Sunday, August 12, 2007

Go, Hillary, Go!

I’m watching the beginnings of the presidential campaign with a “wait and see” attitude. I’ve long been an admirer of Hillary, in spite of her flaws, yet how strange to find myself leaning toward one of the more conservative candidates in the field.

I discovered this interesting blog, titled “How Dare She?”, which chronicles the ensuing battle between Senators Clinton and Obama. Today I read an article in the Oregonian by a Republican who, along with other conservatives, is beginning to view Sen. Clinton in a much more favorable light. This is why I’m feeling ambivalent.

In reality, I realize that for a woman to win, she will have to be more moderate. Of all of the world’s female leaders, very few of them are abashedly liberal and feminist. Although Hillary does call herself a feminist and has championed the rights of women and children, she voted for funding the war in Iraq and has been less aggressive than I would have liked on the issue of pacificism, for one. For a woman to have a good shot of winning, or even being the Democrats’ candidate, in this day and age, she cannot be too liberal. This is a sad fact, and one I suspect Hillary has learned over her years in politics.

As a candidate and as a person, she has grown tremendously since the “Stand by Your Man” phase. Sadly, when she stopped using “Rodham” as a surname, she must have realized that she would have to adapt her strong personality if she wanted to be a successful political wife and politician in her own stead. I find this to be terribly sad, but a reality in our country. Whether you are a man or a woman, it would be nearly impossible to win if one is too far to the left…and for a woman and a Clinton, even moreso.

I cried along with Pat Schroeder when she withdrew from the race years ago. But surely she was definitely too liberal to win. I still remember going to hear Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro when I was a young 20-year-old, and the excitement of being able to vote for a woman on the ticket in my first presidential election. I adored the show “Commander in Chief” and was devastated when they took it off the air after one season, despite an Emmy Award for Geena Davis.

I would love to see a Clinton-Obama ticket. I think that would be phenomenal…being vice-president would be a great growth opportunity and stepping stone for Obama. And I’m hoping the ticket would draw the young and apathetic away from their iPods and into the voting booths (or to their mailboxes, in Oregon).

Even though I haven’t always agreed with the decisions the Clintons have made or their approach to things, I am very excited about the prospect of being able to vote for a woman in this election. A few years ago I read Hillary Clinton’s memoir Living History and it only increased my respect for her. In the back of my mind, I’m a bit worried about whether she is “electable” in the red states. As much as I hate to admit it, maybe it’s a good thing that the conservatives are viewing her more favorably.

However, just as I got ready to post this entry, I saw an article in Yahoo about the number of Democrats who are afraid that Clinton’s campaign is going to drag others down and hurt Democrats overall. They say that her unpopularity will be too hard to overcome. That is discouraging. I fear that Democrats’ polarization and lack of unity could hurt us in the end.
With the recent horrible decisions coming out of the Supreme Court (the most recent of which the judgment against Lily Ledbetter in the Goodyear Tire Company discrimination case), we desperately need a Democrat in the White House more than ever before. I have confidence that Hillary Clinton would do her best to restore justice to the Supreme Court and pay attention to the plight of underprivileged women and children. Maybe she would reach out to Muslims and find a way to bring some peace into this violent world. And maybe, just maybe, I could travel outside of the United States and not be ashamed of being an American.

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