Skip to content

Letter to America (Second Epistle)

June 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton

Dear America,

What took you so long?

Was it really so hard to imagine a woman president that until now you knocked back every previous female candidate before she even got to the nomination? Or was it that you were so repelled by the personality and politics of those women who didn’t make it that their rejection had nothing to do with gender?

Now that you have chosen a female nominee, will you rise above your concerns about her character and send her to the White House? And if you do, will it be because the alternative would be far worse, or because she reveals herself as a more attractive candidate in the forthcoming campaign trail, or because some of your voters will go for her simply because she’s a woman?

A bit of everything, I suspect. Depending, of course on whether Trumpelstiltskin is finally stymied before he can claim his prize, and makes an angry exit in November.

Yes, we all know that Hillary has history. You wouldn’t expect a woman of sixty-eight not to. And yes, she’s made a few mistakes in her long career. She’s misspoken (your delightful euphemism for lying) on the odd occasion. She presided over the screw-up that led to the death of an ambassador in Libya. And then there’s the little matter of going off-radar with her email account.

What many of us beyond your borders can’t fathom is how those mistakes could possibly be compared with her opponent’s lie-a-minute campaign stump, with his Trump University scam, and with the bigoted, ill-considered utterances that cause even his most faithful political acolytes to weep in frustration.

As for Hillary’s character, you put your candidates through a brutal obstacle course. Thanks to the internet, it’s getting harder than ever for a would-be president to keep the skeletons firmly locked in the closet, as her husband discovered, and as her opponent is discovering now. The question is, what sort of skeletons materially affect the performance of a president? A tendency to stray from a marriage? The desire to accumulate wealth? A problem with alcohol? A psychological disorder? Or, as Jill Abramson put it in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, (This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest), in Hillary’s case, a lack of transparency about personal matters that gives rise to suspicions, even if they ultimately turn out after rigorous examination to be unjustified or, at least, unproven.

To put it another way, if a candidate has committed no crime, which skeletons are the business of the individual, and which should be of interest to the nation? Is it the nation’s business that she chose to stick with her marriage rather than kick her philandering husband into the long grass? Should it be a concern in a society that celebrates money-making that she, as a private citizen (as opposed to the presidential nominee of her party) accepted the largesse of Goldman Sachs in return for her services as a speaker? Was she under any greater obligation to reveal what she said to her audience at Goldman than Mitt Romney was in his good-ole-boy fundraisers, one of which was famously leaked in 2012?

Moving on to observations that Hillary lacks the charm of her husband and other recent presidents including Reagan, Bush Junior and Obama, please tell me: has charm become a requisite of the job? That would amuse Vladimir Putin, a noted paragon of sweetness and light. And have you considered that the undoubted steeliness of her personality might have contributed to the effectiveness as president of her charming husband?

If I were in your shoes, I would certainly prefer to see steel tempered with realism in the White House than the volatility and emotional incontinence of her opponent.

And what of the accusations that she is a creature of the Washington establishment? It happens to be a fact of life that every president, whether or not they posed as an anti-establishment outsider (which most of them did in one way or another), becomes part of that establishment the moment they set foot in the White House. And the same applies to those who, like Hillary, have held a major public office before seeking the presidency. Don’t you find it ironic that these days anyone who has direct and relevant experience of navigating the corridors of the federal government should be considered more of a liability than a peanut farmer, a Hollywood actor or a casino operator?

As I said in my last epistle to you, in which I begged you to turn away from Donald Trump, your choice of president is not of concern just to you. By a combination of accident and design, your choice affects everyone on the planet. Whether Trump likes it or not, that’s the American’s burden – the price you pay for your political, military and economic supremacy. Whether you like it or not, we non-Americans are all your stakeholders.

So I congratulate you for providing your electorate with a viable alternative to the casino operator. Gambling in one form or another is a legitimate feature of every society. But always provided, as the advertisements in my country are obliged to point out, you bet responsibly.

The fact that you are offering a woman as that alternative is both commendable and wise. No matter that a sizeable proportion of your electorate sees her as hardened battle-axe – every husband’s nightmare mother-in-law. If those qualities come to the fore in the upcoming election campaign, so be it. She won’t be the first. Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher got there before her. But I hope you will also recognise that the qualities which enabled her to reach the base camp of her political Everest – her determination, her resilience and her intelligence – will serve you well should you decide to entrust her with your highest office.

I also hope that you will look to Germany as an example of a powerful nation that has flourished under female leadership. Angela Merkel is no Thatcherite battering ram. She is subtle, principled and emotionally intelligent. Like every politician, she has made mistakes, and her career seems close to its conclusion. But she, if anyone, is living proof that a leader doesn’t have to be soaked with testosterone to guide her people through stormy waters.

So now you have provided your voters with a choice between two of the most different candidates in recent history. They are separated by a temperamental and philosophical Grand Canyon. Not all of your foreign admirers, of which I am one, will necessarily be enchanted with either alternative. The political inclinations and interests of those who watch you from afar are many and varied. But it’s inconceivable – at least to this admirer – that you should entrust your future to the sneering casino operator.

Choose well, dear America. And please remember that it’s not just your future that’s at stake.

Yours with continual affection,


From → Politics, USA

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: