Hillary Clinton’s moving account of What Happened in the 2016 election offers extraordinary insight into a woman’s journey at the highest level of politics and rings the alarm about what’s at stake for America in our current divided climate. While it’s heartbreaking to read Clinton’s comprehensive vision for our country, knowing what we lost, we will never overcome the double standards powerful women face in business, politics, and at the hands of a corporate-owned, cynical media until we give credence to these words, and use them as a way to challenge innate biases about what it takes and who should lead.
What Happened is honest, unsparing, witty, devastating and unique, since no woman has ever before been in her position. It is also refreshing to have Clinton give voice to her voters’ concerns, since their perspectives were ignored in the 2016 cycle and beyond. For these and many other reasons, What Happened is a must read.
And yes, part of what the book accomplishes is to help us grieve.
Hillary addresses all voters when sharing her vision for America, her mistakes (she is harder on herself than deserved), Russian hacking, rogue FBI Director Comey’s unprecedented interference and the media bias she faced. But when discussing the joy of her nomination, her wish to be our champion and her recollections of connecting with millions of diverse voters on the campaign trail, she is also talking directly to her supporters in a deep expression of gratitude.
In addition, Hillary Clinton is laser-focused on urging America to confront sexism and misogyny and the crippling effect both will continue to have on any woman looking to break the “highest, hardest glass ceiling”, no matter how qualified. I worked to push this discussion myself when my book, Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Support’s Rude Awakening was published. Susan Bordo also addresses this in her new book, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, yet it is Hillary, now out of the political arena, who will likely have the best chance – and largest platform – to bring this topic front and center.
No matter how much I believe in Hillary Clinton, articulating what her candidacy meant to me seems a daunting task, lost in frustration at those too preoccupied with negativity to see the value of what she brought and brings to the table every day. Self-serving media want her to remain silent in an effort to paper over their complicity in denying us her solid leadership. As a result of their bolstering a demagogue while belittling her, every morning I wake up to another willful blunder from wannabe dictator Trump and think “What fresh hell…?”
Yet, witnessing Hillary’s strength, preparedness, grace and her unwillingness to quit or bow down have inspired and given me the courage to stand up and be heard in ways I had never imagined. She did that. By sheer force of will. Her determination to give children a better start than the one her mother had. Her wonkiness in reminding us that “What gets measured gets done” – meaning she does the math to make you see the human value in the changes she’s proposing. Her taking care in What Happened to put her own devastation aside to offer specific solutions to those looking to stay involved – or get more involved – in government or just to power themselves forward and upward.
I confess I didn’t want the book to end because I don’t want her to stop speaking out (I’m sure she won’t). How anyone can read What Happened, an intensively personal and frank book, and still believe she is the wretched media caricature pushed by the likes of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and/or the GOP is beyond me.
Juxtaposed against Trump’s threatening to “take out” all of North Korea and lambasting the entire NFL for not buckling to his bullying, seeing ever prepared and thoughtful Hillary Clinton interviewed by no-nonsense Joy Reid the other day, I can only express sorrow for what could have been. For a glimpse at smart, sober leadership, please watch Secretary Clinton’s segments with Ms. Reid, linked below.
But also be sure to read What Happened . Hillary Clinton’s voice must not be silenced. Every word of her book encourages us to get more involved and, as she always says, to keep going.