It's the best thing you'll read about what Clinton's loss says about women, about Democratic politics, about America. Please read the whole thing. This is just a short excerpt:
Spending eight years in the White House made Hillary a part of the Democratic firmament, a celebrity who rubbed elbows with the rich and powerful. Which of course helped her when she embarked on her own political career, becoming the first woman senator from the State of New York. By the time she made her first bid for the White House in 2008, she — unlike all the women who had preceded her in presidential bids — had both the money and support of the party Establishment. Her decision to go work for her former rival Barack Obama further ensconced her in the Democratic Party’s highest echelons, which led to the sense of her 2016 run as inevitable, unstoppable.
It is a piteous irony that in finding a way past the specific hurdles long set before women with presidential ambitions — fund-raising and the support of a major party — Hillary Clinton also offered up to her opponents, on the left and the right, the ammunition to undercut the historic nature of her candidacy. The very fact that she had close relationships with big donors and garnered the support of major political institutions made her part of the political elite, vulnerable to the anti-Establishment rhetoric of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. It also kept her from being understood or celebrated as the historic outsider that, as a member of a gender historically denied access to executive power, she was. In debates, when attacked as a member of the corrupt global oligarchy, Clinton would bleat about being a woman, a grandmother, different from literally everyone else ever to have been on a general-election presidential-debate stage, yet her claims never really landed. Perhaps it is a remarkable twist of fate that the outsider candidate was too much of an insider for the election she ran in, or perhaps part of today’s fury at insider institutions stems from a resentment that women like Hillary Clinton can infiltrate them. Either way, in figuring out how a woman might win, she lost.
In the final stretch of her general-election campaign, Hillary Clinton did become discernible as a woman — thanks, in large part, to Donald Trump. When he dismissed her as a “nasty woman,” when he said that she lacked stamina, when he said she didn’t look presidential, when he said that she’d walked in front of him at a debate and that he “wasn’t impressed.” When he stood menacingly behind her at the second debate, radiating his desire to punish her, spitting out his plan to imprison her should he be elected, attempting to humiliate her with women who had accused her husband of sexual misconduct. Suddenly, millions of American women remembered that no matter her wealth, or her immersion in the political ruling class, in the end, she was being treated like a woman — a woman who had dared to challenge and embarrass an angry man. A lot of women could relate.
Then there was the infamous pussy-grabbing tape. Bob Kerrey notes, with the surprise felt by many men, how “that tape of Trump reminded us of the way we used to be, and let us know that it’s still going on! Now it’s more likely to be condemned, as opposed to being rewarded, because it wasn’t that long ago that it was rewarded. And it’s the reason we haven’t had a woman president.”
The story of women in America is closely intertwined with the story of the country’s other structurally disadvantaged groups, even if those groups have sometimes fought with each other over a too-small piece of the pie. But in this election cycle, faced with a candidate spouting sexism and racism along with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic tirades, those groups, and their symbolic representatives, began to step up to flank Clinton. People who had reasons to distrust Hillary Clinton, especially African-Americans who were angry about the long-term repercussions of Bill Clinton’s crime bill, began to get over them to try to help Clinton win a historic presidency. There was Michelle Obama, against whose husband Hillary Clinton had so bitterly fought in 2008, arriving to give clear, heart-wrenching voice to women’s anger at the culture of sexual assault. There was Elizabeth Warren, in defiance of the narrative about her chilly relationship with Clinton, making the impassioned case for progressive economic reform that Clinton herself had a hard time making, in part because her husband’s welfare-reform legislation had exacerbated the class divide. Clinton herself spoke more openly about her own advantages, about systemic racism, about the biases and resentments that made Michelle Obama’s time as First Lady more fraught than hers.
This coalition-building was not just an illusion produced by a few high-wattage appearances. A poll released by the nonpartisan African-American Research Collaborative the Friday before Election Day found that while black voters were most motivated by jobs, 89 percent of respondents also were invested in comprehensive immigration reform, and support for same-sex marriage had risen 11 points since 2012 to 61 percent. Issues that used to divide marginalized populations — recall the passage of Prop 8 in 2008, thanks in part to a lack of support for gay rights among the African-American voters who turned out for Obama — seemed to be, slowly but righteously, becoming common cause. The prospect of a truly intersectional Democratic movement seemed possible — not just possible but key to electing the first woman president, a woman who would not only shore up the Supreme Court but who was running on promises of comprehensive immigration reform, paid family leave, subsidized child care, a higher minimum wage, the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, and criminal-justice reform, all of which would of course have trouble getting past an obstructionist Congress, but nonetheless composed a blueprint for the future, an interlocking set of fixes that might begin to address structural barriers to equality. A more integrated progressive future was a glimmer in the eye of our sitting president, his would-be successor, and the coalition of voters that appeared to be forming behind her.
That was our mistake. And it's possible that we must now reevaluate the historic victory of Barack Obama in light of the fact that he was elected at a moment of global crisis in the shadow of a disastrous war perpetrated by his predecessor of the opposing party. Maybe that's really what was happening. Desperation, not progress.
Or maybe it's just always two steps forward one step back --- or in this case, two steps forward a hundred steps back.
Traister concludes with this:
We are in a period of tremendous national turmoil. What we are seeing is a backlash not just against Clinton’s candidacy but against the entire eight years of the Obama administration. It’s not just about who gets to be president. It’s about who gets to vote for the president, who gets to stay in America and make their families here and how those families get to be configured. It’s about who controls the culture, who makes the art, who makes the policies, whom those policies benefit and whom they harm.
As Clinton pointed out that Sunday at the Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, the spaces between advances in our society are often long ones: Nearly 100 years passed between African-Americans being guaranteed the right to vote by the 15th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of all the women who attended the convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, only one of them lived to see women get the vote in 1920. A few of those women who recall the passage of the 19th Amendment, and many more black women who had to fight for their franchise in the Jim Crow South, got to vote for a woman for president on Tuesday. They won’t live to see a woman inaugurated. But … someday, someone.