Heartbreak and Hillary

I’ve written before about how much I love Hillary Clinton. I genuinely believe that she has spent every day of her life working to make our world a better place. I have followed her for over a decade–reading her autobiography in the 6th grade, changing our computer background to her image soon afterward. In our social studies mock primary election in 8th grade (2008), I was one of 3 students to vote for Hillary. A few years later, I wrote about her in my college essays, how Hillary Clinton was exactly the kind of person I wanted to be. When she won the Democratic nomination this year, I was in tears. Through all these years, I have waited and waited for Hillary Clinton to finally be my president.

And then in 2016–we were so close. This was to be the year of women. Hillary would shatter that last glass ceiling and pull us all up with her. I spent the night before the election speaking with a group of South Asian-American women. Hillary’s vision for America seemed within reach. But it was not to be: I woke up in the early morning, my stomach churning, and watched the votes pour in. By the time we arrived at school, things were getting worse and once Hillary lost her lead in Pennsylvania, it was clear that America wasn’t headed in the direction I had hoped.

I burst into tears and throughout our day trip to Chandannagar, I wept and wept–for myself, for all women, and for Hillary Clinton. How must it feel to work your entire life for a cause and find yourself passed over for a sham of a competitor? To champion women’s rights across the globe and lose to a self-professed womanizer who boasts about sexual assault?  The most capable woman in America–perhaps the world–lost to a severely unqualified and immoral man.

It’s a story I’ve heard over and over but one I did not expect in 2016. As I wept, I felt dejected. The election felt so personal, the opposition openly spewing racist, sexist, nativist remarks. Huma Abedin, Hillary’s right-hand aide could have become the first South-Asian-American chief of staff. Her cabinet could have reflected our nation’s diversity–her policies would have  brought us closer to equality in both our personal and professional lives.

As I mourned the America within our reach, I watched her concession speech, a truly moving and simple address. She said:

I’ve had successes and setbacks and sometimes painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public, and political careers — you will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is, it is worth it. 

And so we need — we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.

And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams. 

Of course, this too brought me to tears. Even in what is probably the hardest moment of her life, Hillary Clinton is gracious and inspiring. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that Hillary might not be our President–but she definitely can influence how we go about living our lives.

I thought about a phrase I heard earlier this summer, “Anger is a clean burning fuel.” It can create fierce advocates and pull us through the hard times–as these next four years are sure to be. I hope that my heartbreak turns into anger soon but for the time being, I found myself googling, “Is Hillary Clinton okay?” After fighting for all of us for a lifetime, more than anything, she deserves some peace. As for the rest of us? We must harness her spirit and keep marching forward–there is so much work to be done.

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