A few weeks ago, we had our 4th Sunday lesson in priesthood meeting on Elder Christofferson’s talk “The Moral Force of Women” from last October’s conference. Although I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the lack of political talk in our new Ogden ward (compared with our old ward, where I would often come home from church with blood running down the corners of my mouth from biting my tongue), that particular lesson did contain the obligatory attacks from some of the older gentlemen on the “women libbers”. At one point, the teacher brought up Hillary Clinton’s book, “It Takes a Village”, and resurrected that old Bob Dole snark: “No, maam, it takes a family.” Then the teacher proceeded to claim that Mrs. Clinton’s book denigrated the role of traditional families in her book.
Well, I knew he hadn’t read it and based his opinion on one smart-alecky sentence from a political opponent. I would have called him on it, until I realized: I hadn’t read it either!
Thanks to the miracle of technology, within an hour from arriving home from church, the 2006 second edition of “It Takes a Village” was on the Kindle reader on my smartphone. (I don’t know about you, but the ease of getting a new book from the Kindle Store sure makes it hard to keep on a reasonable book budget.) I’ve been reading it during lunch the last few weeks, and was left with one overriding impression: Not only was Bob Dole and our priesthood instructor dead wrong; I believe if you took the text from that book, put it in a different cover with a new name, and pasted the name of a General Authority on the front, it would be an instant best seller at Deseret Book. I’ve never read anything more supportive of the traditional family, or more sympathetic to our traditional LDS values.
The chapter on divorce was especially emotional for me. I think everyone knows about President Clinton’s troubled childhood. Mrs. Clinton had good, supportive parents, but her mother, Dorothy Rodham, came from a broken home. She tells the heartbreaking story of how her 8-year old mother and her 3-year old younger sister were put on a train in Chicago by their father for a three-day trip, all alone, to live with their grandparents in Los Angeles. Our little grandson Silas, who lives with us, turns eight in April. I just can’t imagine! I have never read more passionate arguments about the scourge of divorce on the lives of young children than those contained in that chapter, or a more clarion call for us to do better as a society. Suddenly, I had an epiphany about Mrs. Clinton’s own life. There have been all sorts of nefarious theories about why she stayed with her husband after his well-publicized problems with keeping his marriage covenants, but it became clear to me that she simply hated divorce, and loved Chelsea too much to allow their family to be split up. If conservative leaders in our country were as committed to keeping marriages together “for better or worse” as Hillary Clinton has been, our nation would be a much friendlier place for traditional families. The contrast between her and folks like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich is stark indeed. (Speaking of snark: I loved the one-liner from the late night comedian in early 2012 who said the only Republican presidential candidates that had only one wife were the two Mormons.)
Mrs. Clinton had extraordinary credentials for writing this book. During her years at Yale Law School, she participated in ground breaking research into childhood health and development, and her book is filled with both the passion for the importance of loving homes and the science supporting her passion.
The theme of “It Takes a Village” is simple: Hillary Clinton argues passionately that our communities need to do a much better job of supporting traditional families and the precious children than live in those homes. Bob Dole’s snarky remark couldn’t have been more wrong. It reinforces my anger at an LDS culture that automatically assumes that conservatives are pro-family and progressives are anti-family. I am embarrassed now that it took me this long to read this landmark book, and it makes me more dedicated than ever to the cause of speaking out against that falsehood. I gained a new appreciation for Mrs. Clinton and the strength of her character. Makes me even more proud to be a Democrat! You can count me in as one American who would be thrilled to see her become our first woman President.