Hillary Clinton just won't go away. Her critics have been encouraging her to know her place and stay in her lane since at least her time in the White House as first lady. And now, with her return to the public eye after her post-election hiatus — plus the launch of a new international book tour (which will include stops in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) — the calls for her to go away have commenced anew.
Indeed, this seems to be one of the few issues that unite the fanatically partisan Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., not to mention the right and the left over here. Her detractors like to use the quip by former Republican primary candidate Carly Fiorina when talking about Clinton's supporters: "If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton." Har har.
Yes, it's true: Clinton is a deeply flawed politician and woman who has suffered defeat at virtually every point of her life. Her list of failures and scandal is long: her health care bill as First Lady, her husband's infidelity, her first run at the Democratic primary, that infamous email scandal as secretary of state and her last and most stinging defeat to Donald Trump.
But ironically, that's why we need her — now, more than ever.
A model of perseverance
The political climate in the U.S. has taken an altogether dangerous turn, especially for women, immigrants, people of colour, trans folks and pretty much everyone who isn't a white man.
Some recent alarming developments on this front include Trump's threats to end protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, which would send hundreds of thousands of young people who grew up in the U.S. back to unfamiliar countries, and the move to ban transgender citizens from serving in the U.S. military. These sorts of measures inevitably provoke hostilities toward targeted groups.
Clinton is uniquely positioned to provide an antidote to this hatred simply by demonstrating that a resilient, vocal woman cannot be shamed into shutting up. She is the personification of perseverance, which is why she is such a valuable role model. And she takes the heat for all of us by continually breaking new ground for women and refusing to back down when faced with the backlash.
It bears repeating that Clinton is anything but untarnished, and some might say that she's too fraught to take on this role. But what many don't realize is that many of Clinton's so-called mistakes have already been made by men, who suffered few to no consequences.
Remember that email scandal? Yeah, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did that too as governor of Massachusetts. Few people heard or cared about that, however, because Romney is not a woman who is seeking power. Yes — the situations are somewhat different, but the difference between the reactions to them is what's really staggering.
And of course, the Benghazi scandal is the gift that keeps on giving for Clinton's detractors. Yet these detractors seem unconcerned with the findings by Snopes, for example, that the Bush administration weathered 13 attacks on U.S. embassies that resulted in 65 fatalities. The fact-checking website points out that "Congress did not see fit to investigate any of these incidents."
This is not an attempt to exonerate Clinton, but rather to show that she has been subject to disproportionate scrutiny. Clinton has endured these attacks with dignity and grace, proving that she should not, in fact, just "go away," as many suggest.
But why should Clinton be the one to stand in opposition to President Donald Trump when there are fantastic leaders like Senator Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, or even Michelle Obama (if she wanted to) who could assume the role, while carrying far less baggage?
It's simple: because no one has had the experiences that Clinton has had, that we've watched her have. She can tell us what it feels like to go up against a man much less qualified than her, and lose, all while that man is literally breathing down her neck.
We live in a culture where women are shamed for speaking up, seeking power and existing successfully in the public eye. (Check out the comments section to this piece if you don't believe me!) The mere fact that Clinton is still speaking out is incredible.
Her message will resonate with every woman who has climbed the corporate or social ladder and been hated for it. With every woman who has been passed over for a less qualified man. With every woman who is doubly punished for her mistakes, while the men around her who have made the same errors are exonerated.
Clinton's tone is far less conciliatory than it has been in the past, which is saying something for a woman who has been called "unlikeable" for decades. Several passages in her book show that Clinton is done being nice. Good for her.
People keep telling her to go away, and she keeps on coming back, defiant. She keeps burning up spectacularly, and rising again to take up space, to remind us how far we have to go, and to call out bad behaviour. We need this so-called nasty woman now more than ever; thank goodness she realizes this too.