Ready for Hillary, in All Ways

Because I write a lot of positive pieces about Hillary Clinton, without feeling obliged to reflexively insert caveats about how she is not perfect, I'm often accused of thinking she's above criticism. This is not accurate. I am politically left of Hillary and thus have policy disagreements with her on a number of foreign policy issues, like drone warfare, and domestic policy issues, like reparations.

I'm also accused of expecting Clinton to be a perfect president. This, too, is inaccurate. I've been disappointed in some way or many ways by every president for whom I've cast a vote (not to mention the ones for whom I didn't cast a vote), and I fully expect that, if elected, I'll be disappointed by President Hillary Clinton, too.

I'm okay with that. Not just because reality obliges me to be okay with disappointment from my presidents, but because, as lots of people before me have observed, meaningful justice and equality are not just about getting equal opportunities to succeed, but about getting equal opportunities to fail.

Or, more precisely: Equal opportunities to survive failure.

Something that every marginalized person knows is we have fewer chances to fail than straight white able-bodied cisgender men. There will be no excuses made for us, no concerns about how we have families to support, no points for trying. We are not graded on a curve; every test for us is pass-fail.

Further, we are obliged to carry the additional burden of representing our entire demographic. (Especially when we are not part of a team with other members who look like us, but are tokens.) If we fail, it's not because we are flawed human beings who got something wrong, but because we are less-than.

The comic xkcd perfectly illustrated this dynamic in "How It Works."

two panel comic; in the first, two male stick figures are standing at a board with one doing math and the other says 'Wow, you suck at math'; in the second, one male and one female stick figure are standing at a board with the female figure doing math and the male figures says 'Wow, girls suck at math.'

From the time I was old enough to wonder about why there weren't any female presidents, I have heard all the reasons why women couldn't (shouldn't be allowed to) be president. They are the same reasons women supposedly can't (shouldn't be allowed to) do lots of things.

Not qualified. Not strong enough. Not competent. Not enough experience. Not decisive enough. Too fragile. Too sensitive. Too emotional. Too…womany.

You wouldn't want someone with her finger on the button while she's got PMS, would you? Har har.

Just as there are people—ignorant, wrong-headed, cruel people—who attribute what failures of President Obama's they perceive to the color of his skin, there are people who attribute what they view as Clinton's flaws to her being a woman. That won't stop when she is president.

She will fail to be perfect. (Whatever "perfect" can even mean in a country with a vast spectrum of often conflicting political ideologies.) She will make mistakes. She will disappoint me, and lots of other people. Like every other president.

And it will have nothing to do with her womanhood. It will be because she is, like every other president, a human being doing one of the toughest jobs in the world.

I'm prepared for that. I'm prepared for all the attendant garbage that comes with her being first—and I'm prepared to push back on it. I can be part of her progressive base that urges her to do better and simultaneously a feminist woman who refuses to indulge expectations of perfection or the sexist attribution of fault to her gender, instead of to her decision-making.

I don't want her to make mistakes, especially because when presidents make mistakes there are often deadly consequences. (No one, it seems, who has themselves never been president is more keenly aware of this than Clinton, which is part of the reason I trust her.) I am simply aware that she will.

President Obama has made mistakes. Hillary Clinton has and will make mistakes. It's not because they are not white men. It's because he is—and she will be—presidents.

It's a weird sort of aspect of social justice—this idea that marginalized people must be allowed to fail on our own, as much as we must be allowed to succeed on our own.

But there it is. And when I say I'm #ReadyforHillary, I'm ready for that, too.

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