Why I'm a Traitor to My Millennial Generation

sen. hillary clinton  speaks at ...
sen. hillary clinton speaks at ...

On Tuesday when I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton in the California Democratic primary, I officially became a traitor to my generation. Unofficially I became a traitor last fall.

When I came to college, I was excited at the prospect of having intellectual discussions and debates about all of the Democratic candidates. (Republicans? Please! I go to the school with fourth-most liberal students in America, according to the Princeton Review.) I knew that I supported Hillary, but all those admissions brochures told me that being open-minded is what would make me a scholar. I was ready to be challenged and inspired.

In October, I carried my idealism with me to a viewing party of the first Democratic debate held in the basement of our college's auditorium. I was excited when I saw the room was almost filled to capacity. But that night wasn't about informing opinions. It was a Bernie Sanders rally masked as a primary-debate viewing party. Everything Bernie said was met with cheers and applause. Hillary was booed more than all the other candidates combined.

Not that I could hear much of the debate. The Bernie Bros behind me had brought in a couple of six-packs, and evidently were taking a sip every time Bernie said something against the machine.

Of course, most of Bernie's supporters treated the other candidates with respect. But, after 19 years of consuming political coverage like football, I've learned the loudest voices are the only ones that are heard. I left the debate, realizing that I needed to keep the whole "Hillary thing" under wraps.

I spent the rest of my freshman year brooding behind closed doors. Every time someone would bring up Bernie, I'd do everything I could to deflect to our common distaste of the Donald. I'd smile and compliment Bernie on everything I agreed with him on, such as ending the student debt crisis. I said everything I could to make it sound as if I were supporting him, without uttering those words.

When a student journalist asked if he could interview me for story about first time voters, I told him that I didn't want to take political stances. Since I'm writing this, I know my refusal had more to do with not wanting to be "bernied" at the stake.

While the Hillary supporters stayed hidden in the shadows, the Bernie kids began a grassroots campaign on our campus. They lived up to our institution's legacy of political activism and engagement. There was a weekly Bernie Sanders phone bank. Students canvassed both classrooms and dorm rooms, encouraging us to register to vote. There was even a shuttle arranged to take students to a nearby Bernie rally.

The Bernie supporters on my campus held up their end of the bargain. They started a conversation. But we, the young Hillary supporters of the millennial generation, mostly stayed silent. I guess I was afraid that by supporting Hillary, I wasn't "liberal" enough. There's a certain stigma attached to young women who support Hillary. The charge is we are voting for her because she's a woman. If I am a true millennial and feminist, the argument goes, I shouldn't be so provincial.

Recently, I've realized that as a daughter of women like Susan B. Anthony it is my responsibility to speak out against this stigma. We've never had a woman president, let alone a woman presidential nominee. Supporting Hillary isn't just supporting a symbol. It's supporting the idea that having a woman as president knocks down a historic gender barrier. My generation of millennial women hasn't experienced the same prejudices as our mothers did, but we've not had a free ride either.

So until we live in an America where women are paid the same as men, where violence against women is a thing of the past, where I feel safe walking alone at night, I'm fine with telling anyone who asks that I'm voting for Hillary both because she has the right positions on issues and because she's a woman.

And if that makes me a "reverse sexist," that's fine by me as well.