Of Hillary, Role Models & Career Possibilities

Love or loathe her, agree or disagree with her politics, you have to give Hillary Rodham Clinton her due. She has opened the door to new opportunities for American women and girls. By becoming a serious candidate for the highest job in the land, she sends a message that, yes, anything is possible. You can succeed in America; by George, you can be president of the United States.

It’s the same message my late father, who was somewhat of a maverick, gave me as a young girl. I can remember when I was about 7 years old; he looked at me and said: “This is America. You can grow up to be anything you want—you can even be president.”

Of course, at the time there were no female presidential candidates and few professional women role models—but no matter. My father saw the world as he thought it could be. And, although my dad’s comment did not inspire me to run for public office, to this day his words serve as a reminder that the world is full of possibilities.

If there’s cable TV in the afterlife, I’ve no doubt my father is watching this presidential race with interest, flipping channels as he used to, in order to get a wider perspective.

Whether he would have been a Hillary supporter is questionable. However, I know he would be proud that the United States has a capable woman running for office. He would be equally proud that an African American is a serious contender.

A lot has been written about women voting for Hillary simply because she is a woman, with some female writers and activists urging women to do so. While sisterhood may be powerful, Hillary’s candidacy needs to be viewed in proper context.

She is applying for the most powerful job in the country (arguably the world); as such, her credentials should be considered, as opposed to her gender. If she’s the best candidate for the job, by all means, hire (vote for) her. Otherwise, choose someone else. It’s really that simple. This is how the job process works elsewhere and employing elected officials should be no different.

Nevertheless, people seem intent on focusing on gender issues. If Hillary wins, what will we call Bill?

Then there is the commentary on Hillary’s mode of dress. Why does Hillary always wear pantsuits, people want to know. (My guess is, given her grueling schedule, pants are more comfortable; low-heeled shoes, people, not to mention no pantyhose snags and runs to worry about, no skirts hiking up; it’s common sense.)

There’s also the comment, “Hillary looks tired.” (You keep her schedule and see how you look, my friend!)

The scrutiny is constant. It’s not easy being a trailblazer.

How is Hillary holding up? Given what she has to endure, remarkably well it seems.

Whatever your political position, you have to be impressed with Hillary’s stamina, determination, and resilience. Irrefutably, some negative qualities have also surfaced but her staying power is admirable, if not eerie.

Should it be weighed in the context of the job for which she’s applying? Absolutely.

Yet, the position requires so much more. It’s an extremely difficult job, one that requires careful consideration, and the best woman or man the country can (s)elect.

Whether Hillary Rodham Clinton should be President Hillary Rodham Clinton is up to the voters. Nevertheless, her story, make that herstory, has already changed history, and in doing so has altered the future. And for this, Hillary deserves proper credit.

Although people have been focusing on the gender issues unique to this particular campaign, ironically, what Hillary’s candidacy has actually done is eliminate gender as an issue.

Now, a little girl in America can believe in more than possibilities when her dad tells her she can grow up to be president of the United States. That 7-year-old girl can look at Hillary and say, if she can run for president, so can I.

Paula Santonocito

Career Editor, SingleMindedWomen.com