Everywhere we turn there are extraordinary amounts of violence. People are terrified and confused. It seems as if things have never been worse. This is especially true of the younger generation – all we ever know are the times we have lived. In this trying time, we want certainty from our leaders. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, certainty and absolutism are things she has struggled to convey. From the email scandal to her paid speeches to Wall Street, her history has sent mixed messages. Of course, we no longer trust anything that politicians say. It is their actions that count. So what can we learn about Hillary Clinton’s character from her actions? Here are four facts of Hillary’s life that seem instructive:
- Clinton Health Care Plan of 1993
When Hillary Clinton became First Lady in 1992, she attempted something that no First Lady had ever done to that extent before; she tried to wade into the arena of political policy, proposing sweeping health care reform. It wasn’t popular, in part because Hillary had taken a giant leap past the constraints of a culture in which women were still not seen as able to be outspoken when they were first and foremost in the position of being a wife. The fact that she and her husband supported and encouraged this controversial act reflects the fact that Hillary has never shied away from being unpopular. No matter how controversial and charged, she tried to do what she thought was best to help those that are underrepresented and underserved. The Clintons ended up losing a very painful battle and the experience certainly contributed to decreasing Hillary’s popularity.
- The Monica Lewinsky Scandal
When Bill was accused of lying to the public and was being impeached, all eyes turned to the feminist Hilary Clinton. Of course, she would not tolerate being put in this position and she would leave him! All of us feminists watching were disgusted when she stood by his side. We thought to ourselves, what a weak woman. Even though many of us wouldn’t have had the guts to leave, we judged her. However, in retrospect and as time passed, it has become clearer and clearer that she had two important reasons for staying. First, it was in her family’s best interest. And second, it was in the best interest of the country. Leaving Bill while he was being impeached would have been destabilizing for the country. As much as staying with Bill damaged her reputation and may have been against her nature, leaving him at that time would have been unpatriotic. She stayed for her family and she stayed for her country.
- Hillary’s Decision to Run for President
The Southern United States of Hillary’s youth was a patriarchal society profoundly oppressive to women. Now as long as she chooses to continue her political career, she chooses to stay in a similar system where she will weather an exorbitant amount of criticism, naysaying, sabotage, and people intent on making fun of her. The Clinton’s have enough money to buy an island and live happily ever after, sequestered from any problems and protected by a Secret Service security detail. Why doesn’t she retire to a hammock somewhere? Some have argued that the reason is personal ambition. And Hillary Clinton is certainly ambitious. But when has that same charge ever been leveled as a detriment against a male candidate? Were either of the George Bushes unambitious? Is Donald Trump? No matter what mix of ambition and desire for service drives Hillary Clinton, by running for President, she chooses to do what is hard rather than what is easy.
- September 11 Terrorist Attacks
At the time of the September 11 attacks, Hillary was Junior Senator of New York. Shortly after the attacks, I started working as a psychologist with the FDNY, helping firefighters weather the emotional and psychological effects of losing so many of their brothers and sisters. During this time, I saw firsthand the amount of attention and support that Hillary gave to first responders and how hard she fought for the rights of all veterans who were affected by the ensuing wars. To this day, I am able to provide services to firefighters due to the programs Hillary championed into existence. She acknowledged the power of that crisis and acknowledges the importance of care for people who fight for our country.
What is so profoundly important for people to understand is that no matter the aspects of Hillary’s past or political life that people focus on in an effort to degrade her importance or devalue her positions, her ultimate goal is not for herself. If it were, she would be gone. Her actions show that in her heart, in her gut and in her soul, Hillary Clinton wants to leave this world better than how she found it.