Hillary Clinton will release her latest book Hard Choices on June 10th, a move that some political pundits speculate is designed to launch her campaign for the 2016 presidential election.
Hard Choices is not the first publication to Clinton’s name, but the date of its release — just before primaries fully begin — and its subject matter seem calculated — the machinations of some PR pro who wears immaculate Caraceni suits and drinks G&T’s while barking into his phone at his assistant. Unlike her previous works — which comprise a book on education, a few children’s books, and an autobiography — Hard Choices deals with the reasoning behind Clinton’s policy choices as Obama’s Secretary of State as well as her perspective on the current state of the union and the world. She even writes about her role in the Benghazi attacks, which is a high-stakes topic for her — especially at this moment. As John Dickerson points out in this excellent Slate article, with Hard Choices, Clinton is attempting to “explain the world and America’s place in it (which is something the president is trying to do too, these days).” With 2016 looming on the horizon, the release of Hard Choices suggests that the former First Lady and 2008 presidential candidate might be ready for another go at the White House.
So, here we are once again, wondering if Clinton is — or could be — fit to serve as the next leader of the free world. Before Hard Choices, there were rumors of her possible re-candidacy, but the book’s upcoming release suggests that those rumors may stem from truth.
She is a polarizing figure, to be sure.
There are those who love her — who would parade through the streets of D.C. with vuvuzelas in hand and beer hats atop their heads if she were elected (full disclosure: myself included). There are those who recoil at the mere sound of her name and would consider moving to Canada if she were to become the next leader of the free world. After all, even living in ‘Muuuurica’s hat is preferable to having her run the country, right?!
As long as we’re being fair, Clinton has made her fair share of unintelligent policy decisions. However, it would be unrealistic to expect a totally perfect track record of anyone we consider electing to public office — at least, she hasn’t had a sexting scandal. She might have blundered here and there, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the essential work she has done in advancing this country and strengthening its relationships with global partners. As First Lady and New York senator, she championed healthcare and educational reforms. As Secretary of State (arguably, one of the better Secretaries in the last few decades), she was in charge of the U.S. response to the Arab Spring and the U.S.’s recent military involvement in Libya — hard-hitting stuff that she may not have handled perfectly…but, she did as well as she could given the circumstances.
I know, I know, I’m kissing so much Clinton behind right now that I’m practically on the same level as Monica Lewinsky.
Semi-tasteless jokes aside, Clinton is an important lady — both because of her lifetime of work in politics and because of the subliminal significance for the American people of her 2008 presidential campaign. Regardless of her ideologies and regardless of how well she’d serve as president, the 40 or so years that she has dedicated to American politics has given momentum to the ongoing battle for gender equality. Before there was Sheryl Sandberg’s particular brand of corporate feminism and before Sophia Amoruso made waves with her rags-to-riches story and #GIRLBOSS campaign, there was Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Despite all its innovation and supposed progressiveness, this country is much farther behind than many others in terms of female leadership — Germany, the UK, India, Argentina, and Ireland to name a few have all had female Heads of State. America? None. Yet, Clinton — who came so close in 2008 — showed that a woman could be capable of leading the country — that a woman might have been the best choice (or one of the better choices) to lead. There were other female candidates in that election — namely, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin, the Republican would-be vice-president. However, Bachmann and Palin’s campaigns were farcical at best. America loved mocking them and making pornographic films about them (Nailin’ Palin, anyone?), but that’s about the extent to which they mattered in terms of the public consciousness.
Clinton, on the other hand, had a real chance of winning the election, and her presidential campaign matters for two reasons.
First, it confronted sentiments of sexism that are deeply entrenched in our society — generating public discourse about our attitudes towards female leadership and how those attitudes differ from those we hold towards male leadership. Oh? Clinton made a snarky comment during a debate? What a bitch. But, hey, X male candidate made a rude comment about an opponent during an interview? How dominant of him! He’d be such a strong, assertive leader! (Side-note: later during her campaign, Clinton broke down and cried at an event where she spoke to voters. Naysayers called her weak — which exemplifies a problem that only female leaders seem to face. If you’re too aggressive, you’re a bitch. If you’re not aggressive enough or show any signs of emotional vulnerability, you’re weak and unfit to lead)
Second, it empowered and still empowers women and girls who hope to pursue high-paced careers like hers. There is a glass ceiling hanging ominously above almost every industry*, but Clinton put several solid cracks in it when she ran an almost-successful presidential campaign. Even if she chooses not to run again, she has inspired a generation of female leaders — political, corporate, or otherwise — who will continue to beat against that glass ceiling. Her legacy gives us hope that one day (maybe one day soon) we will be able to smash it into a million smithereens, as should be the case.
2016 is close, and it’ll be interesting to see how this election cycle plays out, but I know one thing for certain: I hope that the pundits are right — that Hard Choices does indicate greater things to come. Because, yo, I’m #readyforHillary.
*If anyone can think of an industry that does not have a glass ceiling for women, please share your thoughts in the comment section.