Regardless of the election outcome, Clinton leaves the stage as a champion

Hillary Clinton speaks in New York on Nov. 9 after conceding the presidential election to Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Hillary Clinton speaks in New York on Nov. 9 after conceding the presidential election to Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

I never thought Hillary Clinton would be a shoo-in as president. Coming after two terms of a Democratic president in the White House, she was always a long shot. What has surprised me about this week’s presidential election is not her losing it but my own strong reaction to it.

I was not a totally enthusiastic Clinton supporter. I thought her too cagey and political to ever be forthright about what she really believed, and, worse, too hawkish. Her secretiveness and lack of trust in other people were constantly boomeranging on her, creating unnecessary problems. The private server to handle her email as secretary of state seemed typical of other incidents that generated suspicion and sprang from an unwarranted need to control.

Advertisement

RELATED: Catholic Reactions to the 2016 Election

And yet I liked Hillary Clinton. I never understood why more people didn’t or why they said they could not warm to her. To the question, “Would you want to have a beer with this candidate?” my answer was and is, “Absolutely.” She was knowledgeable, hard-working, full of tenacity and grit, and with a sense of humor that surfaced not all the time but enough. Whatever my misgivings about her, I thought she would make a competent president and possibly a great one. She had spent her life working for the job; she surely had some ambitions for what she wanted to do once she got it. I was curious to see how she would handle the presidency, and how she and Bill Clinton would negotiate their reversed roles as president and first spouse. It seemed like it would be a fun “first” to watch.

We will never know now what Hillary Clinton’s priorities would be as president or how she would govern. Facing an opponent far less experienced, qualified or deserving, she lost the election, and the overriding question today is: Why?

There has been a lot of talk this year about the grievances of white working-class men. They have them, surely, and they deserve attention, surely. But the economic discontent of the white working class does not explain why Donald Trump will be our next president. He did not offer any realistic policy proposals that would improve their circumstances, and millions of people who are not disadvantaged blue-collar workers voted for him rather than for Mrs. Clinton. The F.B.I. has, apparently, many Trump supporters, and I suspect they all get a fine salary.

I do not think most people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are virulently racist or Islamophobic or hateful, although they may not mind his shout-outs to that crowd. I think they voted for him because Mrs. Clinton was the Establishment candidate and he promised change, and they were sufficiently mesmerized by the mantra of “change” to take a flying leap into the unknown. Even more important, I think they voted for him because, presented with a choice of the smart, capable, well-spoken girl in the class who gets straight A’s or the loudmouth boy who makes outrageous, offensive remarks and serves as class clown, they chose the boy. They chose him because he was the boy. Millions of men, and no doubt some women too, do not want a woman as president, and are uncomfortable with a woman as boss. The election results say more about the enduring presence of sexism in our society than about policies or even populism.

Hillary Clinton’s concession speech spoke to both the high ideals expressed in our Constitution and the aspirations of women and girls. It was thoughtful; it was gracious; it was moving; it was inspiring. I know I am not the only woman who teared up when reading it. I wish she could have given more speeches like that during her campaign. Would it have changed anything? I don’t know that it would have. Too many American men are not ready for a female president, especially not after two terms of a black one.

I am surprised by how saddened I am by her loss. But rarely has a presidential candidate prepared so diligently for the presidency, worked so hard to get it or endured so much criticism along the way. The election results leave me feeling that I have just watched an incredible athlete lose the match of her career and lose it on a technicality. There’s heartbreak in seeing her career end this way, and with that admiration for the perseverance she has shown every step of the long way to this year’s presidential election. People can and will argue about whether she could have run a better campaign, but, regardless, she exits this election a champion. Perhaps even more than if she had won the presidency, she offers an example to others. We can’t all become president, but we can all pursue our ambitious with determination, dedication and undaunted courage. That is her legacy, and it is a great one.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
1 year 6 months ago
I asked a friend who was a Hillary Clinton supporter to name what she had accomplished. He hesitated and then said she was a senator and Secretary of State. I asked him what she accomplished while in those appointed positions (being a senator from New York is essentially an appointed position.) He could not name one thing. I said that is not unusual because Hillary Clinton couldn't herself name any. She did go from zero net worth to $175 million while in public service and that is an amazing accomplishment. Apparently the FBI may have 500 people investigating the Clinton Foundation and so are some local state governments. Then there is the Mid East policies while Secretary of State that have left the region in a shambles. Besides this, the policies of the Democratic Party have done few any good. So maybe these are some of the reasons people did not want to see her president.
Too many American men are not ready for a female president, especially not after two terms of a black one.
Please stop these gratuitous accusations of bigotry. I am sure some are guilty of this but this does not really explain anything. It is an admittance that she has not done anything to deserve to be president when one resorts to it.
William deHaas
1 year 6 months ago
Thank you, Mr. Cosgrove - you just proved how sexist, lame, and lazy your comment is. (and, no, the allegation of bigotry is not gratuitous) FBI allegation - disproven; rumor; and no investigation to date has proved a quid pro quo - but keep making up your conspiracy theories. Mideast - geez, the president and his administration determine those policies - not the Sec. of State. You repeat a tired old meme. Democratic policies have done few any good - what a pants on fire lie. Ask the 20 million who have health insurance; ask the millions who no longer are denied access because of pre-existing conditions. Ask the employee in the auto industry; ask those whose homes have been saved; ask those who have seen their minimum wage increase; ask those families who saw their son/daughter return from Iraq or Afghanistan; and could endlessly go on. (a quick google search can easily do this - talk about lazy and disingenuous) You ignore reality - Clinton received 1,000,000+ more votes; three states swung to Trump by less than 150,000 votes (and it was because of decreased Democratic turnout - nothing Trump did special). Clinton as senator - you may want to ask those in NYC who benefited from the billions in federal funding that she led and received after 9/11 to name one of the most glaring accomplishments. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/carly-fiorina-debate-hillary-clintons-greatest-accomplishment-213157 Sad that this magazine allows your type of false allegations to be posted.
Ryder Charles
1 year 6 months ago
Mr. deHass, As of this morning, CNN is reporting that Clinton leads Trump not by 1,000,000+ votes but by "219,762". Some things to consider: > Clinton won California by 2.5+ million votes. > Gary Johnson (Libertarian) got over 3x as many votes as Jill Stein (Green Party). I think it's safe to say that Johnson took more votes away from Trump than Stein took from Clinton.
J Cosgrove
1 year 6 months ago
Thank you for the kind words and agreeing with me. When someone uses ad hominems, it is almost always a sign that the other person is right.
FBI allegation - disproven; rumor; and no investigation to date has proved a quid pro quo - but keep making up your conspiracy theories.
Well some news organizations do not believe it is a disproven rumor. It will be interesting how much they will pursue it after the election results. Politically, it probably best to let the Clintons disappear into the Sunset. http://bit.ly/2eWL2Hy Here is one very blatant example of the corruption there are more http://wapo.st/2cDnsDb
Mideast - geez, the president and his administration determine those policies - not the Sec. of State. You repeat a tired old meme
Well I guess a Secretary of State that has no effect on foreign policy seems like a nice sinecure. It is not something I would tout as a prelude for being president. So why do people cite it as a reason for her to be considered.
You ignore reality - Clinton received 1,000,000+ more votes; three states swung to Trump by less than 150,000 votes
This is irrelevant (her current margin is not that large) as we do not have a popular vote election but 51 of them. I happen to like the electoral college system as it gives each state an important input into the election. Reducing the election to the person who gets the most votes would shift focus to a few large cities and about 80% of the country would never see a presidential candidate. The current system forces people to consider many areas in the country and gives these smaller areas a bigger say. I favor a way that both Maine and Nebraska use, each congressional district gets one electoral college vote. Pennsylvania was considering such a change but rejected it. I hope other states go forward with it.
Clinton as senator - you may want to ask those in NYC who benefited from the billions in federal funding that she led and received after 9/11 to name one of the most glaring accomplishments.
Yes she did help and she should be recognized for her hard work on this. What else? As far as your examples of Democratic good works: Most consider the Affordable Care Act a failure. The Democrats and their policies were the main cause of the housing crisis so I would not cite them as a positive force here. Minimum wage hikes have the effect of putting people out of work so some are helped but usually not the poor. Citing the return of the military from Iraq and Afghanistan as a positive is interesting. Have you checked what is going on there lately especially Iraq and Syria. I am still waiting for something positive the Democrats have done.
Kevin Murphy
1 year 6 months ago
Exactly. Her whole life has been a mission to gain money and power. It has nothing to do with her gender. If America can accept gay marriage it surely will accept a woman president. She had no accomplishments and took no prisoners. It all caught up with her.
Joshua DeCuir
1 year 6 months ago
Yikes; talk about a piece that seems to have been composed in an isolation bubble. And I say that as someone who voted for Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the reason many people don't like or connect with her is that she comes off as ruthlessly seeking power for power's own sake. I'm sorry, but she has conducted herself with an air of invincibility that caused concern among her own staff. The New York Times article today reports that her campaign poll tested 84(!) campaign slogans, & at the end her senior aides emailed "Do we have any sense from her what she believes, or wants her core message to be?" No one could answer that question. This is not to mention that she & her husband have used their "public service" to become immensely rich & live a lifestyle that, if they were Republicans like Mitt Romney, I have no doubt there would be much criticism of. Is she competent, intelligent, tough? Yes. So are a lot of people that are not entitled to be President. You can lay a lot of blame on things, but I don't think it's too much to expect some criticism of a woman who at the end of the day (& 84 campaign slogans later) still couldn't tell anyone why she wanted to be President. By the way, I did word search looking for an article from 2012 which celebrated Mitt Romney's contributions to America & lauding his service. Funny thing, but nothing came up.
L J
1 year 6 months ago
The Catholic word that fits this article is "hubris" CBS News was surprisingly Catholic in tone - penitent. Not so for the Jesuit periodical "Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists...." "It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing. There’s been some sympathy from the press, sure: the dispatches from “heroin country” that read like reports from colonial administrators checking in on the natives. But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness." "You’d think that Trump’s victory – the one we all discounted too far in advance – would lead to a certain newfound humility in the political press. But of course that’s not how it works. To us, speaking broadly, our diagnosis was still basically correct. The demons were just stronger than we realized. " "This is all a “whitelash,” you see. Trump voters are racist and sexist, so there must be more racists and sexists than we realized. Tuesday night’s outcome was not a logic-driven rejection of a deeply flawed candidate named Clinton; no, it was a primal scream against fairness, equality, and progress. Let the new tantrums commence!" "That’s the fantasy, the idea that if we mock them enough, call them racist enough, they’ll eventually shut up and get in line.".... "Journalists increasingly don’t even believe in the possibility of reasoned disagreement, and as such ascribe cynical motives to those who think about things a different way." http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-the-unbearable-smugness-of-the-press-presidential-election-2016/
Carlos Orozco
1 year 6 months ago
HRC has nobody to blame but herself. As senator she voted for the disastrous imperial war against Iraq; has always been a hardcore supporter of abortion; as Secretary of State she was instrumental in setting Libya and Syria on fire ("We came, we saw, he died!") ; lied to the families of the Benghazi victims on the reason behind the attack; cheated Bernie Sanders for the Democrat candidacy in coordination with the DNC; cheated Bernie Sanders in coordination with corporate media for debate questions; conspired along with John Kerry in secret weekly meeting in the State Department to remove obstacles that could prevent her from getting elected President; deleted some 30k+ emails after Congress subpoenaed them; confessed in emails having opposed public and private policy positions to fool the electorate; conspired with the media to get Donald Trump elected Republican candidate (Fatal Mistake!). What does sexism have to do with the above?
Tim O'Leary
1 year 6 months ago
While I didn't vote for Trump (and never would) or Hillary, unfortunately, I think this article inadvertently demonstrates just another reason Trump won - the default identity politics and sense of entitlement. The author might as well have called the Trump voters "a basket of deplorables" as call them racists or sexists. It is the bigotry of low expectations to think that the only reason a woman doesn't get a vote is because of her sex. Hillary Clinton gave a good concession speech, and I wish her well. But, she was a particularly flawed candidate. Recall that she is the second most unfavorable candidate ever to run for President - according to months of polls. She constantly gave the air of entitlement (its my time, I'm with her, etc.), and duplicity (her emails kept catching her in falsehoods and forced her to keep updating her carefully chosen words). She never really showed any concern for the little people. This 200+ multi-millionaire never made anything, never built anything, never created any value, and claimed (falsely) she was "dead broke" coming out of the White House. She rightly attacked Trump for his boorishness but attacked the women who charged her husband with even worse. Most telling of all, she had absolutely no desire to protect the unborn. It is an insufficient excuse to say she has never been convicted. Neither has Trump - but that doesn't mean he is innocent. Despite all this, she might still have won. She had all the elites of America on her side, in politics, in academia, in the rich mainstream media, in the richer entertainment industry, and the richest of Wall Street (Bloomberg, etc.) voted for her. She also had all the dependents of government and the whole grievance industry. She and the Obama administration failed the common lower middle class man and women while they constantly purveyed the political correctness of racial and sexual entitlements. In the end it was a very close race: 50:50. The next women who runs for president only has to be a little better than Clinton to win in America. I hope the first women president is a Republican pro-life women.
Vince Killoran
1 year 6 months ago
I opposed HRC for her centrist ideology and neoliberalism. After voting (and canvassing for) Bernie Sanders in our state primary I held my nose and voted for her. I do fear for our country. The DNC must shoulder much of the burden for what they did to the Democratic Party over these last several decades.
John Scaring
1 year 6 months ago
With over 200 million people voting in a U.S. election, it's impossible to say why most people voted the way they did, but I am extremely skeptical that people voted for DT and against HRC because they are sexists. For Catholic voters, is it possible that they voted against HRC and for DT, despite his deep, deep flaws, because of her staunch support of abortion? Doesn't a Catholic have an obligation not to cooperate with an intrinsic evil? Is it possible that Catholic voters voted against her because she is on record saying that "religious beliefs have to change"? E-mails from her campaign chief showed that "they" had created faux Catholic groups in the hope of changing what they consider a backwards religion? In fact, in her concession speech she couldn't even bring herself to say "free exercise of religion," as it actually says, but that the Constitution protects "freedom of worship?" Is it possible that Catholic voters voted against her because she denies the truth that marriage is between one man and one women, and she promised to appoint judges, not based on them following the law, but based on her own preferences on abortion and same-sex marriage? Is it possible that Catholic voters voted against her because she told Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2007 that she voted against the surge in Iraq, not because it was the right thing to do, but for political purposes, so that she might gain the Democratic party's nomination? Is it possible that Catholic voters voted against her because she chose a VP who is described by the media as "devout," but has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and has said the Church will change on same-sex marriage despite the clear and longstanding teachings of the Church?
Magdalene Maximilian
1 year 6 months ago
Voted against her because she is EVIL. Did not matter about the one she choose as running mate. The choice of a dissenting Catholic is done on purpose. Trump is NO saint for sure but perhaps we still have a chance for a rule of law? Perhaps the constitution will not continue to be shredded? Perhaps political correctness from the government will stop bullying people who live their true convictions? Perhaps a bit of common sense can enter in? We can only hope. The path of Alinksky-ites is one of death.
Eugene Fitzpatrick
1 year 6 months ago
Hillary Clinton's support for Israel's ongoing rape of Palestine has been enormous and longstanding. Her malicious embrace of Israel's ignominy is all voters needed to appreciate that they might reject her for any governmental position, let alone the presidency. Ms. Patterson's paean to this perverse individual is quite bizarre.
Lisa Weber
1 year 6 months ago
I do not know why people voted for Trump. I have asked and been astonished by the answers I have received. Trump supporters are a mixed group with many good people in it. My best guess is that most Trump supporters were uninformed. The campaign was sexist and brutal. Hillary Clinton modeled grace under pressure. If she erred in her campaign, she erred on the side of being too nice. She stuck to the facts and was diplomatic instead of pointing out Trump's failings in the same kind of language he used against her. She leaves an honorable legacy and I am glad. What we have to look at now is Trump himself, and it is an ugly picture. I doubt he will last long in the White House because he will be unable to govern. He has no experience. He has made too many enemies and has too many liabilities with the potential to result in impeachment. He cannot even keep his transition team together. Donald Trump will make it clear that Hillary Clinton was by far the better choice.
JoAnn Baca
1 year 6 months ago
Nailed it. Thank you!
Magdalene Maximilian
1 year 6 months ago
Yes, there is a legacy that may be added to when this woman is in prison for her crimes. How dare Amerika mag extoll this passionate pro-abortion woman! Shame on you!
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 6 months ago
I learned a lot from watching Hillary. I continue to learn, even after she lost the election. I watch how she is gracious in the face of attack, how she is able to find her own path and not apologize for it, how she believes in herself even though she knows it is ultimately not about her. I have not had many strong women that I could watch this up close in my life. Women who could show me that I had this inherent integrity as a woman as well. That I could trust it and I could follow it. Thank you, Hillary.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

An official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, center, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Others in photo from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; center row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
A poll found that 66 percent of the British public declared they were not interested in the Windsor wedding.
David StewartMay 23, 2018
God simply is a triad of love: a going out in love, a return in love and thus, ever more, love itself.
Terrance KleinMay 23, 2018
The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018