There is a view often expressed in the news and throughout social media and social circles that maintains the only reason a progressive, liberal woman, such as myself, would ever vote for Hillary Clinton is because we have a certain genitalia in common. I’ve seen the term “misguided feminist” and heard “voting with your vagina” one too many times now to sit passively by any longer. I would like to lay out some of the reasons I support this amazing woman for the presidency of the United States and show the doubters and nay-sayers out there that, yes, she can.
Before Hillary Clinton became in fact Hillary Clinton and a national public figure, she was a fierce proponent for the American Civil Rights Movement during her time at Wellesley College and champion for child welfare and worker’s rights well before it became the popular rallying cry of the left that it is today. Before #GirlsCount and #womenempowerment became rallying cries on Twitter or women like Jennifer Lawrence and Oprah Winfrey argued on national media that women deserve equal rights and pay, Hillary was in the trenches making sure those rights were legitimized through law. And before healthcare became Obamacare, Hillary was pushing for universal reform when no one wanted to touch it – not even socialist Democrats like Bernie Sanders.
So let’s take a moment and recap (and I’ll admit here and now that I had to do some of my own research to remind myself of all the great accomplishments this woman has completed before writing this piece).
Many people may not realize that Hillary was a conservative Republican when she first entered college. She not only served as president of the Wellesley Young Republicans but also campaigned for Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater as a young teenager. Once at Wellesley her policy positions and views of the government shifted. She actively worked with the black community following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in an effort to recruit more black students and faculty into the university system and she started to hold critical views of the way the Republican Party used veiled racist language to galvanize southern white voters.
While attending Yale Law School Hillary became active in the fight against child abuse and started to volunteer free legal services to the poor in New Haven, Connecticut. Her passion for fairness and equality really took off during her research work as a staff member on then-Senator Walter Mondale’s Subcommittee on Migratory Labor where she argued for increased worker rights and better working conditions for migrants in low-income jobs.
She eventually served as a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts before moving to Arkansas with Bill Clinton and becoming one of only two female faculty members at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville School of Law. When Bill became Governor of Arkansas and Hillary its First Lady no one was shocked that she chaired the rural Health Advisory Committee and successfully pushed for expanded medical facilities in some of the poorest areas of the state.
As First Lady of the United States, Hillary was already recognized as a fierce and formable public figure. She openly pushed for policy positions that called for better standards in health and working conditions both at home and abroad. During that time she chaired the Task Force on National Health Care Reform in which her ultimate goal was to pass universal healthcare. Her policy proposals were even considered too extreme for some Democrats. As Bernstein remarks in A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, opponents labeled her health care reform law “Hillarycare” and Republicans used the sound bite to campaign during the 1994 midterm elections as an example of potential government overreach – sound familiar?
By the end of Bill’s second term in office Hillary had made a global name for herself as policymaker and activist:
- With the assistance of then-Senators Ted Kennedy and Orin Hatch, she helped pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997.
- She investigated and advocated for funds to look into reports of illnesses affecting Gulf War veterans, which would later become popularly known as Gulf War Syndrome.
- Increased research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health.
- She helped create the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women and initiated the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997.
- She is considered one of the most traveled First Ladies to date, often acting as diplomat in her husband’s stead and helping to improve trade and national security relations with India and Pakistan.
- She brokered a cease fire between Israel and Hamas in 2012 when things came to head.
- She spoke out at global conferences against abusive practices against women in China, forcefully stating that “it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.”
- She helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative and now organization that promotes women participation in the political process.
I could go on but then this blog post would be about 5 pages long – and no one wants to read that rant. In brief, Hillary went on to serve as Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009 before becoming Secretary of State under President Obama from 2009 to 2013.
And like all politicians, she has made mistakes. I never supported the Iraq War and take issue with the fact she voted in favor of it. The fact she used a private email server for her professional email (while not illegal) was uncommon and the poor administrative handling of it has opened the door to a Republican witch hunt that will turn anything small into a perceived grand act of treason. This has caused consternation for her and her supporters during this election cycle; and despite the fact nearly a dozen Republican-led investigative committees and reports have found no criminal fault the innuendos and outright lies will only increase as November approaches.
For me, Hillary is unequivocally the best pick for the position. She is a true statesman – strong, intelligent, and able to apply decades’ worth of wisdom to a somewhat fractured and tenuous political world that is intrinsically linked to America’s economic and security-related well-being. Even her hawkish views on foreign policy and national security – many in direct contradiction to her Democratic colleagues – should be considered a strength and not a weakness o her Democratic credentials.
To those of us too young to remember Hillary during her formative activist years, or unwilling to see beyond the past few years of slander and committee hearings, you really need to take a second look. Hell, take a third if you’re not convinced.
Look beyond the campaign sound bites and the one-liner attacks made by the likes of Donald Trump and Republican elite. Look beyond the sexist comments about her voice being “too loud” and instead applaud her fervor and passion. This is a woman who understands struggle and understands change. She knows how to get the job done and I can barely contain my glee to be able to lend my voice to her cause come this November.