Last night I found myself crying as Hillary Clinton was nominated for President of the United States. My mother was a feminist who went to law school without a college degree (the last year that was possible). I grew up in Washington in a politically conscious family. I was only 2 when Franklin Roosevelt died, so I have no memory of Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady. However, from my parents, I heard admiring stories of her political activism and commitment to poor and minority people. After Eleanor, the First Ladies that I saw growing up stayed carefully in role, at least in public. I’m sure many of them were thoughtful, involved and concerned about policy in private.
Then, when I was almost 50, a new First Lady had an office in the West Wing and a highly visible public policy assignment—try to design and pass a universal health care program. There had been a huge backlash when she said she didn’t want to stay home and bake cookies, but wanted to follow her own career path. The furor over her comment did not keep her from taking on a controversial public role. Her health care plan failed, but I grew up knowing that sometimes it takes a long time for big changes to happen.
After the failure, Hillary continued to show that she cared about and was focused on the bigger political issues of our time. She retrenched, but didn’t try to be someone she wasn’t and got elected to the Senate and then became Secretary of State. Since that beginning, I have followed her career with admiration for her ability to keep learning, keep trying new challenges, and keep trying to help shape the world so that it is a better place. I have three daughters and one grand-daughter. And for all of us, I am deeply grateful to Hillary Clinton. And so I cried last night.