While the election of Donald Trump ushers in a new era in American politics, it also marks the gutting of one of the nation’s most formidable political dynasties.
The Clintons have been a fixture of national politics for more than two decades, with their ups and downs well-documented.
Their unique position in American life meant that Hillary Clinton was always going to come in to this year’s campaign with considerable baggage.
Scandal has followed the couple throughout their years in the public eye, with loss and recovery frequently cited as a central theme to the Clinton story.
Bill Clinton, when accused of extramarital affairs, was written off in the New Hampshire primary, only to surge to a surprise second in the contest and later secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
The feat earned him the nickname ‘The Comeback Kid’.
“Never count him out, because always, he will find his way back,” said David Maraniss, Bill’s biographer.
Hillary, for her part, resurrected her political ambitions in the face of a humiliating defeat to Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary.
She would then serve as his secretary of state, shaping American foreign policy at a time when the country’s role in the world was evolving.
The result of the election, which is likely to bring an end to Bill and Hillary’s years in public office, have delivered a brutal rebuke to the couple.
The Clintons are, to some extent, victims of the current political environment.
Establishment politicians have been under siege and the Clintons, presiding over a political machine honed over many years, are seen to embody it.
But they also bear responsibility for their political demise.
Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky hobbled his presidency while Hillary’s use of a private email server haunted her campaign and reinforced the attitudes many Americans had toward her.
The consequences will be borne out over months.
While the course of Trump’s presidency is unknown, there is no doubt that policy areas shaped by Hillary in her years in public office are now under threat.
Healthcare, education, trade and women’s rights all face radical changes in a Trump administration, and it will undoubtedly be painful for the Clintons to see their legacy put under such pressure.
The ramifications could also be personal, with Trump refusing to rule out future investigations into Hillary.
But the incredibly bitter element of this loss may well be that it denies her the opportunity to convert her position in America today into a unique place in the country’s history.
Hillary will likely not be the first female president of the United States.
Her wish to shatter what she called the highest, hardest glass ceiling will now be left to a different woman.
The Clintons’ legacy will not be dismantled with ease, but in her wish to further her vision for America, Hillary has today been thwarted.
Image courtesy of Marc Nozell via Flickr, with thanks