I Will Keep Writing About Hillary Clinton

There is another reason I won't stop writing about Hillary Clinton, in addition to my resistance against gaslighting and my urgent drive to document a history I do not want my country to repeat.

It is a much more personal reason, although I am keenly aware that this is a feeling shared by many of her supporters.

Writing about Hillary Clinton and her historic candidacy was one of the most meaningful highlights of my professional life. And I am not yet ready to let it go.

I started this site just before the 2004 election. This was the fourth election I have covered; the seventh in which I voted. It's the eleventh since I was born. Every one of the major-party nominees, in every one of those elections, has been a man. All but one of them has been a white man.

It was exhilarating to write about a woman. And not just any woman, but Hillary Clinton—a feminist, a progressive, the woman who said, when I was 21 years old and needed desperately to hear it, "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all. And among those rights are the right to speak freely, and the right to be heard."

The first part of that is well remembered. The second part, less so.

The right to speak freely, and the right to be heard.

Those, Hillary Clinton told the world, were rights that women have. To speak freely. To be heard. But there has never been a woman who has been allowed to speak freely, and to be heard, from the office of the U.S. presidency.

I want that. I want it like the cracked earth of the desert wants rain.

And then came the promise of spring showers. I had always dreaded that the first woman with a shot at the presidency would be one I would have to vote against, a conservative woman—acid rain determined to scorch the earth. But, to my delight, I had the opportunity to cast my vote for that history-making candidate.

A Democrat. A woman with whom I had wide policy agreement. Hillary Clinton.

I loved writing about her. I loved writing about a woman, in a way I'd never had the opportunity to write about a woman before. To spend my days crafting essays about her history, her record, her policies, her speeches—it was a gift.

And I looked forward to writing about her presidency, prepared to defend her, and prepared to get angry at her, to vehemently disagree. To do my job, but with a woman as my president.

image of Hillary Clinton standing on stage at the Democratic Convention
[Photo: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

It was not fated to be. Instead, I spend my days writing about a man whom I can barely stand to look at. There will be no personal essays about what he means to me, only profanity-laced reporting on his abundant abuses and ignominies.

That is a loss to me personally, and it is a loss to me professionally. Along with the security, decency, and progress her presidency would have provided, the gift of writing about Hillary Clinton was snatched away.

Which is more significant than merely the opportunity to write about a candidate I supported vs. one I did not. The 2004 election results devastated me, for political reasons. But, while I have an abiding fondness for John Kerry, the thought of not writing about him for the next four years did not break my heart.

Because, when I wrote about John Kerry, I wasn't also writing about myself.

I wasn't writing, in part, about my own obstacles; about the barriers that had been put in my way by people who want to see women fail; about being a woman in a field dominated by men. I wasn't writing about a person who understands what it means to be defined by your decision to have children or not; who understands the steep cost of the expectation to perform emotional labor; who understands, intimately, what it feels like to be more qualified than a man and still not be good enough.

And lots and lots of other little and big things many women share in common, because we are women.

These things are not incidental. They are defining features of who I am, because my womanhood and my personhood are inseparable. I loved being able to write about a presidential candidate who could understand these pieces of me in a way no other presidential candidate ever could.

And I am profoundly sad that I won't get to write about a president who does.

At least not for a long while. Maybe never.

People who admonish me to stop writing and talking about Hillary Clinton don't realize what they're asking—which is for a feminist progressive political writer to ignore the only feminist, Democratic, female presidential nominee about whom I've ever been able to write.

She didn't win. That doesn't mean I must let go of her. I won't.

Hillary Clinton is still the woman who went the farthest. She is still a politician with something to say, and things to do. She will forever be the first woman for whom I cast a vote for president, through tears.

She deserves to be written about. There are millions of people who still want to read about her. And I want to write about her.

I want to write about her.

One of the things Hillary Clinton and I have in common is this: We are not easily deterred.

Her tenacity is one of the reasons I started writing about her, and my tenacity is the reason I will continue.

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