I tried to like Hillary. I really did. By all rights I should be one of her staunchest supporters. I am a feminist woman. I loved Bill Clinton. He was the one who inspired me to take an interest in Politics.
I gave birth to my only child just two months before Election Day in 1992. I was a single mom at a time when the Republicans were campaigning on a platform of family values which condemned people like me (and Murphy Brown.) I remember feeling that the leaders of my country condemned, rather than supported me. It was a defining period in my life.
Bill brought politics into the realm of the common man. He got the attention of the MTV generation. He reminded minorities of their voice. During the first six years of his presidency the policies of his legislation served to better the lives of working people.
Of course I wanted to support Hillary.
But she has let me down. Over and over again. Every time I hear her speak she angers me more. Hillary is campaigning from a position of power that her husband afforded her. It is almost as if Bill got everyone to listen, but now Hillary only wants to talk to the important people.
It is now 15 years after the 1992 elections and 8 years after the Republicans regained control. During the past 8 years I have witnessed my country being ridiculed and being attacked. I have watched our economy suffer. I have seen the middle class failing and the poor getting poorer.
15 years later and I am still struggling to make ends meet. I never qualified for any government aid which would have afforded me a leg-up. In 2001 I was earning only $8 an hour - too much to qualify for help with my $600/mo.day care bill; too much to qualify for food stamps. I had no health insurance.
I am now one of the lucky people who has employer provided health care, yet in 2007 my out- of-pocket healthcare expenses exceeded 33% of my income. I am working full time, attending school, paying my taxes and supporting my son alone, yet my standard of living is not improving. There have been times when my hope for the future has waned.
I am excited about this election! Once again I am hearing a candidate tell me I matter. Barack Obama reminds us that even if we do not make a lot of money; even if we are not a part of the political elite; even if we are feeling oppressed, powerless, betrayed by our country and just plain worn out, there is hope.
Obama tells us there is hope for the future, but first we need to enact some change. He is the fresh voice that inspires us to care again; to believe in the dream again. He was not raised in a solely American "white bread" environment of safety and presumed success. He was raised in different cultures, both geographically and within the U.S. He is a bi-racial man who through hard work gained entrance to, and succeeded in, the very waspy world of Ivy League. His determination and his capacity for hope have enabled him to attain a position of respect within the political realm. Thus far he has served well for the people he represents. He appears to have earned every opportunity; honoured every commitment in both his professional and personal life; and done so with dignity, honour and the absence of scandal. There is no doubt that he is a noble man.
It is time to restore some dignity and nobility to the office of the President. Bill's presidency ended amidst much scandal and national embarrassment. George Bush need only to speak and he becomes the butt of many jokes. Our administration has become, at times, an embarrassment.
We are currently engaged in a war with a country whose culture believes women are beneath men. Do we really want to place a woman in the highest office of our land now? Will that make us appear strong to those we are in opposition with? I strongly believe the office of the President should be held by the most qualified candidate regardless of race, gender or religion. I also recognize that at this time the best candidate is not a woman.
It is not about furthering a non-discriminatory agenda in the U.S. It is not about women's rights in our culture. It is about having a leader who will be viewed with respect and authority by the rest of the world. Sadly, in the countries we are currently in opposition with, that person will not be a woman.
I have looked at the platforms of both candidates. Hillary's website lists 14 important issues, including strengthening the middles class, but the word poverty does not appear amongst them. On the issue of poverty, Obama's ideas address crime in our communities, responsible fatherhood and most importantly, an increase in the minimum wage. Hillary promotes more tax credits, fixing the housing market and making college affordable. The truly poor in America do not have the luxury of considering college options or affordable mortgage rates. They are merely trying to meet their most basic needs of clothing, food and shelter. Hillary appears to have forgotten about the people of our lowest financial class. Likewise, her health plan focuses on tax credits for working families and small businesses, but seems to largely ignore the needs of the unemployed and impoverished. I have health insurance, but I still cannot afford the out of pocket expenses of ever increasing health care costs. Minimum wage is $5.85/hour and gas currently hovers around $3/gallon. Therefore, a minimum wage earner uses an entire day's pay just to fill up his/her car. A single gallon of milk costs more than an hour of his/her pay. Something is terribly wrong with this picture!
For those who say Hillary's experience in the political realm, via having been married to the president qualifies her to do the job I ask: If you need surgery, are you going to have the wife of the Surgeon perform it? She may have scheduled his appointments, kept his office efficient, dealt with his patients, and been respected by his colleagues - but she never actually did the "doctoring" now did she? Ditto the wife of the president. Sure, Hillary is more qualified than me, but certainly not any of her opponents.
Let's talk about conviction. Obama opposed the war. Hillary initially voted yes, but has since changed her mind. Recently, as she is asking us to ignore her record on the war, she also produced a touchy-feely commercial about how she will "never forget" those fighting for us. Supporting our troops is a very good thing, but what Hillary is doing is pandering to both sides of the fence. It is a good tactical measure - stroking the soldiers while backtracking on her record regarding what they are fighting for. This exemplifies why I do not support her candidacy. I want a leader who will hold strong to the convictions and promises he/she stands for regardless of public opinion. I do not want apologies for having made tough decisions. I want someone who owns their actions, regardless of popularity. Hell, George Bush may be an ass, but he has never felt the need to apologize for it. I may not agree with what he believes, but I do believe he stands behind it.
Lastly, there is the issue of loyalty. Hillary recently fired her Campaign Manager. This woman had been supporting her, promoting her and working extremely hard for her. Public opinion of Hillary, the Candidate, was turning. So what does Hillary do? She blames someone else. Rather than own her platform and address its problems; rather than work harder with those working for her; rather than turn to her staff and resolve to overcome... she punishes a scapegoat. Do we want a leader who abandons her supporters when the going gets tough?
This is what it all comes down to: commitment, integrity, loyalty, and the ability to listen and to work through the tough times. Obama has consistently said to us, "Let your voices be heard," whereas Hillary has only said, "Listen to me." Obama is a candidate who offers us hope for our own futures rather than merely reminding us of the glories of his past. He has made me believe in the potential of my country again, and that is more than enough reason to give him my vote.