Thursday, January 17, 2008

Finding Her Voice

Hubs has a subscription to Newsweek that comes weekly. This week's edition arrived yesterday with a photo of Hillary Clinton on the cover with her now much discussed quote, "I found my own voice." She said it in a speech after her win in New Hampshire.

My dear friend and blog buddy Buttercup wrote a post about how she perceived Hillary's speech, saying:

That brought me to a screeching halt. I'm all about women finding their voices, but I expect someone in Hillary's position, with her significant political experience and campaigning for the presidency, to have long since found her voice. I want her strong, clear, and filled with purpose. I don't want her "finding her voice" in the 11th hour like some poor little babe that's been lost in the woods.

I confess that as I heard Hillary's speech, I had similar thoughts. However, as I rolled it over in my brain a little bit more, I decided that surely Hillary was not just now finding her voice for the first time. Here's my take on it:

I went back over it, and I tried to hear what she was saying in context:“I want especially to thank New Hampshire. Over the last week I listened to you and in the process, I found my own voice.”

I think it was an attempt to thank the people of New Hampshire for sharing their views with her. If I may be at liberty to read between the lines of her speech, I think that in essence, her message was: As a candidate who wants to represent the citizens of America, I found my own voice in the voice of the people of New Hampshire. In other words, my voice and the voice of the people are one in the same, since I want to represent the people of America.

Another view that is widely expressed in the media is that Hillary seems to be an ice queen. I confess that when I have watched her speak, she does come across to me as rather emotionless (with the exception of her recent tearful speech), as somehow lacking in a certain humanness. I found the following quote from this week's Newsweek to be very insightful:

"To say it is late in the game for a major politician to have found one's voice is too glib. Many public figures are works in progress, and they are all certainly human. Clinton's primary victory is a new chance for voters to get to know her beyond the caricatures, positive and negative, that have for so long defined her. 'Everyone forgets she went to law school when women were not 50 percent of each law-school class, and certainly not seen as litigators,' says Maria Echaveste, a senior adviser to Clinton's campaign. 'When you were breaking down walls, it wasn't enough to be equally tough. You had to build a shell to protect yourself. That's what she did."

Perhaps that is just the theory of Maria Eschaveste, but it does help me understand how living with that modus operandi, she might come off as a woman not in-touch with her sensitive side. I imagine it is there, just very well fortified. In truth, I don't exactly align with Hillary Clinton's political views. However, I am in her debt as a woman. She broke down walls and built doorways that women in my generation can now walk through. While we still have our own battles to fight in a male-dominated society, perhaps we don't have to fortify our emotional side quite so much as she did. Because of that, I want to offer her grace if she seems cold at times. If she does become the next President of the United States, I will watch her inauguration with tears streaming down my face--not because my favorite candidate won, but because of what her victory means for my mother, for me, for my daughters, and for my granddaughters.

It will be interesting to see who wins the Democratic nomination. Whether it is Hillary or Obama, it is an exciting time in American history to see a woman and a African-American man as front runners for the Democratic nomination. As far as Republican candidates go, Mike Huckabee has captured my attention. I'm actually looking forward to seeing who surfaces as the front runner in both parties. It seems like the primary elections are a true race this year! I'm staying open and will definitely consider the issues when I vote. It is always a privilege to elect my political leader, but I feel a much more serious responsibility to vote in this election than ever before. It really matters.


Sharon said...

I interpreted it as "find my voice" in this campaign as opposed to the voices of all my advisors. As women, it's such a delicate balance to sound educated and knowledgeable without sounding like we are trying to prove something. Whether one sees Hillary as good presidential candidate or not, everyone sees her as a women and we will all judge her that way - she is too feminist, or not feminist enough, she's not a homemaker, etc. Women are experts in criticism and we fight dirtier and meaner than men. Two men can slug it out and still play ball. With two women, one of them will hide the ball or take it home because if she's not happy, the game WILL NOT go on. We are a curious gender.

J at said...

Very well written post, Starshine! You look at things so clearly. I wish more people would do so.

I am a bit older than you, and I remember when Bill Clinton ran in he was, married to this powerful, interesting woman, who had a lot of ideas to bring to the table. And people DID NOT like it. They had to soften her up a bit, publicity wise, so they had a competition between her and Barbara Bush, over who made the better cookie. I'll tell you, it was shameful. (I don't remember who won the cookie contest)

Women should not have to pretend to be someone they are not. She should not have had to pretend to be a homemaker, or to have had to prove to America that she has a softer side.

I'm tired of politics being personality. I don't want to go drinking with my president, or play golf with him/her. I want them to lead effectively, so I can do these things with my friends and family. And yet, with both Gore and Kerry, we heard a lot about how wooden and stiff they were. Sigh.

Anyway, that was a long comment. Great post. :)

Autumn's Mom said...

Happy Friday Starshine :)