July 7, 2016
By Berkeley Mashburn
On the 6th of June, Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States. I spent that night on the couch, watching the news coverage with my parents and celebrating a moment I’d hoped to see since I became eligible to vote three years ago. For me, Clinton’s presumptive nomination represents the possibility that someone who understands what it is like to be a woman in America will hold our country’s highest office.
I have been planning on voting for Clinton if she ran for President for quite some time. Two summers ago, I saw her speak at the Long Center, promoting her memoir Hard Choices, and my high school best friend and I laughed when Clinton claimed she didn’t want to run for election in 2016. She described her new all-important position as grandmother as fulfilling enough for her. Despite this claim, we were twice as sure she would run for office after hearing her speak and twice as excited to cast our ballots.
The simplest answer to why I will vote for Clinton in the fall is her experience. She has had exposure to the power and responsibility of the President as both First Lady and Secretary of State, and served the State of New York diligently in the Senate, protecting democratic values.
Her presidency would also mean a great deal to me because she is
someone with the power to make progress for women in America. Last week, Senator Wendy Davis came to speak with the fellows of the Kirk Watson Campaign Academy. Senator Davis, whom we all admire for her efforts to protect women’s health in Texas, spoke to us about the idea of “reflective democracy” and spoke of how, if elected, Clinton would bring to the presidency for the very first time the knowledge of what it is like to be a woman in America, just as Obama brought the knowledge of what it is like to be African-American to the White House.
This idea also helped me to justify that it is okay to vote for Clinton in part because she is a woman. No matter how much we educate ourselves about other people or aim to understand their struggles, we can never really put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Just as I will never understand what it is like to be African-American, Muslim or LGBTQ in America, the past forty-four Presidents have been unable to understand what it is like to be a woman in America. Clinton’s history of advocating for women at all political levels, and her personal experience as a woman, reassure me that she will be able to address with care the concerns of women in America.
Watching Hillary Clinton battle Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party’s nomination since the beginning of this year has been entertaining, frustrating and exhilarating for me. Although I have immense respect for Senator Sanders and the movement created by his campaign, I am incredibly grateful that Hillary Clinton has the chance to make history as the first female President of the United States. I look forward to casting my ballot for her, so that she may use her extensive experience to serve our country, and the needs and rights of American women, well.