A few weeks ago, I sat down to watch a video from Vox that I’ve seen before—the one that’s made the rounds every week since it published in September 2016. The subject? Hillary Clinton’s greatest strength (which may well be her greatest weakness): she listens to people. I know it’s something we’ve been hearing a lot the past few months, and I also know that it’s something that’s easy to push to the side. After all, do Americans really care if a candidate for POTUS is a good listener?
In a system that was established by men to elect men who will serve men and male interests, listening is probably not high on the collection of traits to value. Speaking well? Able to make huge, glorious speeches that will get us riled up and ready to believe in hope, change, and tearing down Wall Street (shout out to Barack and Bernie)? Yeah, we’re generally here for that.
Well, at least, some of us are. I, for one, am always here for a listener. You know why? Listeners often turn into doers, and doers get shit done. And a whole lot of doers are women, and women don’t have time to play around:
HER EMAILS HAVE NEVER BEEN PART OF THE PROBLEM
I think it’s truly telling that Hillary’s emails have been a topic of discussion for essentially her entire campaign run. It’s wild to me because, save for very ardent supporters of Hillary’s opponent, I don’t think anyone really cares. You know what we’ve learned from the emails? Hillary rarely actually emailed anyone herself, for starters. Her campaign staffers didn’t like what she said about Nancy Reagan and AIDS anymore than you did. And, most importantly, absolutely nothing in the emails is revelatory: if you’ve been following Hillary for any length of time, you already know what the emails reveal. She doesn’t like to apologize; her staff writes her tweets. She’s progressive but willing to put that on pause, if need be, because she understands compromise is part of the political sphere.
In other words, she sounds like every other politician we’ve ever had the pleasure (or displeasure, depending) of voting for. My bad: she sounds like every other professional in the real world. Most of us know what the word “compromise” means and how to do it. Some of us have staff to whom we delegate tasks and trust to do their jobs because that’s why we hired them. Others of us have bosses who are cool as fuck and like to talk about Game of Thrones over work email. It’s fine. It’s life. Also? It’s not like she’s been out there sexually assaulting anyone while deleting those emails.
You know what I think when I read those emails? “Oh, huh, court dates. Oh look, she has a draft of an email she didn’t send. Okay, then.” I don’t know about you, but she just sounds like a person who is making sure her work is done, and done well. You know, like a lot of men.
“i’m not sexist, though”
Something has shifted this election season, and for some reason that obviously has nothing to do with systematic misogyny, people have decided that this is the election where the candidates just have to be 100 percent perfect. All of the sudden, our ethics and morals matter the most, and there has to be one candidate that meets every single last scrap of criteria for some of us to be so moved as to vote for that person, or we’ll all just throw our votes away and vote third party, because morals. Because ethics. Because reasons that, again, totally have absolutely nothing to do with sexism and misogyny, like, at all. I have women friends; I have a daughter; I’m married to a woman, okay? I’m not sexist.
To those (generally white, generally male, generally financially comfortable) people I have said, and will continue to say, it is truly something that you find yourself so comfortable in life that the idea of voting for what will help the most people is not as important as voting in a way that satisfies your terribly high, lofty, nearly-god-like morals. Wow. Go you.
The rest of us down here on Earth though, you know, the Black, the female, the disabled, the Jewish, the Latino and Hispanic, the LGBTQ, the Latinx, the Native American, the immigrant, the Muslim, the Hindu, the brown… we’ll just sit over here and wave at you while we’re being carted off to “camps.” I’m sure they’ll be lovely, and super cushy. I’ll try to send you a postcard of our smiling faces. You enjoy that all white, all male world you’ll be living in, boo.
Because, bro: I used to be here for Julian Assange, guys. I am a longtime viewer of Democracy Now!, and I remember when WikiLeaks became a thing. I remember the early, early days, when it was so wildly exciting. But then those rape allegations came out, and I soured on him. And then I learned that he is a self-avowed “foe of Hillary Clinton” and… stopped taking pretty much anything he leaks seriously. Because if you hate Hillary so much that you’d purposefully try to tank her campaign when she is running against an openly misogynistic, racist man who brags about sexually assaulting women (hmmm, Jules), then I’m not interested in anything you have to say (and especially when this election doesn’t even impact you, you Australian-born Ecuadorian embassy–living jerk).
I have been a committed Clinton supporter since the dawn of the race. For me, the choice was easy: I have always genuinely been jazzed about Clinton and her policies, plans, and experience. I am one of those people who bristles when accused of liking her because we share the same type of genitalia, and who will throw down (with my words) in an (online) fight in her defense, if need be. My reasons for supporting Hillary are long and varied, but ultimately come down to this: I believe she is the candidate who will do the most to advance my concerns, and more importantly, I believe she is the candidate who will do the most to advance the concerns of everyone else.
My concerns are easy for me to rattle off. I want it to be easier for people with disabilities and medical conditions to get permanent, comprehensive health insurance through Social Security, because right now that system is a little broken (and linked to your income—not everyone who applies needs money from the system, but they all, like my child, need health coverage). I want women to be able to decide what they do and do not do with their own bodies. I want all the civil liberties for all the people. I want more intense policy scrutiny, more rigorous training protocols. I want more outreach to boys and young men, and more education that is geared toward male nurturance. I want a candidate who will lift people in the United States out of deep poverty. I want people who want to live, work, and raise their families in the United States to be able to do so, and I want immigrants to be able to move here without having to perform political acrobatics or be terrified for their lives.
(I also fervently hope that one day, the United States will be a country that doesn’t march off to war at the drop of a hat [or quietly bomb countries when no one is looking]. I know that Hillary isn’t exactly on point with that last concern, but I also believe that electing Hillary will continue us on a path we were put on when we elected President Obama, and that having a Democrat in the White House gets us at least a tiny bit closer to a more peaceful nation. It might take a few more decades, but I think we can get there.)
However, those are just my concerns, and I’m not anymore important than anyone else. My child, my husband, my family are not more important than anyone else’s children, partners, or families. And I think that Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who gets that.
but back to that decision you have to make soon
When it comes to elections and voting, unless you’re married to me, I never assumed I know whom you’re going to vote for. And if we’re being honest, even being married to me isn’t surefire—my husband had to swear to me eighteen million times, up until the point where we each walked into a booth, that he was in fact planning to vote for Barack Obama and not Cynthia McKinney in 2008 (even though we both were into her platform, Cynthia’s running mate, Rosa Clemente, didn’t know the difference between Iraq and Iran and guys, that’s not good). So while it’s tempting for me to assume I’m preaching to the choir here at APW, I can’t be sure that it’s totally true.
I mean, yes of course, a lot of y’all are totally nodding along and echoing what I’m saying across your various channels. I knew this because we’ve gone deep in the comments on this and other posts, and I know from Happy Hour discussions that several of you plan to join in on our big, virtual clinking of made-from-100-percent-shattered-glass-ceiling champagne flutes the night of November 8. So you guys: YAAAAAAAAS, I love you. Never change.
But some of you? I don’t know, maybe you still want to vote for Gary, even though he doesn’t know what Aleppo is, has nothing in common with Bernie Sanders other than their race and sex, and doesn’t plan to do anything about climate change (and thinks minimum wage should be even lower than $7.25). Or maybe you still like Jill Stein, even though she panders to the vaccination and anti-vaccination communities equally, and has never held any kind of elected office. Maybe you still don’t believe that Obama and Hillary are basically the same candidate, except for where she’s a little more progressive than he is. To you, I ask: What questions do you still need answered? What are your lingering concerns? I want to know because I want myself and others (who feel so moved) to address them.
I want to know because this election is pretty scary, and we all need to be in it, together. Not for ourselves, not for our families, not for our moms and dads. For our neighbors, for our communities, for our cities and states. For people living in good conditions and bad, for people fighting racism and poverty, for people living across the country and people living next door.
You know, for our fellow Americans.