Op-ed: Inspiring First Ladies: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton needs no introduction for her accomplishments, nor for her contributions to the capabilities of women in politics with her incredible decades-long career. She has defied the expectations of so many and has achieved many firsts throughout her political career, which have proven to all that women are strong and that women are capable. Without women like Hillary Clinton, politics would still be a very male dominated world. 

Born in Chicago, IL, Hillary Clinton was the oldest child and only girl of a middle-class, midwestern family. As a young woman, she followed in her father’s heavily conservative views and was heavily involved in young Republican groups and campaigned for Republican candidates in the 1964 presidential election. 

After hearing a speech from Martin Luther King Jr. at a Civil Rights movement in 1968, young Clinton decided to pursue a career in public service. She became a member of the democratic party soon after and attended college at Wellesley College. She became involved in several student government organizations on campus and was elected class president her senior year. 

At just 22 years old, Hillary Clinton was already making headlines when her commencement speech spoke out against the sexist attitudes of Senator Edward Brooks, who ironically was that year’s commencement speaker. Clinton received a seven minutes long standing ovation following the conclusion of her speech and was featured in a Life magazine article. She then attended Yale Law School and there she met her future husband William “Bill” Clinton. 

During that time she took various public service jobs during the summers, working on Walter Mondale’s sub-committee for migrant workers in 1971 and worked for the presidential campaign of George McGovern in 1972. In 1974, she became a member of the presidential impeachment inquiry staff during the Watergate Scandal. She married Bill Clinton in 1975 and their only child Chelsea was born in 1980. 

In 1976, the same year that Bill Clinton was elected attorney general, Hillary Clinton was hard at work on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign which paid off with the announcement of his having secured the election. She was appointed as part-time chairman of Carter’s Legal Services Corporation in 1977 and chaired the Arkansas Education Standards Committee and served on many corporate boards, including Arkansas legal services. She was named one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in America by The National Law Journal in 1988 and 1991. 

Hillary was an influential and vital partner in Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, for which their hard work paid off when Clinton was elected president. However, their time in the White House was fraught with scandal and controversy, not least of which was the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal in 1998. While she publicly supported and stood by her husband, Hillary confessed in private that she seriously considered filing for divorce but stayed for the sake of her daughter. Clinton was later impeached and found not guilty, therefore being allowed to finish the remainder of his second term. 

In 1999, Hillary ran for the New York senate seat and surprisingly beat her opponent Rick Lazio in a 55 to 43% margin. She became the first wife of a president to seek and win public office and the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate from New York, easily winning reelection in November 2006. Despite the fact that Bill Clinton’s time in office was over in 2000, Hillary Clinton was really just getting started in forging her political career. 

In 2007, Hillary Clinton announced her most ambitious goal yet; to become the first female president. 

She ran for president in 2008 but conceded to her opponent Barack Obama when it became apparent that he was the democratic party’s favorite nominee. That certainly wasn’t the end of it though. Shortly after achieving victory, Obama nominated Hillary Clinton for secretary of state and was sworn into office in 2009. She used her new position to promote women’s and human rights, and implemented the use of social media to promote America’s positions on various global matters and proved herself to be a very progressive politician. She resigned for her post in 2013. 

On April 12, 2015 Hillary Clinton officially announced that she was running for president in the 2016 campaign. She was a trailblazer candidate and in the summer of 2016, she became the first woman in America’s 240 year history to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party. During the Democratic National Convention of 2016, Hillary Clinton made history by accepting the party’s nomination and becoming the first ever female presidential candidate on a major party ticket. 

Sadly, Hillary did not win the presidential election and conceded defeat to her Republican opponent Donald Trump. Despite her loss, Clinton showed great integrity in her defeat and continued to speak out against the injustices and discriminations within American society. Though she declined campaigning for the 2020 presidential election, Hillary Clinton continued to exhibit an active role in campaigning for and promoting the Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his VP elect Kamala Harris. Her efforts once again paid off and the pair were elected to office this past November. 

Hillary Clinton is a trailblazer for women in law and politics. She provides a prime example to all members of society of just how far women can go and just how capable they are of achieving their goals when they set their minds to it. She accomplished many firsts for women and it is through her example that women will continue to revolutionize the world and reinvent the standards for women in politics.

Katie Hayes is Managing Editor for The Hub. She can be contacted at hayesc@emmanuel.edu.