Last week, I read an op-ed by Timothy Stanley on CNN.com suggesting that it’s too soon for Hillary Clinton to be back out in public. He said Democrats need more time to move on ― that her presence back on the main stage is a distraction and deterrent for the party moving forward.
As the president of an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office, I couldn’t disagree more. Women across the country need to see that you can suffer defeat and still get back up. If Hillary can go through something as devastating as losing to Donald Trump and still have the resiliency and strength to step forward, then surely they can overcome anything that they encounter.
The major obstacle towards reaching parity in our governing bodies is that not enough women want to run for office. In fact, research shows that when women run they win at the same rate as men. Studies show that although women want to help their communities, they do not see politics as a desirable realm. They are less likely than men to run for office without being asked multiple times and less likely to try a second time if they lose. They often bear the brunt of household responsibilities and childcare and tend to question whether they are qualified to run for office at all. We need to encourage any action Hillary takes to show women that it’s worth the risk to step forward and run.
Last week I had the opportunity to see Hillary give a speech at the Professional Businesswomen of California conference in San Francisco. As she spoke, she reflected on her own experiences in office and business and women’s larger role in society, government and the workplace, as well as how we achieve gender parity in each of those sectors. One of the most striking things about her words was the mantra that she said she has been reciting on her “walks in the woods.” She encouraged the audience to join her in embracing the mantra to “resist, insist, persist, enlist.”
There have been scores of news articles about the surge in interest from women who want to run for office and whether this enthusiasm will actually turn into more women on the ballot. What better encouragement could there be than seeing the woman who got closest to the highest office in the land rise again and serve as a living example that losing a political race isn’t the end of the world.
Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and the outcome of the 2016 election have already served as the first catalyst for an unprecedented number of women to start thinking about running for office. At my organization, Emerge America, we saw an 87 percent spike in applications across the board and women across the country are continuing to come to us seeking training on how to run for office. It’s my hope that if her loss in the presidential election served as that initial spark to get women to think more about becoming engaged in electoral politics, her continued championing of women candidates and Democratic causes can help us sustain it into a movement. We should not be telling Hillary to sit down, we should be encouraging her to stand up and stand tall with us as we fight for change and to build a better tomorrow for us all.