I am feeling frustrated and scared, in equal parts. It feels like there's more riding on this year's election than ever before (does it feel like that every year, or do I just have selective election amnesia?) and yet, I feel more disconnect between politicians and the people they claim to be fighting for than ever before. As a mom, I've got more than enough to worry about in my daily life - my kids' education, health care, gas prices, the environment and this endless war... I don't have the time or the inclination to mess around when it comes to politics.
I made up my mind months ago that John Edwards was the best person for the job of leading this country - period. But with the candidate that I truly believed in with my brain and my heart out of the race for President, I have had to ask myself the question "who is the best person to lead this country?" all over again. With the champion of universal health care, education reform, nuclear non-proliferation, the environment and the nation's poor out of the running, I find myself turning towards the candidate who, I think, shares John Edwards' hunger for change, and deep belief in the innate decency of the American people. That candidate is not Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As a woman and a feminist, l feel a profound sense of sadness that I cannot, in good conscience, support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency. Because to me, being a feminist means not only supporting initiatives that improve women’s lives as mothers, workers, caretakers and citizens, it means being a driving force in the quest to better understand women’s roles in our homes, our nation, and in the world. Being a feminist does not mean voting for the only woman in the Presidential race - it means voting for the person who will stand up for all women, and the issues that directly affect us and our families.
Every election women have the chance to be a gale force; to come together and elect the person who will move the country in the direction we want it to go in. But for far too long, we women have gone into the voting booths and based our votes not on policies or programs, but on emotion and personality. We've let our presidents fail us, deny us and our children health care, day care, fair and equal education, and more. In the age of two working parents, consumer debt, and the rising cost of everything, "women's issues" have become family issues, and it's time to vote on those issues - not personalities.
I have another confession to make: this is the first election I've ever voted in that wasn't a no-brainer. I've actually had to do some reading up on the candidates, which, thanks to the power of the internet, was a snap. One of the things that stood out most glaringly during my personal research is that Hillary Rodham Clinton is all spin and almost no substance. Her history of saying one thing and voting another is well documented: just look at her her votes on Iraq, the Patriot Act and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, all things she spoke out against, then voted for. Or look at the campaign she’s running, calling for “change” while using age-old smear tactics to discredit John Edwards’ and Barak Obama's platforms as "false hopes". Or look at her total lack of ability to understand that being a true leader takes more than just “experience” in the field of politics – it takes vision, courage and true belief, not a tendency to “compromise” (read: “sell out”) when the going gets tough.
I respect the fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton is known for her intellect, and her knowledge of issues – she is the ultimate working mom, and she would probably make a pretty good President, especially when compared with our current one. But in 2008, with so much at stake, “pretty good” is not nearly good enough. Choosing to support Barak Obama instead of Hillary Rodham Clinton is the right decision - for me. I believe that Barak Obama's economic and domestic policies will best serve the people of this country - men, women and children. But I encourage women voters to do their own research before committing to their candidates in this election. Because the decision about whom to support must not be based solely on the issue of character or gender; it must also be based on a sense of where and how the candidates will lead us, what kind of vision for America they have, and whether or not they can inspire the American people to fight for the changes they so desperately want, need and hope for.