South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Title: What Happened,  Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton,  Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pages: 494,  Price: Rs. 699

Hillary Clinton was expected to win the Presidential elections of United States of America (USA) held last year. But, it did not happen. Had she win, she would have been the first woman President of US. Unfortunately, second largest democracy in the world has not seen woman President so far. Women, liberal and democrats of US had thought that she will break the male domination. But, something else happened. US elected Republican candidate Donald Trump as President and he occupied the White House.

After losing election, Hillary wrote a book What Happened.  It is a brilliant memoir. She reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable Presidential elections. In fact, she was the first woman nominated for the President by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference and an opponent who broke all the rules. The book also gives details like what went wrong in the election campaign.

US elections are always hard fought. But, last year’s election was altogether different. Donald Trump was a different type of rival. The culture of Democrats and Republics is different. Again, Republic candidate Trump was a different in many ways. Hillary was a highly qualified candidate and more political than Trump. She had performed brilliantly as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

Her vision of democracy can be best understood from an instance she narrated in the book. She writes,” When I was Secretary of State, I met in Cairo with a group of young Egyptian activists who had helped organize the demonstrations in Tahrir Square that shocked the world by toppling President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. They were intoxicated by the power of their protests but showed little interest in organizing political parties, drafting platforms, running candidates, or building coalitions. Politics was not for them, they said. I feared what that would mean for their future. I believed they were essentially handing the country over to the two most organized forces in Egypt: the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. In the years ahead, both fears proved correct.”  The outcome of the Arab Spring proved she was correct. The only exception was Tunisia.

She says that Trump had violated all norms and rules. He even warned that he might not accept the result if it went against him. She alleged Russian interference in the elections and questioned the role of James Comey, then FBI director. She was clear that Russia under the leadership of Putin was trying to influence the election in favour of Trump. She was devastated after the loss but she overcame it.

Interestingly, Hillary analyses of hundred days of Trump administration and says what she would have done in hundred days if she was elected. She says first major initiative of Trump was Muslim ban, which immediately ran into trouble in courts. Hers would have been a jobs and infrastructure packages funded by raising taxes on the wealthiest. Trump could not start building wall between US & Mexico. She would have pushed for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. This is the difference between Hillary and Trump/Republican party. Democrats think of immigrants. Hillary says Trump alienated allies like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while embracing dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Hillary had to face gun lobby which spent more than $ 30 million supporting Trump. Hillary was for regulating gun culture. The culture of gun is killing innocent students and others in big number. Often we hear that someone in US has killed few students. The gun lobby is powerful. She believed US needed new measures that would go even further than what the Clinton administration had accomplished. Republicans campaigned that how she was against the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which protects the right of the people to keep arms. She responded by saying,” I am not here to repeal the Second Amendment. I am not here to take away your guns. I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who should not have a gun in the first place.”

The question remains when US will see woman President? Hillary writes,” Will we ever have a woman President? We will. I hope I’ll be around to vote for her-assuming I agree with her agenda. She’ll have to earn my vote based on her qualifications and ideas, just like anyone else.”

The book is a worth reading. It gives clear picture of how Presidential elections take place in US and what kind or role various lobby plays.


Updated On: Oct 29, 2017