How Hillary Clinton Went From Presidential Candidate to Wandering Folk Hero
Hillary Clinton may not be the president-elect millions of Americans had hoped for. But in the days since her surprising loss to Donald Trump, millennials including 31-year-old Adam Parkhomenko have bestowed another honor on the former secretary of state via social media—one claimed by only Bill Murray before her: wandering folk hero.
Clinton’s post-election arc began on November 10, when New Yorker Margot Gerster Instagrammed a photo of herself and the Democratic nominee — whom she bumped into on a hike in Chappaqua, New York. The picture proved to be a sign of encouragement to Democrats — still stunned, distraught, and in disbelief over the Trump upset — that Clinton had not let the election heartbreak keep her down.
That photo quickly went viral, and in the weeks since Trump's election win, a few other images of Clinton post-election have cropped up on the Internet — posing with supporters in book stores, supermarkets, and the walking trails of New York. When one supporter suggested that Parkhomenko, who served as Clinton’s Director of Grassroots Engagement during the recent election, create a place to compile reports and photographs of Clinton’s post-election whereabouts — which provide a strangely therapeutic quality for grieving Democrats — the Arlington, Va., native immediately created the Twitter account, @HRCIntheWild.
Within 24 hours of launching the account — and an accompanying e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, for tips — Parkhomenko received thousands of likes, tips, and messages from supporters who said that the photos brought smiles to their faces.
It seems fitting that Clinton console Twitter users (even if by proxy) — since that is what she has been doing for supporters including Parkhomenko, a longtime Clinton aide who had been working with the former secretary of state since he was 17, in the days immediately following the election.
"When I saw her she gave me a big hug and the first thing she said to me was, 'I'm sorry,'" Parkhomenko told VF.com during a phone call on Tuesday, remembering his interaction with Clinton during a post-election party at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. (She also distributed about 1,200 red roses, which were delivered to her Chappaqua, N.Y., doorstep earlier that week, to staff members and volunteers at the event.) "I thought that she is the last person on Earth who should be consoling me a few days after the race was not called for her. But that’s who she has always been," Parkhomenko explained.
"Next year would have marked 14 years of me working for her," said Parkhomenko, who plans to announce a different endeavor next month. "But she has always kept going and been active. She said her mother was the same way. She is almost this kind of Energizer Bunny, as you saw when she had pneumonia on the campaign trail . . . it's nothing new but it’s the Hillary we know.
Seeing her in the wild makes total sense. "Her advice to supporters has always been, when you get knocked down, get right back up. And that's exactly what she did."
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