I DID NOT vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008. I did not think I’d vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but I have, I am, and I will encourage everyone I know to as well. As much as my political ideology aligns with Senator Sanders, my hope for getting through the upcoming presidential term without the fall out of nuclear winter rests in Secretary Clinton’s hands.
At a women’s leadership conference in the shadow of the nation’s capital during the first week of June, there was a clear lack of enthusiasm and support for Clinton. A crowd of more than 700 collegiate women representing 45 states filled the orderly rows of seats, eagerly awaiting the opening session of AAUW’s 31st annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. A thunderous roar overtook the Stamp Student Union’s Grand Ballroom as Dr. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, Director of the Center for Campus Life, asked those to stand who thought they would see a female president in their lifetime. Microphones were dispatched to the crowd to share whom they believed would take the summit and break through the glass ceiling once and for all. The first answer of the senior Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, garnered a wave of fervor complete with applause, whistling and some serious snapping, followed by moderate clapping for New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and lastly, a mediocre response consisting of the dreaded polite one-handed clap, for Former Secretary Clinton.
I shudder at the thought of Clinton’s potential loss in November. I know what is at stake but I worry that the young female collegiate leaders in the room do not. They were just babies when I was pelting tomatoes at George W. Bush’s motorcade, furious that he had “won” the 2000 election. They have only known America through the lens of the Bush-Obama presidencies. Their frame of reference is missing the Clinton era.
Growing up in suburban D.C. during the Clinton era, I saw that everyone’s parents had jobs and McMansions were replacing fields of soybeans. It was a good time to be young and privileged. Despite the President’s personal naughtiness, most residents and the nation as a whole were willing to look the other way because the country was prospering. Arriving at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the advent of the 24-hour media news cycle, the Clintons were the first to experience the 21st century media’s microscope. I can remember, as a preteen, asking my mom why the media was saying nasty things about Chelsea Clinton. She was, after all, just a girl whose dad happened to be president. She was just a girl who liked to study ballet and struggled with acne. She did not ask to be the first daughter. She was simply going along for the ride. After the infamous Rush Limbaugh commentary equating Chelsea to the White House dog took over the Washington airwaves, I remember turning to my mom for context and some sort of justification for a grown man in a position of power to compare a 13 year old girl to a dog. Looking up from her TV Guide, she replied, “They are distracting us from talking about things that matter.” At the time those “things that mattered” in our household were the wage gap, climate change, and affordable housing.
Look how far we’ve come. My Facebook feed has become a minefield of political provocation. I try to avoid the pitfalls of commenting as a dissenting voice but there are times when I cannot help but add my two cents to the conversation.
To my peers who are ready to carry their pitchforks to the Democratic Convention next month in the City of Brotherly Love, please reconsider. Clinton’s polarizing affect stems from the nation’s familiarity with her and her family. The Clintons have been part of our lexicon for twenty-five years. It’s natural to have a formed opinion of someone whose public service career started in another century and spans more than four decades. But look past whatever notions you have of Hillary Clinton that may give you pause and think about the shoulders she is standing on and what those shoulders did to make it possible for her to be a candidate for president. She does not deserve to be president. Just like her counterparts, she must earn the post. She has served our country in extraordinary ways by being herself, a strong-willed, intelligent woman, bound and determined to make a positive and lasting impact.
I believe that Clinton will be a fair and dedicated president. She has surrounded herself with a diverse group of dissenting views in order to serve the county she loves and bring stability to our increasingly unstable world. She will, as she has always done, fight for the subjugated and disenfranchised. This may be unpopular with some but I hope that like-minded Mama’s across the country stand-up and turn-out for her in November. The alternative is too terrible to imagine. I will not vote for Donald Trump, not now – not ever. He is a sexist, unqualified buffoon who lacks the intellect and temperament to have his finger on the button. What worries me most is the lack of enthusiasm inside the Stamp Student Union’s Grand Ballroom last week. To those College Women Student Leaders, I urge you to, consider the alternative, do your research, and think to the future. In doing so you will find one candidate worthy of your vote this November. She will bring with her a team ready to tackle the difficult road ahead. And if she doesn’t, I’ll be right there with you rattling the fences at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.