Many Bernie supporters have told me not to vote with my vagina. Well, fuck that shit. Of COURSE I’m voting with my vagina, and my uterus too.
I was in my early twenties when Bill Clinton was sworn in as President. It was the first time, as a deeply progressive person, I felt like an American.
I became politically aware when President Carter was in office, and I watched him get destroyed in the 1980 election season. I lived through eight years of President Reagan and another four years of the first President Bush. When Bill was elected, it was a profound relief.
My fondness for Hillary Clinton goes all the way back to that first year of her husband’s presidency. She was a passionate feminist — as was I — and she was determined to be a First Lady who did more than pick out china patterns.
So her husband appointed her to head up a task force designed to bring the American people universal healthcare. If you’re a millennial, you probably didn’t know that. You also probably don’t know what happened, or how it was quickly nicknamed “Hillarycare,” and the intensity of the vitriol and hatred that was flung her way as a result. Politicians and pundits told her to “get back in the kitchen” daily. You cannot imagine the depth of the sexist attacks she weathered — and this was before Fox News existed.
Her attempts to bring about universal healthcare led to a shutdown of congress, the Republican fantasy called the Contract with America, and nearly destroyed Bill Clinton’s first term. He was forced to disband the task force and she, to reduce her public role.
When I began telling people that I planned to vote for Hillary this year in the primaries, my progressive friends reacted with dismay. One of their main arguments hinges on her not having a plan for universal healthcare, something Bernie Sanders is pushing hard.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ve spent more of my life uninsured than insured, and I desperately want to see us have universal healthcare. But I respect the experience Hillary Clinton brings to the table, and her understanding that universal healthcare is one of the most divisive issues in this country.
When I think of Bernie Sanders and his plan to demolish the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to have “Medicare for all,” I’m frankly appalled. The ACA is the greatest contribution to health care reform this nation has ever seen. Let’s give it a bit more time to work before we destroy it, in the hopes that people will be less frightened of universal healthcare.
I’ll confess that I don’t actually find Bernie Sanders appealing as a presidential candidate; he’s too busy lecturing us. I find his exclusive focus on dealing with income inequality as being the best way to combat issues of race in this country to be short-sighted. After all, wealthy people of color suffer just as much racism as poor people of color do. Fighting racism calls for much more than just a $15/hour minimum wage.
I’ve also read articles talking about how poorly he treats his staff, and that matters to me a great deal. I also really dislike the sexist behavior of many of Bernie’s supporters, and the condescending manner in which many Bernie supporters speak to me personally — as if I’m not aware of Hillary’s shortcomings.
Is Hillary Clinton the perfect candidate? No, of course not. Yes, she has ties to big money, but so do pretty much all of the politicians in office these days. Has she “played the game” in the establishment? Yes, she has. Not that she has much choice.
But I still believe that she is currently the best person running for office.
Many Bernie supporters have told me not to vote with my vagina. Well, fuck that shit. Of COURSE I’m voting with my vagina, and my uterus too. I’m alive today because I was legally able to have a lifesaving late-term abortion in 2004.
Having someone in office who will fight for woman’s right to choose is critically important to me, and excuse me for thinking a politician with a uterus is more likely to get behind that fight than an old white man who might be pro-choice, but is unlikely to make undoing the damage done to issues of choice over the last twenty years a priority.
Hillary has to do everything political “backwards and in high heels.” Just last week on Morning Joe on MSNBC, some pundits spent the morning discussing how Hillary “shouts.” Trump doesn’t shout? Bernie doesn’t shout (it feels to me like he’s always shouting)?
There is so much Hillary simply cannot do that Bernie can BECAUSE of her gender. Remember in 2008 when she cried with some women and the media went crazy covering it, claiming if she cried she must not be fit for office? That two-minute moment in her campaign was all the press covered for weeks. That doesn't happen to male candidates.
So I want you to sit back, Bernie supporters, and see if you can't acknowledge the reality Hillary is working under (and has been for 25 years), and get why she's played the game the way she has. Take a good long look at her history and see what she’s already withstood. She survived the Monica Lewinsky scandal, for fuck’s sake. She can take anything Congress and the pundits throw at her — and for me? That’s a critical skill needed in a president.
Contrary to my Bernie supporting friends' opinions, voting for Hillary doesn’t make me a bad progressive. Yes, I want a woman president, and I think Hillary is electable. But I think she can also pave the way for change in the future.
As my friend Jasmine Banks said to me recently, “Obama was neoliberal and I voted for him because I want another and another and another black candidate. And Hillary should be voted in order to make way for better women candidates.”
Jasmine wrote a great article recently about how Bernie Sanders is “more of the same”, and I think she has a point. He might be progressive, but he’s still a fairly wealthy old white man who has lived a deeply privileged life.
Voting for Hillary — as neoliberal and imperfect as she might be — is still a revolutionary act. YES, because she’s a woman. And that is enough for me.
I hope my friends who support Bernie will turn out to vote for Hillary if she wins the primary battle, just as I’ll support Bernie if he wins. Because the alternative (President Cruz?) is terrifying.