For those of us who supported Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, her loss to Donald Trump felt deeply personal — for Democrats, progressives, and of course, women. And that feeling only intensifies with New York Magazine's new article on her life after the election. In the interview, Clinton revealed her reaction to Trump's inauguration speech — and it proved that she was in the same place as all of us, though, of course, her burden weighed heavier.
As painful as it is, try to put yourself back in that moment: the Obamas standing aside, Melania holding a Bible for her husband, and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swearing Trump in as president. Then, that terrible speech of his — I myself couldn't bear to watch — that Clinton had to witness firsthand. “It was a really painful cry to his hardcore supporters that he wasn’t changing,” she told New York Magazine. “The ‘carnage’ in our country? It was a very disturbing moment. I caught Michelle Obama’s eye, like, What is going on here?"
The experience was so jarring that it even aligned Clinton with the Bushes, something else I think many of us felt. "I was sitting next to George and Laura Bush, and we have our political differences, but this was beyond any experience any of us had ever had,” she said. And in case you were wondering, Clinton seemed pleased to implicitly confirm that Bush had called Trump's speech "some weird sh*t."
Inauguration day wasn't the only time when Clinton's feelings were especially relatable. Election night — the soaring optimism that crashed, hard — was the same way, except instead of crying into her breakfast cereal, Clinton had to call Trump to congratulate him and give a speech to all of her supporters. According to her description, she had to go into the same emergency, step-by-step mode that I imagine a lot of us experienced:
This was a crushing, devastating blow … And then I have to figure out what I’m gonna do the next day … I had to get through that before I could go, ‘What the hell just happened?’ and be angry and upset. And be disappointed and feel I let people down and feel everything that I felt.
Get up. Eat something. Clean up the mess from the election night party. Accomplishing the most basic tasks was so difficult over those next couple of days, and we weren't alone in that. "For that moment we just had to stick to the ritualistic process: OK, when I was sure, I have to call Trump. I want to call Obama," Clinton said of her feelings when the election results were final.
The Hillary Clinton that comes out in this interview is the Clinton that you can relate to. Not the one who had some email scandal, nor the one whom thousands of people wanted to lock up. This is the Hillary Clinton who speaks openly about how sexism affected her campaign and about how she basically ignored the Wikileaks news because it seemed "silly" to her.
This is the new Hillary Clinton. She's still here in the public eye, and still looking forward. This is something else that she has in common with all of us, and that's the most heartening thing of all. If Hillary Clinton — the woman whom we expected to be giving speeches to NATO and meeting foreign leaders — can get up, brush off her defeat, and look to the future, then so can we. And she'll be right there with us.