A Personal Reaction to Hillary Clinton’s Speech

Hillary ClintonFrank asked me to write about how I feel now that Hillary Clinton is at last the first woman to head a major party presidential ticket. I don’t know exactly how to express it but I will try.

I am a woman who served in elected office. When I see Hillary Clinton, I don’t just see a woman who I have looked up to for over a decade, I see myself. I see someone who has had to fight against unreasoning prejudice because of the gender we both were born with. I see someone who has had to fight past people who don’t think much of you — who think you don’t have what it takes.

I was very young when I won my first office and I had to prove myself again and again. And I had to do it in various capacities. I had to prove myself to the other judges. To the lawyers I worked with. To the public. I did that by doing what Hillary always does: I put my head down and I got to work. I wasn’t and am not perfect. But I eventually won the respect of my colleagues and the people who came before me.

Personal Connection

One of the greatest compliments I ever received was shortly after my re-election. A lawyer who I greatly admired was having a hearing on some issue and thought I had lost. He asked me when I was going to leave office. The prosecutor hissed, “She won you dummy!” The lawyer responded, “You what? You won?!” He continued, “Judge Rogers, when I come in your courtroom I have to take off the jester’s hat I generally use for this level. I put on my lawyer’s hat, because when I come in here I know you will be at least as prepared as I am. In addition to that, you treat my clients with fairness and respect. I appreciate all of this.”

From Seneca Falls to tonight, from the fact that women were once little more than property to the woman who stood on that stage in suffragist white, the night was about all of us little girls who became women watching Clinton’s career and seeing in her ourselves.

Hillary Clinton is like me — only at a far higher level. She knows the rules, the law, the cases, the studies. She makes the effort to not just hear what we have to say, she makes an effort to find out more information and to do something about it. I trust her absolutely to implement the progressive platform that we Democrats put together. (For the record: I expect us all to send her a Congress to help!)

Hillary Clinton’s Long Battle

Like me she has known the joys of winning a hard fought race and the joy of re-election. She has also known the bitterness of defeat. While she probably cried before she had to say she conceded to President Obama, she picked herself up and kept going. She knows what it is like to be called some pretty awful names to her face. To have to smile even when you are being insulted directly. And she can still find common ground with those determined to dehumanize her. She is way, way, way more gracious then I ever could be.

Her speech last night was absolutely brilliant. But it was simply seeing her walk out on that stage that brought tears to my eyes. From Seneca Falls to tonight, from the fact that women were once little more (and often nothing more) than property to the woman who stood on that stage in suffragist white, the night was about all of us little girls who became women watching Clinton’s career and seeing in her ourselves. The women who came before her who suffered, starved, and bled to ensure that one day, one of their descendants would be able to walk into the Oval Office as Madam President.

I am sure others will more eloquently state what this means for themselves and other women. For me though, it is about seeing myself in my President in a way I never could before.

Thank you Hillary Clinton. From the bottom of my heart. #ImWithHer

10 thoughts on “A Personal Reaction to Hillary Clinton’s Speech

  1. Well done. I like the lawyer / prosecutor story because it illuminates a crucial difference between the parties. Democrats have their share of con artists, and all politicians exaggerate their successes / minimize their failures. But there’s a vast level in the respect Dems & Repubs have for voters.

    It’s significant that Clinton is a Democrat, because, as you know, there are competent / intelligent women in the GOP at local levels. We disagree with their politics, but many are not fools.

    What women rise to prominence in the party? Or the conservative movement at all? Non-stop fear-mongers, hate-baiters, and serial liars. That’s how much contempt the GOP has for its voters. (Since the leadership is all rich interests, and they loathe people less rich.) They assume voters would never support an intelligent woman at the national level.

  2. I’m not a woman, but I understand Clinton as a symbol and what she means to women who’ve faced misogyny and disapprobation in their careers. I get it.

    However, that’s not the reason I can or would vote for someone. I’m not a very emotional person and so my emotions about a politician mean little to me. And as a politician, she’s a hawk and has a severe lack of judgment (Libya, Syria) and will probably flip-flip and support the TPP again. Supporting the TPP would be enough to disqualify her in my mind, by the way, since that will be so disastrous to the US’s working classes and would make corporations even more ascendant than they currently are.

    Not that Trump will be any better, but such bad choices this year. At least the first woman nominated by a major political party wasn’t Sarah Palin.

    I wish I could vote for her just because she’s a woman (and I am in fact thrilled that a woman got the nomination), but unfortunately I don’t support most of her policies. Another war, which is likely with her in office, would be disastrous for the US and the world.

    I just can’t get on board with any of that.

      • Yeah, and unfortunately NC is a swing state. Dammit. Wish we had better choices. But I haven’t exactly done anything to make that a reality personally. Just that choosing between Trump and Clinton is like shooting yourself in the head (Trump) or shooting yourself in the leg (Clinton).

        Sure, shooting yourself in the leg is better than blasting at your head, but in the end you’re still shooting yourself.

        • Understandable. As Dr. Noam always says, though, if you live in a swing state, you gotta swallow your pride and go down to vote Democrat. If you live in a safe state, you can vote Green, or whatever.

          Where Elizabeth’s coming from is she lives in a massively Republican state and got herself up to the neck in politics just to change it. And got elected! Politics isn’t about voting. It’s about engagement.

          Unfortunately most of us have no idea how to get so engaged. And don’t have the chutzpah, frankly. Not to criticize you for that! I don’t either.

  3. In terms of policy, Hillary Clinton will never be liberal enough for my tastes. However, I was always ready to vote for the Democratic nominee. Your account has shifted my perspective a bit. I think I will now be voting for Hillary Clinton with a bit more gusto, a bit more enthusiasm. I sympathize with marginalized people. I am so focused on economic and racial justice that it is sometimes hard to imagine an affluent white woman as a marginalized person but your personal story about being constantly seconded guessed because of your gender, makes me see Sec. Clinton in a different light.

    I remember during that first Democratic debate in October, the candidates were all asked to say, in 15 seconds or less, what made them an “outsider” (granted it was a dumb question and a dumb format as well). Sec Clinton gave a response that every Bernie supporter scoffed at when she said that being the first women president made her an outsider. I suspect that if Sec. Clinton had been given some time to answer, she would have said something similar to what you posted and that sort of an answer is quite strong and persuasive.

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