Today, Joanna and I met up with a friend to go see Hillary Clinton’s final campaign speech at the National Building Museum. We waited in the hot June sun with hundreds of others snaking around the building until we finally got inside. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait in the heat for too long, though we couldn’t see much from the second floor. We did hear the applause for Terry McAuliffe as he arrived and joked amongst ourselves that perhaps Bill had stopped off for a snack at the Burger King nearby as we watched the clock and waited.
Clinton is great speaker. She certainly did not disappoint today as she managed to address the disappointment of her supporters, the historic nature of her campaign, the need for full inclusion in the Democratic Party, and throw her full support under Barak Obama as the presidential nominee in a concise and eloquent manner.
I won’t lie, I’m genuinely sad that she didn’t get the nomination. I believe she is the best candidate for the job. I am also sad that this election will not send the first woman to the White House in a position other than First Lady.
I am, however, heartened by her speech. In hearing it live, as well as having time to reflect while awaiting her arrival I realized that there are important take-aways from her campaign. These points are especially pertinent to me as a woman. It’s difficult to explain, but I do feel that this election process has exposed the very serious cracks in the foundation our nation was built on. Sexism and racism are still present in our collective psyche. They are easy issues to ignore or try and overlook because they’re difficult to deal with. They’re messy, and personal, and emotional, but in order to really deal with them, one must do it head-on. It requires dialog both internal and external. There is no excuse for either, but I do feel as if sexism is easier to ignore. I heard a pundit on tv once I returned home this evening talking about how the idea of a glass ceiling was a “ridiculous” idea. Granted, the man was on Fox news, but I was still shocked that he said it. Shocked that he thought that was an okay comment to make as if months ago almost every news poll was asking the question if America was ready for a female President. They asked the question if we were ready for a black President too, and frankly I’m just kind of appalled that we’ve got to ask the question, even though it’s clear that we do, because we’re not sure about the answer.
Anyway, it’s a lot to process. Seeing Clinton speak this afternoon was inspiring to me. She was confident and gracious and conceded without being defeatist. I think it’s a good lesson. It got me thinking about what I might do to change my thinking about failures, both small and large, and how to work towards success in my own life. I came up with points made in Clinton’s speech today that I think would be helpful to me.
1. It’s okay to be proud and vocal about your accomplishments.
One of the first comments I heard about the speech today while watching the news was that she talked about herself a lot. My first thought was well… yeah, it was about her campaign. But then I really thought about it – she is able to talk about her own accomplishments without being self-aggrandizing. I think that’s important, especially for women, because I think we’re taught to down-play what we do and wait for someone else to congratulate us for our accomplishments, which ultimately, doesn’t do anyone any good.
2. Don’t stop just because other’s think you should.
People have been advocating that Clinton drop out of the race for months. If she had, we may never have seen just how much support was out there. I think it’s a good lesson in not giving up, trying your best, and having faith in yourself and your goals.
3. Just because you fight hard, doesn’t mean you’re going to win.
I think that sums it up. Along with this though, I think it’s easy to assume that because you didn’t win you weren’t good enough to win. In actuality, that’s not always the case.
4. Be thankful.
Clinton was thankful for the opportunity to run for President, for her supporters, her family and friends, and for the opportunities afforded her. It’s cheesy, but it’s easy to forget to be thankful.
5. Be gracious, exhibit grace.
Throughout the campaign, and even before really, I have always been a little amazed at Clinton’s graciousness. The speech she gave today must have been extraordinarily difficult, but she did it very well. I feel as if the ability to do this is born of a little hardship.
But that’s it. It was a good race. Now, time for a Democrat in the White House.