Peter Daou and Tom Watson – writers, strategists, consultants, and long-time political collaborators – declare the dawn of the Hillary Man.
America is embarking on a historic journey that should culminate in the election of our first woman president, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The journey will be long and tortuous, marked by emotional highs and political lows, attacks, counterattacks, stumbles, missteps, manufactured controversies, mud-slinging, hand-wringing, door-knocking, phone-banking, delegate-counting, Periscope and Meerkat moments, debate debacles, email avalanches, big data, small data, smart data, information overload, geekfests, trollfests, money bombs, Tweetstorms, scoops, leaks, media transgressions, polling obsessions, breathless headlines, baseless predictions, and dizzying twists and turns that will captivate us until the final moments of the campaign.
I make no secret about my personal investment in the process. It has been a life mission of mine to help elect a woman president and one day I hope to tell my young daughter that I did my small part in achieving that goal.
I was a senior staffer at Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and an advisor before that. I have done a decade of consulting for the Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation. In all my encounters, I have been treated with the utmost integrity and respect by the Clinton family, staff and advisors. These are good people, dedicated to changing the world for the better. They are tireless and focused, disciplined and intelligent. The best that America has to offer.
I think of friends and former campaign colleagues like Adam Parkhomenko, Karen Finney, Neera Tanden, Mandy Grunwald, Nick Merrill, Robby Mook, Andrew Bleeker, Huma Abedin, Katie Dowd, Matt McKenna, Bari Lurie, Guy Cecil, Cheryl Mills, Jonathan Mantz, Valerie Alexander, Minyon Moore, Jamie Smith, Jennifer Palmieri, Patti Solis Doyle, Jessica O’Connell, Burns Strider, Ann Lewis, Nathaniel Pearlman, Maggie Williams, Craig Minassian, Tracy Sefl, Dennis Cheng, Jennifer Hanley, Jake Sullivan, Adrienne Elrod, Caroline Adler, Kiki McLean, Philippe Reines, Dana Singiser, Blake Zeff, Fabiola Rodríguez-Ciampoli, Traci Otey Blunt, Brian Deese, Jon Davidson, Angel Urena, Haley Stevens, Capricia Marshall, Laurie Rubiner, Mike Henry, Seth Bringman, Kevin Thurman, Crystal Patterson, Jove Oliver, Tamera Luzzatto and so many others. All heads down, results oriented, hardworking individuals. Decent people. Hearts in the right place.
There’s something more. During this campaign, we will witness the dawn of the Hillary Man. There is much talk about the important role women will play in the 2016 race. Just as crucial is the contribution of men who reject the rampant sexism and misogyny plaguing our world, the pervasive oppression of women and girls that stains every corner of this planet.
I have written extensively about this greatest of human travesties:
- One out of every three women will be a victim of violence in her lifetime.
- Women and girls ages 15 to 44 are more likely to be maimed or killed by men than by malaria, cancer, war or traffic accidents combined.
- In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read.
- Murder is a leading cause of death for pregnant women.
- The children most at risk of attempted abduction by strangers are girls ages 10 to 14.
- Every year, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at or on their way to school.
- Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
- 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
- Femicide is the leading cause of on-the-job death for women.
- Only about one third of countries around the world have laws in place to combat violence against women, and in most of these countries those laws are not enforced.
- In addition to sex-selective abortions, millions of girls and women are killed after birth through starvation and violence, forced abortions, ‘honor’ killings, dowry murders, and witch lynchings.
One thing is for certain in the 2016 campaign: the ultimate glass ceiling will not give way without a Herculean effort. As Tom and I both understand, sexism will rear its ugly head in myriad, unexpected ways. But if anyone can mount a successful assault on that glass ceiling, it’s Hillary Clinton.
Standing with her at every step will be the Hillary Men across America, who will help smash that ceiling, understanding both the symbolism and practicality of a women’s rights champion like Hillary Clinton in the White House.
We are at the start of the most important feminist election cycle in American history. It’s not just that the most qualified female candidate is likely to win the nomination of her party for President for the first time ever. It’s not just that the score in national U.S. politics remains a complete shut out, at 44-0. It’s not just that Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in the United States and a liberal Democrat with more than three decades of public service behind her.
It’s that this time around – next year in fact – an explicit gender lens will be applied to a national election for the first time in the nation’s history.
As men with public voices who have observed, commented on, and been allies of the growing and powerful network of organizers, social activists, and policy-makers that comprises the modern push for civil and economic equality for women, Peter and I are committed to seeing that gender lens applied appropriately.
We are committed to having that discussion about women and politics, about the great global civil rights struggle of our times, and about the nature of power that has excluded or limited half the population for far too long.
And yes, we have a candidate. We are both Democrats, both believers in progressive public policy and the power of government to help people – and we are both committed to the work of the social sector and the belief that a helping hand is part of what builds both small communities and great nations.
We are Hillary Men.
And yes, very specifically we are *men* for Hillary Clinton. We are consciously appealing to our brothers in public life and public speech, in party politics and corporate leadership, and on the broad social commons to apply their own gender lens to the 2016 election – and to commit to supporting an eminently qualified women to be our next President.
Just as there were Roosevelt Men and Kennedy Men, we believe there will be Hillary Men – men who answer history’s call to change the score, and help elect a woman to the highest office.
We understand that sexual bias in public life – and in the media – remains a barrier to the Presidency. We know that while Hillary Clinton has distinct advantages, she also faces a higher bar.
Our commitment in 2016 is not about the realization that sodden gender bias is as accepted in American politics as being left-handed. It is about the future and chance before us now – in our case, as politically active men. And while we intend to call out overt sexism and more subtle gender bias when we see it, our main goal is to make the ongoing case for electing the first woman President – and to argue that electing her is a vital and legitimate political and cultural goal for American men.
Rarely in U.S. political history has a prospective candidate come to the starting gate in a presidential campaign with as much experience, knowledge, and insight into the workings of government as Hillary Clinton does ahead of the 2016 campaign. As a liberal who has long fought for the rights of the disenfranchised, and who has battled to extend the American social contract, Hillary Clinton can and should lay claim to the mantle of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson – as well as to the political legacy of the two great Democrats she’s worked most closely with: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
To be clear, neither of us believes in perfect alignment in political life. We disagree all the time on issues. We sometimes disagree with President Obama, we sometimes disagreed with President Clinton, and we disagree on occasion with Hillary Clinton. Our personal views on policy, both foreign and domestic, place us firmly in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Yet we both know that Hillary Clinton is a strong liberal who is committed through a lifetime of service to the ideals that form the foundation of our own liberalism. In short, we march under the same banner.
This is a singular moment in American political history – but it also arrives at a crucial time for the world. As I’ve written before, over the last quarter century, Hillary Clinton has succeeded in placing the interests of women and girls atop the global development agenda. She didn’t do it alone — her partners included a network of brave human rights leaders around the world, as well as global and regional NGOs and the United Nations. But two aspects of this journey cannot be denied, even by those who dislike Clinton for political or personal reasons: she used every facet of every office and position she had to pursue this effort — from First Lady to U.S. Senator to the State Department—and her name is synonymous in the global movement for equal rights for women and girls with that ongoing fight for justice.
This matters. Indeed, it helps to define and legitimize the explicit gender lens we are suggesting men of goodwill place on the 2016 presidential campaign. Political enemies like to ask derisively: “what has Hillary Clinton ever accomplished?” This is the answer – and it’s also the challenge: can we support the most accomplished woman in U.S. politics in achieving the nation’s highest office – a role she is obviously qualified for – with the intent of changing the national scorecard?
And can we (again, as men) do this for our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, our spouses, our colleagues, our families, our friends? I think we can, and I think we must.
Politics is not blind to race, to class, or to gender. Every fiber of American electoral history tells us that. In 2008, many of us wept openly at the sight of an African-American man speaking on Election Night – not just because we admired him (though we did) but because his victory was (and is) part of a long, imperfect, often frustrating but deeply important struggle for justice in this country.
This is another moment that reaches into that human part of us that demands justice, and calls us to action. It is a time to make history once again – and what a privilege that is.
So yes, we are Hillary Men. We are applying an explicit gender lens to this election. We are speaking out and we will continue to do so.