Just because it’s International Women’s History Month, I dared to fight the urge of giving in to my lazy, rationalizing streak and rushed to finish this article in time for our printer’s deadline. I thought it was time I delve into politics again, if only briefly, as doing so couldn’t be more suitable now when the networks are again buzzing with predictions, scrutiny and nitpicking the front liners in this 2016 presidential elections.
And because honoring women achievers and trailblazers is what is and should be trending this month of March, I’m convinced it’s the best time to talk about the one and only woman in America today whose name never left the headlines, especially where talks of the 2016 presidential run is concerned.
Indeed, it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Everybody believes she relishes the presidential ambition and agrees she’s the presumptive Democratic frontrunner. Yet, where Hillary is the subject, there’s a vast range of opinions, left, right and center, dissecting every known and little known tissue of this woman’s body, mind and spirit. Nothing she does or doesn’t do escapes the probing eyes and restless minds of pundits and political enemies.
Up till early this 2015, Hillary was the uncontested, unchallenged Democratic presidential candidate Republican presidential wannabes had to contend with. But questions of transparency have recently emerged as New York Times published her use of her own personal email while serving as Secretary of State. There, too, were the donations from foreign countries to the Clinton Foundation during that stint.
Hillary’s critics and enemies didn’t waste time bashing her, calling for investigation and lawsuit and digging up Benghazi once again. The road to 2016 presidential run suddenly became bumpy and unpredictable. The idea of Democratic challengers soon became attractive, a good and healthy thing even, to spark debate on issues of immigration, climate change, strengthening the middle class, preserving Social Security, enhancing instead of abolishing the Affordable Care Act and many more.
Lack of Message
Time and again, critics have raised her lack of message, the absence of platform and plans or reasons for seeking the job. They warn her that experience and some references to her role as a gender trail blazer alone will not get her elected. They urge her to launch her campaign immediately and get on with it but Hillary isn’t moved. There’s word that she’ll officially launch her candidacy sometime in April but there’s no hurry. She wants a shorter campaign and will not be intimidated or rushed into doing it earlier.
I believe Hillary will have her message, platform and plans ready for her campaign launching. It only makes sense that she can’t flaunt her message now when she has not categorically admitted yet that she is running? It will be interesting to know what issues she’ll put in front and center of her campaign. But it’s hard to tell because unlike Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who have been outspoken in their fight against Wall Street and various other issues to promote and protect the welfare of the middle class, Hillary has not really picked a specific issue to stand and fight for.
Is America Ready for Hillary?
Americans can finally elect a woman for President. There’s no better time to do this than in this 2016 elections, when a highly qualified female presumptive candidate has finally emerged to challenge this country to elect its first woman president and dispel whatever doubts there are of its bigotry and bias against women. But most importantly, this country is not electing just any woman, it is electing Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose life story is her own badge of honor and the raison d’etre of her presidential quest.
No other woman deserves to be America’s first woman president more than Hillary. True, we have other prominent women in both politics and business who have stood out for their extraordinary accomplishments but Hillary’s political future and journey to public service date back to her early childhood and student years. An excerpt from “Letting Hillary be Hillary” by John Meacham, published in Newsweek on January 12, 2008 showed how much politics and social and civic responsibilities played a role in her life growing up.
From Hillary’s own account:
Well, I was raising money for the United Way when I was 10 years old. I was running little summer Olympics that kids would contribute a penny or a dime to so that we could give the money then to the poor people. And I was baby-sitting the children of migrant workers through my church—I mean, it was just who I was. It gave me a perspective at a young age, growing up in an all-white suburb, being given all of those advantages in that post-World War II era by that generation of my father’s who bought those homes, and raised the kids and paid for public schools and all the rest. But it was constantly a reminder to me that this is not all there is to life. You can’t get comfortable.”
At 13, she used a pay phone at school during lunch hour to call Mayor Richard Daley’s office to register her unease about reports of pro-Kennedy voter fraud, which she and a friend then investigated on the South Side of Chicago with unhappy Republicans one Saturday morning.
She heard different voices growing up. “The gender gap started in families like mine,” she recalls, with her quietly Democratic mother and her overtly Republican father. Her ninth-grade history teacher liked to play recordings of Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address to the Congress for his class, and he would offer his own peroration: “Better dead than red!” In April 1962, she went with her Methodist Youth Fellowship group to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, where King delivered a speech titled “Remaining Awake Through a Revolution.” (That was also the title of his final Sunday sermon, delivered at Washington’s National Cathedral on March 31, 1968.) In 1964, she was supporting Goldwater (whom she went to see campaigning) and a classmate was backing LBJ; to mix things up in a mock debate, a teacher had Hillary make the case for Johnson and the LBJ fan was assigned the Goldwater cause. “So I immersed myself—for the first time—in President Johnson’s Democratic positions on civil rights, health care, poverty and foreign policy,” Clinton says in her book. “I resented every hour spent in the library reading the Democrats’ platform and White House statements. But as I prepared for the debate, I found myself arguing with more than dramatic fervor.”
Running from a disadvantaged position of a woman is nothing new to Hillary. In her memoir, “Living History,” she wrote about her experience in two instances of gender prejudice: First was when she ran for president in an all male field of their student government at Maine Township High School South and lost. An opponent made a typical remark, that she was really stupid if she thought a girl could be elected president. A second incident happened when she wrote to NASA to volunteer for astronaut training and was told girls were not considered for the program. She was outraged.
It will be an outrage as well to think of Hillary now in the context of a candidate whose strength is solely built on her celebrity status and her timely fight for a place in U.S. history. To do so is to ignore a lifelong pursuit of excellence and public service and a record of achievements that will stand strong against all other candidates.
Hillary deserves the US Presidency, not just because it is high time we elect a woman for president but more because she is the most qualified among those vying for the coveted post! YT