy and successful Donald Trump comes along and tells others, adults included, that he can save what they think they are losing and give them what they thought they could never have.
    Across the political spectrum, dreamers from all sides, are abandoning reason, grabbing for the golden rings of hope, and ignoring the realities that await them as they follow their respective Pied Piers to nowhere.
    Meanwhile, our third dreamer keeps telling everyone that she has been down all the roads, learned all the lessons, played all the games, and knows how to get things done to make dreams become real. But some do not believe her. Some do not trust her. And some do not want to follow her.
    Why is this?
    Perhaps it is because Hillary Clinton is not selling false hope. But neither is she telling everyone to give up their dreams. What she is telling everyone is that dreams are great, but reality is difficult, and in order to even get close to fulfilling your dreams, you must face reality first. You must face what is really possible and what can really be done, before you can move in the direction of making your dreams a reality, because making dreams real is impossible, unless you approach it in the right way. You cannot just wish your dreams into reality, you must work hard to make them real, by learning how reality works, and then by working with reality, not against it.
    I’m reminded of how, at the beginning of the 20th Century, some said the dream of flight was impossible for humankind. The Wright Brothers proved them wrong. They did it by learning how reality works, and then by building a flying machine that worked with reality, not against it.
    Hillary Clinton knows how reality works and she knows how to get things done in reality, by working with reality, and not against it. She knows that this is how you make the impossible dream possible.
    Problem is, doing the hard work, and knowing when to be tough and when to make compromises, in order to make incremental changes, is not sexy, or always pretty, or fast enough to please the desires and dreams of some impatient liberal idealists or frustrated conservative workers. So a Bernie Sanders and a Donald Trump, promising huge and immediate change, look and sound real good to these potential American voters.
    But Hillary Clinton is the most realistic choice for the presidency. She has the knowledge, experience, and the ability to work with all sides that are necessary to be a good president. she is not selling sweet, unrealistic, dreams of immediate gratification. Instead, she is selling the idea that the real way to fulfill dreams is through hard work, compromise with reality, and a slow progress to get where we want to go. And she has a long and indelible record to prove it.
    Just as importantly – and this is something that is not mentioned often enough – Hillary Clinton is promoting the idea that we are all Americans, together, and, as such, we should work together to find common ground – a common ground that will move all of us forward, in a progressive way that is good for everyone. As she puts it, “for the struggling, the striving, and the successful.”
    Bernie Sanders is making promises to the left that he will not be able to keep. Donald Trump is making promises to the right that he will not be able to keep. But Hillary Clinton is promising all Americans real and positive ways forward, so that we will all have an equal and real opportunity to fulfill our dreams. I believe that she is making promises that she will be able to keep, if we citizens of the United States give her the chance. Lets give her that chance.
    JRB

  3. […] Look at her record. You be the judge. […]

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