With reservations, moving toward Hillary Clinton
© Greg Nash

When I think about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump thanks 'vicious young Socialist Congresswomen' for his poll numbers Will Trump's racist tweets backfire? Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE, I can’t help but think about my mother, a white immigrant, a  second-wave feminist, who raised me in such a self-assured way that it wasn’t until I was a teenager I understood someone would use feminist as a pejorative. After forty years of living in the United States, she became a citizen three years ago. This will be her first US presidential election, and she cannot wait to vote for Hillary.

I voted for Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE in the New York primary, and I probably stand even to the left of him on some political issues. His campaign gave me a reason to believe that in the long-term, we might be able to change the systems and institutional beliefs undergirding our democracy. I flinch at many of Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy positions, I hate that she’ll undoubtedly move to the right as the election rolls on, and I worry that her success as a white woman will allow people to continue to ignore the higher barriers that women of color (and Muslim women, and gay women, and trans women, and so many more) still face.

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None of that, however, blinds me to the fact that Hillary Clinton has had to work harder at every moment in her career than her male counterparts. She’s also been the object of so much hate and slander over the past decades that I can’t even measure how much of it I’ve unwittingly internalized.

Unlike a surprisingly large portion of the US electorate, I don’t hate or distrust Hillary Clinton. She’s immensely qualified for the job of president, and I’m sure she’ll be good at it. I also recognize that she’s up against an unusual opponent. Unlike John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' Meghan McCain knocks Lindsey Graham for defending Trump's tweets: 'This is not the person I used to know' MORE or Mitt Romney, whose positions I disagreed with but whose temperaments I never called into question, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE is fundamentally unfit to be president. He’s not a worthy opponent, and it’s insulting that Clinton will have to work as hard as she will work just to defeat him this fall.

Nonetheless, as I watched the former Secretary of State formally accept the Democratic Party’s nomination Thursday night, making history as the first woman to do so, I felt very little of anything. Or rather, I felt a lot of very many things. It’s complicated.

Her speech was strong, aimed towards the center, and likely to sway those moderate Republicans already fleeing in shame from Trump’s candidacy. But it didn’t exhilarate me. Of course, the skills required to become president are not always the best skills for the job. And the skills required to do the job right don’t always look good on the campaign trail. Maybe it’s just that her predecessor set a very high bar. Or maybe I’ve grown up a little since 2008.

That fall, as the economy was crashing down around the American public, I turned 21. A senior in college, I could not wait to cast my first presidential vote for a candidate I truly believed in. He was the candidate who gave us hope. And he won. I remember thinking, on the night of November 4, as I dashed out into the streets of Manhattan to celebrate with friends, strangers, anyone who’d give me a high-five, really, that it would never again feel this good. For the most part, it hasn’t.

When President Obama addressed the DNC on Wednesday night, I watched with glistening eyes. The 2016 election has made me weary, and it felt reassuring, just for a moment, to relive that moment from eight years ago.

Now that the Democratic convention has wrapped up, I think about this coming November and the actual, real, so-close- I-can- feel-it possibility of a woman leading the United States, and I stop myself. I don’t want to jinx it, and, quite simply, I’m exhausted by all the noise of this long, strange campaign.

But if, and hopefully when, Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States this November, I will likely cry. And I will call my mother.

Russell-Kraft is a freelance reporter based in New York. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, NYMag.com, Vice, AlterNet, Refinery 29, Fusion and Jezebel. Follow her @srussellkraft


 

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