I’ve been thinking about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy from a distinctly feminine perspective. I have a certain standing in this matter, having run for office in a Republican primary back in 1984.
This may make some readers wince, but I would like to begin this blog by saying at the outset that, by sheer breadth of experience in government, Hillary Clinton is probably one of the two most qualified candidates for the presidency we’ve ever had. The other is George H.W. Bush. On the issue of life experience, he topped Hillary by having six children to her one, but Barbara Bush did most of that, I think.
It’s rather curious the animosity Hillary inspires in so many, as though there were substance to amorphous suspicions that a huge investment in time and money have failed legally to ratify. There is a sense that her ambition is “unnatural” in a woman, but what’s the real source of resentment?
Maybe the real deal for many is the way in which she has invaded the male domain in mastering the way things work in running for high office. Hillary has probably for decades been laying the groundwork for this campaign–rounding up the money and the contacts, learning how to wheel and deal, barter influence, negotiate, and work the public mind and the issues to win. That’s the way our democracy works. If we don’t like the look of that skill in a woman, we need to eliminate the need for it in everybody. Maybe she’ll even help with that if she wins.
The qualification issue is central, and that takes me back to my own campaign back in Houston in 1984. I didn’t win a seat in the House of Representatives, and I still think with gratitude of those who supported me in spite of knowing that my chances were very slim. I was naïve in my ambition, but I was thinking about my eligibility in an old-fashioned way. I had the lay of the land government-wise after working in Washington for two representatives and one senator and on two congressional committees. And I had a business perspective from managing government relations for a big multinational corporation. In addition, I had always worked like a Turk–I hope this isn’t racist–and was rewarded for that everywhere I went.
I decided to run for office because I thought that Representative Ron Paul, a Libertarian, was so extreme in his views that he was wasting a Republican seat in Congress. However, I didn’t realize that the Republican Party I had grown up with was on the threshold of a great and calculated shift to the far right that was actually much in line with Paul’s perspective. I also didn’t know that he would change course and run for the Senate. When he did, I was suddenly joined by five other candidates for the seat he was vacating.
Ron Paul didn’t win the Senate seat, and Tom DeLay, a state representative, won in my race by a wide margin. After all, he already had a constituency and was a mover who went on to become the House Majority Leader. He almost went to prison as well, convicted in 2011 on criminal charges of conspiracy to violate election law. The conviction was overturned on a second appeal in 2014. He resigned from Congress but went on with life and even appeared on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Well, I don’t think I would ever have earned the nickname “The Hammer” that DeLay enjoyed, and I doubt that I would have been charged with criminal conspiracy. Maybe I would have just established a reputation for doing a very good job as a legislator, the nitty gritty work, you know. And I lack the star quality that has become important in this media age. Maybe everything worked out for the best.
This train of thought brings up a question, however: How do we get into office the people who are most competent and also most detached from the money and power influences that are clearly undermining our ideal of democracy? Congressional positions and the presidency are, after all, jobs with salaries. One would expect the job application to include relevant expertise but also a clearly defined set of ideals and goals that would presumably be approved by parties in advance, not improvised on the fly.
A Hillary Clinton presidency may be a turning point in this regard. Because she does know how things work and is going to make the most of it, feminine prospects may rise politically as a result of her election, and that will introduce a new quality of change. We are, after all, really different from men in our perspective and way of being but probably different on the whole from the one-of-a-kind Hillary. Those differences could turn out to be very valuable over the long run–a way to help the species survive, you know, as the Dalai Lama suggested. I may refer to him yet again–a very wise man.