First of all, I think I should make it clear that I am from New Zealand.
I should also make it clear that Hillary Clinton didn’t actually write Hard Choices herself. As the Washington Post asserts, “Clinton employed a phalanx of aides and associates in producing the volume”. Hillary herself referred to the team of writers as her “Book Team”. I’ll also mention that this is incredibly common. When an incredibly famous, incredibly busy person authors their own biography, it’s worth asking yourself if they actually had time to put pen to all of that paper.
In the case of Hard Choices, it’s absolutely worth reading even if Hillary didn’t actually write it herself. As we’re moments away from the 2016 presidential election, Hard Choices gives us insight into what Hillary stands for. This is more than we can say for her running mate who tends to attack rather than having any platform at all.
When Hard Choices was published in 2014, Hillary had yet to announce if she was running for the Democratic nomination for President again. It’s clear from the book that she didn’t expect to be running against a certain you know who.
Hillary believed that if she were to run again, maybe it would be a little easier this time. She even said so in her concession speech when she lost to Barack Obama;
“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”
With grace in the presence of defeat, Hillary continued her public service and became Secretary of State under President Obama. She continued to work when most would have thrown in the towel. Bill Clinton remarked in early 2016 that he had envisioned his golden years to be different to what they are now. “One of the things that I wanted to do was to be married to someone that I loved so much… and felt so close to, that when I was old I could sit with her on a park bench and watch 20-year-olds go by in the in the first bloom of their youth and feel no resentment, because I felt so fulfilled.”
But they are not sitting on a park bench just yet. Instead they are standing beside those youths, still battling and fighting for their country. As Hillary quotes in the book, “do all the good you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can.” Doesn’t that say it all?
Hard Choices is a love letter to America. It’s clearly a campaign mechanism, but I’m ok with that.
The book conveys her love and respect for her husband and daughter, but it is the stories of her mother that reveals a side to Hillary that is incredibly moving. She recalls how the kindness of strangers helped her mother overcome the horror of poverty and abuse as a child. Clinton was in awe that someone who had suffered that much could have become the soft, gentle and loving mother and grandmother that she was. I think it would be a pretty happy world if everyone thought of their mothers the way Hillary does of hers.
As a New Zealander who often talks about Hillary and the election, I get side-eye and a comment of “why are you so invested in this?” Well, I am a citizen of the world and America is one of the most influential countries in that world. The outcome of this election affects all of us. Hillary may have her flaws but I don’t lie awake in bed at night concerned for my personal safety. As Commander In Chief, I don’t fear that she will take advantage of her post without thought and send a nuclear missile our way. The other candidate on the other hand, could do just that.
Sure Hillary has made many mistakes over the years in the public eye, which she openly admits to in the book. She has flip-flopped on marriage equality, fracking, the Iraq war and her support of the TPP has certainly come back to haunt her this election. She is flawed, absolutely, but I don’t think she is frightening. People think she may be corrupt and “evil” because she is a career politician, but I choose to see her 30 odd years in this game as a good thing. Don’t you want the most experienced person in the room when it comes to discussing what is best for America?
Out of all of her words, I think the following was the clincher for me;
“All of us face hard choices in our lives. Some face more than their share. We have to decide how to balance the demands of work and family. Caring for a sick child or an aging parent. Figuring out how to pay for college. Finding a good job, and what to do if you lose it. Whether to get married—or stay married. How to give our kids the opportunities they dream about and deserve. Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become. For leaders and nations, they can mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity.”
And as Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms. It will be because we destroyed ourselves”.
Politics is a weird old world to take part in, but you have to decide what side of history you want to be on. It may be difficult, but hey – life is full of hard choices.