I listened to the radio today as I drove to work on the set of The Last Man on Earth. I heard a young man in Iowa was trying to decide who to vote for, torn between his head and his heart. His heart wanted Bernie Sanders and his head told him to vote for Hillary Clinton. I found myself wishing that I could meet him and speak to both his head and his heart.
To his head I would say... perhaps I am preaching to the choir here, but think of this. If you laid out each of the Presidential candidate's resumes on a desk, including none of their names or their party or their gender, I really believe that Hillary's staggering breadth of experience in so many different arenas of service would win out. It's hard to imagine a more qualified person in the country, much less in this race, for the White House.
On January 3, 2001 she walked onto the Senate floor to serve the people of New York. The Republicans had done so much spin on what a she-devil to expect that it must have been hard to recognize the person that, as quietly as she could, came into the room. They were surprised by her humor (wasn't part of the character they had been selling) and her willingness to work with them to find mutual solutions (again, not part of the myth.) Strom Thurmond, who had been one of the most vocal Senators against her before he knew her, took to bringing her candy bars because he got a kick out of her. She left the Senate with a lot of respect from both sides of the aisle. Some of them would rather die than admit it publicly, but it is true. Why does that matter? Because working together has become a lost art. An art that lives depend on. President Obama laments the recent lack of it and I suspect that there are sane Republicans who feel the same way. It is a rare person who can defend her and her party's values and still find that elusive pathway toward common ground, resulting in forward movement as opposed to entrenchment. Hillary has done that in spades and she can do it again.
Now to your heart. I can't tell you what to do with that sacred space but I can share something of mine. Hillary Clinton has been one of my dearest, closest friends since I met her in the late '70s. I was in the beginning of my film career. She was the brand new First Lady of Arkansas. I could have been intimidated by her and her towering intellect but it didn't work that way. She didn't invite that for a moment. She was warm and funny and, as I got to know her, both strong and vulnerable. She inspired me to work to change the lives of people in our state and beyond. She had a daughter first and a year later, I had my daughter. We talked about raising girls in a world that wasn't always kind or fair.
Those conversations truly inspired me as a mother. Hillary caused me to see that part of being a good mother was raising the bar for all kids and for the world that our children were brought into. Figuring out ways to do that were frequent conversations among us all back then. And I can still see Hillary, Bill and me, sitting on the counter in the kitchen of the governors mansion, talking of these things late into the night and dreaming big dreams. The talk was not of the acquisition of power, but there was plenty of talk about what you could do with it to change people's lives for the better. Solutions to problems. Figuring it out. If there is a secret to understanding the Clinton's, it is their insatiable drive to find solutions. That might sound Pollyanna-ish, but if you know them, you know that it's true.
My friend Hillary and I have each weathered a lot. And been blessed with even more, particularly our children and grandchildren. (I beat her to that exquisite position which drove her a little crazy.) She has been there as a friend in the darkest moments of my life, judged me the least, advised me the best and has always, always been the owner of one of my favorite and readiest laughs I've ever heard. One that I find myself provoking just 'cause it's fun. In the kitchen counter days, I used to privately dream that Bill would be elected president someday. I remember once thinking about Hillary being president but that idea...that a woman could do such a thing...seemed a million miles away.
So I will vote for Hillary with my head and my heart. I will be hopeful that a woman who does think before she speaks is not completely perceived as "guarded," because a man who thinks before he speaks is called "thoughtful." I will hope that people's hearts are touched by her life of service to this country and even the world, that is second to none. I love that my friend, who has seen many of the world's sorrows, is still outraged about what has happened in Flint, Mich. And that fierceness is true to her. There has been no numbing, no inuring, on her part, to the mountains that people face. I LOVE that she has that edge. And I love that she chooses her words in a world where we hang on every one. Much of what is said about her tells us much more about ourselves; how we all still struggle with what a woman in a position of power is supposed to sound like and be like.
But I want every young woman to be as unafraid of her fantastic potential as my friend, the young Hillary Clinton was, and I wish for all of us grandmothers, the still fierce caring for the world, the beautiful well-earned edges and the impenetrable sense of humor that she has today. True, I'm extremely biased, but it's a bias born of knowing someone for almost forty years. So if that helps your heart at all, you're welcome.