I have been trying to figure out how to phrase an appreciation to Hillary Clinton that doesn't come across as too eulogistic, since obviously she's not "officially" done with the Presidential race, she's far from done in politics, and, well, she's definitely not dead. But a lot has been said today (and in days past) about her candidacy and its effects on the women coming up behind her, the feminist movement, the Democratic party, the fate of the free world, and the coming of the Rapture... (kidding on that last part.) What's sort of been ignored is one of the reasons everyone basically agrees that her candidacy was ultimately unsuccessful: she ran for months wearing the mantle of the experienced Washington insider (aka, the establishment) candidate. Please read that one more time, just on it's own. She ran as the establishment candidate. But think about what that means for a second, and what it means that the only female candidate in either party portrayed herself, and was portrayed as, too important, too established in the last, biggest bastion of male-ness — our representative government. Savor that for a second, actually. Then join me for some other positive things that Hillary has wrought upon the political climate.
Meghan O'Rouke of Salon, despite not liking Hillary, notices that "the media's sexism forced twenty- and thirtysomethings to recognize that feminism is not just 'our mother's problem.'" Is there anyone, even an Obamabot, that hasn't noticed the way Hillary got treated by the media and shuddered, just a little?
In another article, Rosemary Camposano, from the WomenCount PAC formed by Clinton supporters about 2 weeks ago, says:
What it has done is energized a lot of women to get into the process, because women have taken it personally when she is called a bitch ... because that is not about her policies, that is an attack on her as a woman... She has sparked what will be the second generation of — I don't want to say the women's movement — but women have found a voice with this process that will not go away.
I mean, I think we can say women's movement, even if it still makes Rosemary uncomfortable.
It's also important to point out that a lot of Clinton's senior staff were women — from Maggie Williams to Patti Solis Doyle to a ton of other women I watched defend her every day on the news; she made a point of empowering and promoting women in her campaign (even if she did stick with Ickes, Wolfie and Penn until the end). While that might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people outside of Washington, campaigns are often dominated by men and in the last 20 years can you think of a top female staffer besides Donna Brazile and Mary Matalin? But Clinton had 2, and everyone knows their names.
But maybe the biggest benefit of Clinton's campaign is best voiced by Naomi Wolf, who said "She's already made the issue of 'Can a woman run?' much less important." In a CBS poll, fully 88 percent of voters — Republican and Democratic — agree with the statement "I am glad to see a woman as a serious contender for president." Sexism in the media and "Iron My Shirt" boy and all that crap aside, no one really bought the argument that she was too soft to be the next Commander in Chief. Too hawkish, too calculating, too whatever, but not too much of a "girl", and that's already inspiring women (and girls) which is a pretty solid fucking legacy in my book.