“What Happened” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

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“What do we do now I said? There was only one answer: Keep Going.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

Like a lot of American’s after the 2016 Election results I was devastated. I’m not going to pretend I was always for Hillary, campaigning, donating, and support Bernie Sanders for the DNC in the primaries I made it my soul mission to get him elected. When that didn’t work out I did change tactics. I’m not one of the idealists who wrote Bernie in, or who stayed home on Election day because “they’re both terrible”. I love Bernie, I think Senator Sanders would have been an amazing president. I don’t consider myself a “flip flopper” because Sanders and Clinton held a lot of the same believes. To paraphrase Clinton: Sanders ideas were lofty and idealistic, hers were planted in reality. I also however understand the reality that our democracy is horribly flawed. The fact is despite how many independents we have on the ballet we live in a two-party system. When the choices were Hillary or Donald my choice was made. I watched the debates, I read the news (cross checking for facts and accuracy and not just believing anything I heard). I did my best to understand Trumps policies and ideas. What it came down to, and what it’s always come down to for me, is basic human decency. I honestly don’t believe Clinton is as bad as everyone makes her out to be. I learned her history, her policies, her political background. She is thoughtful, calm, rational, and thinks through situations. We need that kind of level-headedness in a leader. I wasn’t for her because she’s a woman; I was for her because she was the most qualified candidate. I contributed to her campaign, I debated with people about her policies (and Trumps), I was not silent. So when we wound up where we did last November I was devastated. When Barack Obama was elected for the first time I cried. I was so proud of our country. We had overcome years of racism and oppression and now an African American was our Commander in Chief. A progressive man who believed in basic human rights for all citizens, who believed in healthcare and talking out issues. When Trump was elected I cried for very different reasons. Would my friend lose her healthcare? Would my LGBTQ friends never be able to get married? Would we all get murdered by people who were able to buy guns without background checks? Would we get bombed by another foreign power because Trump pissed them off on Twitter? I was, as many others were: terrified, disappointed, scared, and defeated. Reading Clintons book a lot of those issues came up for me again and I teared up a few times.

The book is long, Clinton is not succinct, she goes through the history of the election, the factors that lead to the way the race was run, and the aftermath of the outcome. I’m not gonna lie some parts were really boring. I had to look up some of the statements she made because I wasn’t sure if they were opinion or fact and I wanted to be sure. I bristled when she criticized Sanders, I laughed when she talked about rueful side-eyes she shared with others at the inauguration. She even went a little bit into the details of Bill’s presidency and opened herself up to the criticism of his time in office. It was a very emotional book and (to use Clintons words) humanizing. I agree with her, it sucks that she has to make herself seem more human; that people don’t just believe she’s capable of emotions. It kind of does show that women have it rough, if we’re too emotional we’re “unfit” because of it, but if we’re too stoic we’re “cold and robotic”… it’s really hard to win with that kind of constant struggle.

In the book Clinton also outlines some of her policy ideas which would have been amazing if implemented. She talks about her faith, The Clinton Foundation, policies (Climate Change, Economy, Russia, NRA, Planned Parenthood) and yes her emails. BUT HER EMAILS. Clinton is charming, open, and likable; and this book broadcasts all of her best traits. I also felt really inspired and motivated after reading it. Yes, things didn’t go as planned, and yes it’s hard to lose to someone who openly assaults women and lies on a daily basis about… everything. But we can keep going and we will. We are strong. We are resilient. And we are a force to be reckoned with. Hillary talks about Pantsuit Nation and the Stronger Together tagline that became a way of life. It feels powerful to be part of something so positive and inspiring.

I was disappointed in my country on Election Day 2016. I’ve had a mounting disdain ever since. This helped me to break through it. Reading Obama’s book late last year helped too; but this was a great way to start off the new year. Knowing Clinton felt what all of us were thinking, and her actually saying it was a relief. Knowing you can lose so unexpectedly and feeling so defeated and still recover and continue being kind and generous and continuing to persevere? That’s inspiring. We need more hope and more inspiration in this country (and in the world) and I’m hoping we can all live our lives a little better because those small changes make a world of difference. (Also I hope to one day see Hillary in the wild).

“In the words of Secretary Clinton: “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance in the world to pursue your dreams.” To add to her wise words, let me say, never doubt that you’re durable. You are valuable. You are rare and unique. Let yourself be flawed. Go proudly and confidently into the world with your blinding hues to show everyone who’s boss and break every glass ceiling that still remains.” – Tala Nashawati, Wellsley College Graduation Speech

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