Mike* is a 25-year-old man from Seattle, Washington. He is also an unabashed fan of Hillary Clinton, and has been since the moment her 2016 presidential campaign kicked off.
“It’s all about experience and preparation. Hillary has been involved in politics on a national level for decades,” Mike told The Huffington Post.
“I’m very enthusiastic,” he added. “I’m all in for Hillary.”
It’s a sentiment you don’t hear a lot from young men, at least not in the media. Bernie had his “bros.” Trump has his. As for Hillary, well, she’s got women, the story goes ― and mostly older ones. (After all, as NPR reports, this election is poised to have the biggest gender voting divide in more than 60 years.)
But voters like Mike who are a) young b) men and c) enthusiastic Clinton fans? They’re seldom spoken of, unless it’s to express veiled surprise that, yes, a fair number of men support her candidacy. And while Clinton may not need the male millennial vote to win or “legitimize” her candidacy, it’s important to complicate the narrative that her success as a candidate rests solely on the shoulders of women ― especially because women bear the brunt of abuse for publicly supporting her.
Because many young millennial men do, of course, support Clinton, and some are becoming increasingly vocal about their enthusiasm as the general election inches into view. HuffPost Women spoke to several of them, and here’s what they had to say.
I’m with Sanders her
Many of Clinton’s vocal fans used to support Bernie Sanders. Sean Sanford, 29 ― also from Washington ― “jumped on the Bernie Bandwagon” early in the Democratic primary, he says, then switched his allegiance to Clinton after Sanders endorsed her. He’s not necessarily enamored with her personality, but he likes her platform.
“I’m allergic to the kind of support that is personality-based,” Sanford said. “I like to think that my decisions are more policy-based ... and I find that I am becoming more vocal in support of her policies. I find myself trying to convince friends and family to vote for her rather than not vote at all.”
She is the most qualified for the job. - Danial, 26
Danial*, 26, was also a Sanders supporter, voting for him in the Ohio Democratic primary. But he was never a diehard “Bernie bro,” he says, and when it became clear Sanders was not going to win the nomination, Danial also threw his support behind Clinton.
“She is the most qualified for the job. I’m not as enthusiastic as I was about Barack Obama, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she is reasonable and really qualified to handle the position,” he said.
Danial has been in an ongoing argument with his brother, who was also a Sanders supporter and now intends to vote for Trump. Seeing his brother’s conversion has compelled him to speak out in favor of Clinton.
“I always thought people would look at how Trump behaves and how he treats others, and his positions on his key issues and they’d think, ‘OK, I can’t support this guy. I may not be thrilled with Hillary, but at least she’s a stable candidate ― stable person,’” he said. “And I’m just not seeing that. It became really terrifying, almost, with my brother, because you can point out all the flaws that disqualify [Trump] from being president, and it’s like he doesn’t care. He just doesn’t care.”
Others, like Mike, say they’ve taken heat from friends and families for being Clinton supporters all along. At times during the Democratic primary campaign, he found the amount of pro-Sanders/anti-Clinton rhetoric being expressed in his social media circles almost “overwhelming.” He was surprised that people in his life simply assumed that as a liberal, millennial man living in uber-liberal Seattle, he would support Sanders without question.
“At a certain point I said, you know what? I try to avoid being overly political in my social media presence, but I want to make a stand,” Mike said.
The response was mixed. Friends who were Sanders supporters commented questioning Clinton’s authenticity. Some questioned Mike’s personal “authenticity” as a progressive. Others messaged him privately on Facebook, admitting that they were Clinton supporters, too, but they weren’t necessarily willing to talk about it openly.
A glimpse at the double standard
Mike adds that the experience of supporting Clinton has made him even more aware of just how difficult it is to be a woman in power.
“Guys like Trump can raise their voice and say all kinds of incendiary things, and Bernie can mess his hair up and wave his arms in the air,” he said. “If Hillary did those things, she would get a lot more criticism for how she presents herself. As a woman in power, seeking to hold the nation’s highest office, she has to find this very fine balance.”
When I talk to people about [Hillary Clinton's] success, they will quickly attribute it to her powerful husband. But if you dig in and study her life and accomplishments, you see that every inch of progress she’s made has been earned. Dave, 28
Dave,* 28, a vocal Clinton supporter from New York who admits he sometimes feels like an outlier, says that when he talks to people who are anti-Clinton about why he personally supports her, they tend to diminish her accomplishments.
“When I talk to people about her success, they will quickly attribute it to her powerful husband. But if you dig in and study her life and accomplishments, you see that every inch of progress she’s made has been earned, and every time she’s gotten knocked down, she has gotten right back up,” he said. Dave likens her to the protagonists in the sports movies he grew up loving, like Rocky and Rudy ― a true underdog who has persevered and is on the cusp of what was once thought of as impossible.
Then there’s Joshua Inocencio, 26, from Texas, who was a fan of both Sanders and Clinton early on in the primary season, but as of last fall became a full-fledged Clinton supporter. He is gay, and got into arguments with friends who objected to Clinton’s changing position on same-sex marriage, among other things. But ultimately Inocencio was swayed by her policies and by her gender.
“I really value someone who is as detailed as she is on how she is going to accomplish everything. She’s a policy wonk, and that’s what I look for when I look at candidates,” he said. He’s found it striking that many voters will support a candidate, like Trump, who is inexperienced politically while Clinton must be extremely qualified.
“I do think that some ― not all, but some ― of the vitriol against Clinton does have to do with the fact that she’s a woman. Policy-wise and culturally, we do not treat women well in this country. Having a woman become the most powerful person in the world will be hugely significant,” he said.
“You know, in 2008 any time a prominent African-American voted for Obama, there was [this idea] of, ‘Well of course they voted for him, because they’re both black.’ ... People are already saying the same thing about Clinton and women,” he said. “On the one hand, it’s not surprising because she is centralizing important issues, like equal pay and women’s health. So it’s important that women are supporting Hillary. And it’s important for me, and for any man who is supporting her, to say that.”
Or, as Reductress reminds us: You can vote for Clinton and still keep your d*ck.
* Only first names have been used to protect anonymity.