For context, read the preface.
1) She is the most qualified candidate, period, just in terms of her résumé.
Even leaving off everything up to the early ’90s, she’s had a front-row seat for two successful Presidential campaigns, and mounted a very strong campaign for the Democratic nomination. She lived in the White House for 8 years, and traveled around the world with the president. Where other First Ladies have mostly chosen politically inoffensive charity work to occupy their time, she made developing a universal health care plan her pet project. (It did not go well, mostly because the country wasn’t even ready to talk about that. We can talk about it as easily as we do now because she brought it to the national stage 20 years ago.) When she ran for senator, a lot of people argued she’d gotten above her station, since they believed the non-office of FLOTUS was mostly a matter of “serving tea to ambassadors.” She was elected anyway, and served as senator of a state with a diverse population of nearly 20 million people, including a city of 8 million. Then, when she ran for president in 2008, the “serving tea” line came around again, regarding her lack of substantive foreign policy experience. So you know what Hillary Clinton did? Hillary Clinton got the man who was her rival mere moments before to make her Secretary of Fucking State.
2) Please append “and she did it while enduring vicious, relentless, often ludicrous attacks from the right” to basically every accomplishment I mention here. She’s been vetted beyond belief. There really was a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and she survived it. She’s still surviving it. She doesn’t fall down. She doesn’t even wobble.
3) She’s nakedly ambitious. This is a frequent criticism of her, as though it’s a quality some other candidates for President of the United States lack. Personally, I love it. I love seeing what it looks like when a woman refuses to be told what she cannot do, again and again, at higher and higher levels.
4) She has a brilliant mind. Even her opponents acknowledge this.
5) I believe she sincerely cares about women, children, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, queer people. I believe she cares, in a bone-deep way, about improving lives. I can’t prove this, obviously—I’ve never even met her. But I believe it, and I think that’s one of the biggest differences between me and a lot of people who agree with me politically on a zillion points, but can’t stand her.
If you believe she’s a slick narcissist/sociopath who cares about nothing but gaining power for its own sake, of course you’re not going to vote for her. If you believe her real interests lie only with the 1%, or that she’s by nature a warmonger, of course you should oppose her. I don’t believe those things. And you’d think that would be too obvious to mention, but a lot of folks seem to think I just don’t know much about her, or haven’t given the “evidence” for their animosity toward her enough thought.
I know. I have. And still, I reject the idea that she’s secretly Cruella de Vil. I find her both genuinely likable and as sincere as any politician—which is to say, not entirely by a long shot, but close enough on the things that matter most to me. Perhaps history will show that I was hopelessly naïve. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I know as much about her as a stranger can. This is my conclusion.
6) She is not her husband. To be fair, I voted for him once, and though I was two months shy of my 18th birthday the first time he ran for president, I would have voted for him then. But today, if Bernie were running against a Bill Clinton who hadn’t already served two terms, I would probably vote for Bernie.
Some will say this proves that that if you made Hillary a man, I wouldn’t vote for her. Sound the reverse sexism klaxon and declare a winner! (Hint: It’s not the woman.) I would refer those so inclined back to my opening remarks about developing a deep understanding of sexism before you can discuss this election knowledgeably.
If you made Hillary a man, she would not be Bill Clinton. She would still be an entirely different person from him (albeit one who lacks personal experience of sexism and the embodied experience of being a woman, which are among the many things I do find worth considering). Failing to recognize that a husband and wife are two separate people, and that it’s accordingly possible to admire one more than the other, is a really basic, 101-level sexist foul. (Yes, even when they ran on a “two-for-one” platform more than 20 years ago, when she was not the candidate.)
7) Related: She has never been president before. Again, you’d think this was too obvious to mention, but I swear, people act like they’re confused about it. She was not president in the ’90s. “The Clintons” were not president. William Jefferson Clinton was. Hillary did not sign bills into law. She did not hold executive power. She did not fuck Monica Lewinsky. As you’ve gathered by now, I think she would make an excellent president, so I would love to see her do that, instead of watching people simultaneously claim the FLOTUS years produced no accomplishments she can call her own and that she’s already had her turn at the wheel.
8) She does her homework like Hermione Granger on an Adderall bender. What this means is that even if I don’t always agree with her decisions (which I surely will not), I trust that they’ll be thoroughly considered by a sharp mind. It’s something a lot of people, including me, appreciate about President Obama. I look forward to eight more years of the same baseline level of assurance that my president is not A) dumber than me or B) prone to going off half-cocked. We’re all still smarting from the W years.
9) She’s the best candidate on women’s issues. Disagree with me if you like (quietly, to yourself, or anywhere that’s not in my Twitter mentions), but here are some reasons why I believe this.
For starters, if you look at both Clinton and Sanders’s “women’s issues” pages, you’ll see they both promise to do very similar things as president, but Clinton’s also includes a section on what she’s already done. She’s bulletproof on choice, was first to say that she’ll move to repeal the Hyde amendment, and has been the only candidate to bring up abortion or the recent political and physical attacks on Planned Parenthood during a debate. She’s worked domestically and globally to end sexual violence against women and has made one promise regarding campus sexual assault prevention at home that I find really noteworthy: to “increase… education programs that cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school.” It’s the secondary school thing that matters, because a review of 140 sexual assault prevention programs found only two actually worked, and both were aimed at junior high and high school students, not college students. This tells me she’s up to date on best practices, and ready to make policy accordingly.
During her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Clinton said,
Our foreign policy must reflect our deep commitment to help millions of oppressed people around the world. And of particular concern to me is the plight of women and girls, who comprise the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid. If half the world’s population remains vulnerable to economic, political, legal and social marginalization, our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity is in serious jeopardy. The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women’s rights in every country on every continent.
And then, after she was confirmed, the Obama administration created an Office on Global Women’s Issues (reporting to Clinton) and… well, pop over to the Center for American Progress and read about everything that happened for women while she was Secretary of State.
She wants to close the pay gap, invest in child care, and raise the minimum wage. She recognizes the economic damage that bad parental and family leave policies create, and there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll prioritize exposing and resisting the many ways that mothers—and plenty of other people, but let’s be real, mostly mothers—get fucked in the workplace. (I’m not a mother, so I think maybe, possibly, I’m allowed to say that without being accused of talking out my vagina.) I’m going to move on to the next point now, but believe me, I could say a lot more on this one.
10) I cannot imagine anyone who has a better handle on global and domestic affairs than she does. In some ways, this is just reiterating number 1, but it’s not only about a list of accomplishments—it’s about the breadth of knowledge she’s accumulated in that time. Think of all the things she simply won’t need explained to her. That frees up time to get things done—and to learn about new things, and delve into old things with a degree of depth and nuance not available to someone who first needs to be brought up to speed.
11) She has a history of admitting mistakes and, where possible, correcting them. Her vote on the war in Iraq. Gay marriage. Her support of her husband’s disastrous 1994 crime bill. Republicans (and not a few on the left) call this flip-flopping, as though we should prefer someone who reaches the age of 68 without ever changing her mind. Everyone makes mistakes—sometimes grave ones—and that goes double for politicians. What I care about is whether you can recognize that, chip away at your own biases, update your thinking, and do better every day. I think she can and she does.
12) At this writing, the Five Thirty-Eight “Endorsement Primary”—measuring support from congressional representatives, senators, and governors—has Clinton with 466 points, Bernie Sanders with 2, and no Republican candidate with more than 65. The negative take is that that proves she’s “Establishment” as all get-out. The positive take is that the people she’s going to have to work with to make anything happen as president like her a hell of a lot more than anybody else who’s running.
13) I believe she can wipe the floor with any of the Republican candidates in the general election. Obviously, that’s not something anyone can predict with absolute certainty, but I think there’s a great deal of evidence to that effect, from her résumé to her debate skills to her long history of fending off Republican attacks with a fly swatter and a heavy sigh. A lot of Americans truly hate her, beyond all reason. I recognize this. I still think it’s a safe bet she can win easily.
14) Contrary to Rush Limbaugh’s prediction, I love watching her age in public. We so rarely get to see any woman do that.
15) Because her mother was born before American women could vote, and Hillary was born before they could get their own credit, serve on juries, or access reliable birth control. Before they could file a report about sexual harassment in the workplace or rape in the marital bed. When Hillary was born, there had been zero female graduates of Yale Law, only one elected female senator, zero female Secretaries of State, and, ahem, zero female U.S. presidents. And check out the career path she took anyway.
16) Because fuck everyone who ever said she couldn’t or shouldn’t.
17) Because she’s a woman.