Hillary Clinton spoke at an event at Rutgers University in New Jersey on Thursday night, addressing the reaction—hers and the public’s—to her loss in the 2016 election. And when she was asked how she’d respond to critics who told her to “get off the public stage and shut up,” per the moderator’s wording, she seemed less than pleased.
“I was really struck by how people said that to me — you know, mostly people in the press, for whatever reason — mostly, ‘Go away, go away,’” Clinton told Ruth Mandel, the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, per The Hill. She added, “And I had one of the young people who works for me go back and do a bit of research. They never said that to any man who was not elected. I was kind of struck by that.”
Indeed, as Clinton (who was paid $25,000 out of the university’s endowment for her appearance) noted, fellow losing candidates like John Kerry, John McCain, Al Gore and Mitt Romney went on to have illustrious careers after their campaigns fell short. In some cases (i.e. Romney’s) it might have been better had they in fact disappeared into the ether immediately following their concession speeches, but her point stands.
“I’m really glad that, you know, Al Gore didn’t stop talking about climate change,” Clinton said. “And I’m really glad John Kerry went to the Senate and became an excellent secretary of State. And I’m really glad John McCain kept speaking out and standing up and saying what he had to say. And for heavens sakes, Mitt Romney is running for the Senate.”
Clinton has been criticized for failing to “move on” following her defeat, having repeatedly brought up the people and factors she believes contributed to it—James Comey, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, the media, sexism, and Vladimir Putin, to name a few—and whether or not her assessment is correct, it isn’t necessarily helpful at this very moment.
The Democrats are making an attempt to gain ground in 2018, an effort that likely won’t be bolstered by a schism between the Clinton and Sanders camps, and a refusal on the former’s part to acknowledge where criticism of her campaign and policies were warranted. So does it behoove a failed candidate to step aside and let the party figure out where it stands? Probably. Are we all very tired of hearing about how the 2016 election went wrong? Definitely.
Then again, if my life’s dream was to be President of the United States, and I managed, after decades of trying, to become the first woman presidential candidate, and I was sure I was going to win, and everybody else told me I was going to win, and then the country voted for this idiot and told me to shut up and stay in the woods, I don’t know, I’d probably be mad.