Clinton’s Rise Means Strong Women Don’t Always Have To Be Nice To Lead

Originally posted on The Maverick Journal (August 9, 2016)

Mark July 28, 2016. On that day, the last of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton ascended to the podium to claim the first female nomination of a major party for the presidency of the United States. It was a momentous occasion, one that touched the hearts of many women, young people, and non-white generations throughout the country because it said that yes, the presidency is possible for anyone, gender be damned.

And yet a small group (mostly conservative, Republican men) swept the significance of her nomination under the rug and chose to concentrate their complaints on the modulation and sound of her voice. It was just another example of a classic case of sexism directed at a powerful female figure. By criticizing her voice instead of her policies, this group tried to stifle the words of a strong woman by condemning her as unfeminine and too masculine.

But what it really what it comes down to is that a party that has long bolstered itself on its hawkish national security chops finds itself confronted by an opponent with a much better claim to strength and legitimacy than its own bumbling, tactless buffoon. Not only does that realization frighten them but it is in direct repudiation to one of the few consistent claims to the presidency that the Republican Party has long banked on. Strength.

That mantle has now passed to the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party finds itself ensnared with a lackluster candidate that not only seeks to base his campaign on fear, hate, and division but one who makes knee-jerk policy pronunciations that many in the national security sector have deemed dangerous to America’s security interests. So much so that big name former advisors, who have been loyal Republican Party voters, are now flocking to Hillary’s side; advocating that “her qualifications are indisputable” and that her years of public service have “helped the United States lead a more secure and peaceful world.”

Let that sink in for a moment. The party that brought us hawkish leaders such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and George H. W. Bush looks nothing like the Republican Party of today. And while Obama’s presidency has been defined by the longest wars in American history, his reluctance to engage in foreign conflicts still kept him safely in the Democratic swim lane of diplomacy first. Not since FDR has the Democratic Party had a candidate as hawkish as Hillary Clinton. She is not afraid of a fight.

Strength is one of the few characteristics we demand of our leaders. It is not just making the tough call at 3 a.m. but the ability to work with opposing forces, to swallow one’s pride, and to make the call that benefits the entire country, not just a small percentage. For Hillary, that strength has had to double during her time in the political spotlight. As a woman she has had to not only deal with an industry dominated by men but a media and public more concerned with what she wears and the lines around her eyes than her policy positions. No one can question her bona fide chops. From her ability to withstand 13 hours of committee questioning to going toe to toe with Putin in 2011 over suspicious election results in Russia to her push for US intervention in Libya and need to topple Qaddafi, Hillary has proven time and again that she is the candidate of strength. Nor does she pay platitudes and niceties to effect change. Couple that with her progressive background and is it really any wonder that it was she that broke the glass ceiling?

Donald Trump presents a dark and forbidding image of a world wracked by crime, murder, and threats by “the other”. His promises to renege on international security contracts and unwillingness to demonstrate faithful support to some of our strongest allies are not joking matters. He is dangerous, volatile, and reckless. The Republican Party must live in the bed they made. Instead of putting America first, they have placed special interests at the top of their ticket – and that has made them look petty, vindictive, and the party of division.

Hillary’s nomination represents both a movement towards a more inclusive government as well as a shift away from the Democratic image of the party of the weak. Her election will help redefine what it means to be a strong candidate. Now is the time for a new era, a more inclusive and progressive era. One in which the words “strength” and “woman” become synonymous with sound presidential policy decisions and decisive action.

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