Monday, February 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton: The Feminist Myth

Vote for me because...I'm a woman!
Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright introduced Hillary Clinton at an event in New Hampshire on Saturday, telling the crowd and voters in general: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem says young women are supporting Democratic presidential wannabe Bernie Sanders for only one reason — to meet boys.

The pervasive myth is that Hillary Clinton is a strong woman who will break the last glass ceiling.

“Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.”

If Hillary Clinton is elected President it won’t because she is a role model for young women. It will be a validation of the belief that a woman can only advance because of her husband.

The reality is that she used her attachment to a man to advance her career. She leveraged her position as First Lady into a political career.

I am not saying that Mrs. Clinton is not an accomplished individual.

What I am saying is that those accomplishments were built upon the advantage she was accorded as a result of to whom she was married.

Consider the trajectory of her career.
  
In 1976, only three years out of Yale Law School, Bill Clinton was elected as Attorney General of Arkansas, staying in that position until 1979. Hillary co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families in 1977, became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978, and was named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979.

Bill Clinton then served as Governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992. 

While First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and 1983 to 1992, she led a task force that reformed Arkansas' public school system, and served on the board of directors of Wal-Mart among other corporations.

Clinton was elected president in 1992. As First Lady of the United States, Hillary’s major initiative, the Clinton health care plan of 1993, failed to reach a vote in Congress. In 1997 and 1999, she played a leading role in advocating the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act. The only First Lady to have been subpoenaed, she testified before a federal grand jury in 1996 regarding the Whitewater controversy, although no charges against her related to this or other investigations during her husband's presidency were ever brought. Her marriage to the president was subject to considerable public discussion following the Lewinsky scandal of 1998, and overall her role as First Lady drew a polarized response from the American public. She never denounced her husband’s behavior.

After moving to New York, Clinton was elected in 2000 as the first female senator from the state.  She subsequently became Secretary of State in the Obama administration from January 2009 to February 2013. I will argue that the first of these had more to do with her former position as First Lady than anything else. The second had more to do with her prior role as Obama’s primary opponent. While controversy surrounded her activities in the latter role, I am hard-pressed to cite any significant accomplishments.

Hillary Clinton has spent her career serving in primarily subordinate roles. She has demonstrated the skills for detailed analysis. However, she has failed to demonstrate leadership.

Most significantly, however, she has not been a real leader in redefining the role of women in society. Quite the contrary, she has followed a traditional role until she was afforded the opportunity to parlay it onto a larger stage. But, in so doing, she has failed to move beyond the analytical and prescriptive capacity to the ability to demonstrate creative and constructive insight.

She does not live up to the exemplar provided by a Madeleine Albright. She does not compare to the path blazed by an Elizabeth Warren. At best she is a second rate candidate. Nevertheless, she is still better than the fifth rate offerings of the Republican Party.

4 comments:

  1. You make excellent points.

    Electing Hillary will certainly open the way to bringing another Bush into the Whitehouse.

    After four years of Hillary, Andricans will be dieing to have Laura Bush take a turn and she is a more authentic Democrat than Hillary.

    When Hillary was working hard to elect Goldwater in 1964, Laura was supporting LBJ!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well said! I would love to see more women in politics and especially in the White House, but not at any cost. As an older feminist, I'm supporting Bernie because he truly represents my very basic beliefs and not because he is male.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're absolutely correct. How on earth is Hillary Clinton even considered some kind of a feminist icon or role model? She is a total coattail rider if ever there was one. Hillary Clinton would be a great big nothing if it wasn't for being married to Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas and then the president of the United States.

    Ask yourself: had Hillary married Joe Schmoe the Arkansas grocery clerk do you really think you or I or anyone for that matter would have heard of her? Do you think she'd be running for president? Think about it. The first anyone ever heard of Hillary Clinton on a national level was as first lady, the wife of Pres. Clinton. She parlayed that into getting elected as a senator from New York, something which she would never have been able to do on her own merit. She runs for president in 2008 and loses to Obama in the primaries, makes a deal with him to drop out of the race and endorse him for president in exchange for being appointed as secretary of state when he gets elected. Obama gets elected and he appoints Hillary as secretary of state and she proceeds to be terrible at the job. What makes anyone think doing a terrible job as secretary of state qualifies someone to be president?

    And again, as I said nobody would have ever heard of her if she married Joe Schmoe the grocery clerk instead of Bill Clinton. Total coattail rider. The opposite of a self-made woman. This is some kind of feminist role model for women??! Are you effing kidding me??!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. True enough! And there's the added danger of having someone like Cruz as the REP opponent. Hillary is unlikely to beat him and if she were to win, the next four years would be no different than the last four, with Congress doing everything in their power to stop any of her initiatives.

    ReplyDelete

All comments subject to moderation. All commenters must use their own name or a screen name. No comments labelled as "Anonymous" will be published. To use your name or a screen name select "Name/URL" from the drop down menu. Insert you name in the "Name" space and leave the "URL" space blank.