Hillary Clinton had to lose. Donald Trump did America a favor.
May we never stop thanking her for her character and composure as a leader in defeat, but I realize now she had to lose.
I know what you’re thinking, and I know what you’re going to say. No, I don’t like the fact that she lost. I hate it; I despise it. As a Democrat and adviser to the campaign, I, as well as many of my colleagues, had a great deal to lose personally with her loss. It was gut-wrenching to endure, and watching the hatred and political chaos that has unfolded in the subsequent year has only exacerbated that feeling. The increase in hate crimes, the fear of deportation for DACA children and young adults, the pure uncut misogyny, the rolling back of civil rights and liberties across the country, a foreign nation meddling in our electoral process with little to no repercussions. All the progress we’d viewed as progressive successes going back as far as the 1990s is quickly being erased. It was, and continues to be, heartbreaking to watch.
Yes, Secretary Clinton winning in 2016 would have produced greater leadership in crisis as well as diplomacy and policy. But detractors would have continued to bark the same accusations we see today with the added bonus of Congressional committee inquiries and obstructing nominations. Her agenda would have been fought tooth and nail, and congressional leaders would have focused myopically on seeing her administration fail. With a renewed commitment to activism, however, we may now continue to address what we’ve learned from last year’s race in a manner that potentially restores the health of our democracy for decades to come.
But Hillary Clinton had to lose.
Because from the remains of that fire, embers are still warm and glowing. November 7 was a full-throated rebuke of all the ugliness and contempt for fellow citizens the US has experienced over the past 364 days. Virginia – led by black female voters as they continue to be the foundation of communities – turned out en masse to “cancel the apocalypse.” They showed up to remind the nation, but more importantly, their neighbors, who they are and what Virginian values reflect. A transgender woman beat a self-proclaimed homophobe and architect of a “bathroom bill” who’d served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1992. Charlotte selected its first African-American woman as mayor. Virginia selected only its second African-American for a statewide position in history. Hoboken, NJ has a new Sikh mayor. St. Paul, MN has its first African-American mayor. The list goes on and on and on.
And in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe any of it would have been possible without a rallying cry. Democrats and like-minded Republicans needed, if not demanded, some sacrifice to build a fire in our bellies, bubbling over like a cauldron of hurt and angst and grief. Clinton’s loss began to unite us in one voice, to tell those who would look to divide us and attempt to define America for a few instead of all, that you shall move no further. For the good of the country, the citizenry, and the health of our democracy, Hillary Rodham Clinton had to lose. Someone like Donald Trump had to rise and remind us all that democracy is a precious fragile gift that is not guaranteed. It must be, as President Obama remarked, anxiously and jealously guarded.
But we’re not done. Many challenges still lie ahead. There are numerous programs (like CHIP and DACA) that still need our immediate attention. There are so many issues – adequate healthcare, gun control, sexual harassment – that Americans still must address. But that is something we can and will do together, again unified as the proud and prosperous nation we have always been.
You never know what type of character a person has until he or she is faced with true adversity. Let Virginia be not the final result of that belief, but the first example of the resolute nature of the American spirit. Let the waves continue to crash until the world once again recognizes that America welcomes all people as the land of opportunity it has been for generations.
And while we’re at it, let’s thank Hillary Clinton and her sacrifice. Without her loss, I truly don’t believe we’d ever be here.