Last year, on the Friday night before the Tuesday of Election Day, I wrote a Facebook post about my reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton for president. Facebook reminded me of the post this week and I wanted to share it here, because rereading it in light of all that has happened in the last year reminds me of the optimism I felt then and want to feel again about the ideals of our country. We have an election on Tuesday, and despite the rhetoric we are hearing, there is more that unites us than divides us. We have to believe that, we have to keep listening to each other, and we have to make our elected officials remember that we are all in this together.
November 4, 2016
I’m writing tonight, at the eleventh hour of this election (and this evening), because I have meant to write for months. Because I’ve given money, volunteered one brief hour of my time, posted a few articles and talked to friends, and it’s not enough. Whether I push through my tamed but still present dislike of phones and phone bank before Tuesday remains to be seen, but I’ve never had any trouble typing.
I’m writing mostly to a feed of sympathetic listeners – thanks, Facebook, and Yale, and publishing, for this bubble many of us find ourselves in. But we all know a few people who are still on the fence, or who just hate Hillary Clinton, or maybe you are better at phones than I am and will be talking to those people in the next few days and could use a jumping off point.
I support Secretary Clinton for president for many reasons that are in every piece ever – she is qualified, she has served, she shares my values, and she’s a woman. That last part is actually important, because despite the fact that she is poised and ready to lead this amazing, complicated country where I live, she has faced discrimination and pressure that no president before her has.
Which leads me to the number one reason I support her: I truly believe she cares about everyone, from the young to the old, of every race and orientation and immigration status, from the very rich to the very poor and everyone in between, and I truly believe she will do her best to make life better for everyone.
This is of course relative. When we support minorities and women and reduce the discrimination and oppression they face, we offer to them resources previously enjoyed by non-minorities and, well, men. That can leave people feeling like they have less, and they’re not wrong. But (as a white, well-educated, middle class woman) I’d rather have a little less so everyone can have more. I’d rather pay more taxes so someone with a life-threatening disease can have access to health care, so that a family that has lost its home or source of income can have access to food and shelter, so that all children can have access to education.
The reason is two-fold. I’d like to say I’m purely altruistic and truly care for the suffering of others, and that is part of it. But more selfishly, there but for the grace of God go I, and all of us. It is easy to diminish the importance of access to health care and food and shelter and education when we are comfortable, when our families make enough money to provide that access, or when we are part of a community which supports its members through times of difficulty.
It is so, so easy to forget, until it touches us.
The job of the president is to lead our country, to execute and enforce the law. The laws I want executed and enforced are ones that unite us, not ones that divide us and turn us against each other. We live in a society instead of in a cabin in the woods off the grid because we need each other. We need roads and schools and bridges, and we need care when we are sick, food when we are hungry, and friendship when we are sad.
We need each other.
Everything I’ve heard and read about Secretary Clinton tells me that she understands this. That she listens and learns and helps, and has been doing that her entire life, despite years of people doubting her motives and searching for scandals and not finding evidence of them. I can’t imagine that I would be able to serve this country as long as she has if people spoke about me the way they speak about her. I care too much about being liked – I would step back, find another job and rest on the laurels of First Lady, senator, Secretary of State. If only.
I did well in US History, and I’ve watched every episode of The West Wing at least twice, so I know as well as you do that being president doesn’t come with the unlimited power the other candidate thinks it does, or that Secretary Clinton’s opponents think she’s after. It does come with massive responsibility, and crises you and I will never know about, and a commitment to serve our country to the best of one’s ability. No one is perfect. No one will ever do everything they promise to do, no person can serve in the public eye for so long without making mistakes. Secretary Clinton will make more mistakes as president – she is human, we make mistakes.
Secretary Clinton knows what she is getting herself into, and she still wants to serve. I’ve joked (but I’m not joking) and said that she is Hermione Granger, all grown up and toughened up. She is the woman with her hand up always, with the right answer on the tip of her tongue, ready to get into the weeds and figure out what needs to be done. Not everyone likes her, but she shows up and does her job every day anyways, building relationships and finding common ground because even when we think we have nothing to say to someone, we will always find that there is some experience we’ve shared, something we have to learn from each other.
Secretary Clinton will do her best to listen and learn from all of us, if we’re willing to work with her and share our needs with her, and I know that our country will be better for it.
Please, vote on Tuesday.