She didn’t win the election and we have not yet seen the first female president, but Hillary Clinton’s legacy is still strong and extremely important. Hillary made history the moment that she won the Democratic Party nomination for president, and that will not soon be forgotten.
In the past, women have made strides in politics and have slowly but surely gotten us to where we are today. Hillary Clinton winning a major party nomination, though, is the biggest step women have taken in politics in a long time (arguably ever) and it opened a lot of doors for the women of the future.
Women in Politics Before Her
Hillary Clinton isn’t the first female to run for president — though she has been the most successful.
In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for president. This was almost 50 years before women even had the right to vote. Since then, some other women have taken the risk and run for president, but have not been met with much success. Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to run for president in 1972, Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to be put on a major party ticket in 1984 and eventually, Sarah Palin was on John McCain’s ticket in 2008.
Many of these women were met with ridicule, many were not taken seriously at all and some were somewhat effective but still came up short. Still, each time another female stood up and decided to run for president, women made strides in politics.
Both Chisholm and Palin were put on the ticket in the hopes of generating enthusiasm about a female in The White House, not necessarily for their political expertise. This is where Clinton is different. She served as both a US senator and as Secretary of State and certainly has the experience to hold the presidential office.
Even though Trump claimed that she played the “woman card”, Clinton’s political background proves that she was not using her gender to get ahead. She was simply fit for the job and decided to go for it. This is something that young women can aspire to.
Nobody can say for sure whether or not Hillary Clinton is done with politics. She may try to run for president again in 4 years, and many people probably wouldn’t be at all surprised. But even if she stepped out of the political arena for good, her resume is sufficiently impressive and her legacy is solid.
Some people feel as though Trump winning the presidency means that Obama’s legacy and Clinton’s hard work was all for nothing. This is not true.
Clinton – and Sanders for that matter – rallied a huge group of supporters behind the Democratic Party. These supporters believed in the message of the Democratic campaign, that we are stronger together. Trump won the presidency, but these people didn’t magically start believing in his hateful rhetoric and abrasive campaign tactics.
Young girls all across the country watched Hillary Clinton fight against Trump in debates, rallies and ultimately the polls. Seeing her name in headlines and watching her fight for what she believes in showed young girls that it is possible to achieve big dreams and even run for president as a woman. Clinton showed the next generation of women that gender does not matter.
Furthermore, Clinton’s campaign got women more interested in politics. More women were following the campaign and voting because of Clinton’s empowering presence. And after Trump’s victory, more women feel motivated to run for a political office in order to make change happen.
This is Clinton’s legacy. Through her hard-fought battle, she showed the women of America that they are capable of stepping up and making changes, regardless of their gender.
Still With Her
Trump’s success has not made Clinton and her supporters go away. The men and women who believed in Clinton’s message and believed in a female president are still out there. They’re the people you see on the news participating in marches to let Trump know that they are not happy with how he is running the country.
There’s no question that future presidential campaigns will involve women and eventually, we will have our first female president. Trump is simply a reminder of everything we are fighting for – equality and kindness for all.
The campaign that Clinton ran – stronger together – is still being played out. It’s just happening in a different way than many of us hoped it would.