Gratitude for the First Candidate I Ever Voted For
Thank you for guiding us one step closer to shattering the glass ceiling for good.
By Terry Nguyen, University of Southern California
This is not a letter of grief, but of gratitude.
On November 8, I woke up believing that today, history would be made. It would not be your history, but our history: A moment in time when the stronger forces of love, empathy and respect trumped a campaign rooted in fear and distrustful rhetoric.
It was a naive hope and an even more naive belief that it would come so easily for a woman, for a nation that has faced endless struggle and setbacks over the course of its history. It was as blindly hopeful as your promising vision of America, when in reality, the odds were stacked against us since the beginning.
Many do not agree with my belief that you would have been a phenomenal president. I’ve been criticized and met with confused reactions since I began supporting your political journey during the primaries. While my peers were feeling the Bern, I kept a firm resolve for your candidacy. I know what you’ve done, the mistakes you’ve made and questionable choices you’ve encountered in your 30 years as a public servant.
But as a human being and as a woman, I understood your path of compromise, lack of press transparency and evolving platform ideals. The times were changing, and you, too, had to change. Thank you for exemplifying change and progress through your entire campaign.
Now, I believe that it is time for our movement to continue forth from this loss and maintain the change you have advocated in your career. We can continue to be angry, to be nasty women and bad hombres, but we cannot allow one man’s campaign tone to determine our future to be a bleak, divided America.
On November 9, I woke up after three hours of sleep feeling exhausted, with an inexplicable atmosphere of dejection and desperation in my dorm hall. I was reporting from a Clinton rally last night, and when the electoral map turned almost entirely red, my heart grew heavy. My school, like many others in California, had a protest-rally on election night, but I saw no point in attending.
That night, there was a lot of crying and a lot of fear. I think a majority of America needed you more than it realized.
Your concession speech provided me, and countless others, so much solace (even if I was crying disgustingly from a treadmill as I watched it live). This election will go down in history, and you will go down as more than a footnote in this chapter. Many might scoff at me and say I’m idealizing and idolizing you from my crazy liberal nasty feminist point-of-view, but I couldn’t have been prouder to have voted for you in my first general election.
Thank you for being you before this country and its patriarchal press shut you down in the 1980s. It must have been difficult to stand as one of the few women in Yale Law School and then have to transition to being a governor’s wife, being socially pressured to change your last name and appearance to appeal to your husbands’ voters.
Thank you for paving the way for women to be politically active and pushing the independent, feminist voice regardless of your endless critics. You took the initiative to involve yourself in the West Wing during President Bill’s early years. You pushed for health care reform. You worked for women’s rights and served as a diplomat in over 79 countries as a First Lady, and when Bill’s term was up, you sought for more. The rest is history—or herstory—but as a nation, in the words of Donald Trump, “We owe [you] a major debt of gratitude for [your] service.”
You made mistakes and lacked transparency, but your male counterparts were never crucified for it the way you were by the public.
I found it so ironic that you, being one of the most qualified people to ever run for president, lost against a man who lacks any political experience and skill to put together specific policy plans. To me, it felt like the biggest slap in the face that your career had to end this way.
We know how much you despised him, and I wish we could have triumphed alongside you. He was the antithesis of your campaign, your morals and everything you have fought for. You deserved a more worthy opponent, someone with deep policy knowledge and even moral decency toward our diverse society.
But, the next afternoon, you took the stage in your iconic pantsuit and told us that Donald Trump deserved our open minds and “a chance to lead.” You didn’t even cringe when you said it or get glassy-eyed. You exuded strength and grace from the beginning of this campaign, past its nasty parts (although that deplorable comment was weird) to the very end.
Thank you for embracing a peaceful transition of power, while maintaining those nerves of steel that we know so well. There were a lot of “what if’s” that crossed my mind, but I’ve come to accept that there will be a day where a woman will break the glass ceiling you have made an irreparable crack in.
I’m hoping it will come sooner than expected—I’m not sure I can wait a couple of decades, but thank you. Thank you for being part of the solid foundation that female leaders will stand upon when we shatter that “highest and hardest glass ceiling” and stand together in our successes.
In the meantime, we will keep fighting for what’s right. We will get involved in the political process after our anger and grief settle down into a wave of acceptance for the 45th president. We will filibuster, make hundreds of change.org petitions and together, we will be Stronger Together.