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August 6th, 2008
09:26 AM ET

18 million cracks in the presidential glass ceiling

Ambassador Swanee Hunt
Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer
Harvard Kennedy School

A few days ago, standing front row, right, in a strangely barren room at a Boston hotel, I watched Hillary Clinton walk onto a stage with a rather lonely American flag, and again capture the admiration and imagination of every person in the audience. But this group was 80 of her closest New England supporters. Before and after our ovation for her, our voices were hushed. We all felt like we had walked into a wake.

I thought back a few weeks, watching my friend end her campaign. I was among millions of women who literally cried. No, not millions. Tens of millions. I've been working abroad a lot. Colombia to China, Lebanon to Liberia, Moldova to Mongolia, women have pulled me aside and insisted, "She must win - for us."

Among the 18 million Americans who supported her presidential bid, none will be more important to a November win than women. So what's with us?

I've known Hillary since her husband's 1992 campaign. She obviously had the right stuff to be president, but few of us imagined she would take the plunge into politics. That year, our "Serious Issues, Serious Women, Serious Money" symposium in Denver became a template for women's engagement that has been replicated over the years, most recently by Hillary herself. She has brought women into the political process with an intensity not seen since the early 20th century, when women campaigned passionately for suffrage. For many, the Hillary Clinton candidacy called forth a similar passion.

Read more...
Editor's Note: This essay originally appeared on The Huffington Post.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. E.J.

    Mrs. Clinton, you have my vote and will always have it. If there is'nt an opportunity to get into the ticket as V.P. then i will vote for McCain, and i'm not alone. My mom who is very optimistic about you becoming a V.P. talks very respectfully about Mr. McCain because while he was in Arizona my mom reached out to him and his office reached out to her spontaneously and she will not forget that experience. Although we may see the same old politics, i rahter wait four more years and vote for you. Remember i am not alone i'm on my mom's side. I'm sure that there is more than two of us that feel this way. If we are going to make the biggest change and shake the world than we can hopefully see Obama and Clinton on the same ticket.

    August 6, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  2. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Again we see so called Dems trying to screw up yet another election because their feelings got hurt somewhere along the line. McCain/Hillary? Gimme a break. Hillary won't switch side no matter what. She would be tarred and feathered, and sent out of town on a donkey. Kathie in KY...........case in point. I like Hillary but she isn't the nominee. Do you actually want another Republican as President? All you Ferraro's out there need to wake up. It isn't about Hillary or Obama. It is about ALL of us...........we need a new direction.

    Obama 08

    August 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  3. Nicole

    Why didn't her many supporters help pay off her debt? Which leads me to come to the conclusion that most of her supporters was Republicans posing as Dems to get her on the ballot because they saw Obama as a threat. They

    Both Hillary and Barack have been treated unfair during this entire thing. Hillary was discrimated against because she was a woman. Barack was discrinated against because he was black.

    August 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  4. Barbara

    It's sad but true the fact that Hilliary is female played a big hand in why she was not chosen as the nominee. Women have come far but still
    have a long road to travel before they will ever be close to becoming
    accepted in roles that men have no trouble acheiving success in.
    We like to think if a woman is smart, works really hard, she can go
    as high as a man can in the world but fact is she is running into a
    brick wall at almost every turn she rounds. My son's generation is much more accepting of women is leaderships roles than most men
    50ish and older.

    August 6, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  5. kathi in ky.

    I'm holding on to my last bit of HOPE that the DNC will see the writing on the wall and CHANGE the nominee.

    This is one of the many Clinton Loyalists that will NEVER EVER vote for NObama. (even if he is forced to name her VP) she is TOO GOOD for the Democratic Party anymore. They would have to kiss her a** majorly in every shape form and way (not to mention the ravenous Nobama supporters) to even get the PUMAs remotely even thinking about voting Democrat again. They screwed the proverbial pooch on this one. Let NObama and his supporters sink on their own.

    McCain/Clinton 08!!!

    August 6, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  6. Judi Smith

    I don't honestly think that Hillary really wants to become the vice president all of the time while she was still in the race she remarked that she wanted the public to treat this electon process like a job interview and that the one with the best ideas, plans and expeince should be the one choosen, which with out a doubt is her! If I was going to job interviews and the one who was a man – younger – least experienced – with out a clue on what the job really entails got hired over me I sure would not want to work under him and take orders from him when the job really should have been mine. I will vote for McCain and he will stay in office only 4 years than Hillary will run again and this time she will win! We will just have to wait thanks to the UN – democratic – democratic rules party. Judi – from the state whose votes did not count!

    August 6, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  7. JC- Los Angeles

    It's blantantly apparent that Hillary, like a lot of women, has trouble ascertaining what a decent guy looks like.

    If not for Terry McAuliffe, of $13 million in Global Crossing stock options fame, running her campaign, I believe she would most likely be the Democratic nominee.

    August 6, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  8. Kristina

    Get over it!! I realize it was a close primary, but only one nominee can be chosen. Even in close primaries. If your not willing to vote to change America, then go curl up in the fetal position forever if you want to. You're no good for America.

    August 6, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  9. Iyapo Kontar

    New program who become sounding boards for the people who they ask questions.
    Then the person doesn't answer but say the spin.
    These people should be replace with real news people.

    August 6, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  10. mark hoffman, Phoenix AZ.

    Wow, Rick. Aren't we the tragic stereotype.

    August 6, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  11. lampe

    So much for Obama, bringing Races together. When you have blacks, accusing Whites of not voting for him because he is Black. then they turn around and try and force you into voting for him, by saying they won't vote for Sen. Clinton in 2008, or 2012 ,if she runs. Now tell me whose acting racist now? I voted for Sen. Clinton because I believe in her, If she would have been a Black women , with the same view points, I would have voted for her too. I am not voting against Obama cause he's Black, I am voting for McCain, because of The DNC's taking it for granted that I will vote, for who they tell me to vote for.

    August 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  12. Alex

    You know folks, it occurs to me that the longer the Democratic Party and Barrack Obama campaign, the more inclined I believe that Hillary lost the nomination because the Party didn't want to see another Clinton in the White House. I'm certain that had Hillary been the nominee, we wouldn't be seeing all this flip floppin that Obama and McCain seemingly do with greater regularity all the time. I do find it humorous that considering the baggage Obama and McCain bring, that the best they can do (the Democrats( is to say that if Hillary was the nominee) they'd have to deal with Bill also. Thats not only weak, but it shows the backbone of people like Bill Richardson who so easily bit the hand that once fed him and delivered the message of the Party and thereby assure himself a place in Obama's cabinet should he be elected President. Both Republicans and Democrats have become such a disappointment. In any case, this nation is by- passing the clearly best candidate to start cleaning up the mess left by Mr. Bush, and that would be Hillary Clinton. I guess my choices for President are now down to two candidates, John McCain or Mickey Mouse. WHich do you think would do the least damage?

    August 6, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Hillary is not out of this VP race yet...............her presence is very much needed by the Obama Administration. The GOP continues to hope she is not the VP. They cannot win against the Dems with her strength. She is still on the very short list....................

    August 6, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  14. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Rick Hubbard.............

    You are one lost soul.........You don't get it that Obama winning the election, alone, does more for the black community globally than anything done in this last generation.......post MLK. If you want to talk to an old time civil rights leader who is also lost contact Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition. He doesn't understand the significace of Obama either. His ego will not let him.................

    August 6, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  15. Rahni, Connecticut

    Presently, I don’t see Obama getting any support from the Clintons. The Clintons are bitter due to their badly run campaign as the result they loss. But if Obama lose the presidency due to the Hillary supporters, I will NOT vote for Hillary Clinton if she runs for President in the year, 2012. I’m pretty sure; a great deal of African-Americans will stay home instead of voting. It’s a shame the DNC can’t get their act together.

    Rahni, Connecticut
    Former Hillary Supporter

    August 6, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  16. Sharon

    She still is a Far better Pick than Obama.

    Obama wants to be a Super Star, Peoples personal Savior. To be liked by all.

    Even Nancy Pelosi said he has no experience just Ideas.

    I do not think I want to trust my life and future on an Idea and a speech.

    August 6, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  17. Larry

    Has Hillary still only suspended her campaign and if so what does that indicate?

    August 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  18. jt

    Hillary is right of not holding big gatherings.

    Because Obama's people will be saying she is taking the show from him.

    Well, Obama will be gone in a few months.

    People are having Obama fatigue. Too tired of Obama.

    2012 please come sooner.

    August 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  19. Larry

    At least obama doesn't have a socialist bone in his body or wants to nationalize our industries. I'm looking forward to the Spanish lessons.

    August 6, 2008 at 12:45 pm |
  20. Cynthia

    I really bothers me that people say Senator Clinton lost because she was a women – that is not the reason why she lost. She lost because she went into it thinking that she had already won. Once she realized that she had some real competition – she went negative and that did not work. By much trial and error she decided is was best to try to stick to the issues and by the time she realized that it was too late for her to recover fully.

    August 6, 2008 at 12:44 pm |
  21. Mindy Chatsworth, Ca.

    First of all, I didn't support Hillary Clinton simply because she is a woman. I supported her because I believed strongly that she was the best qualified, most experienced, intelligent, tough, strong and competent person to lead the Democratic party in this presidential campaign. The fact that she was the first woman to do so, was a bonus, the icing on the cake for a middle aged woman like myself.

    The gender bias and outright misogynistic treatment of Hillary Clinton was a disgrace. If some people don't want to support her, all well and good, but don't dehumanize her or oppose her just BECAUSE she is a woman. That bias was evident throughout the presidential primary, most notably in the media coverage. It was appalling. I remember all too well when I first started working in the late 1970's. I was attacked by coworkers and told that I was taking a job away from a man who needed it to support his family. I was paid less for the exact same work as my male colleagues. The discrimination and harassment that I experienced has stayed with me. It's disappointing to see it happen all over again more than thirty years later.

    I hope for the sake of the Democratic party and working people like myself, that Barack Obama can win in November. But I happen to think that this time the best qualified candidate was passed over for the wrong reasons and someone with much less experience was given the nod. It was extremely difficult for me to watch this brilliant woman lose a tough campaign. It was even harder to realize that, when it comes to sexism, we haven't come nearly as far as I thought.

    August 6, 2008 at 12:34 pm |
  22. lampe

    C.D. How do you know for sure that her debts have not already been settled? Just because it hasn't been in the news lately doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I voted for Sen. Clinton, because I felt she was the best canidate. If Obama and his supporters, feel that they don't need her or us, that's fine by us. But not voting is not an option, If you want you voice to be heard ,than you must not think of it as a vote for McCain, but as a vote against Obama. And being a woman and voting for her because she is a woman, is not any worse than Blacks voting for Obama, because he's Black.

    August 6, 2008 at 12:34 pm |
  23. Donna in ID

    People have missed the point of the Hillery followers. We feel that she was the best candidate. Not a fast talking fast moving arm waving new comer that is buying his nomination. I hate to say this but even if he put her up for VP I could NOT in good faith and the security of this country vote Dem. I call him a "snake oil salesman" because he "CLAIMS a cure for everything if you just do as he says and buy into his speal.
    I reading my NY Times site this AM I got conformation to many of my thoughts over the last yr. He has been raising money and breaking ground for running for Pres. before he was even elected Sen. of IL. He has a lot of BIG money with big business and lobbyists working with bundlers. This man scares this old lady.
    I remember that there have been 2 other men that yelled change and thought they had all the answers. One was in Germany in the 30's and the other was in Cuba in the 50's.
    I feel sorry for Hillery since she is a real Democrate and having to back this over inflated, egotist, sack of hot air that acts like he is running for the head of a "One World Org".
    So I am looking McCain and Barr over very carefully.

    August 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  24. Larry

    Is there an organizational chart for obama's campaign? I'd ask about one for McCain but he's probably already fired all of his people.

    So, who does what in obama's campaign?

    August 6, 2008 at 12:03 pm |
  25. Gary Chandler in Canada

    This writer, a woman of the World, is saying we need America to lead the way on a path that has been opened, already, for decades!? In all honesty, the theme of this essay is pathetic drivel. It is reverse sexism and myopia, combined.
    In Canada we have had East Indian Premiers, a woman Prime Minister, aboriginal Cabinet Ministers and Senators, openly gay parliamentarians, and an Asian, woman Governor General.
    If a candidate raises the gender, race, or orientation issue, or is caught on an open mike, their party, even the Conservatives, demand their resignation. It ends their political career.
    America canNOT lead on this issue, because they have to CATCH UP!

    August 6, 2008 at 11:59 am |
  26. Don

    Hey, folks–She lost. Unless you want the Iraq war to continue indefinitely, Roe v. Wade to be reversed and women return to back alley abortions, continuation of bankrupt government, continuation of the erosion of the constitution, dependence on foreign oil to go from 70% to 90%, appointment for life of more far right wing judges, backward movement on rights for women, minorities, gays, ordinary citizens, etc. etc the only moral political choice is for all previous Hillary Clinton supporters to vigorously support the Democratic candidate Barack Obama. She knows that. So should those of us who supported her candidacy in the primaries.

    August 6, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  27. Helen

    Your feminist idea is so outdated the same way Jesse jackson ideas of race relation is outdated. Get over you bunch of old bags and move to the 21st century. The Clintons closed the last century on a high note. They should continue this legacy instead of whining all the time like a bunch of children. I am ashamed to be a woman when all you are doing is holding on to yesterday news. You make me sick to my stomach.

    August 6, 2008 at 11:24 am |
  28. Jim

    Obama's handling of Hillary and the VP slot show a lack of judgement and character on his part. I thought he was the "judgement" guy? He is not. McCain 2008.

    August 6, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  29. RICK HUBBARD

    we as blacks people,has this obama guy as our may next pres.to me this guy take our vote for grant i am telling you black americans ,he has not said one thing about what he will do for black people or poor blacks,because he is not going to do anything for blacks,if i was running even if it cost me the race i would tell them something to make them proud of me,not proud that iam black running for pres,but that i care for there wants and needs,this fake is fooling a lot of black and white people,name one time fake stood in the ghetto on a corner and talk to the common street people since he has been running i tell you zero,so all of you supporters here your guy.

    August 6, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  30. RICK HUBBARD

    obama,i am puzzle is he dumb or stupid,hillary has 18 million voters and this guy act like there is a mystery on whom to pick as vp so i ask everyone out there is this guy dumb or stupid?

    August 6, 2008 at 11:02 am |
  31. Praetorian, Ft. Myers

    Too bad the Democratic Party leadership–pushed so hard to topple her off the cliff for Obama.

    It will probably cost the Democrats the election–which following Bush will even be a shocker to Republicans.

    One thing Republicans and Democrats agree on–Bush was a bad choice.

    August 6, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  32. Jeanette

    It's totally ridiculous for someone to say that "she must win for us". To vote for someone who is the same gender only or the same race is about the most stupid thing any person can do. People need to vote for the person who will best serve out country. Another thing, Why don't everyone worry about who they will vote for in congress, they are the one who really run our country and so far they are doing a terrible job and doing nothing but playing politics.

    August 6, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  33. Annie Kate

    For Democrats this essay may be a compelling reason to look again at Obama and support him; for Independents it isn't so much. As an Independent I had a hard time choosing between Hillary and McCain – since Hillary is no longer in the race i will watch the campaigns and decide in November who I will vote for; it will probably be McCain though. I chose my candidates because they had experience....Obama does not and that is not something that can be rectified between now and November.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 6, 2008 at 10:31 am |
  34. Cindy

    Well the glass ceiling may be shattered but it isn't broken yet and she may not be the one to do it.

    Cindy...Ga.

    August 6, 2008 at 10:02 am |
  35. Heather,CA,US

    I didn't vote for Clinton because she is a women,I voted for her because I knew who she was. We all know her history.The good and the bad. We know what to expect. I have no plans to vote for Obama. I'm going to be non partisan no party Lou Dobbs Ind and vote for no one. I can't vote for McCain and I can't vote for Obama who wants to negotiate with terrorists.

    August 6, 2008 at 9:44 am |
  36. CD - Flint, MI

    Why do we keep talking about the 18 million votes that Hillary got during the primary. If each of her 18 million loyal voters sent "just" $2.00, she would have more than enough to retire her debt.

    I wonder if they are her voters. Some how I don't think she want to retire this debt. I'll send her another $10.00 or put my bicycle up for sale to get pass the subject.

    August 6, 2008 at 9:41 am |