Frank 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.
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.”
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