Voices4Hillary is proud to reprieve this post, from 2016, in honor of World Elephant Day.

All of us who know Hillary Clinton are confounded by opponents' insistence that she is a cold, calculating politician who cares for little more than advancing her career. This is the "made up" version of Hillary that Bill Clinton referenced at the Democratic convention.

So where can we find confirmation that Hillary Clinton is an empathetic, passionate person who strives to go good for goodness' sake? For that, we need look no further than the elephants.

Hillary is crazy about elephants. She and Chelsea fell for them during a trip they took to Africa in the 1990s. Elephants are beautiful, graceful, intelligent creatures that form strong familial bonds, dote on their young, respect their elders, and mourn their dead. Virtually no one can resist their charms.

Visiting Africa in the 90s, Hillary fell in love with elephants.

On a taping of the Ellen DeGeneres show in May, Hillary quipped, "I am a Democrat , but I really like elephants." She considers them to be her spirit animal.

Unlike most visitors to Africa who are captivated by elephants, however, Hillary's interest in them was not a short-lived, passing interest. When she became Secretary of State, she learned that killings of her beloved elephants were spiking. Thousands and then tens of thousands were being killed each year to satisfy the market demand for ivory trinkets from wealthy consuming nations, including the U.S. Killing elephants had become a big business. Something serious was afoot, and Hillary wanted to get to the bottom of it.

And so she did a Hillary thing. She converted her empathy and passion into action.

Her first public step was to give a major address as Secretary of State in the fall of 2012 and blow the whistle on the alarming spike in elephant killings. Unlike the opportunistic killings that occurred in the 1980s, this time the killings were more organized, and pernicious. Sophisticated international criminal syndicates were involved, corrupting African governments, and providing cash to terrorist organizations like Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, and General Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. She used her speech, and her power as Secretary of State, to launch an investigation by our intelligence services that later confirmed the ties between elephant killings and the funding of terrorists.

That was not enough for Hillary. She continued the fight, even after leaving the State Department.

Inspired by Hillary Clinton's commitment to the cause, and given the Interior Department's role in addressing international endangered species issues, I made an official visit to Tanzania in early 2013, where I saw the devastation that was being caused by the poachers, and the corrupting influence of the illegal profiteers engaged in the unholy business. Hillary was right.

Upon my return, I worked with the President and the White House to continue the work that Hillary had started. As we circulated a draft Executive Order to address the trafficking crisis in the White House, I learned that Hillary was making calls to the President and the West Wing, quietly pushing the President to move forward with a whole-of-government initiative to combat the global scourge of wildlife trafficking.

The President listened to Hillary's quiet – and effective – lobbying on behalf of the elephants. He signed an historic Executive Order to Combat Wildlife Trafficking on July 1, 2013.

The next thing I knew, Hillary was calling me, asking for my help in encouraging the White House to appoint good people to the outside Advisory Council that was being established under the Executive Order. She recognized that the government could not do the job alone. To save the world's elephants, everyone had to get involved. She had specific suggestions in mind, including her former Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and the former CEO of the Discovery Channel, Judith McHale. Would I be comfortable advancing Judith's candidacy? Needless to say, I was thrilled to do so, knowing that the elephants would benefit by having a strong leader like Judith involved.

And when the President appointed his Advisory Council a few months later, led by Judith McHale, Hillary and Chelsea joined in the event. Both spoke passionately to a packed White House crowd about the importance of saving elephants and other iconic species. Hillary was not letting go. The elephants were too important. She was no longer in public office, but her commitment to helping elephants was not limited to a time and place; it was a passion.

Since then, both Hillary and Chelsea have continued to give generously of their time and expertise to the on-going struggle to break the international syndicates and their terrorist partners and save the elephants. Through the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, they formed the "Elephants Action Network," bringing together major non-profit organizations and companies who shared their commitment to "stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand." Despite their hectic schedules, they have made it a point to come to every meeting of the Network.

Hillary's quiet and effective advocacy on behalf of elephants continues to this day. On an on-going basis, she reaches out to her extensive network of well-placed friends and colleagues, like Mark Childress, the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, to learn what's happening in the field, and offer her help. And when I formed the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance to focus on demand reduction efforts in the U.S., Hillary was there for me, offering advice and encouragement. Whenever I see her, it's the elephants that she wants to hear about.

So if you want more evidence of the incredible combination of Hillary's empathy, passion, and effectiveness, just ask the elephants.


August 12, 2016

Addendum -- Hillary supporter Leonardo DiCaprio is also passionate about elephants. Here he is in Indonesia, fighting for the elephants' future.

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