I think the one thing we can all agree on is that we've never seen an election cycle like this one before. I don't care what generation you are a part of, this is a whole new level of crazy.
Me, I've been keeping relatively quiet politically, both on social media and in my writing. Until now, that is. Maybe it's because my views surprise even me. Or maybe it's because I can't stand the hate-infused rhetoric from everyone on all sides and I don't want to be a part of it. It leaves me weary and losing hope in humanity as a whole and certainly, us as a country. And nothing could be further from who I am, or maybe who I've been up until now.
The thing is I was a Clinton supporter from the get-go in '92. I had faith that surpassed any doubt. I was certain. A true believer. I loved the charismatic governor from Hope and his wife. I was the one wearing the "Give 'em Health, Hillary" button in the 90's.
I cheered when Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate seat from my home state of New York. I still have the banners tucked away in my closet. And in '08, I was Hillary all the way, until she conceded. And even then, I cried my little eyes out, because I wanted her to be president.
Then she became Madame Secretary, and I was thrilled. I could sleep nights, knowing she was the one representing the United States around the world.
I never doubted she would run for president again. And I never doubted that my allegiance would be to her campaign for the presidency. Never doubted it.
So what happened?
Fracking. And GMO's. And not an inkling of a shot at single payer healthcare. And plenty of talk of Wall Street and corporate backers. (The email thing always seemed like a bunch of hooey to me, so frankly, that never weighed into my opinion.)
And why was it so damn hard to just come out one way or the other on issues, particularly when there is an obvious right way to go? (Hint - fracking is bad. Ask a scientist or ten.)
And maybe I wouldn't have veered off-course had there been no alternative, but along came Bernie Sanders, and I'll be honest with you - at first, I laughed.
My initial thought was he would last five minutes, push Hillary to the left, where she should have been to begin with, and then he'd be done. And her campaign and the Democratic Party would be the better for it.
But then I started listening to the curmudgeonly grandpa figure and I agreed with everything he said. And I didn't have to wonder where he stood on the issues. And his record supported his rhetoric. And he was willing to fight the fights that needed fighting, not just the ones he knew he could win. He wanted what I wanted, and his money wasn't coming from people whose interests were at odds with my own. His money was coming from me and people like me, who believed that we are truly all in this together.
So what of my twenty-four years of Clinton loyalty? Was it out the window, just like that?
It's not that I wasn't "with her" anymore. It's that I wasn't sure she was with me. I was feeling betrayed by someone I had supported my entire adult life. And no matter how much the media or the DNC wanted to ignore the fact that there was a viable alternative in Bernie Sanders, millions like me knew there was and made a point of voting that way.
So here we are. Hillary is heir apparent in a country that was founded precisely on the premise of no one being heir apparent. And as pissed off as I am about that, we've got bigger fish to fry in this election.
So how do we reconcile what these past months have been in ugliness, and find a way to join together and embrace and support Hillary Clinton for president?
I have been giving this a tremendous amount of thought, and here's what I've come up with:
Hillary Rodham Clinton has been First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. She has been under attack for the entirety of her adult life, and not only has stayed the course, but kept her dignity amid the most intense scrutiny and some of the most gut-wrenching personal situations any of us would ever find ourselves in.
She has risen, time and time again, against false accusations and incessant criticism. I have to believe that, at this point, it would be much easier for her to be sipping a margarita on a beach somewhere and bouncing a grandchild on her lap than it would be to put herself through the endless barrage of stuff leveled against her daily, warranted or not. And because of the fresh kind of hell presidential elections are, I must believe that she knows she's still got some good left to do - for all of us. And that is her motivating factor.
She certainly doesn't need the money or the aggravation. So it must be that there is some good left to be done. And like President Obama, she knows that she can rise to the occasion in these very difficult and complex times and have something valuable to offer.
I also think that if doubt has been cast about her trustworthiness, that we must entertain the possibility that someone paid a lot of money for us to think that way. And so the question must be asked: who benefits most from casting doubt? Who benefits if all the Democrats divide and fight and lose sight of what matters? Right, the Republicans.
So I've come full circle. I started with Hillary and I'm finishing with Hillary. And I think her candidacy and her presidency will be the better because my vote was hard won. And because we will be watching and asking and holding feet to the fire to make sure that the American people are whose interests are being represented.
So yes, I am saying it publicly now - I'm with her.