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I loved the closing of Sunday night’s debate. “Name one positive thing that you respect in one another.”
I reveled in both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s answers.
I love that Donald, the male candidate, was praised for his children and therefor his fatherhood. I love that Hillary, the female candidate, was praised for her toughness and for being a relentless fighter.
It reveals what each gender traditionally values in others, it reveals that we are all capable of those good qualities- male or female. I could go on about my kaleidoscope of thoughts about gender here, but most of all I just enjoyed the good vibe of the moment.
This campaign season has made me wonder- is the only reason I consider myself a democrat… because my parents are both democrats? Why do I privately feel so strongly that #imwithher but publicly I haven’t said much about the election so far?
I very quickly realized that I am very much a democrat. Not just because my parents are, but because Hillary’s platform fits with a vast majority of my beliefs about policy, government and the direction I want our country to go in. On top of that, as Netflix often reminds me, I am clearly drawn to stories with a strong female protagonist.
But how did I become a democrat?
For the first 18 years of my life, I understood politics through the lens of democrats. My parents were both democrats, both vocal and politically active. In Alexandria more broadly, over 70% of registered voters are democrats. That means most of my teachers, soccer coaches, girl scout leaders, church pastors… were also democrats.
That context undoubtedly shaped my point of view.
I remember taking AP Government my senior year of high school, and talking about the two party system with my dad. He explained the big picture on the spectrum of freedom and order:
Broadly, I buy this way of seeing it (of course it’s not true 100% of the time, but it’s helpful for conceptualizing where the two major parties tend to stand) and I think it is largely a good thing that they both live so closely to the center.
It helps to then contextualize the fact that during campaign season, both parties want to paint the other as far from the center as possible… but once it’s time to actually pass laws both parties have to reach across that center dot to make compromises and get stuff done.
1. I mostly prefer laws that allow the federal government to work toward economic order. Most broadly, I believe in “tax and spend.”
Because I have lived in and traveled to plenty of countries that have a truly broken tax system, and I’ve seen the countries and communities it creates. I’ve seen truly broken education systems, truly broken infrastructure, etc.
So, I support paying taxes. I don’t see them as a burden I see them as a way to contribute to my community and my country. I think a fairer tax system in the United States means rich people paying far bigger percentages than people who have far less.
2. I mostly prefer laws that reinforce our social freedoms rather than social restrictions.
Because I don’t see sexuality as black and white and I don’t see marriage as a privilege, it’s a right. I know so many people who are gay, straight, bi-sexual, gay turned straight, straight turned gay- and I think that they should all be able to choose to marry whatever kind of consenting adult they want. Because marriage is a big deal, marriage is awesome, marriage is so deeply personal and profound- it is a civil right, not a privilege. Love is love. I support marriage equality.
Because when I was young and part of a Catholic youth group (even though I was Baptist) I listened to lots of pro-life arguments. I considered them fully. And when I moved to Congo and met my husband’s family I began to appreciate how much new life should be cherished and celebrated no matter what. Period. Full stop. And when I returned to the States I was reminded of the tremendously judgmental culture Americans live in with regard to all the rules around pregnancy. A relative shared with me the harsh words she received when she gave birth, unmarried, her senior year of high school. Walking down the streets of New York City I saw grotesque signs and picketers outside of a planned parenthood- shouting at the women going inside. New life is not cherished and celebrated in America unless you’re married first- in any other context it is shamed. And because I know that we live in that all too real culture of shame I support a woman’s right to choose to have a safe and legal abortion.
Because I’m a history major and know how hard people have fought to prove their worthiness of the right to vote. Because after I graduated from UVA I had no idea that voting rights was still an issue until I started seeing a former classmate on facebook, now a lawyer (shout out to you, Leigh Chapman!) working on the cases of so many disenfranchised Americans. I support all citizens being automatically registered to vote unless they opt out.
I could go on.
What this led me to ask myself next is… if I’m so sure that I’m a democrat, do I really think Hillary is the best possible democratic candidate?
There is no doubt in my mind!
So, why then do I privately feel so strongly that #imwithher but publicly I haven’t said much about the election so far?
I’m not totally sure, to be honest.
I think a small part of it has been a combination of wanting to listen and feeling like I don’t have much to say, yet.
The wanting to listen part is… I often do this thing. If I’m entering a new group of people like a new work place or a new group of friends, I tend to be very quiet. I’ve grown to realize that it’s not so much because I’m shy… it’s more because I like to just listen for a while. See who’s who and understand the dynamics of the group before I open up to reveal who I am. Feels so much safer that way.
The feeling like I don’t have much to say part is… in spaces where plenty is being said already, I tend to not feel the need to contribute. So when I listen to NPR and I read my friends and family’s comments on facebook- it generally feels like everything has already been said! What’s left to add? I don’t know!
So here I am. Finally saying what I think.
I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because I think she’ll make an awesome president.
On top of that: I love her red pantsuit, I love her shimmy, I find her life’s journey inspiring and for the past week I’ve been watching this at least three times every morning while I get ready to go to work: