In which I write a thank-you letter to Hillary, in gratitude for everything she has done to get to this moment. I invite you to co-sign, by sharing on social media using the hashtag #HistoryMade.


Dear Hillary:

Thank you.

Thank you for being first to reach this summit, if not the first to walk the trail. Thank you for listening to the women who went before, for honoring them, for learning from them, for building on what they started, for giving them credit.

Thank you for bringing us along. For being a woman who uplifts other women; who never positions herself as superior to other women; who doesn’t audit other women’s expressions and experiences of womanhood.

Thank you for caring about children. For dedicating so much of your long career to bettering the lives of children and talking about them as the humans they are; for always remembering their present needs; for not using them as a political tool to suggest they need protection from marginalized people (but not from guns or hunger).

Thank you for talking about marginalized people as rights-bearing humans with complex needs and agency. Thank you for saying women’s rights are human rights, and gay rights are human rights. For talking in your stump speech about protecting the rights of people of color and disabled people and voters and workers.

Thank you for being thoughtful and measured in your deliberations, for taking seriously the gravity of the presidency. For promising to prioritize harm mitigation. For not treating lightly the enormous responsibility with which you’ll be tasked.

Thank you for being a listener, and a learner. Thank you for finding a way to build bridges and forge unity and create fragile alliances with temperamental fools to get things done.

Thank you for everything you have done along your journey to this moment. For fighting for educational and housing rights. For fighting for other female lawyers. For fighting for healthcare. For fighting for first responders and veterans. For fighting for people who need jobs, childcare, food. For fighting for people who need someone in power to recognize their value — their humanity.

Thank you for being willing to fight for me, even when I haven’t agreed with you. Even when I didn’t support you. Even when I was a younger woman, still full of uninterrogated internalized misogyny, which sometimes spilled out in your direction.

Thank you for challenging me. For obliging me to grow as a woman and as an observer of politics. Thank you for telling me it’s okay for me to expect more and hold you accountable, and for inviting me to see you, in all your complexity, as a person and a public servant.

Thank you for letting me see as much of who you are as I have — which cannot be easy, given the scrutiny and vitriol to which you are subjected. Thank you for modeling self-care and the drawing of boundaries: When the press criticizes you for not availing yourself of them — while you’re shaking hands and giving hugs and taking selfies and talking and listening to voters — I see how you’ve navigated a balance that allows you to be vulnerable to the people who need it. And I thank you for that, too.

Thank you for your endless campaigning as you work for every last vote, despite not being a natural campaigner. For doing this hard and less enjoyable work, which is the cost of getting the job for which you are suited.

Thank you for your voice – and your laugh, which I love so much. Thank you for your broad smile and your hilarious, utter lack of a poker face.

Thank you for your compassion, and for your wit. For making me cry and for making me laugh. For inspiring me to keep reaching — to carry on.

Thank you for finding a way to process all the petty ignominies and sustained personal attacks with which you have been obliged to contend for decades. These things should not be the cost of any woman’s success, and yet they are the stuff of every woman’s life. To face them in their relentless indignity for decades, on such a grand and visible scale, is unfathomable. Thank you for your perseverance.

Thank you in equal measure for your righteous anger: At the people who try to harm you and your family; at the people who try to harm the rest of us. There are times in the middle of another round of crass Republican politicking, when I glimpse the flicker of anger in your eyes, penetrating your stoic veneer of steely resolve; or hear the edge of anger around the contours of your reasonable tone. And it gives me the air in my lungs I need to keep fighting.

Thank you for the moments you have shown undiluted contempt, responding with mirthless laughter. For the times that you communicate disdain when a less confident or more obsequious politician might elect to indulge that infuriating, dangerous, “both sides have a point” malarkey.

Thank you for knowing there is a time to stop listening, too. To draw a line in the sand and say this is intolerable and cannot stand. To say you have heard quite enough, thank you very much.

Thank you for doing that, even despite the enormous pressure on women to be eternally indulgent and kind and deferential.

Thank you for neither succumbing to many of the foolish and demeaning expectations that are put on women, nor for running away from your womanhood. There are many who want the prize of being first, while abandoning any sense of loyalty or representation. Thank you for being a woman who is not ashamed to be one.

Thank you for making history, though you will not get sufficient credit for the colossal amount of work you did to get here — to reach this moment.

It is a moment so overwhelming, I can barely put into words its enormity. I still can’t even say the words, “first female presidential nominee of a major party,” without tears spilling from my eyes.

I am so moved by what you have accomplished, what it has taken you to get here and the obstacles you’ve overcome, that I feel like my heart may burst right out of my chest.

And yet: The historical nature of your candidacy is treated as though it’s barely remarkable. A footnote. An aside. Inevitable.

Which ought to make me furious. But the fact that you have made shattering a 227-year-old glass ceiling look inevitable is testament to how thoroughly you have changed the landscape. You have taken centuries of acrimonious exclusion, and rendered them a relic.

In the strangest way – and most expected, for anyone who has paid attention to women who make history – the fact that you are greeted as just another boring old candidate, by people who aren’t inclined to appreciate the seismic shift of your achievement, is the most pointed evidence of its profundity.

Oh her. Yeah, all she had to do was be extraordinary.

I will be appreciating this familiar irony as I sip champagne tonight, to mark the history you’ve made. And my toast will be this: Thank you, Hillary Clinton. Here’s to you.

Then I will get back to work, doing whatever I can to make sure I have the chance to toast your making history again in November.

It’s the least I can do to show my thanks.

Warmest regards,
Liss