Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop in Iowa.

In a Tiresome and Frustrating Election, I’m with … Her?


A version of this story ran in the July 2016 issue.

It’s as if Hillary Clinton was born to do something she was never meant to do. Women are not president of the United States. And yet, Hillary Clinton has spent years — decades, really — making every effort to win the White House.

I am a woman! I like when women win things! I especially like it when women who are not the absolute worst — with no apologies whatsoever to Sarah Palin — win things. And so I felt I should have been more excited after the delegate dust settled, leaving Hillary as the standard-bearer for the Democrats.

But I have so far found this election tiresome, frustrating and, at times, genuinely scary. A GOP field that could make John Kasich seem like a swell dude is a field littered with turd-filled tires perpetually afire. Ted Cruz was a nightmare in a suit. Donald Trump is a nightmare in a suit with a nightmare hairstyle. Or whatever that thing on his head is.

And Bernie and Hillary? Let’s just say I envy anyone who managed, during the primaries, to be truly excited by either.

I am championing competency, and in Hillary Clinton, the Democrats have it to a degree that is practically unheard-of.

Then, the night Hillary surged too far ahead for Bernie to catch her, came #GirlIGuessImWithHer, a hilarious and incisive hashtag for people unable to get jazzed about Hillary but heck-no-way not voting for Trump. Started by Twitter user @MadBlackThot (tweeting her thoughts “from the intersection of womanist, hoe, and black Twitter”), the tag was perfect for GIF-ing out left-leaning frustrations.

I loved it. I also cringed at it, unsure where to place myself. My own politics are more compatible with Bernie’s than with Hillary’s. (Really, they’re probably most compatible with Jill Stein’s, but I am not a third-party voter, which is an issue I don’t discuss while sober.) But this year, I simply believed Hillary would be better than Bernie Sanders at doing the job of being president of these here United States. I think she is a more competent leader with a better grasp of what the office entails. My concerns about her, which are many, did not outweigh my concerns about Bernie, which are also many.

I would have supported either in the general election. But I got to thinking about my ambivalence about Hillary, and really taking it out of the little box I’d tried to shove it into inside my head. Really turn it around, look at it, examine it, question it.

I did not like this ambivalence. I wanted a different feeling. I wanted excitement. Enthusiasm. I wanted like. And I hated that I wanted like.

An unlikable woman is a thing to be feared, derided, quashed and, ultimately, ignored into obsolescence. An unlikable man? He is a challenge to be won over, a mystery to be contemplated.

I have seen this in my own life. People, many of them rightly and not a few on Twitter, have told me that I am a difficult, testy, bitchy, smart-ass know-it-all. Those people rarely try to win my affection; they know that what I have to offer them as a difficult, testy, bitchy, smart-ass know-it-all is of little social value.

In contrast, how many brilliant, jerky men have I known, and been begged to please? How many times have I been told, “Once you get to know him, you’ll love him”? How many times have I heard the phrase “He’s really just a big teddy bear”? How many times have I been warned not to read too much into the tone of his voice, the tenor of his email, the touch of his hand, because deep down “he’s a really nice guy”?

And this isn’t about Bernie versus Hillary — Bernie seems like a very nice man indeed. But I am tired of likability. I am tired of fighting for respect in my own life; I wish not to make a woman fight for mine because of some ever-sliding likability scale created and sustained by an institution — patriarchy — that seeks only to secure my obedience.

I am championing competency, and in Hillary Clinton, the Democrats have it to a degree that is practically unheard-of. And not just in comparison to Donald Trump, who thinks yelling about a border wall constitutes a POTUS-worthy foreign policy. Her entire life, Hillary has had to be smarter and more competent than her male challengers and colleagues; she will make a smarter, more competent president.

And if she doesn’t get the chance? We will sorely miss the days we spent laughing about Donald Trump’s hair.