Hillary Rodham Clinton’s claim that unlike Bill she is not a “natural politician” requires rethinking! Not only has Secretary Clinton been a natural in serving her country as an activist, First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, and yes, a politician, but she has filled those duties with brilliance and a commitment to transformation and reformation of our country and planet. That Clinton has been the “most admired woman in the world” for 14 of the last 20 years (Gallup poll) attests to her leadership.
Younger and other disheartened voters who categorize Clinton as “the Establishment politician” should consider her history. Hillary Rodham Clinton began her political career from the podium of Wellesley College’s 1969 graduation ceremonies. The Administration had selected her to be its first student graduation speaker. As Senator Edward Brooke (R-MA) was delivering a bland, uninspiring keynote speech, Rodham decided to refute his conceptual framework before going to her own text.
Her extemporaneous remarks countered Brooke’s complacency with the status quo. On behalf of her classmates, she stipulated: …. “Part of the problem with empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn’t do us anything. What does it mean that 13.3% of the people in this country are below the poverty line?…. We’re not interested in social reconstruction, it’s human reconstruction.” She continued, “….We feel…. that our prevailing, acquisitive and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. ….We also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation.”
She understood Wellesley’s motto, non ministrari sed Ministrare (not to be ministered unto but to minister), a need for action and that with entitlement comes responsibilities. At the end, her class gave her a 7-minute standing ovation! Hillary became a Wellesley legend.
Before Americans accept Clinton as “not a natural politician,” think about the primary roles of the highest office of a U.S. politician and who is best suited to orchestrate those roles: Commander-in-Chief, Chief Administrator, Chief of State, Chief Legislator, Chief Diplomat, Party Leader, Representative of the People, Mobilizer of Government and the People, World Leader, Manager of the Economy and Social Reformer.
Voters’ solemn duty in a presidential election is to elect someone who is right for the times and best qualified to serve. Clinton matches. For instance:
- Senator Clinton served on the Armed Services Committee, gaining the highest marks from the generals and admirals. Contrary to public opinion, career military officers lean toward being doves, not hawks.
- Clinton’s tour as Secretary of State gave her deep knowledge of international relations as well as experience in managing a large Federal Department.
- Clinton’s exceptional experience as an activist defending those who do not have a place at the table has given her more qualifications than previous presidents to be the people’s voice for social reform.
The primary reason Clinton is both beloved and hated by Americans is her long-time dedication to being a change agent leader. Let us remember, however, that to be a leader requires strength, determination and sacrifice. To be in the public’s eye means becoming the target of constant criticism; in the spotlight for decades, Clinton has inevitably been the recipient of considerable reprehension. She continues, nonetheless, to labor tirelessly on behalf of our citizens, country, world community and planet. The historical record reveals Clinton has both the vision and resilience to be our leader.
In college, something powerful “clicked” for Hillary Rodham, awakening her to fight against discrimination and for human rights. Ever since the day when she graciously yet firmly confronted Senator Brooke, core internal values — justice, integrity, trust, service, kindness and love — have continuously fueled this woman of action.
When casting your vote, remember these collective values and choose whomever you consider to be the best-qualified candidate for assuming the huge responsibilities of the presidency of the United States.
Commander Coye ’59 is a graduate of Wellesley College, the American University School of International Service, the School of Naval Warfare (Naval War College), and is a former commanding officer. She taught international relations at the Naval War College and political science at several undergraduate schools. She is a retired Board member of SLDN/OutServe and its Military Advisory Council. She coauthored and published “My Navy Too,” 1998, and has authored many Op-Eds. She is a longtime activist for women’s and LBGT rights, and resides in Ashland, Oregon.