I downloaded my copy of ‘What Happened’ by Hillary Clinton at 12:01am this morning and stayed up half the night reading. I understand why it is considered an unusual book but then Hillary is an unusual person. Not many people could be considered the ‘most qualified person’ ever to run for President. Some insinuate the book is sour grapes, some say poor timing, or comment how no other losing Presidential candidate has ever written something like this. I urge them all to actually read the book.
There has never been an election like the one in 2016 and let’s hope there never will be another. Hillary made history as the first woman to win a major Party nomination. Despite laws protecting women we still have a culture steeped in sexism and misogyny. She ran against a primary opponent in the Democrat Party who was proud to say he wasn’t a Democrat and in the general election against a candidate who thought he was still in a reality TV show. This election totally upended any idea a Presidential election should be about serious issues and the majority of the media participated in that and most bought into Trump’s act.
Those who say Hillary hasn’t taken personal responsibility for losing the election haven’t listened to her. She has said she will always be haunted by the fact that she let her supporter’s down. Speaking with Jane Pauley about the campaign and the book Hillary acknowledged she may have set a tone “that didn’t fit the political landscape of 2016” saying “I understood that there were many Americans who, because of the financial crash, there was anger and there was resentment. I knew that. But I believed that it was my responsibility to try to offer answers to it, not to fan it. I think it was a mistake because a lot of people didn’t wanna hear my plans. They wanted me to share their anger. And I should’ve done a better job of demonstrating I get it.” She also said “I am done with being a candidate. But I am not done with politics because I literally believe that our country’s future is at stake.” I for one am thankful we will continue to have Hillary’s voice speaking about issues impacting our lives.
While writing about many of the slings and arrows she has taken over her career and the debate over whether she was ‘authentic’, incredibly she remains positive about our future. She speaks to future generations of young women and boys suggesting they can learn lessons from her campaign and one she wants them to learn is never be afraid to compete. She details how difficult it still is for a woman in politics and writes about how the media dealt with this campaign. She reminds us of Matt Lauer’s incredibly inept moderation of the Commander in Chief Forum. She makes references to Bernie Sanders a number of times and not one reference isn’t true. But while Bernie and the Bernie Bros may not like hearing the truth in actuality there are as many compliments to Bernie as there are negative references. Hillary makes the point though running in the Democratic primary Bernie still proudly declares he never was and still isn’t a Democrat. She writes correctly he wasn’t in it to elect a Democrat but rather to disrupt the Democratic Party. For better or worse that is how he campaigned.
Maybe the media will begin to rethink how they cover political campaigns but I wouldn’t hold my breath as long as they cover them for ratings rather than for the information they could impart to voters. Those like CNN’s Chris Cillizza, one of the worst political pundits now on TV, and others need to stop allowing untrue statements by politicians to go unchallenged. They need to challenge when Bernie Sanders says he hopes Hillary will move on from 2016 as if he has by reminding him he has given dozens of interviews saying he could have beaten Trump, without any evidence, even after losing to Hillary by nearly four million votes. On a personal note I would have wanted Bernie to show the class Hillary did when she endorsed Obama quickly in 2008 after losing the primary by a much closer margin. That would have been a much better signal to his voters than his prevaricating. Maybe some of Bernie’s supporters will even read this book, stranger things have happened, Trump is in the White House.
While sharing many small details about the campaign there is also much in the book about issues Hillary has passionately worked on her whole life. Those issues and her belief she could make a positive difference for people being the reason she ran for President. Issues such as reforming the criminal justice system; improving the Affordable Care Act; continuing the fight for equality for women, minorities and the LGBT community; fighting for economic justice; and fighting for policies recognizing climate change is one of the most crucial issues facing our world. She writes about some of the plans she put forth in the campaign the media rarely mentioned including such things as fighting the opioid epidemic and dealing with the lead in the drinking water in Flint, MI. All things Donald Trump never understood, cared about or focused on in his campaign.
Many attacking Hillary for writing the book conveniently forget that never has a losing Presidential candidate, who actually got three million more votes than the person now sitting in the White House, been so savaged by the sitting President, many in the media and even people in her own Party. So rather than suggesting it was ‘audacity’ for her to write this book my belief is it was crucial for the American public to hear Hillary’s voice. To understand the nearly ‘perfect storm’ leading to her defeat. I am also happy she says writing it was cathartic for her, she has more than earned that. Hillary’s career has had its highs and lows, the lows often receiving the most attention. We all benefitted from the highs.
Yes Hillary Clinton lost but each day we realize more than ever the real losers were the American people and the people of the world. We are finding that out every day of the Trump administration when it does something that hurts Dreamers, African Americans, the LGBT community, women, workers, other minorities and everyone who believes we should live in a world where decency and equality are respected and expected from our leaders.