At the beginning of the presidential campaign, I found myself identified with Hillary Clinton. If the media reported something favorable, I was excited; if they panned her, I was down. After some of the early losses, I was scared. After Super Tuesday, I was elated. I attended fund-raisers, blogged, made phone calls. While I kept up with my business and my life, it became secondary to Hillary’s campaign. I felt myself on a roller-coaster that Hillary herself was too busy campaigning to feel.
Finally, I decided I had to take stock. While I am impressed with Hillary and her candidacy, and while I think she is the most qualified candidate, this identification with her campaign was over the top. I broke away, to my silent place to gain some clarity. What I realized is that “I am Hillary.”
While I thought I had “worked through” the issues of sexism in my family and while I thought I had “dealt with” the sexism in my professional life, the level of emotional discomfort with the campaign made me realize I had only scratched the surface. I wanted Hillary to win because a win for her would be a win for me as well as a win for our country.
I am of the same generation as Hillary, and I have had to break through many glass ceilings. At the time, I didn’t know they were glass ceilings. We didn’t have a name for them then. They were just lonely places—business administration classes where I was the only woman, feeling exposed, alone, hesitating to contribute. And then graduating and teaching school and being a secretary, both good professions but not the ones I wanted. Then finally breaking into management, only to be asked to train my new boss . . a young recent college graduate (male); then being offered a sales position . . . again the only female. . . being watched to see if I would fail; then management at a new company, again the only female; then a consulting role at yet another company, with clients questioning why they were assigned to the woman; then starting a business . . . .with no mentor and no support and difficulty getting business loans.
I have never grieved for the woman who had to face all these difficulties alone, who was often ridiculed, set up for failure. I had not “noticed” the pain of those days. Only after facing that pain could I look at this election from a more neutral position. Now, with the latest loss in Wisconsin, my reaction is to accept it, recognize that Hillary is still in the running, and get to work to help her win. The emotional baggage, which wasn’t very helpful, is gone.
Hillary Clinton is doing her best to present her credentials as a seasoned, qualified leader, while many of us are carrying emotional baggage and projecting it on to her. Whether we are for Hillary or against Hillary, we need to take a second look at the real reasons for our decision. We need to separate our stuff from her stuff.
I have been on the phones for the Hillary Clinton campaign and I have talked with many women who are supporting Hillary. I have also talked with many who are not. You can’t imagine the comments I have heard from women opposed to Hillary. The phone is anonymous, and people feel entitled to say what they wish. I know that most of these women are angry with someone other than Hillary. But Hillary is the one who they project it on to. Maybe they are angry because they didn’t have the opportunities that she has had. Maybe they are feeling a dead-end in their own lives. Maybe they chose a path that Hillary didn’t choose and they resent her for her choice. Maybe they were taught to “be nice” and do the “right” thing. Maybe they are trying to please their husbands or boy friends. Maybe they are angry with their mothers. Whatever the reason, most of these projections go unexamined. She is too winey or too much like a man. She shouldn’t have stayed with Bill. . . . .and on and on.
We have an opportunity to make history. Hillary is the most qualified person to run for president during my lifetime. Hillary Clinton is a woman who has worked intensely at everything she has done, a woman who listens and has the ability to make policy that reflects the needs of her constituents. a woman not afraid of power but able to wield it fairly and appropriately.
Will women find the will to unite behind one of their own or will they do the easy thing, the popular thing, the hyped-up thing? Will women find their own center of power and their own voice in this primary election before it is too late? This is the question I keep asking myself. Women are more than half the population and there are still nearly 1200 electoral votes yet to be awarded, not counting super delegates. We are far from finished. Why do we represent ourselves so poorly? Why do we give up so easily? Why do we believe the media and the big mo? We have a long way to go to make history. Hillary Clinton is our best opportunity.