April 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton is not familiar. She is revolutionary. Not radical, but revolutionary: the distinction is crucial. She is one of America’s greatest modern creations. Her decades in our public life must not blind us to the fact that she represents new realities and possibilities. Indeed, those same decades have conferred upon her what newness usually lacks: judgment, and even wisdom.

Women who advocate for other women are often pigeonholed and pushed to the margins. That hasn’t happened to Hillary, because when she’s standing up for the rights of women and girls, she is speaking not only of gender but also of justice and liberty.

As Hillary has always made clear, these values are universal, and fulfilling them is a practical and moral pursuit. She is a realist with a conscience and an idealist who is comfortable with the exercise of power.

This helps explain why she has been so effective, even in this golden age of polarization. Hillary knows how to draw opponents out of their fighting corners and forge solutions on common ground. She practices the politics of reconciliation and reason. Which, not coincidentally, is also the politics of progress.

It matters, of course, that Hillary is a woman. But what matters more is what kind of woman she is.

Powell Jobs is the founder and chair of Emerson Collective

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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