Part 3: Lessons from Hillary
The immediate aftermath of the 2016 election almost broke me. I was a mess watching Hillary’s concession speech. Not only was I upset over the outcome of the election but I was extremely distressed for her. How can she be so strong, I wondered (not for the first time). It seemed so unfair she had to console everyone else when she had to be dying inside. Watching it the second time via the docuseries wasn’t much better. Even though I now know what happened, it still hurts.
It wasn’t enough that the Republicans got what they wanted (by cheating, something you know they’re going to do again) but they had to try and humiliate her too. The third part of the docuseries was entitled, Be Our Champion, Go Away, and that’s exactly what it felt like back then. Pundits, politicians, the press, and people on social media demanded Hillary “take up knitting” or just drop out of the public eye. No other “defeated” politician has been treated in such a degrading way. Nope, that’s something they cooked up just for a woman.
I was furious and wrote several scathing emails to reporters and editors. It was all I could do.
Then there was the Inauguration. I didn’t want her to go. Although I understood why Hillary believed she had to attend, it felt like one indignity too many. I desperately wished she’d just skip it. The people who’d vilify her for it didn’t matter anymore. But she went because she thought it was thing to do for democracy’s sake. Damn! When is it that women get to think about ourselves first?
The people in my community didn’t behave much better. Yes, there was anger, lots of it. But what I saw most was resignation and blame. I attended a friend’s party to communally grieve and left early in disgust. One woman blamed Hillary for not campaigning enough in the Rust Belt (we now know it was more about voter suppression, a narrative that’s never gotten the attention it deserved). Others smiled indulgently at their teenage daughters as they expressed their hope that they’d be the first woman president. Sorry girls, I’d be happy for you to be one in a long line of female presidents but I don’t want…