I did not support Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary. I thought she came to the table with far too much baggage to be successful. Not baggage of her own making but baggage composed of every unjustified, sexist attack made on her by patriarchal Republicans and conservative commentators based on their fear and hatred of powerful women, especially the wife of a Democratic president who made them look ridiculous by raising taxes and then watching the economy boom.
On top of that, she hired Mark Penn as her chief campaign strategist and they managed to run one of the sleaziest, dirtiest primary campaigns I had seen up to that point. I was disgusted that they would seek to tear down a man like Barack Obama whose integrity seemed pretty unimpeachable to me.
However, her concession speech redeemed her in a big way and then, as Secretary of State, she was, in my opinion, outstanding. So, when she announced her candidacy for the 2016 election, I found myself able to consider supporting her this time around. I didn’t make my ultimate decision until two or three weeks before the Michigan primary but I always leaned in her direction.
From there, I was all in. I was so “all in”, in fact, that I worked hard and was eventually successful at becoming a Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention. It was there that I dedicated my vote to my deceased mother, a woman who was a fierce feminist activist, a political warrior who set me on my own path of activism.
But it has been a hard slog for Clinton supporters like me. During the primary, we were attacked by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and accused of being sellouts or worse. I have lost numerous friends on Facebook when the attacks became so personal and vicious that it was no longer a tenable relationship. I know for certain that I’m not alone.
Once the primary was over, the attacks continued and, in fact, were ramped up when the Republicans took the reins, taking over where the Sanders supporters left off. This was nothing new, of course. Republicans have been demonizing Hillary Clinton for nearly a quarter century. But the misogyny coming from Donald Trump and his loathsome pit of surrogates like Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich unleashed vitriol from Trump supporters that has surpassed anything we’ve ever seen before. Trump gave a platform to the most vile Clinton haters in the country and elevated their voices, literally empowering them to tear down a fellow American with lies and distortions created out of whole cloth by their candidate.
The most frustrating thing for me during this campaign has been watching how successful Clinton’s Republican enemies have been at creating a mythos about her that even some progressives have come to believe. Despite no evidence to back it up, they have tarred her with labels like “untrustworthy”, “deceitful”, “in bed with Wall Street”, and “war hawk”. None of these are accurate descriptions of a woman who has spent her entire career in public service, helping those without a voice and without political power. But conservatives had made the lies true for far too many by repeating them ad nauseum for nearly twenty-five years. And Sanders supporters, most too young to have been politically aware during Bill Clinton’s time in office, were all too happy to take the bait. It’s a Republican con job that worked and it worked beyond their wildest dreams.
Which brings us to today. There have been plenty of essays written about how unenthused Clinton supporters are, about how there’s not the energy among the people who support her that was seen with Barack Obama.
I’m here to tell you that enthusiasm is there.
It’s a quiet enthusiasm because, frankly, Clinton supporters are a bit weary. We started off being attacked by our fellow progressives and finished up watching the most qualified person ever to run for president being smeared and denigrated by the least qualified person ever to run for president, cheered on all the while by some of the most hateful people in our country.
So, yes, we may be a bit quiet, but we are resolute in our support. And Clinton campaign offices have been beehives of activity over the past several months. Her supporters aren’t flashy or noisy or boisterous. However, they are dedicated and they are focused. And they won’t stop until the polls close this evening.
“Stronger Together” isn’t just a campaign slogan for Clinton supporters, it’s a rallying cry that has kept us going since the start of this campaign. And it’s one we’re going to need to hold onto when President Hillary Clinton takes office on Friday, January 20, 2017 because, as bad as the relentless attacks on President Obama have been, that was only a warm-up for what Madame President Hillary Clinton will face.