She will mourn. She will need to take time off to recuperate from the crushing disappointment. At some point she will call Al Gore, the one person who will truly understand both her pain and the possibilities ahead. He is the one who can tell her from experience and by example that her life is not over. That the best act is yet to come.
I hope this happens soon. After the May 6th North Carolina loss and Indiana near-loss, Mrs. Clinton is still acting like the gambler who is willing to bet everything on the smallest sliver of chance, even if that "everything" is her fortune, her reputation, and the futures of all of us who ache for a fresh start after the lies, criminality and incompetence of the last seven years.
In the Hollywood Screenplay, Mrs. Clinton's refusal to give up would make her the heroine. Her city may be burning to the ground by her own fire, but she is still standing glorious, tenacious. The only problem is, the rest of us aren't in that shot -- we're back at our houses, trying to save them from fiery destruction.
For the past year, Democrats have wrestled with the question: could there be another way? Many of us have answered yes, with Barack Obama. We believe there must be a way to win American elections with some degree of our integrity and dignity in tact, that we can win without aping the worst traits of our opponents.
Regardless, I mourn the dying of Mrs. Clinton's dream. We project ourselves onto these candidates, and I have long admired how Mrs. Clinton has relied on her own personal powers to imagine outcomes for herself new and unseen, pushing ahead with her visions when those around her might have counseled caution, or, not so nicely, told her she didn't have a chance.
Simply put: I love how Mrs. Clinton dreams, and has had the audacity to believe in her dreams. The kind of thing she and her husband criticized Barack Obama and his supporters for, yes. But as we know, criticism is so often autobiography.
For those of us who have pursued dreams, no matter how modest, we look at Mrs. Clinton and we get it. Or, I get it. I can understand how things go wrong. I know that I have criticized Mrs. Clinton for traits I've most feared in myself: an inability to admit my faults; a stubbornness that becomes brittle; a fear of being around too many people who don't share my goals, for fear that they be derailed. I feel I understand how powerful people can become steamrollers, trusting in their vision above all else, for resistance in any form -- helpful or hurtful -- is only felt as death to the dream.
If she were running against McCain already, I would applaud, celebrate, even lionize her never-say-die approach. However, she's running against the rest of her party -- her extended political family. Mrs. Clinton is acting as if she doesn't win now, there will be no tomorrow, and that simply is not true. There is a tomorrow -- whether she achieves this ultimate power or not. And because of this, she has no right to be so reckless with our future.
I remember after college dating a young man who lived in England while I lived in DC. We were very much in love, and felt the need to prove it by talking on the phone everyday. We took turns calling each other. I had budgeted $200 a month for telephone calls, which given my modest salary, was a lot, but I felt a worthy sacrifice for love. He was living at home at the time, and made an even more modest salary than I did. Yet, he still called me. For long periods of time. This caused big problems in his household. His mother would sit him down and tell him that he simply couldn't bankrupt the family just because he wanted to talk to his girlfriend, no matter how much we loved each other, no matter how much we felt we had to prove it with calls.
This is a simple anecdote, yet I connect it with Mrs. Clinton and her campaign. She is bleeding not just her family's wealth, but the party's chances in November. Just because she wants something badly does not give her justification to do anything necessary to get it, especially when the majority of voters so far choose someone else.
I do not believe Mrs. Clinton is a carbon copy of George Bush or Dick Cheney. She has aped some of their ways, but she is not the same. Unlike our current leaders, I believe she has a deep sense of the greater good. Now, this is her opportunity to prove her own mettle, her own depth of character. To do so, she will have to trust the unknown, like she always has, like she's never done before.
The dream may be dying. But there is no reason that this must be her last dream. Death may be about finality, but it is also about new beginnings.