Hillary Clinton is my Patronus
“She’s just not inspiring.” “I want to like her but I don’t.” “Bernie is just so much more real.” “I know this is terrible, but I’m still mad at her for staying with him.”
At best, my friends are lukewarm about Hillary. At worst, they pitch her as a calculating, has-been political hack. I get it and yet I don’t. Hillary sees us as we are when we want her to see us as we could be. The revolution she promises is more quiet than loud, because she’s already tried that. She’s no Obama-style orator preaching change. Her promise is more raw than that, more real than that. Her passion simmers intensely under a cool, controlled surface. Her life story is a stream of hard, human choices. This quiet ferocity, strength of mind, and sacrifice for her values and her country is why Hillary Clinton is my patronus.
1. Hillary is the LBJ to Obama’s JFK
What America needs most right now is a brilliant political strategist, and I’m willing to sacrifice inspiring oration to get it. We need someone who can defend our gains, who knows how to twist the balls of Congress enough to make them uncomfortable. The dirty work of political defense and appointment-making is nasty, messy, and requires compromise. Hillary won’t hesitate to jump in — she never has. When Congress blocked her proposed revolutionary health care reform in the 1990’s, she got back up and passed CHIP. When she lost to Obama in 2008, she got back up and became Secretary of State. When the Senate grilled her on Benghazi, she schooled them with her poise, humor, and strength. She survived a White House sex scandal of epic proportions and became a viable candidate for President of the United States. Better than anyone in this race, she knows how to take blows, how to fight in the mud, and still, every time, come out on top.
Bernie acts like compromise is unnecessary, like it’s beneath him, like we can achieve his dream with all fight and no scars. I like him but I don’t believe him. The road ahead of us is hard and uncomfortable, and only Hillary has the strategic chops and workhorse mentality to be the president our time needs. I aspire to have a mind as strong and skin as thick as she does.
2. This is what a feminist (policy agenda) looks like
Hillary’s policy agenda is the most feminist our country has ever seen. I read through it and say “Yes, Yes, YES!” This is the America I want to live in! Paid family leave, affordable childcare — these are important economic issues facing millennial families, men and women, and we’re only talking about them because Hillary made them priorities. Hillary is also the only candidate who has anything to say about the epidemic of violence against women. To my friends — too many of you to count — who I’ve cried with or witnessed as you bravely shared your survival stories, Hillary says, “I see you.” She says your daughters and sons shouldn’t have to live in a world where what happened to you is normal. Her plan to end campus sexual assault is treated like any other important policy item, with thoughtfulness, clear actions, and its own line on the policy agenda.
A lovably bumbling Bernie has called Planned Parenthood “the establishment.” He lumps “women’s issues” into one policy bucket as if we were a minority special interest. He hasn’t yet learned what Hillary has known forever — that an investment in women and families is an investment in America. She refuses to let these issues languish on the back burner. How can we label her “politically expedient” when her leadership here is so clearly passion-led? This is what a policy agenda looks like when a pro-woman woman is in the seat of power!
3. She’s a foreign policy powerhouse and a true diplomat
Imagine Bernie (or Trump, Cruz, or Rubio for that matter) negotiating peace in the Middle East. Enough said.
4. She is more authentic and more courageous than any other candidate
This is where I lose you. To you, authenticity is about speaking a passionate truth like Bernie does, about connecting emotionally and falling in love. I hear you. I too yearn for a Hillary that doesn’t have to be so careful. And then I remember she is a woman aspiring to the most powerful seat in our nation. Unlike her opponents, Hillary can’t afford to yell. She’s not allowed to cry. She must walk an exceedingly narrow line between competence and likeability, assertiveness and warmth. The penalty for a misstep is a level of vitriol other candidates simply don’t face.
We must acknowledge that the rules are different for a woman audacious enough to try to lead the free world. We ask her to control her emotions, but then we call her ‘cold’ and ‘calculating’ when she does. That’s a cop-out. If Hillary said what she really thought, she would likely rail on us for our stupidity about health care, the disgusting greed of Wall Street, the rampant, blatant racism and misogyny in media. She would flat out woman-rage. And then we would collectively recoil at being yelled at by mom. A fired-up woman is too emotional, too crazy. Instead, we have to read her passion through her priorities. We have to see her fierceness in her life choices. We have to listen to what she’s not saying.
If you’re wondering what Hillary really cares about, what makes her insane enough to suffer through the endless misogyny and hatefulness we throw at her, just look to what she won’t compromise: women and families. She sees them as the rock of our nation, the heart of our economic engine, the soul of our America. Our unconscious sexism is lightly veiled in our resistance to being inspired by her, and she puts up with it because she believes so fiercely in the raw promise of our people.
Hillary Clinton is my patronus not only because of what she’s achieved, but because of what she’s endured. I aspire to channel her fierceness, her courage, her brilliance, her resilience. I admire her unshakeable love for an America that refuses to love her back. Despite it all, Hillary is still raising her hand to do the real, hard, messy work that America needs right now.
I’m over the idea that I should vote for Hillary because Bernie can’t win. It’s offensive. I’m voting for Hillary because she’s the smartest, most effective, most courageous goddamned human for the job. I can’t wait to call her my president.
*Edited to reflect excellent feedback on why “spirit animal” is cultural appropriation. #acknowledgingmyprivilege