Why I Want Hillary
Let’s put her in the Oval Office.
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008, 12:00AM
On the night of the California primary, we all huddled around the TV at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in San Francisco. The batteries in our cell phones were dead and our voices were weak from making hours of phone calls, but there was still an energy in the air.
It wasn’t the same energy that the media picks up on at Barack Obama rallies—we were not tearing down posters, standing on chairs or acting like fans at a rock concert. It was a more refined energy, quiet but palpable—the kind of energy that a great teacher can inspire in a classroom of dedicated students. And we were ready to learn.
We watched as Clinton gave her victory speech on the win in California. Among the diverse group stood a woman of my mother’s age. When Clinton said she wanted to acknowledge her own mother, who grew up in a time when women were not allowed to vote and was now watching her daughter run for president, this woman began to cry.
It was the kind of cry that comes at the end of a long fight—an exhausted and relieved cry, like you’d have if you won a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back. This was what she had been waiting 30 years for. This woman was the embodiment of the women’s movement. And there on the screen was a leader of the same movement.
Clinton is, and for many years has been, a champion of women’s rights. At the 1995 U.N. World Conference on Women, she criticized the international community for allowing the pervasive abuse of women, saying that it is the duty of “all governments—here and around the world—[to] accept their responsibility” in protecting women’s rights.
She went on to say that “it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” This refrain was repeated throughout the speech. The rousing rhetoric and impassioned delivery of the speech is a reminder that beneath the much derided pantsuits, Clinton is a passionate fighter, willing to take on the establishment.
Within the political arena, Clinton has proven herself the consummate multitasker—graciously moving between her roles of wife, mother and politician. She redefined the role of bureaucratic first lady and reminded us that a president’s wife can do more than redecorate the Oval Office; she can run it. In the face of Bill’s affair, she maintained her dignity and made her own name in politics. As a mother, she raised a beautiful and intelligent young woman. And as a New York senator, she was easily re-elected to a second term.
As a presidential candidate, Clinton has undergone abrasive attacks from both sides. We ask her to be tough enough to play with the big boys, and when she is, we chide her for lacking femininity. When she cries, we say she is too emotional—and when she doesn’t, she’s too cold. Most recently, we accepted the notion that she is “too ambitious” to be president. She is not running for president of the PTA, she is running for president of the United States of America.
In fact, the very adjective that is used to dismiss Clinton as unelectable is used to support Obama’s candidacy. What could be more ambitious than running for president with little to no foreign policy experience? Obama is seen as a “fresh face” in politics. If he were a woman, he would be seen as inexperienced. I will gladly vote for Obama in eight years, but he needs time to prove his leadership. Give Obama time to hone his skills. Don’t let the election be a reflection of the workplace—don’t let a less qualified man take the position from a more qualified woman.
We need a president who knows how to clean up the mess of the last eight years. We need a president who can act on day one. We need a president who knows foreign policy and how to navigate the system. Our time needs to be spent ending the war in Iraq, reducing our national debt, resuscitating our education system, instating national healthcare and reclaiming our country. And Hillary is the woman to do it all.
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