I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter. I like her all right, I suppose. It would be tough for anyone, particularly women, to argue that there isn't much to admire, and I admit that there was a point in time when I just might have voted for her as a knee-jerk reaction, an unwavering stand in solidarity based primarily on our common gender. But I'm a thinking woman and an unapologetic progressive. During the past six years, I've watched in frustration as Clinton moved away from the ideals I hold, drifting ever further to the right of center, as if she and I were opposite poles of a magnet. Her vote for and her stance on the Iraq war disappointed me beyond description, and her position on flag-burning, a transparent play for conservative support, repulsed me. I swore publicly, multiple times, that I would never vote for her. She was beyond redemption, in my view. She was dead to me. So it's fair to say that I carried my negative attitude about her with me to this weekend's convention.
Then she spoke.
And damn it all to hell if I wasn't sucked in. I would like to qualify my effortless conversion by stating that menses is imminent, and therefore, I'm exponentially more susceptible than I might otherwise be to the ubiquitous human-interest story that peppered the candidates' speeches, Clinton's included. This tidbit aside, the woman had me at hello.
Though hoarse and a little tired-looking, Clinton was energetic and charismatic. Her speech was powerful and compelling, and at moments, I found myself nearly moved to tears, my skin covered in goose pimples. This despite the fact that she said little, if anything, new or detailed. Her speech incited the crowd of supporters, and it was difficult not to get caught up in the momentum of it. More than anything, her glossy and carefully choreographed presence was downright presidential. While listening to her speak, I actually thought to myself, Self, you might have to throw a vote in her direction.
I have to admit that it is incredible that during my relatively short lifetime, I am witnessing the phenomenon of a woman as a presidential candidate; not even a century has passed since women earned the right to vote. We've come a long way, baby, thanks to tireless efforts of mothers and daughters and sisters of previous generations. And if any woman today is qualified to be president, Hillary Clinton is that woman. She is as qualified and as presidential as any of the other testicle-having contenders of either party. Like all of the potential candidates, she has her strong points as well as her shortcomings. But would I vote for her simply because she's a woman? That, in my opinion, would be the ultimate anti-woman move and is a no-brainer despite the copious amounts of delicious Kool-Aid I consumed during her speech and the press conference that followed.
It's too early to tell where my vote will land in the 2008 election. Fortunately, the democrats are offering up a slew of good candidates, making it a genuinely difficult choice and perhaps forcing them to work harder to connect with voters. Because it's the only time that I believe I can responsibly do so, I'll likely vote my conscience come February and side with the candidate who best represents my utopian world. I'll be voting with my heart in the primary. And though I wish it were so, my heart is not with Hillary.