For as long as I can remember people have asked me why I love Hillary Clinton so much, and it seems no matter what my answer is it never is quite enough to suffice. For one thing, I'm not one for remembering the way someone voted on every single mundane bill that comes across their desk.
This past election cycle I became uncomfortably aware that I couldn't give people an answer that they liked or agreed with. Picture this, it's the night of the Democratic Primary in Colorado... I am the person from the Hillary campaign with the assignment of making sure all rules are followed, votes are counted, and if there are any undecided voters in the room I get a chance to win them over.
I hate public speaking.
So I stand there in my Hillary sweatshirt.... sweating... voice quivering trying to string along some thoughts that make sense....
Finally, someone raised their hand and says, "is it ok if I help?" I said, "Please!" and sure enough they throw a bunch of stats and votes and information out to the room and win over all of the undecided voters.
Of course, I don't remember what they said. And I sit here now, a week after completing Hillary's new book What Happened, in which she (in great detail) discusses her favorite topic of all: policy; and I still can't spout out a bunch of stuff on command.
But if you ask any Bernie supporter they have their spiel: the TPP, Citizens United, Single Payer Health Care.... etc, etc And Trump supporters, they have their lovely slogan, "Make America Great Again."
And it all feels so angry.
And not personal.
And if you can't spout out the same as them or heaven forbid you talk about the fact that Hillary is a woman, they chalk you up and write you off, as a "Hil-bot who is only voting for her because she's a woman."
Listening to the audbile unabridged reading of this book from Hillary herself was very emotional for me. This book has been called a "feminist manifesto" by The New York Times, a "historical artifact" by NPR. And by Bernie supporters, and Trump supporters at that- who all no doubt have read it (eye roll), it has been deemed a "score settling, finger pointing" rant and many have expressed their wish that she just "go away" already.
I remember when I was in high school her traveling all over the world.... constantly meeting with and shining light on women's issues around the world. I remember her meeting with visionaries like Benazir Bhutto and Nelson Mandela. I remember watching her be a mom to Chelsea. I remember reading her book, "It Takes a Village" at the very time in my life when I was beginning family planning. And as I help raise my nephews, I believe wholeheartedly that it does take a village, and even though having kids wasn't in the cards for me... I believe that the children in our society are all of our responsibility.
In her book, Hillary talks about being a girl in school and her ears perking up as she hears mentions of women's names: Sojourner Truth, Sacajawea, and Harriet Tubman. That's how it was when I was a kid too. I loved history, especially US history. And I remember as a girl hearing the names: Amelia Earhart, Betsy Ross, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Hillary Clinton.
Years later, as I drove across the country listening to Hillary's memoir from her time in the White House I remember her talking of her marriage and the betrayal she suffered. I remember hearing the pain in her voice and the struggle of her choice. I couldn't say that I fully agreed with her choice at the time... but as I grew into a woman and to who I am now, I can see that sometimes staying is just as much of a bold feminist move as leaving.
I remember her coming to talk to the students of Columbine after the shooting. I remember her standing among the rubble of the twin towers in NYC. I remember her concession speech in 2008 and the cracks in the glass ceiling.
I loved her as Secretary of State- yes I had voted for her in the primaries against Obama, (even though I really liked him too). As Secretary of State Clinton traveled to more countries than any Secretary of State ever. She also championed Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (although at this current moment in time... that might not be the most popular point to make).
Quite simply, Hillary Clinton is US History. She is one reason I love this country as much as I do. And as a student of history, and as a woman her book, What Happened, is so important to read (300,000 copies in it's first week! #1 on the non-fiction New York Times Best Seller list!).
Perhaps my favorite part of her book is where she says,
"there's been so much said and written about the economic hardships and declining life expectancy of the working class whites who embrace Donald Trump. But why should they be more angry and resentful than the millions of Blacks and Latinos who are poorer, die younger, and have to contend everyday with entrenched discrimination... If you've been raised to believe that your life will unfold a certain way, say with a steady union job that doesn't require a college degree but does provide a middle class income with traditional gender roles intact and everyone speaking English, and then things don't work out the way you expected, that's when you get angry. It's about loss... but I have no tolerance for intolerance, none. Bullying disgusts me, I look at the people at Trump's rallies cheering for his hateful rants and I wonder, 'where's their empathy and understanding? Why are they allowed to close their hearts to the striving immigrant father? The grieving black mother? Or the LGBT teenager whose bullied at school and thinking of suicide? Why is the burden of opening our hearts only on half of the country?"
And this brings me to my second topic of the week: #takeaknee
Trump went on another rant about NFL players taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner. Just as I hoped they would, players from across the league took a knee to demonstrate their right to practice the 1st amendment and to support their colleagues who have been trying to bring awareness to Black Lives Matter. I woke up to find that the morning game in London had so many players kneeling and linking arms, and when the Broncos game started at 11am there were my boys: Von Miller right next to Brandon Marshall (the only player on our team to kneel last year), Chris Harris with his fist in the air, kneeling right next to Aqib Talib, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. As the anthem ended, the camera goes to a black man on the opposing team, kneeling and with tears streaming down his face. I loved it. My cup runneth over. Instantly people start expressing their disgust on Facebook.
Some people got so bent out of shape over this peaceful protest, and they are the same people who didn't say a word when angry, violent white men descended onto Charlottesville yelling racism and hurtful comments into the night.
Today, Sunday, this day of peaceful protests I had a friend reach out to me and tell me that they need to take a break from me on Facebook because my life is "consumed by politics." Now, I love this friend and I hope our friendship will weather the times we live in. But I've had anxiety all day now and I keep telling myself, "When they go low, we go high."
But I'm sad. Like Hillary, I've often wondered why I have to hold my tongue? For years, family and friends have told me that my politics is too extreme. But I have been this way since I was a kid. I don't know how to be any other way. And I don't think I'm wrong.
Last week another book came out called, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. Much of the book is dedicated to the political times we are in. Brene talks about how sometimes we have to stand alone as our authentic self. But she also talks about how we need to keep reaching across the divide... and trying to understand each other. And as I listened to this book as I did a deep clean on my apartment and sipped coffee and ate over easy eggs on toasted bagel. I thought, I need to do a better job. I only have one friend that truly has completely different political beliefs than me. And today I managed to cause that person to feel over the edge.
I've felt like I'm in an anxiety fog this whole afternoon. And I know this is going to be silly but stay with me. When I was a kid I watched this mini-series starring Patrick Swayze called North and South, in it Kirstie Alley stars as this crazy northern abolitionist. Why did she have to be portrayed as crazy? And when she finds herself at Harper's Ferry forming a militia with John Brown... I thought, "maybe I was like that in another life". I've often been sad that I didn't grow up in a more contentious time... that there are no more causes to be fought for.
Today I believed in something. And it's caused a division in a relation (again, I have faith that this person and I can maintain a strong friendship in our other common likes and for the fact that we have a history that spans more than half of our lives).
I get that we all have different views... I find it insanely offensive and preposterous that people would vote for and continue to support a man that said that when you are famous, "you can do whatever you want, grab em by the pussy." This man eats in the same rooms as Jackie Kennedy, a woman who had to hold her husband's brains in, a woman who lost her husband serving this country. This man sleeps in the same rooms as Barack Obama, a man he accused of not even being American because of his ethnic name. This man lives in the same house as Abraham Lincoln.
People voted for this disgrace of a person to live in our White House and in our History Books.
And to me that is so disrespectful.
So... it's been a contentious week and a half. And I'm a political person.
But most importantly I am a human, with a heart, let us not forget that of each other.
***Some great articles on Hillary's book: