The Quick Startup Guide to Hillary

Hillary Clinton.  Hillary.  Hillary Clinton.  What do you think, I wonder, when you hear the name?  What did I?  

I’m a millennial who didn’t vote for Hillary in 2008.  Back then, I was still in college in Washington, DC.  It was an exciting time.  As an intern for Senator Kennedy, I could just walk over from our offices in the Russell Senate Office Building to Obama’s office—two buildings down—where there was a constant sense of excitement mounting.  I sat in on a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing where Obama questioned General Petraeus.  The room was packed and electric.  Obama—no drama!—was sober and level-headed.  

But I wasn’t an immediate Obama voter.  My roommate at the time was.  His argument: “Here is somebody who could completely change…everything.”  My argument: “Yeah, maybe.  Someday.  But Obama doesn’t have enough experience.  Give him time to learn more, to work more, to actually accomplish something!”  

What did I think of Hillary?  Not much.  I thought—and have for years—that Hillary was the wife.  The wife of Bill.  It's true, she was.  The wife of the President.  Ambitious, sure.  Thoughtful, maybe.  Smart?  She seemed smart.  She was the wife of Bill and liked the White House.  She was the wife of Bill and wanted more.  Who could blame her?  Who could fault her?  Wouldn't you?  She ran for the Senate and she won.  She won and she worked.  And she worked and she worked until she could run for President.  

That's what I thought.  That's what I knew in 2008—when the excitement was with the Democrats.  And though I wasn't sold on Barack from the beginning, I watched him; I studied.  And I saw: he got better on the campaign trail.  He got smarter on foreign policy.  He grew into a qualified candidate.  Hillary I didn't need to study.  Hillary I didn't need to watch.  Hillary I knew.  Like everyone else.  The most famous woman in the world.

When my Florida absentee ballot arrived, Obama had already secured the nomination—but that didn’t stop me from making a thoughtful choice.  I voted for Barack Obama.  

Eight years later, and Hillary’s back.  Eight years later and she’s asking for my vote again.  But this time—this time I’m taking a closer look.  This time I want to know—who is she, really?  Over the last few months, I’ve read articles and op-eds, commentaries and comment-sections—even a great biography by Carl Bernstein.  I’ve watched speeches and debates and town halls—trying to understand this person whose very name connotes understanding.  And based on what I've seen and read and realized—Hillary Clinton is not the cardboard cutout I thought she was. 

I made a mistake eight years ago.  And so did a lot of my friends.  We won’t make the same mistake again.  And you shouldn’t either.  Because from what I’ve seen, she might actually be better than Obama.  Better than Bill.  Better than anyone who thinks they know her knows.  

Here's why.  Here's the quick startup guide to Hillary: 

Hillary is not just “a First Lady with ambition.”  

I had always assumed that Hillary was a very smart woman married to the president who decided to run for office. 

But that’s not her story at all.  Hillary was on track to be a political superstar long before she met Bill Clinton.  In fact, it’s entirely possible that if there was no Bill Clinton, she could have been elected president in 1992. 

Not long after she accepted [Bill’s marriage proposal], [Bill] told Betsey Wright that he and Hillary were going to be married. Wright was not pleased. “I really started in on how he couldn’t do that. He shouldn’t do that. That he could find anybody he wanted to be a political wife, but we’d [the women’s movement] never find anybody like her” to run for political office. Wright promptly called Hillary and told her she hoped Hillary wouldn’t marry Bill. Hillary laughed and said she was going to marry Bill and live in Arkansas. Elective office was not the only way to lead. She was going to make a difference wherever she was living. —Carl Bernstein, 'A Woman in Charge'

Hillary established a reputation for making change rather than enemies—even in college. 

Hillary was elected Student Body President at Wellesley College in 1968—after a three week campaign that saw her knocking door-to-door in every single dorm on campus.  As president, she focused on making change happen, rather than making enemies: “Part of her skill was finding a careful middle ground that brought progress without engendering unnecessary enmity,” her biographer Carl Bernstein wrote.  "Fellow students, even those uncomfortable with her politics, were drawn to Hillary’s natural warmth, humor, and obvious ability to get the job done. There was something both generous and gracious about her character that made people like being around her. She possessed a seemingly unselfish ability to praise others, recognize their personal concerns, remember meaningful details about their lives.” 

What did she get done?  

At Hillary’s insistence, a summer Upward Bound program for inner-city children was initiated on campus, antiwar activities were conducted in college facilities, the skirt rule had been rescinded, grades were given on a pass-fail basis, parietal rules were a thing of the past, interdisciplinary majors were permitted for the first time.  —Carl Bernstein, 'A Woman in Charge' 

Just a pause here—to explain parietal rules.  Wellesley was a woman's college—one of the seven sister colleges that were made to mirror the all-male Ivy League schools of the day.  As a woman’s college of its time, men were not allowed in dorm rooms.  Hillary helped put an end to that.

She has always been the opposite of Bernie Sanders.

The biggest difference between her and so many others in politics today?  One that was there from the beginning: a “willingness to participate in the drudgery of government rather than simply direct policy from Olympian heights," Bernstein explained.  "She attended committee meetings, became involved in the minutiae (of finding a better system for the return of library books, for instance), and studied every aspect of the Wellesley curriculum in developing a successful plan to reduce the number of required courses.” 

As a fellow student said of her at the time: “she was more interested in the process of achieving victory than in taking a philosophical position that could not lead anywhere.”  Is there any better way of contrasting her with Bernie Sanders?  

The death of Martin Luther King, Jr. was a test of leadership for Hillary. 

One of her most significant moments as student body president at Wellesley came in April 1968—when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated: 

Hearing the news, she stormed into a dorm room, shaking and shouting. She threw her book bag against the wall. One witness said she screamed, “I can’t stand it anymore! I can’t take it!”…King was perhaps the man she admired most in the country, if not the world. She had met him in 1962, shaken his hand, sat spellbound as he preached, twice. —Carl Bernstein, 'A Woman in Charge' 

It was just two months after her election as president—and the town exploded.  Students threatened to go on hunger strikes if Wellesley didn’t hire more black faculty and admit more black students.  Other students planned on shutting down the school.  

Instead, Hillary put herself forward as a mediator between students and the administration—in search of a solution.  With her leadership, a solution was struck: the college promised to recruit more minority students and faculty.  Wellesley even committed to pushing other employers in the region to create better living conditions and job opportunities for minorities.  

Hillary has been studying how to make government more effective for the poor since she was an undergraduate.

What did she study as an undergrad?  Her thesis was on the effectiveness of public programs.  She went to the same kind of impoverished neighborhoods of Chicago that Obama would one day organize in—speaking to community leaders to see if Lyndon Johnson’s anti-poverty programs were on the right track.  Her conclusion?  They weren’t.  The programs put too much on the shoulders of community members without providing enough federal resources to get the job done.  As part of the project, she interviewed Saul Alinsky, the famed organizer—gaining his trust and even a job offer.  

Hillary came to national prominence before Bill Clinton.  

Hillary was the first student in Wellesley’s history to ever speak at her graduation—but that’s not what made the headlines.  It's what she said.  Her speech followed a guest commencement by Senator Edward Brooke, the only black member of the Senate at the time—and the only member of the chamber who wasn’t white.  Hillary had campaigned for him as a freshman, but his speech was disappointing.  More than disappointing, it seemed to side with Nixon on the war in Vietnam—and called anti-war and civil rights demonstrations “coercive protest.”  He said he had “empathy” with their goals, but that was about it.  Hillary rejected his premise:

I find myself in a familiar position, that of reacting, something that our generation has been doing for quite a while now. We're not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable task of criticizing and constructive protest… —Hillary Clinton

Constructive protest. 

I find myself reacting just briefly to some of the things that Senator Brooke said…Part of the problem with empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn't do us anything. We've had lots of empathy; we've had lots of sympathy… —Hillary Clinton

But it wasn't enough. 

She went on to highlight three key themes: integrity, respect, and trust.  

Integrity: “If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know.”

Respect: “There's that mutuality of respect between people where you don't see people as percentage points. Where you don't manipulate people…”

Trust: “Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said 'Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust.' What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted? All they can do is keep trying again and again and again. There's that wonderful line in 'East Coker' by Eliot about there's only the trying, again and again and again; to win again what we've lost before.”

The speech gained national recognition and earned Hillary a prominent place in the student protest movement.  You can read her full speech here.

She chose to go into law because politics alone couldn't get things done.  

Hillary chose to go to Yale Law School because it was part of a movement—sparked by Thurgood Marshall and civil rights lawyers—that began to recognize law as a powerful force for social change.  It wasn’t just Congress or the Presidency that could reshape the country.  Her interests “were not in the legal academy. They were in the legal profession and the use of law in the service of people,” a classmate said. 

She also chose Yale for a very different reason—it wasn’t as sexist as Harvard. On a tour of the Harvard Law School, one top professor told her: “we don’t need any more women.”  Even at Yale, she was just one of 27 women in a school of 235 students. Yes, even at Yale, women only comprised 11 percent of the student body.  A big difference when you’re coming from a place like Wellesley—where it’s 100 percent women.  

Classes were an afterthought to her time at Yale. 

She served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.  And she joined pioneering children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman to research the discrimination facing migrant farm laborers and their families.  She then developed this information into data for a Senate Subcommittee.  As Bernstein notes, it was “an education in how the most powerless citizens were further punished by malevolent government and misuse of the law.”  

She also worked to expand her own understanding:  

She audited classes at Yale’s medical school and worked at the Yale–New Haven Hospital on problems of children’s physical and mental health, including child abuse—which was being seriously studied for the first time as a significant sociological phenomenon. She helped establish the hospital’s legal procedures dealing with incoming cases of suspected child abuse. At the Yale Child Study Center, she spent much of the academic year observing clinical sessions with children and attending subsequent case discussions with their doctors. The center’s director [and one of her professors]…asked her to become their research assistant on a book…Beyond the Best Interests of the Child, [that] became a standard text of the era. —Carl Bernstein, 'A Woman in Charge'

When they met, Hillary was a bigger deal than Bill Clinton.

When they first started dating at Yale, Hillary carried more cache than Bill Clinton.  In fact, according to Bernstein, some thought that Bill Clinton’s initial interest in her was just a way for him to cash in on that cache.  To (as Bernstein put it) trade “on her renown to advance his own stature on campus and beyond.” 

She has the martial spirit that Obama lacks. 

You know that recent Obama Supreme Court pick?  The one that seems a little lukewarm?  A little too old?  A little too white?  A little too middle-of-the-road for progressives?  Hillary’s not like that.  Here’s Bernstein defining how she differs from Bill—describing her toughness:

…A kind of military rigor: reading the landscape, seeing the obstacles, recognizing which ones are malevolent or malign, and taking expedient action accordingly. Bill’s process is different. He is slow to recognize the malevolence in others, he wants to assume the best about them, and he is willing to spend months trying to win their hearts and minds. Hillary means to cut off the enemy at the pass. Carl Bernstein, 'A Woman in Charge'

Her first job out of law school was on the Watergate Impeachment investigation. 

She was there in the Miami Convention Hall in 1968 when Nixon accepted the nomination.  There in the room and disgusted by the direction of the Republican Party.  And just a few years later she was on Capitol Hill, working as a lawyer on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee to take him down.  

In Arkansas, she broke glass ceilings all over the place. 

When Bill Clinton told his mom Virginia that his fiancé Hillary wouldn’t be taking his last name—that she would remain “Hillary Rodham”—Bill’s mom literally cried.  It was so contentious that a friend called Hillary his “political Waterloo.”  During Bill's run for Governor, it was just the first of a thousand so-called “scandals” targeting her: 

Clinton’s opponents criticized him for having a wife with a career—a lawyer to boot—who was so independent-minded that she wouldn’t take her husband’s name. The “name issue” would become one of the most talked about of the campaign. Men and women around the state argued publicly and privately about it. “People thought even his wife didn’t like him enough to take his name,” said an acerbic political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Meredith Oakley, who would make a name for himself writing about the Clintons. Within the campaign itself and among supporters, there were a number who urged Hillary directly to change her mind. Carl Bernstein, 'A Woman in Charge'

But that wasn’t the only convention she flaunted.  In Arkansas, she joined one of the top law firms in the state—as the firm’s first woman lawyer.  She wasn’t afraid of the boy’s club.  “In our morning meetings she didn’t hold her tongue,” a partner at the time remembered. “She was simply never intimidated by anyone, partner or client, and that in itself is often intimidating to others.”

Hillary went to battle with President Reagan—and won.

In the late 70s, Hillary was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as chair of the board of the Legal Services Corporation.  The organization served the poor and downtrodden—those who by no fault of their own couldn't afford an attorney.   At the time, the Legal Services Corporation oversaw five thousand lawyers handling a million cases a year.  Cases by the poor.  The abused.  The vulnerable.  Hillary was the first woman ever to hold the post.  And she was confirmed by Congress.  But it wasn’t an easy job.  

Republicans hated the program—and maybe none more than Ronald Reagan.  In 1980, Reagan was Governor of California and angling to be the Republican Nominee for President.  When he tried to cut legal services for the poor, Hillary fought back. She led an effort to convince the board to completely reject his plans in California.  And she won!  But Reagan wasn’t done with the Legal Services Corporation yet.  

When he was elected to the presidency, Reagan struck back. He lobbied Congress to cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.  He even tried to stuff the board with appointees to shut it down.  As chair, Hillary didn’t let it happen.  First, she sought a restraining order to stop Reagan’s appointees from meeting and coordinating before their confirmation by the Senate.  Then, she rallied with Democrats on Capitol Hill.  The result?  The Senate rejected Reagan’s conservative nominees.  Under her leadership and in spite of Reagan, she increased the organization's funding from $90 million to $300 million—more than tripling its impact.  Still in her early thirties, she had gone to battle with President Reagan—twice—and won both times.  

She once served as "best person" in a friend's wedding—and wore a tuxedo. 

Enough said. 

Oh yeah, and through all of this, she killed it as a lawyer. 

After helping take down Nixon, her first job in Arkansas was as a professor of criminal law at the University of Arkansas. A decade later, she was repeatedly listed as one of America’s 100 most powerful lawyers by The National Law Journal.  And she kept publishing influential journal articles.  In 1992, the New York Review of Books looked at her impact on the legal profession and declared: “She is one of the more important scholar-activists of the last two decades…what set her apart from other successful and scrambling lawyers was her attempt to undergird practical activity with legal theory.”  

Her focus?  Extending and defending the rights of children. “She deplored the ad hoc nature of reform efforts in a field where slogans and sentiment blunt responses to the right-wing defense of ‘family values,’” Garry Wills wrote in the New York Review of Books.  Here’s just a quick survey of some of her writings of that time:

  • 'Children Under the Law' in Harvard Educational Review

  • 'Children's Policies: Abandonment and Neglect' in Yale Law Journal

  • 'Children's Rights: A Legal Perspective' in Children's Rights: Contemporary Perspectives

  • 'Teacher Education: Of the People, By the People, and For the People' on Teacher Education Policies, Practices, and Research’ published by the Center For Teacher Education, University of Texas

She confronted China’s human rights abuses—and advanced the women’s movement—in one of the top 100 speeches of the 20th century.  

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

Hillary declared to a packed crowd.  It was 1995 and she was addressing the United Nations Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing, China.  The speech is ranked number 35 on American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century (ahead of Bill, who ranks at 90 on the list).  And it almost didn’t happen.  There were those throughout the Clinton Administration who cautioned against her going to China.  Upsetting the Chinese government.  But she insisted.  And in so doing, she made a lasting impact on the global women’s movement. 

One fact she mentions that isn’t underscored enough—and that she would do well to highlight during her historic election this year: “It took 150 years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence for women to win the right to vote.”  

Also striking in the speech are echoes of phrases she still uses 20 years later, such as “that everyone can live up to their God-given potential.”  The first six minutes of the speech focus on conference logistics—so start at 6:13—

Hillary learns from her mistakes.

Watching these past few months as she has refined her style, it’s clear that Hillary is someone who is constantly evolving her tactics, constantly learning and making adjustments. Called too laid back at one debate, she brought the fire.  Called too bracing, she turned on the charm.  But it’s not just an issue of style.  Look at her work on universal healthcare in the early 90s.  When her proposal failed spectacularly, she evolved that effort into a success on the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Her biographer described it like this: “Hillary’s finely tuned sense of her own evolution, the ability to learn from her mistakes, to replay in her mind the macro-and micro-factors that moved a project from conception to realization or collapse and then rearrange them to get a more satisfactory result the next time, had always been part of her makeup.” 

The most that any of her personal emails have revealed is the human behind the politician. 

The email controversy continues to swirl—but one good thing that’s come of it is the insight it provides into the daily life of this modern Secretary of State.  Including some pretty funny moments.  The following are gleaned from an incredible article by Michael Kruse.

… right now I’m fighting w the WH operator who doesn’t believe I am who I say I am and wants my direct office line even tho I’m not there and I just (g)ave him my home # and the State Dept # and I told him I had no idea what my direct office # was since I didn’t call myself and I just hung up and am calling thru Ops like a proper and properly dependent Secretary of State – no independent dialing allowed.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC)

Or this goofy email about apples from New York State:  

How can I buy some for personal use? —HRC

When she breaks her elbow in her first year, get well messages stream in.  She responds:  

Thank you for your good wishes. I am finally on the mend and starting physical therapy. One word of advice — watch where you step! —HRC

When she is interviewed by Chelsea Clinton for a Clinton Global Initiative event, Hillary writes to a friend:

I had to concentrate so hard on the purpose of the conversation just to avoid acting like a total goofball mother overcome by pride and struck dumb! —HRC

And she notices things.  She remarks on the beauty of snow—even when it may get in the way of her making it to work.  She delights in a trip to Paris.  And the design of carpets in a state visit to China:  

Can you contact your protocol friend in China and ask him if I could get photos of the carpets of the rooms I met in w POTUS during the recent trip? I loved their designs and the way they appeared carved. Any chance we can get this? —HRC

And whenever you hear her current or former staffers talk about her, it’s always as a demanding but pretty good boss.  

“You’re doing a wonderful job,” she writes to [her deputy, Jake] Sullivan.
“I’m both delighted and honored to call you a colleague,” she writes to Deputy Secretary Bill Burns.
“I appreciate your efforts in producing such a first-rate product,” she writes to aide Dan Schwerin. 
—Michael Kruse in Politico

For more insight into her as a boss, listen to this insightful interview with Neera Tanden, former policy director for Hillary in the Senate.

Those who say that Hillary is bad at campaigning haven’t been watching this election cycle.  

If Hillary suffers from anything, it’s an outdated understanding of who she is and what she’s capable of.  Because she’s constantly learning and improving, there’s a tendency for old stories to get lodged in the media narrative.  Even after she’s grown past them.  For instance—this idea that she’s bad at campaigning.  From what I’ve seen this election cycle, she is blowing away every low expectation.  Her debating skills are consistently on point.  And she excels in the most personal settings—like town halls.  Where Barack stumbles, she shines. Where Bernie fails to acknowledge the humanity of the questioner, she responds in humane terms.  

Compare, for example, Bernie’s answer to this question: 

With Hillary’s answer:  

What others see as strategies, she sees as tactics.  

Hillary doesn’t believe in symbolic wins.  She also doesn’t believe in shallow goals.  What’s a shallow goal?  How about raising the Social Security income cap beyond $120,000?  When asked in a Town Hall if she agreed with it, her response was revealing. Watch this answer: 

Where others might see this as a goal in itself—or a strategy to reach a goal—she sees it simply as one tactic in a three dimensional game of chess.  One choice of many choices.  One choice to weigh against the choices of the opposition on the track to reaching an ultimate goal: effective policy (or in this case, solvent Social Security).  She repeatedly demonstrates a 360 degree view of this and nearly every issue tossed her way.  Even to the point of explaining her opponent’s ideas better than her opponent.

Hillary, if elected, will be able to hit the ground running like no other President in modern history. 

It’s not just that she’s watched and learned directly from the mistakes and missteps of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—she’s also doing everything possible to prepare her administration today.  She’s like the student who gets the syllabus a few months early and not only completes the reading—but has outlined every assignment before the first day of class. 

She wouldn’t just be the first woman president—but a president who uniquely leans on the advice and counsel of women.  

Look at Hillary’s campaign staff.  More than 50 percent are women, 40 percent of her senior staff are people of color, and one third of her 500+ staff nationwide are people of color.  Throughout her career, she has elevated women to senior positions—and there’s no reason to expect anything different from a Madam President.  In a world where who-is-in-the-room matters more than ever, she’ll finally inject some balance into the unfairly unbalanced history of male-dominated policymaking.  Here’s hoping for at least 150 years of female-majority decision-making in this country.  


When the argument broke out a few months ago over who was a “progressive,” Hillary described herself as a “progressive who likes to get things done.”  That may sound simplistic, but it’s supremely accurate.  And yet, she continues to be defined by those who disagree with her:

  • As someone who can’t be trusted.  
  • As someone who is working only for herself.  
  • As someone in the pocket of moneyed interests.  
  • As someone who only cares about the establishment and advancing the status-quo.  

Why is that?  Why do so many view her so negatively?  

Here’s one theory: she has been defined by her critics because her critics have had the microphone longer than she has.  Consider this: when you’re running for public office, you have a platform to define who you are and what you stand for.  It’s one long job interview—and it’s all about you.  But Hillary hasn’t had all that many interviews.  While she’s been in public service for much of her life, she hasn’t actually been elected to many public offices.  Just the Senate, in fact.  And just twice before running for president in 2008.  

Think about it: all those years next to Bill Clinton, her job wasn’t to define herself.  To stand up for herself.  To explain and espouse her own policies and values—it was to support her husband.  And all those years as President Obama’s Secretary of State; her job wasn’t to hold press conferences about herself and her policies—it was to support her president. One might argue that her run in 2008 should have been all the time in the world to reintroduce Hillary to the public—but in truth, she didn’t even make it to the general election.  It was only about six months of serious campaigning.  Not nearly enough time to reform her image—to retake it after the decades she had to sit silently by while others chiseled away at her character.   

But this election season?  

This election season, I’ve tried to mute all of those ready-made reactions—the ones that say she’s cold and calculating, that she can’t be trusted, that she is only in it for herself.  The commentators and critics.  Instead, I’ve tried to listen to those who have known and worked with her.  And I’ve tried to hear what she has to say.  To see how she acts.  To understand—even just a little—how she operates.  And what I’ve seen is someone so very different from the conventional wisdom.  And someone even more different from past Presidential contenders.  

There have been Presidents who excite us by their speeches.  Presidents who inspire us by their past accomplishments.  Presidents who dared us to dream big, and to think beyond ourselves.  But Hillary?  She is the first in memory who excites based not on the intangibles of vision and rhetoric, but her very real capability to get things done.  To transform a shared vision into reality.  I think she is supremely capable—but I believe that her lifetime of service has demonstrated that she is also supremely inspired.  I am confident that she won’t just tackle the problems that cross her desk—but that she will rise beyond the daily crisis, harnessing her experience and capability to move this country forward in bold ways.  Because from everything I’ve learned, Hillary could be the greatest President of this century.  If we only give her the chance to put everything she’s learned into positive action.  

Let’s not miss this opportunity to choose a great President.  

That was the conclusion, but here's even more—

The article's over.  But because I mostly wanted to focus on two parts of Hillary's life (before she was First Lady and during this election season), I’ve skipped a whole lot of her actual accomplishments.  So here’s a freebie:  

She’s accomplished more than anyone who has run for President in the past few decades.

Republicans like to ask: what has Hillary actually accomplished? Here’s a long list of short answers if you ever get quizzed:  

  • As chair of the Legal Services Corporation, she tripled the budget—despite President Reagan’s repeated attempts to kill the program.  
  • As chairwoman of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, she successfully brought core classes like physics, math, foreign languages and music to more than 200 high schools, and increased the number of high school graduates going to college by 25 percent within four years.  
  • Led the fight for universal healthcare in the early 1990s.
  • As one of the most prominent women in the world, she went to China and proclaimed that “women’s rights are human rights.”  Later, as Secretary of State, she reprised that speech, proclaiming to the world that “gay rights are human rights.”  
  • She was a leader in the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which to this day helps millions of uninsured children access healthcare.  
  • As First Lady, she helped shepherd the Adoption and Safe Families Act to passage, which changed the way the country looked at adoption—focusing on the needs of children ahead of all other needs.  It was an idea that she herself helped develop two years before and one that ultimately increased foster adoptions by more than 60 percent. 
  • She broke the glass ceiling repeatedly, including serving as the first female senator from the state of New York and the first former First Lady ever to win elective office.
  • As Senator for New York on 9/11, she helped secure $21 billion to rebuild the city—and fought to pass legislation to provide first responders with health care. 
  • As a Senator, she was an advocate for veterans and service-members.  On the Senate Armed Services Committee, she introduced legislation to help family members care for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.  She also worked across the aisle (with Senator Lindsey Graham, no less) to expand health care access for members of the National Guard and reservists.  For those who had lost loved ones who served, she worked to increase military survivor benefits from $12,000 to $100,000.  And she fought and succeeded in keeping the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open, saving 800 jobs in New York.  
  • In the Senate, she championed immigration reform, serving as a key member fighting to pass the DREAM Act.  
  • In the Senate, she co-wrote a law that requires drug companies to actually safety-test drugs before they are prescribed to children—and to relabel drugs with information about safety and dosing for children. 
  • In the Senate, she “led the charge” on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which ensured that companies could be held accountable for equal-pay discrimination.
  • As Secretary of State, she played a key role in the decision-making behind the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. 
  • As Secretary of State, she promoted American interests in China.  During that period, exports to China increased 50 percent.  
  • As Secretary of State, she brought China and Russia to the table—leading to the harshest-ever sanctions on Iran.  This effort ultimately resulted in the nuclear deal with Iran, which more than any other action may have kept the United States from going to war.  
  • As Secretary of State, she achieved the New START nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.  
  • Speaking of Russia, she achieved a number of successes on that front: in addition to the New START treaty, she got Russia to agree to bring sanctions against Iran and convinced Russia to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution granting intervention in Libya.  
  • As Secretary of State, she personally negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.  
  • As Secretary of State, she created a new position—the “Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues,” which works to promote women politically, economically, and socially around the world.  #ImWithHer


Hillary Clinton did not win the presidential election—though she did earn more votes.  I've written about the outcome here and here

As Hillary said: "Turning the personal into the political is sometimes the only way to stay true to the personal."

This election was personal to me.  It's time now, more than ever, to turn the personal impact of that outcome into real political change.  Keep fighting. 

—Brendan (February 2017)