By: Gabrielle McLaren
I know that most people read the title and had a fully-fledged opinion about this piece already. I know, and I’m at peace with it — because that’s part of my point.
Hillary Clinton is one of those hyper-publicized people whose image is now stuck in place. By now, either you’ve fallen in love with her, or you’ve agreed that she’s “Crooked Hillary.” There doesn’t seem to be much of a grey area, which is problematic: after 25 years in the world of politics as first lady, presidential candidate, secretary of state, and senator, she has definitely given people a lot to think about.
Despite the fact that any politician should warrant nuanced, critical examination from others, Hillary Clinton can write a book which, before it even comes out, receives scathing reviews from non-readers about how her book is centred on money and vanity. This might be criticism, but it doesn’t seem to be well-researched or well-thought-out criticism.
Hillary Clinton is a Yale graduate, and during her time there she volunteered at a legal aid clinic and the Yale New-Haven Hospital where she worked with abuse survivors. She was a pioneer of the children’s rights movement, doing research that paved the road for the Education For All Handicapped Children Law (1975). She established mandatory teacher testing in Arkansas. On the flip side, Clinton was seen as an uncharismatic candidate who failed to connect with some working-class Americans (including one campaign stop in which she elaborated on America’s shift towards green energy in a coal-dependent town).
More than an advocate for women’s rights, she has supported and advanced she has supported and advanced feminist legislature: as First Lady she helped to create the Department of Justice’s Violence against Women Office. She was also the first female senator elected in New York, where she began a long journey of paving the way for women in what remains a male-dominated field.
That experience, and the fact that she fearlessly draws attention to the misogyny that she faced along the way, or personal and anecdotal evidence that female politicians are treated differently, is important. Despite only winning the popular vote, Clinton’s time as a candidate has made it easier for the second, third, or fourth female presidential candidate — and, ultimately, for the United States’ first female president.
I would give Clinton credit for taking some time off following the election before bouncing back in the public eye, ready to share that story, and label herself a “citizen activist.”
All of these things and many more are swept under the rug of email scandals, the influence of Bill Clinton, or under an untouchable leftist worship warranted by ‘at least she wasn’t Donald Trump.’
I’m not calling Hillary Clinton a perfect politician, or a perfect person. But I’m calling her a person who deserves an evolving and accurate image in the public eye.