By Leora Lihach, President’s Office Intern
During this election year, I think our country resembles a scene you couldn’t make up—a case of life being stranger than fiction. Let’s take a look: An African American president is struggling against a Republican-dominated Congress, and the Supreme Court’s most right-wing Justice bid us farewell in almost poetic timing. Meanwhile, a woman is fighting her way to be the first of her gender in the presidency and might very well end up running against the one-and-only Donald Trump… I wonder if our forefathers, innocently products of their time, could ever have imagined a day like today.
While driving home from a rally event, President of NOW Terry O’Neill emphasized to me and a fellow intern that we will be “wise beyond our years” as the movement leaders in future elections. We will have invaluable knowledge because of this election right now. We are the perfect age during the craziest political scene.
In this election, I am reminded of how privileged we are to have the power of a vote. Never forget: we each have a recognized right to decide for ourselves who we think is fit to lead. I encourage everyone to embrace that right and express enthusiasm for who they support.
At the risk of inspiring a flood of criticism, I dare to assert with conviction that I support Hillary Clinton. In fact, I welcome disagreement, as that is the very essence of democracy. However, I will also take my rightful time here to explain my decision to support her.
As a Gender Studies student, I have gone through college studying visionaries who fought hard to assert women’s leadership potential. I think Hillary’s qualifications are self-evident. She has an incredible breadth of experience in both national and international affairs. As a former Secretary of State, she is a global networker, committed to building bridges across borders. But what inspires me the most as a feminist is the conviction she demonstrated in asserting worldwide that women’s rights are human rights.
I know in my heart that feminism is about the empowerment of all oppressed groups. By asserting that women’s rights are human rights, Hillary embraced this understanding of inclusivity and she has long been an advocate for minority issues. She has asserted that LGBTQ rights are also human rights, has been a fighter against racial discrimination, a leading proponent of children’s rights at the Children’s Defense Fund… the list goes on. With this champion of inclusivity as president, I believe our New Wave Feminism will soar to new heights. Our diverse and inclusive movement for everyone’s equality will make new strides.
Nation after nation has celebrated the victory of a female president, but I was born into a country that never knew one. I want the children I have someday to say otherwise. I want to see my gender in the highest elected office of the United States not just in my lifetime, but before my children’s lifetime. And finally, there’s a real chance that a woman will lead this country.
But it is not enough for me that Hillary would be the first female president. Until recently, I myself was undecided. I want our first woman in the presidency to be the right woman, and I had to do some thinking before I decided that could be Hillary.
So I would be the first to understand that the sentiments of many millennials are not in support of Hillary. And I hope those individuals are making that decision based on her policies. That is all anyone can ask of a voter. I applaud all those millennials who are proud to express their support for Bernie Sanders. And I applaud all those millennials who are undecided because they are carefully thinking this decision through. I know this generation to be one of so many intelligent individuals—I am a firm believer in them.
My warning is to all those who support a candidate in silence. We can see looking at any successful campaign that what carries a candidate to victory is widespread enthusiastic support. It’s not just your vote that matters—it’s what you say, what you post, what you write. It’s how proudly you bear the badge of a Hillary supporter or a Bernie supporter. Criticism will undoubtedly follow, but I urge everyone to have thick skin. Have a dialogue with those who are open-minded and agree to disagree with those who are not. In this election, it is more important than ever to show excitement for who you support.
We get to determine our nation’s future, so let us elect the right person to lead. And let us do so not with a silent vote, nor with heated attacks against those who we oppose, but with resonating positivity for who we support. Let us show the world how we make democracy work.
Let us make some history of which to be proud.