Hillary Clinton’s “God-Given Potential”

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In the new anthology, coming out next month, Love Her, Love Her Not: the Hillary Paradox, edited by The Broad Side editor Joanne Cronrath Bamberger, I write about Hillary Clinton and the very open relationship she has with her religious faith. Not one to say that untold amounts of fire and brimstone are about to rain down if same-sex relationships are condoned, Clinton nevertheless is either consciously or unconsciously displaying her faith in many instances that tend not to surface as such in the news.

In the first Democratic Party debate, hosted by Anderson Cooper on CNN, in former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s opening remarks, her very earliest utterance, declared among her campaign goals that she has spent her “entire adult life — looking … in particular, to find the ways for each child to live up to his or her God-given potential.”

Oh, please, no.

Please don’t disappoint us all now by throwing back to the 1960s, because that’s the last time the phrase “God-given potential” or “God-given talent” was either politically correct or even valid. I have to be honest – it stunned me that she would use that description to talk about children who needed a boost up the economical ladder. But it did not surprise me.

In the new anthology coming out next month, Love Her, Love Her Not: the Hillary Paradox, edited by The Broad Side editor Joanne Cronrath Bamberger, I write about Hillary Clinton and the very open relationship she has with her religious faith. Not one to say that untold amounts of fire and brimstone are about to rain down if same-sex relationships are condoned, Clinton nevertheless is either consciously or unconsciously displaying her faith in many instances that tend not to surface as such in the news.

If another candidate had used the “G” word in their opening statement, I bet someone would have called them on it. Talking about talent or potential somehow softens the blow but still, it resonates and not in a good way. I saw at least one Tweet that evening where the writer asked that she just stop saying “God-given.”

In fact, the word “God” surfaced only three times in the entirety of the debate and it was Secretary Clinton uttering it in each instance. Looking to aid children so they achieve their “God-given” potential, then later, quoting her opening statement, reiterating that children needed to reach their “God-given” potential, and finally, remarking how she and Bill Clinton had been “blessed” and how she wanted to be able to, that’s right, “to make sure every single person in this country has the same opportunities that he and I have had, to make the most of their God-given potential.”

I guess I could cut her some slack and chalk it up to using a phrase she must have known as a child, the same way I remember folks entreating the youth of the baby boomer years to meet or exceed their “God-given” potential. But I wanted so much to hear something a bit more 21st century to describe her lofty goals. This phrase belongs in that box I used to keep in the basement of my parents’ house – with the 45 RPMS, and the Beatles memorabilia. Like that mildewed stuff, this has got to go.

And it’s not that I begrudge anyone living up to their potential or using their talents to make a good and happy life in this world. On the contrary! The thought is sound, but the articulation of that thought is outdated, too church-bound, and too troublesome.  To me, it’s like the Bible: read it out loud and it is poetry, but tell me about it and you’re preaching. I like poetry, but I prefer to avoid preaching.

So, that’s where I fall on this one, dear Hillary. Please shelve the “God-given” attribute to the notion that everyone deserves a chance to meet up with their talents. Please don’t think you are attracting progressive voters by calling anyone’s potential “God-given.” And please find another way to describe what you really want: that children find a level playing field where anyone can excel according to each child’s many talents and gifts.

Because if this God talk continues, I could get real nervous about supporting your candidacy for the office of President of the United States. That’s the guy who will serve us all – not just the God-driven among us.

Anne Born is a New York-based writer who has been writing stories and poetry since childhood.  She blogs on The Backpack Press and Tumbleweed Pilgrim and her writing focuses on family and life in a big city after growing up in a small one.  She is the author of “A Marshmallow on the Bus” and “Prayer Beads on the Train” and a photographer who specializes in photos of churches, cemeteries, and the Way of St. James in Spain.  Most of her writing is done on the bus.  www.about.me/anneborn. You can follow Anne on Wattpad, Instagram, and Twitter at @nilesite and listen to Born in the Bronx on Our Salon Radio.

If you’d like to read more about Hillary Clinton and what I have to say about her relationship with her religious faith, get your very own copy of Love Her, Love Her Not: the Hillary Paradox, edited by Joanne Cronrath Bamberger.

Photo credit: Defense.gov photo essay 110816-F-RG147-586.jpg

  • Mark10

    I love the terminology….”God given”. Hey Hillary, when does the “God given” potential take place….2nd trimester?…3rd trimester? Psalm 106:35-38

    God specifically places the soul within each child at….conception. Isn’t it strange that the Supreme Court set a time and date where a child is viable, when there is no description or definition of it in the Constitution or its Amendments. Someone is playing God….their hell will not be pleasant.

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