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What Happened

Behind the scenes of one of the strangest elections in history.

By Hillary Clinton
19-minute read
Audio available
What Happened by Hillary Clinton

What Happened (2017) is the story of the woman at the center of one of the craziest elections the United States has ever seen: the 2016 presidential election. This is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of her experience facing, and eventually losing to, Donald Trump – an opponent like no other – and the road that led her to this historic election.  

  • US voters
  • Activists and advocates
  • Women seeking inspiration

Hillary Rodham Clinton has had a remarkable career in public service. She became the first First Lady still in the White House to be elected to a public office when she was voted New York’s first female senator in 2001. She went on to become the first woman to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Clinton’s other books include It Takes a Village and her two previous memoirs, Living History and Hard Choices.

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What Happened

By Hillary Clinton
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
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What Happened by Hillary Clinton
Synopsis

What Happened (2017) is the story of the woman at the center of one of the craziest elections the United States has ever seen: the 2016 presidential election. This is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of her experience facing, and eventually losing to, Donald Trump – an opponent like no other – and the road that led her to this historic election.  

Key idea 1 of 12

Trump’s inauguration was far from uniting and uplifting, unlike the Women’s March.

If you lost an election to Donald Trump, you’d probably want to skip standing in the cold to listen to him being sworn in and delivering a speech. But if you’re Hillary Rodham Clinton, it’s your obligation to show up, even if there are a million other places you’d rather be.

There are many proud and noble traditions in American politics, and having a peaceful and dignified transition of power is one of them.

Many of Clinton’s friends told her to stay away from Donald Trump’s inauguration, but as both the former Secretary of State and the First Lady to former president Bill Clinton, it would have been bad form if she’d been absent. Prior to the event, Clinton had spoken to former presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, two people who also disliked the new president elect. The fact that they would also be there by her side gave Clinton some much needed encouragement.

After Trump gave a bizarre and bleak inauguration speech that included the words “American carnage,” George W. Bush had the perfect reaction: “That was some weird shit.”

Of course, Clinton’s speech would have been nothing like Trump’s. She sees the tradition of a presidential inauguration as a chance to uplift and unite the people. When she envisions the United States, the disturbing words “American carnage” don’t come to mind.

Instead, she sees the kind of people who went out the following day to take part in the Women’s March that eclipsed Trump’s inauguration. With millions of marchers in cities around the country, from New York to Los Angeles and Wyoming to Alaska, the Women’s March was the single biggest united protest the country had ever seen.

Clinton enjoyed the protest from her home in Chappaqua, New York, and for her, it was a perfect remedy for the inauguration. Clinton would have loved to have been there, but she believes it was the right choice not to steal the spotlight from what the country needed on that day: fresh voices.

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