Back in 2008 I was in graduate school when President Obama was running for president for the first time. One of my professors talked a lot about current events, and would remark on how amazing it is that in America, people let go of power and hand it to someone else. As a born and raised American, this was unremarkable to be. It’s the way it always has been.
It wasn’t until Trump started threatening to not accept the results of the election if he lost and after Bernie Sanders whined and complained about losing the primaries that I started to appreciate how important this is for our democracy.
This appreciation was deepened by listening to the soundtrack to the musical, Hamilton. The musical devotes two songs to George Washington stepping down after he served two terms as president. They both deal with the surprise and disbelief that people felt when Washington did this and are worth a listen to.
Consider further that, from a historical perspective, the American Revolution is unique in that it was successful and did not descend into tyranny, something people clamoring for revolution would be wise to remember. Lately I’ve been reading American Creation, which details some of the things that made the American Revolution unique. One of those was that power did not congeal in the hands of someone who could not let it go. President Washington stepping down and teaching us how to say good bye was paradigm shattering and one of the greatest gifts he gave our nation.
Now I ask you to take some time, if you haven’t already, to watch Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Children’s Defense Fund last night, her first public appearance since conceding the nomination.
Please, take some time to do what I fear too few Americans did before November 8th. Listen to Hillary Clinton. She was not focused on bitterness or accusations. She did not slam the system. She focused on the mission of helping disadvantaged children. She talked about women who have faced harder obstacles than she has. She asked us to join her to continue to help advocating for children.
As always I struggle mightily with this caricature of her as a power hungry monster who will commit murder to get power with the woman I see when I listen to her talk or what I understand when I read her words. This is a woman who painfully let go of power not once, but twice. She did the same thing in 2008. She did not scream at the DNC for working against her. For her, making sure a Democrat who would advance a progressive agenda was more important than her ego, unlike a certain senator I can think of.
Once again, Clinton is focusing on doing all the good she can do even though she did not get the job she wanted. In doing this, she is showing the true spirit of President George Washington.