“What Happened” to Us?

This post is by lachew.


On September 12, 2017, I scrolled through my Facebook feed to see a friend’s status declaring that he was “feeling excited” to read a book that he had preordered: Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir, What Happened. As I scrolled a bit further on my news feed, I saw that another friend had shared a post quoting Bernie Sanders, as he refuted that he was one of the causes for Clinton’s loss in the contentious 2016 election. Of course, I also came across a news article describing Trump’s latest Twitter activity, a retweet of an image mocking Clinton’s book.


The clashing perspectives of these three players in the latest presidential election bring to mind James Madison’s writings in Federalist 10. It can be hotly debated which of these three figures led factions that injected “instability, injustice, and confusion” into American politics. Yet, both Sanders’s and Trump’s comments spurred other prominent (both Democratic and Republican) leaders to scorn, mock, and deride Clinton’s take on her campaign.


But why is that? According to Politico, Democrats “dread Hillary’s book tour”. A WaPo article laments the fact that Clinton isn’t “going gently”. Party figures claim that the timing of the book’s release is the “worst possible time” for the Democratic Party, telling the former Secretary of State to “zip it” and “move on”. Even conservative news sources have jumped on the bandwagon, with The Daily Caller quoting an unnamed fundraiser’s blunt complaint for Clinton to “shut the f— up and go away”.


It seems pretty obvious that these reactions to the memoir “are united to and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest”—that impetus would be the campaign, its loss, the book, and Clinton herself. And these attempts to quietly hush Clinton have effects that are just as important too; they limit the political community’s ability to understand our history from more than just the “winner’s” side, and rob us of the chance to learn from her campaign’s mistakes. Or, in other words: are these attacks “adverse to… the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”? If they are, then we’ve found a contemporary case of James Madison’s faction.


It’s true that this faction’s boundaries aren’t split along conventional party lines, economic class, or any other trait that one of the other major presidential nominees would have suggested. But Hillary Clinton uniquely made history as the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. After this “nasty woman” ended her last campaign seeking public office, she again joins (or, more accurately, re-joins) the ranks of women whom men try to silence.


The double standard is obvious, particularly in the Washington Post piece; apparently, “publicly calling out misogyny is probably not the best strategy for combating it”. If that’s true, then I’d love to hear suggestions for a more “appropriate” course of action—perhaps the author might also claim that efforts to end police brutality may not benefit people of color, speaking out about racism won’t affect immigrants and their families, and laws preventing bigotry and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community could very well be ineffective. But if we don’t speak out when we see a problem, there’ll be only one thing left to say when our community falls apart: what happened?


Politico article: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/07/hillary-clinton-book-tour-democrats-242419

Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hillary-clinton-smash-your-rearview-mirror/2017/06/02/7d5afe28-47d0-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?utm_term=.3f59e0cd5184

The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/07/former-clinton-fundraiser-says-hillary-should-shut-the-f-up-and-go-away/

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6 Responses to “What Happened” to Us?

  1. odessaclugston says:

    Hi Lachew!

    Thanks for a great post. I, too, agree that the 2016 ended in blatant sexism towards Hillary Clinton. In many ways, the election epitomized the impact of the reigning patriarchy – rewarding under qualified men with power while demeaning overqualified women. As a women, a feminist, and as someone who care about the future of our world and nation, this election was devastating in almost every single way.
    But I continue thinking back to your point about Sanders and Trump bringing factions into the election. Undoubtedly, factions can bring factually unsupported passions into politics. But can there be any good from a group of individuals who influence a party platform? I think, for example, some factions who were supporting Bernie forced both parties to think more seriously about debt reform in higher education. While calls for free higher education were unlikely and drew supporters away from Clinton, I wonder if the existence of the factions helped move parties further in this direction.
    In summary, I think factions – like any other political function – can be used for good or bad purposes. It simply depends on your policy agenda.

  2. rustlingwinds says:

    I find myself joining you in your frustration with the remark you quoted from the Washington Post which argued that “publicly calling out misogyny is probably not the best strategy for combating it.” While, I wholly disagree with this statement if we dig hard enough there are a few significant lessons we can glean from their remark. One of those lessons being that no matter how tactfully one attempts to publicly respond to misogyny, such remarks will always be met with disapproval and hate. Though I have not yet read Clinton’s new book, the medium she used seems to be a tactful medium in which to attempt to bring about the discussion of misogyny’s role in the election and our overall society. Unfortunately, I’d argue that no matter how the discussion was brought up Clinton would have received the same response. Finally, it reminds us (even though there will always be some group that respond with disapproval) of how important it is for us to thoughtfully craft our discussions around misogyny. If we speak about these sensitive, “hot” topics in ways which include others and provide patience for individuals to learn, then we are putting our best foot forward for actually changing the future. I appreciated your thoughts and enjoyed your argument, thank you!

  3. ghostcole says:

    Great post I also agree that the election was sexist this election was a great example of how majorly undereducated men in politics can be considered highly over a women. Hillary Clinton is a highly educated woman in politics yet she was overshadowed by all the remarks made against her. I do not believe that Trump and Sanders joined forces to go against Clinton. To me they all mocked and tried to deride one another once things during the election got overheated between all three candidates. I really like your ending to the second to last paragraph where it says that Clinton ranks as one of the top women who try to silence men as a women it is amazing to see people who are in politics or that have power make a voice heard for women.

  4. wardog88 says:

    While, I can understand that the 2016 brought out the worst in campaign, I don’t agree that the hypocrisy is one sided or the election was sexist, both campaign had a great shot at the white house, the Clinton campaign took it for granted and Sanders proved that, also Trump was a complete political newcomer despite his past political views which might, I add everyone has, Trump and Clinton took shots at each other Trump just happened to win via electoral college not popular vote which is how you win elections from Washington to Former President Obama. Do I like how campaigns are run no, not at all, but do I accept the election as it is, yes. It may prove more useful to try and get your desired candidates in office than to keep labeling past elections. My honest opinion, this past presidential election was completely radioactive from both sides and it was the most expensive one too, not one I would like to see again, but I will.

  5. jacobdsaaevdra says:

    Great post. The Hillary Clinton first announced that she was releasing her book I was not surprised by the unwelcome fed back she was receiving. The fact is people don’t like to be called out on some their negative qualities. When Hillary points to the misogynistic reasons that she lost the race people scoff and say she is making excuses for her loss. They decry what they see as the democratic way of “name calling”. But their attitude when Hillary Clinton attempts to speak up and tell how she feels only validates her criticism. When Bernie realized his book their wasn’t nearly as much push back or calls for him to shut up but when Hillary realizes hers the call comes from both sides.

  6. As a male and a non-Hilary Clinton supporter, I respectfully take offense that that criticism to her politics and her campaign have anything to do with her gender. It is equally inaccurate to label anyone who supported Trump as a misogynistic red neck who belongs in a “basket of deplorables”. Many people were not pleased with some of then candidate Trump’s statements but believed his proposed agenda was the best path for America and voted for him, not against Clinton because she is a women, but because they took exception to her political views. I am not naive enough to think that there are some would not have voted for Mrs. Clinton because of her gender, but I am unaware of any man who is trying to silence her for that reason.

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