Chelsea Clinton is now open to running for public office.
In a Vogue profile piece titled "Waiting in the Wings" by Jonathan Van Meter, Clinton answered the question:
“Before my mom’s campaign I would have said no. Not because it was something I had thought a lot about but because people have been asking me that my whole life. Even during my father’s 1984 gubernatorial campaign, it was, Do you want to grow up and be governor one day? No. I am four. And also because I believe that there are many ways for each of us to play our part. For a very long time that’s what my mom did. And then she went into elected public life. Her life is a testament to the principle that there are many ways to serve.” She pauses. “And now I don’t know. . . . I mean, I have voted in every election that I have been qualified to vote in since I turned eighteen. I believe that engaging in the political process is part of being a good person. And I certainly believe that part of helping to build a better world is ensuring that we have political leaders who are committed to that premise. So if there were to be a point where it was something I felt called to do and I didn’t think there was someone who was sufficiently committed to building a healthier, more just, more equitable, more productive world? Then that would be a question I’d have to ask and answer.”As she explained, this is a change for Clinton, which I find fascinating. As the daughter of former-President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea has "deliberately tried to lead a private life in the public eye... and now [she is] trying to lead a purposefully public life."
Clinton has been taking a more public role after working in the private sector at a consulting firm for three years, followed by a stint at a Wall Street hedge fund for three years. For example, when she introduced Sandra Fluke at a women in politics panel discussion in March, Clinton said:
“She and I actually have something in common. We’ve both been attacked by Rush Limbaugh. . . . She was 30, I was thirteen. In 1993 he said . . . ‘You may know that the Clintons have a cat, Socks, in the White House. They also have a dog.’ And then he put a picture of me on the screen.”Limbaugh, you will recall, called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" multiple times on his show, because the Georgetown University law student spoke about the need for contraception on Capitol Hill.
Clinton remembers hearing Limbaugh's despicable comment about her when she was a teenager. "Oh, I heard it," she said. "If I hadn’t read about something in the newspaper that day that someone had said about my family or my dad or my mom or me, you could be sure that some snarky boy would tell me about it. They would shout things at me in the hallway." But Clinton shrugs it off explaining, "Having thick skin is an important quality for anyone who wants to do something in the world, and thankfully that’s something I had to develop early on."
When I last heard news about Clinton, she was working on Wall Street and had just gotten married, but that was years ago. Clinton explained why she left Wall Street:
“I really wanted to work in the private sector... I felt as if I had no inherited understanding of that from my parents. But I didn’t fundamentally care about denominating success through money. And I think it’s important to be in professions in which you care about the metric of success.”Instead, she went back to school and earned a Master's degreen in public health. She is now teaching graduate classes Columbia University and working towards a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University.
People around Chelsea have noticed a change in her, too. “As she’s been exposed to the foundation and to what her father’s doing with his post-presidential life,” says Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, “I think a light switched on: This is the legacy I’m going to inherit. To say it is an incredible one is an understatement. She now knows that in 20, 30 years, everything about her father’s legacy is in her hands. It’s going to be Chelsea’s responsibility to carry that torch. This is the core of what her grandmother encouraged her to do: embrace her inheritance.”(Abedin is no stranger, herself, to vile rightwing smears. Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-06) said Abedin had infiltrated the U.S. government and being associated with Muslin extremists. President Obama calls Abedin an "American patriot" and that Americans owes her "a debt of gratitude” because she is “an example of what we need in this country -- more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit.")
“I will tell you,” says Huma Abedin, “the moment in Hillary’s life when she is happiest is when there’s a call from Chelsea. Even if we are in the middle of a horrible, horrible meeting, she’ll answer the phone and say, ‘HIII, CHELSEA!’ It’s just the best sound.”Embracing the Clinton legacy is currently in vogue with Democrats this year. President Obama personally invited her "immensely popular" dad to speak at the Democratic National Convention in September. Maybe Chelsea Clinton will embraces her inheritance, the Clinton legacy of public service, in years to come. I think the country and, indeed the world, would be a better place if she does.