"Why are people so tired of Hillary?"
It wasn't a surprising question, coming from one of my 22-year-old daughter's college roommates over dinner in Madison, Wisconsin. I answered easily: because Hillary's been in public service so long, because her every move has been scrutinized for decades, because you can't be in the public spotlight for as long as she has and still be as exciting as someone new and different. Our conversation continued on to the more alarming and eye-popping aspects of this election season.
That night, as I was falling asleep in our hotel room overlooking Lake Mendota, my husband had a news program on. I drifted off with a continuo of Donald, Hillary, Ted and Bernie in my ear. Here is the nightmare I had that night:
I was in a business setting of the type I'd been in virtually every day of a 35-year career as a corporate executive, a Chief Legal Officer to three public companies, a partner in a law firm, and as a public servant at high levels of state and local government. In my dream, I had worked long and hard to accomplish some critically important meeting. I don't know what it was, but it had been my idea and had required a great deal of energy and creativity and coalition building and hard work. I was ready for anything, except for what happened. At the last minute, I was told I could not attend. It was one of those Kafkaesque situations where any reasonable person would agree that I had been dealt a grave injustice at the hands of my superiors, yet nobody in my dreamscape gave it a second thought. And here's the kicker: the more I tried to lobby or explain the injustice or enlist others' sympathy, the more repellent I became. Not only had I been treated unjustly, nobody wanted to hear about it. I was a pain in the neck. I was tiresome.
I woke with that unpleasant, if not entirely novel, feeling. As I stood under the scalding shower, trying to shake it, I had an epiphany. Why are people so tired of Hillary? Because she's been fighting for her place and her due her entire adult life. Any woman who's had to fight the same fight, over and over, year after year, becomes tiresome.
It's an old saw that our culture appreciates aggressive perseverance in men, but in women? With women, it's don't make us uncomfortable, don't be our mothers, don't scold, don't be our consciences, don't remind us of injustice, don't make us feel bad. For heaven's sake, don't hold up a mirror, we don't want to see it. Above all, stop nagging. When did you last hear a man described as a nag? Has anyone ever described an enjoyable woman that way?
I'm a lifelong Democrat, and a long-time admirer of Hillary Clinton. I voted for Obama in 2008, though, and this time around, while I certainly am supporting Hillary, I wasn't feeling much passion about it. That changed last week under the shower in that Madison hotel. I can be passionate about Hillary for continuing to fight for the things that matter to her, for continuing to fight for her deserved place in the political and governmental firmament, for continuing to fight for good and practical and achievable solutions rather than spouting high-flying, vague rhetoric, for simply continuing to fight. For not getting exhausted. For not getting fed up and walking away.
Shame on Susan Sarandon and others who snarkily say they "don't vote with their vaginas." Hillary's gender shouldn't be the only factor in choosing a candidate, but it should be a factor. Our culture will change when America catches up with most of the western world and finally elects a woman president. More important, when you consider the candidates' characters, make sure you consider that Hillary has shown steadiness and grace under attack; has persevered despite having become an icon for all the conservative Right believes is evil; has withstood unparalleled scrutiny and excoriation of her clothes, hair, anatomy and weight; and has continued to be a thoughtful, intelligent advocate for positions formed in the crucible of long, hard, experience.
I went back to college and found some enlightenment. So thank you to the young women who, by asking why everyone is so tired of Hillary, caused me to realize that I am not.