When things in your life aren’t going quite the way you want, it may be a good time to think about something bigger than yourself. Lucky for me, this particular heartbreak happened as election season was ramping up.
Usually, I’d wait until November to get involved. Blame it on The West Wing or the complete joke that is the current Republican selection, but lately I’ve been paying attention and I don’t like what I see. The Republican frontrunner is a racist, sexist bully whose primary selling point is “good at business,” which is even more stupid when you realize he’s actually had several businesses go bankrupt.
With that in mind, I’ve been watching the Democrat candidates. So last night when my sister invited me to a Clinton rally, I agreed.
My first thought was how absolutely thrilled Rory Gilmore would be right now, and if they don’t use this in the Gilmore Girls revival I will be very disappointed…almost as disappointed as I will be if she winds up with Dean.
Second, and still thinking of Rory, she was right. Clinton is a talented public speaker. She starts by knowing her audience. From the moment we walked in, we heard empowering music by young female artists, like Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.” Everyone who stood on that stage, from the person whose job was to excite the crowd first to the educator introducing Clinton, was a woman.
When she started speaking, it was evident she knew what her audience wanted to hear. She spoke about issues of equality and fairness, speaking against restricting the right to vote and the gender wage gap. She talked about gun violence as an issue of child safety and the regulations she believed in as common sense measures, quoting statistics to suggest most Americans (and even most gun owners) agreed on these specific oversights. She placed most of her issues in the context of how they affect children, from the obvious education inequity to affordable health care. She also shared about her own granddaughter, showing how she could relate to her audience’s concerns.
The only time she referenced immigration was in regards to educating migrant children, which appeared not to be enough for the protestors in attendance. Their signs read “Education not Deportation” and “Stop Deporting Our Students.” I would have been interested to hear her response to that, but she never faltered from her script. She said that we need a dialog in this country, and choosing to address their concerns would have been encouraging precedent.
Still, one can’t engage in every conversation or issue. In campaigning (as in life) picking your battles is an important skill. Besides knowing her audience and her issues, Clinton also knew who her enemy was. She made one comment about why Bernie’s plan to make college free wouldn’t work. Otherwise, despite the fact that he’s the one she faces in the North Carolina primary today, she focused on the merits of Democratic leadership over Republican. While she is ambitious, stating she wants half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term and listing a larger goal for the end of her second, she recognizes she might not be the nominee and that there is something larger at stake. She recognizes that any of the Democrats running would be better for the country than one of the Republican candidates and puts the best for the country above personal victory.
In all the chaos, I keep noticing this little girl across the room. She’s waving a “Vote for Hillary” sign, holding it as high as she can reach. She can’t be much older than my cousin Cora. Watching her, I start to tear up a little as the magnitude of this event hits me all over again.
There is no reason that a woman can’t be president, except of course that no woman ever has been. Tell a little boy that he can grow up to be president and he can immediately conjure role models to follow: Washington, Lincoln, right on up to Bush and Obama. Tell a little girl she could be president one day, and she thinks…well, ok. If you say so. I guess anything’s possible.
But here we have a woman who is getting closer and closer to the White House. People are throwing around the words “Madame President” and wondering what we’ll call Bill (the First Husband? the First Gentleman?). This is a country where women (white women, to be specific) are still making 75 cents to every dollar a white man makes, where women are supposed to be happy that they have rights like voting and driving (because that’s more than the women in some countries have) and we ignore the fact that one in five women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, that women are subject to catcalling on the street and are supposed to ignore it or take it as a compliment (and sometimes ignoring it just makes the problem worse). We ignore how often women are killed or raped in media, how often they are used as prizes for the male characters or their trauma is viewed in the ways it affects the men they’re with (I am SO looking at you, Age of Ultron). Have women come a long way in this country? Absolutely. But there is still a long way to go, and putting a woman in the highest office in the country – what many call “the leader of the free world” – would show girls that they really can do anything they put their minds to.
I’m not saying I agree with all of her politics, I’m not even saying I voted for her in the primary today, but you know…as scared as the Republican nominees may make me, the fact that I have her as an option makes me feel better about the way our country is headed overall.