Voting for Hillary Clinton was nothing like voting for Obama.
I was teary-eyed voting for Obama, it felt like a boil we’d had forever was getting lanced and cleaned. I was worried my students would be crushed if he lost. I was worried Sarah Palin would touch something sharp if she got any real power. But I drove by a long line of voters who were black, on my way to work, and I thought, this is gonna be okay.
This election day, I happened to have the day off. I watched the “Sister Suffragette” portion of “Mary Poppins,” dressed in a white t-shirt— the only thing I own which is white because I’ll spill on myself. Walked across the park, into the elementary school, around the square of its corridors, went to the wrong table, went to the right one. The lady in front of me was being asked, “When was the last time you voted?”
“Obama,” she said. She, like 90% of the people at my polling place, was black. I wonder about the composition of my neighborhood, as it gentrifies, but voting shows me that those who vote in my neighborhood are still mostly black.
The ballot was a short one here, the front with presidential candidates, senate (I didn’t even know our senator was running, I guess that’s how set that already is), and on the back, judges. I hate voting for judges, I was educated by Missouri judges that we shouldn’t vote for them.
It was over so quickly, filling in Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine oval. It was a very small oval.
I didn’t feel I was voting for the first woman president as much as I was voting to prevent an evil man from gaining power. I like Hillary Clinton fine. I’ve always thought she was sort of like me. I’m not charismatic, but I’ll work hard. I’m not the most dazzling specimen, but I am stubborn as hell.
And I get that she got into power the only way she could. She had to be married. To a man who would chase, and gain, power. She had to stay married. That was how she have the most power.
Having a woman president, hell, when will we have a president who is single? An atheist? A Jew? A Hindu? A Muslim? I’m ready for all those things. There are still many blocks to who the American public thinks is fit to lead us. (I know we’ve had a president who was single, but that has been a long time ago, and it’s not feasible now.)
I wish I didn’t know how easy it was to rile up and organize the people in our country who are scared and bitter. I wish I did not know how Hitler came to power. I saw exactly how. Without a depression, without a war, and I fear that is the only reason we haven’t gotten our Hitler. For all That Guy said, our economy is actually good, and our crime rates are good, too.
I figured Obama was the guy who could become our first black president, by being mixed-race, actually, and soothing voters with his love of the half of his family who were white. By being handsome. By being calmer than calm, so it became impossible to pose him as the angry black man our country fears so deeply.
Senator Clinton maybe is the only one who could be the first woman president, by being married to a president first, by having been through the wringer so long and so hard that she has no fucks left to give. Be accused of murder. Watch the whole country discuss the blow jobs your husband got from a young woman. Watch him get impeached. After that happens, what do you fear in public life? What is left?
People of color, and women, our lives are different. We often can’t go the usual way to power. We have to follow special rules.
I only feel good about myself because I had a mother who never said anything negative about any woman’s body, ever, and only said positive things about food and exercise and, well, pretty much everything I ever attempted to do.
And I had a father who consistently told me I had to do everything: make a salad, mow a lawn, change a tire, backpack with a heavy pack, up the mountain. A father for whom the phrase “lady lawyer” was held up as a fabulous idea for my future. “You look like a lady lawyer,” he said, which I took to mean not that a lady lawyer was a specialized freak, but an even more awesome thing to be than just a regular boring old lawyer who was a man. I was more interesting than that.
I did not become a lawyer, but I became someone for whom fighting the good fight at work was one of my primary joys in life.
I wish Ms Clinton had gotten the regular shake, the regular vetting, the regular chance to show herself, her work, her position, instead of having to just stand up and tell us over and over, “I’m a reasonable person.”
I don’t have time to think it’s wonderful a woman can be president because I’m still trembling inside from knowing someone can gain national stature by talking about my body– and the freedoms of many of my fellow citizens– the way That Guy did.
It’s not glamorous, but Ms Clinton wasn’t ever about glamour, was she? She was always about slogging through the shit because that’s what had to be done. It doesn’t feel shiny and bold the way the first black president did. She’s not being lifted up, she’s being used as a shield.
She did what we needed her to do.
Madame President, First Man. Have we worked out that “first man” business yet? That will be important, too. A supportive spouse is a treasure, no matter your gender, and someone who is president could really use a solid, known-you-forever confidant. I hope Bill Clinton can redeem himself for some of his mistakes, by being a great help to his wife in her presidency. He has the capacity to be a great, great help.
I walked out of the school, and passed a couple of young guys on the way in who were asked, “You here to vote?”
“Of course,” they said.
I walked back across the park, past the basketball courts where a couple dozen kids were playing, one was riding a skateboard. A ball bounced out toward me, I caught it, threw it back in.
“Thanks,” a kid said. And they returned to the culture of the city basketball court, of which I know nothing, three or four games going, the guys on the bench chewing the fat, the kid in the middle slowly pushing himself with one foot on his skateboard.