This post is adapted from my comments on this thread at James Wylder’s website.
I spent the majority of the primary season formally undecided between the two Democratic candidates. I officially “endorsed” Hillary Clinton, if I can pretend I’m important to be able to use that word, about a month ago. But if you read that post you will note that it’s mostly a post about why I’d decided not to vote for Bernie, as opposed to a post about why I was voting for Clinton. And after some prodding on the matter by James Wylder, I figured that a more affirmative post was something worth writing– and if I’m going to write such a thing, why not post it on the day my state actually votes in the primary?
So, yeah: by the time you read this, I will either be about to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, or I will have already done so. (Also, for those of you local enough for it to matter, Lynn Coleman, Dan Cruz, and Randy Magdalinski.)
I have said some terrible things about Hillary Clinton. If my 2008-era blog were still online, I could point you at some of them. Despite that, I’ll be proudly voting for her today. There are a bunch of reasons why that’s the case; I’ll touch on several of them. And I’ll say this right now: there will be people who can look at my reasons to vote for her and see them as reasons to not trust her. I’m aware of that, but these are MY reasons, so I don’t have to care.
My first reason to be happy to vote for Hillary is one that I know is probably going to catch me some crap: I am deliriously happy to be able to cast a vote for a woman for President. Period. We can argue about whether identity politics are “good reasons,” but ultimately I don’t care. We elected Obama; now I want a woman President. I want the stranglehold white men have on the corridors of power in this country broken, and this is another big crack in that foundation. Others may feel differently; that’s fine.
Second: one of the things I was very likely to tell people in 2008 about Barack Obama was that they should watch his campaign to see how he would govern. Obama ran a master-class campaign in 2008. Clinton did not, and she paid for it. She has– and this is a theme with her– watched and learned from her mistakes, and she is a VASTLY better candidate in 2016 than she ever was in 2008. People give her crap about changing her opinion, and only adopting more leftward positions when forced to. I see someone who’s willing to change her mind and learn from her mistakes. She’s running a clean, leak-free, no-drama campaign for office this year, and her advisors and the people close to her are all competent and doing their jobs. I was LIVID at some of the bullshit her campaign manager and some of her prime surrogates were pulling in 2008, and I know this isn’t about Bernie, but one of my problems with him is that he’s not controlling his people. I know the candidate can’t control their base, but they CAN tell their campaign staff to shut their yaps and do their jobs.
Third, and again this was a reason I frequently cited when I voted for Obama: I want the President to be clearly and obviously smarter than I am. Obama has spent his Presidency being the smartest guy in the room, and when I hear Clinton talk, while I don’t think she’s at his level (very, very few are, I think) I hear someone who is in full command of the details and the minutia of policy and someone smart enough to know their own mind and understand the nuances of what they’re trying to do. This has hurt her in the past (one of the big complaints about her health care bill was how complicated it was) but I need that from a Presidential candidate. She’s got the facts and figures and numbers at her fingertips, and she earned a reputation in the Senate of being 1) a very hard worker and 2) someone who was not afraid to get into the weeds of a new subject rather than rely on advisors. I want that type of person in the Oval Office, and I think she’s the only person in the race who IS that type of person. Maybe Cruz, actually; there are lots of reasons to vote against him but “he doesn’t know what he’s doing” is generally not one of them.
She’s a team player. I was very, VERY worried in 2008 about the PUMAs not coming home to Obama after the convention– much, much more worried than I have been about Bernie’s supporters. And then Hillary waded into the crowd at the floor of the convention and called for Obama to be nominated by acclamation. That was the first moment I’d been personally inspired by her, and it immediately revised my opinion of her up several points. She lost, she got over it, and she immediately went to work for her former opponent. No drama. She has worked hard to fund-raise for down-ticket Democratic candidates and she understands something that I think is critical for this race– that the President can’t do it alone, and if we want real change, just holding on to the White House isn’t enough– we HAVE TO change Congress, and we have to recapture more of the states. If she had lost this election, I have absolutely no doubt that she’d have worked as hard to get Sanders elected as she did for Obama.
Finally, and this ties in with my first point, I find a lot of the reasons people cite to not vote for Clinton to be, frankly, unconvincing.
I do not care about speaking fees. I care about results. I do not believe that Hillary Clinton, to pick one example, would not to work to rein in campaign finance because something something Wall Street. I’ve literally laughed at people for suggesting she doesn’t want Citizens United overturned. Citizens United existed so that right-wingers had a clever way to call Hillary Clinton a c*nt.
Is she ambitious? Absolutely. This is true of every single Presidential candidate in the history of forever. I think that she catches more crap for it than she has any reason to because she’s a woman. Is she untrustworthy? I don’t think so, and, again: “untrustworthy” and “ambitious” are words men use to describe powerful women. I want to be clear; I don’t think everyone voting for Sanders or against Hillary is a sexist, but I DO think sexism very much plays a role in the way we describe her.
Is she warm, empathetic, kind? Maybe. Sometimes. And I feel like she’s, again, done a much better job during this campaign of letting her personality out and being less outwardly controlled. But I don’t need the President to be my mother, or my drinking buddy, or my personal moral exemplar. I need her to be President. We’ve got countless examples of male politicians where “I’m a hardass” is virtually their entire reason for their candidacies; I do not need a female Presidential candidate to be huggable.
(Obama ran into a similar thing. He couldn’t ever be angry, because he knew that as soon as he got genuinely mad about something it would get turned back against him because he was a black man. Hillary is in a similar spot.)
I also find accusations that she’s a warmonger to be unconvincing. Is she more hawkish than Sanders? Sure. So am I. But the idea that she’s going to start six wars the day after she enters office is flatly ridiculous, ESPECIALLY in a context where her opponents on the other side have literally and unapologetically threatened to glass the entire Middle East as if it wasn’t a big deal. She might be slightly more hawkish than Obama, but not much; say what you will about drones, but I’d rather have drones than another goddamned land war.
(You’d rather not have drones either? Cool. I ain’t mad atcha. But your choices are “drones” or “nuclear weapons and land war.” Trump and Cruz are both openly and obviously itching to use nuclear weapons. Choose.)
I’ll post a picture of my sticker if I get one.
I’m not going to get a sticker again, am I?