Dear Secretary Clinton,
I know. I know, I know, I know.
Okay, I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s like to devote so much energy, so many decades towards a goal, to log achievement after achievement only to have the Electoral College say “Nope. We’d prefer a record of actual literal fraud and hate speech and also Internet yelling to a record of leadership. Now let’s see how long it takes for him to go full Berlusconi on the U.S.!” This is who will represent us in the event of a crisis and, if we are lacking crises, will manufacture them for us.
There was a time, call it 1999, when I’d started to feel the way many people do. There weren’t enough differences between the 2 parties. My views were not represented, not in the absolute fashion I would have liked anyway. I felt like politics were increasingly irrelevant to my increasingly busy existence. I was an adult, and the passions that drove my early political involvement felt like childish things.
Then George W. Bush took office and, in a short 8 years, I watched the international respect that your husband had built for our nation dissolve, watched the international economic system nearly fall apart in the wake of a crisis enabled by the W. Bush administration’s absolute faith in deregulation. And of course, I watched our country go to war in several regions nearly simultaneously– wars that destabilized much of the globe while also not representing our international best interests.
I was slow to learn to the lesson, but I learned it. Competence matters.
When I voted for you in the general election– I voted for Sanders in the primary, but I didn’t feel shocked or agrieved when he lost– I was voting for competence. Not for someone I would always agree with. Not for a perfect candidate, but a smart and able and competent one who would move forward on the progress of the last 8 years. Someone with experience and courage and mental toughness– as Donald Trump called you during one of your debates, a fighter.
You won everything that should count. You won 3 debates– easily. You won the popular vote by over 2 million votes– almost 1% of the total electorate. Maybe this is what your opponent meant when he said Americans would be tired of winning? So tired that they wouldn’t pick a winner? But we both believe in the rule of law, you and I and I don’t know about that other guy, and the Electoral College is our nation’s law. We will grumble– well, I will– but accept what’s happened because the alternatives are so much worse.
I don’t know. I really don’t. It must be so frustrating– you’ve weathered a smear campaign that continued unabated since the early ’90s. You’ve managed to tolerate invasions into your privacy, insults to your daughter, and bizarre conspiracy theories that frame you as a murderer, a traitor or worse. It’s never been enough for your opponents on the Right to attack your beliefs, they’ve always come after you as a person. You’ve seen the rise of misinformation, replacing reality in American minds as surely as carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in human bloodstreams. You’ve not always been perfect, but you’ve weathered so many storms with poise that you make the Gorton’s fisherman look soft.
In your place I woulda just stabbed a fool on national TV, woulda just looked at those jiggly white faces that love to make up facts about your family and said “I will cut you.”
I don’t know what will happen next. I don’t know what kind of president you would have been, or what kind of president Mr. Trump will be– as I will reiterate here, we are what we do, and other than garner attention and declare bankruptcy he has done so little. I think our nation missed an opportunity. I think your presidency would have mattered and not just for symbolic reasons. I think we are bleeding from the hole we shot in our own foot. And I’m scared for what will happen next.
You’ve always been a fighter. Please don’t give up now– I mean, yes, don’t challenge the electoral results or anything (even though I kinda want you to). But we’re going to need leadership in the days to come, going to need that fighting spirit– many fighting spirits. Thank you for fighting, and thanks for not giving up on America. Our next act will be painful– self-inflicted wounds always are. Just think of the recovery, though, of the lessons we’ll learn. This is what I have to believe, anyway.
Moving Forward and Fingers crossed,