This has never happened before, even if Abigail Adams and Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt did deserve it. I should feel something more than this.
I should be absolutely riveted by this moment. For the first time in American history, a woman is her party’s presumptive nominee for president. But my reasons for being relatively unmoved have basically nothing to do with her. And whatever Americans may think, that’s incredibly unfair not only to her, but to us.
Let me be clear: I do not believe anyone should support Secretary Clinton simply because she is a woman. And I know there are a lot of people who don’t like Secretary Clinton. Those who tend toward liberalism cite the real or perceived sins of her husband, the former president, who presided over the Defense of Marriage Act, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the seeds of the modern predatory mortgage lending crisis, and the widespread literal or figurative criminalization of poverty vis-a-vis “welfare reform” and/or imprisonment. Those who tend toward conservatism cite Bengazi, a perceived continuation of the Obama administration, the secretary’s emails while she was in the cabinet, and all of the offenses—real or perceived—of President Bill Clinton. Both sides cite her senatorial vote in favor of the war in Iraq. I respect all of those concerns, whether I share them or not.
But for all the weight those concerns may carry for one voter or another, we are brought to this moment by some strange collision of the histories we wish we could rewrite and the futures to which we aspire. We are brought to this moment by divisiveness that pits Sec. Clinton against Sen. Sanders, who, with his devoted supporters, want social and economic change that is more than what they feel is a tagline, and whose convictions have been represented and in some cases rightly or wrongly overshadowed by those who would wish to undo in a mere four years everything on which we are built (very likely without Congressional help). We are brought to this moment by another kind of divisiveness that pits both Sec. Clinton and Sen. Sanders against a never-been-elected, never-lived-as-middle-class, never-known-a-government-official-he-didn’t-try-to-grease blowhard who says what he thinks people will like and turns out to be correct—a candidate who may or may not truly believe his own words, but who has demonstrated an understanding of the simplicity of the galvanized American voter that has made everyone else wonder where, after all these years, they have lived, and what, after all these years, they have known. We are, unbelievably, in a place where some who favored Sen. Sanders may now throw their vote to Donald Trump.
We are brought to this moment in spite of those who rail against Sec. Clinton for concerns that, I swear, they would not care nearly so much about if she were a man.
We are here both in spite of and because of those who believe that this woman did not know her place and stay in it.
I do not want to be here.
When will we come to a time when a woman can find her own ground without a significant portion of the populace believing, deep down, that she isn’t feminine enough, and that, if she were, she would not be fit to lead? Or that they prefer someone who spouts hateful rhetoric in the name of self-promotion because it makes them feel more dominant by association?
After 240 years, we are heartbreakingly short of our greatest hopes and in danger of sacrificing our promise, and it is gut-wrenchingly difficult to know which way we want to go next.
I don’t expect any presidential race to be a clear choice for the majority of the electorate. I expect it to be a difficult process. It should be; that is the only way we can know for sure that we are seeing the right candidates representing the people in the most accurate ways. I do not think that every person who favors Donald Trump or who dislikes Sec. Clinton has chosen his or her position because of misogyny or racism. But seeing the accuracy this time around is devastating, and watching a woman fight to overcome the forces that empower a horror of a human being to be her opponent is not how I wanted to see a woman finally stand. I would love to say that, if she wins the presidency, it will be a sign that we, as a nation, are ready for a woman to lead. But I know that there are plenty who will vote for her merely as a vote against her horror of an opponent. And I know that there are plenty who will still believe, deep down, that she has not known her place.
I am, guttingly, unmoved tonight that a woman has finally found an America that may support her. But I will stand for her because, woman or not, perfect or flawed, I know what I believe in.
And I have never known my place.