"What Happened" - Book Review
"What Happened", by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Simon & Schuster, $30
Book review by Barrie Simpson
First, here’s why I even wanted to read this book. Prior to the 2016 election, I felt that voting was enough. After November 8, I realized that voting wasn’t nearly enough, nor was complaining to like-minded individuals on Facebook. I needed to do something. While I looked around for how to help the Democratic Party, I discovered Future901. Here was a grassroots organization where I could contribute my time and talent locally to elect progressive public officials.
How does this relate to the book? I believe it is imperative to understand from Hillary’s perspective, what happened. What did she do right, as she did win the popular vote, and what did she do wrong? The book captures the dedication and perseverance needed to run for public office as well as the need to separate rhetoric from the ability to get the job done. Many Americans seem to want charismatic, popular individuals in public office instead of individuals who understand how to make things happen, and who do not just make empty promises. People willing to take up important causes such as women’s rights, LGBT rights, gun restrictions, and health care. More importantly, we need individuals who want to build bridges and coalitions that reach across the aisle to tackle these issues instead of merely drawing lines and refusing to compromise.
Many of us are all still caught up in “Why She Lost.” Was it the Russian interference, Comey’s last minute statement regarding her e-mails, the media’s focus on “news” (and “fake news”) rather than policy, or all of the above? As I read on, I discovered that although learning why she lost could make a difference for future elections, it is not as important going forward as what she and progressive Democrats stand for and what we must do in the days ahead to safeguard our democracy.
The last section of the book, entitled “Resilience” gave me hope that we can make a difference. The chapter on “Love and Kindness” especially resonated with me, and gave me insight into why many of us are disheartened as well as how we can turn things around.
In “Love & Kindness,” there is a long discussion on “Why…so many Americans feel like we lack meaning in our individual lives and in our collective national life?” In a speech by Hillary, she quoted a Republican, Atwater, who at the end of his life felt we needed a new purpose and to his question, “Who will lead us out of this spiritual vacuum?” she responded, “All of us….We need a new politics of meaning, a new ethos of individual responsibility and caring….The importance of networks of family, friendship, and communities are the glue that hold us together.” We need to reject cynicism and take risks to resolve the challenges that face each of us, individually, locally and nationally to protect the ideals that we believe in.
The section titled “Onward Together” gave me a vision for the future. My new mantra is like Hillary’s: Enlist and engage. Become involved. Network. Make a difference. Rebuild.
I highly recommend this book, to give you insight into—and perhaps help you make a plan for—giving time and talent to make a difference and to fight for what you believe in. Whether it is helping with Future901 or volunteering to make our neighborhoods and city better. We can all take part in the bridge building process.
Together, we can make a difference. We must not give up, but “keep going.”