HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW HILLARY? by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

In her powerful address to America at the DNC, Hillary accepted that a lot of voters, particularly young people and those bamboozled by rightwing caricatures, don't necessarily know her and why she's committed to public service: "I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me. My job titles only tell you what I've done. They don't tell you why." One of the goals of this Voices4Hillary platform is to enable activists, who do know Hillary Clinton, to talk about the real Hillary behind the headlines. Voices4Hillary recently had the pleasure of talking to Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. Magazine, and author of eleven books including How to Make It in a Man's World and Family Politics. Here's what she had to say about the real Hillary.

Voices4Hillary: How important a role model is Hillary for today's young women and men?

LCP: Early exposure to admirable role models is very important in terms of kids imagining what they can do and how far they can travel in life. As someone once said, "If you can't see it, you can't be it". I grew up in a time when we saw few women rise to the top in public life: Eleanor Roosevelt, anthropologist Margaret Mead, Rosa Parks, and tennis stars Maureen Connolly and Althea Gibson.


But two female prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir, showed us it was possible for a woman to lead her nation and gain the respect of the world.

WORLD LEADERS: from left. INDIRA GANDHI of India, GOLDA MEIR of Israel.

Since then, women have served at the helm of many countries, among them Pakistan, Great Britain, Ireland, Bangladesh, Turkey, Norway, Liberia, New Zealand,and Germany. It's taken us much too long but on January 20, 2017, the United States will finally join that list when Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes our next President.

V4H: How do you know Hillary?

LCP: I met her in the late 80s when we both served on the Board of The Child Care Action Campaign, an advocacy group dedicated to making universal high-quality child care available and affordable for all American families. So I know how deep and real is her commitment in this area.

When she was First Lady, I was president of the advocacy group, Americans for Peace Now, and as such, I was fortunate enough to be invited on the White House lawn for the signing of the 1993 Oslo Agreement between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat. The following year, I traveled to Jordan on Hillary's plane along with other leaders of the Jewish community who'd been invited to witness the signing of the historic peace treaty between King Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

I crossed paths with her in 1995 at the U.N. Women's Conference in Beijing, where she delivered those seismic words, "Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights."

Hillary's words in Beijing in 1995 changed the world.

When you work for social change in various campaigns or organizations, you can quickly discern who is there to burnish their ego or resume and who is there to solve problems. It was immediately clear to me that Hillary had the goods. She was not only in the trenches fighting to advance and secure key aspects of the progressive agenda; She waswilling to listen and learn from everyone else.

V4H: How hard has it been for Hillary to assert her political identity separate from Bill?

LCP: I see the Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton Presidencies more in the mold of the administrations of the two Adams presidents, each of whom made memorable but distinctive contributions to our nation's history. Hillary is not Bill Redux; the 1990's are not 2017. Different times require different responses and solutions.

For example, globalization and technological change are two powerful external forces that have increased inequality in ways most of us could never have imagined. The challenge for a President Hillary Clinton will be to accelerate economic growth through major infrastructure projects and guarantee equal opportunity for all. I believe that leveling the playing field for ordinary Americans will be one of the principal legacies of President Hillary Clinton. I'm sure she will be an amazing President in her own right; I know what this woman can do!

V4H: Tell me about her working style.

LCP: Hillary is very collegial and always seeks the best intelligence on every issue she cares about. She's tough but fair in dealing with people. As Secretary of State, she interacted with numerous groups and individuals who were working from the bottom up to tackle thorny issues; she respected and learned from these grassroots activists but she also held them accountable for results. Hillary is a big believer in the wisdom of ordinary folks; when she travelled overseas as Secretary of State, she didn't just meet with Heads of State, she always insisted on seeing everyday people to find out what was really going on in their country and their lives.

V4H: How important is her religious faith to Hillary?

LCP: Very important. Her values and commitments seem to be deeply rooted in the teachings of her faith. For example, the Book of Proverbs, in which human beings are counseled, "Do not take advantage of the poor just because you can; do not take advantage of those who stand helpless in court."

Or the words in Exodus 23:9 -- "Do not oppress a stranger; you yourselves know how it feels to be strangers, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." -- which I consider the commandment to empathize with out-groups. Hillary fulfills that commandment every day of her life. She understands that in today's world, "the stranger" could be a poor single mother in Watts, an unemployed factory worker in the midwest, an immigrant, a mentally disabled child, a retired person unable to pay the rent, a student burdened by crippling debt. The important thing to remember is, not only does Hillary genuinely care about these people, she has a detailed policy plan that will make their lives infinitely better, and by extension everyone else's lives as well.


July 30, 2016

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