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Musings from a Hillary Supporter

February 20, 2008

by Bri Riggio

I am used to being in the minority. In high school, my social circle consisted mostly of male friends. Of my closest girlfriends, I was the only one to select a private college to attend upon graduation. At college, I decided to major in History with a Gender & Women's Studies sequence, sealing my minority status. And now, I am in the minority of students at Claremont McKenna shunning the "Obamania" around me and declaring my support for Senator Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election. In my opinion, one of the best things about CMC is the political culture. It is still amazing to eat breakfast at Collins and see people reading the Los Angeles Times, eager to discuss world events and politics. And, while the student body is divided on political leanings, there are two campus publications representing each end of the spectrum, operated by and written for by students.

It therefore comes as no surprise to me that the upcoming 2008 presidential election is sending the campus into a whirlwind. The contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may be the most discussed political topic on campus, and, unsurprisingly considering the demographic, most of the enthusiasm is aimed at Senator Obama.

I can live with that. He has a strong message, charisma, and a sexy voice. If he is elected in November, I will enjoy listening to his deep, baritone voice read the State of the Union.

What I cannot understand is the fervent hatred of Hillary Clinton. I find such vehement opposition to her existence that it takes me off guard sometimes. What did Hillary Clinton do to anger CMCers so much?

I suppose I could play the gender card and blame it on misogyny, but 1) I know that approach will be met with much criticism, and 2) I am not 100% sure that hatred of her truly does stem from sexism.

I suppose I am annoyed that everyone claims she "doesn't sound genuine" in her speeches. Honestly, the woman must be so scared of messing up and coming off as "too feminine" to wage war yet "not feminine enough" to care about women's issues like education and healthcare. With all the pressure, it is no wonder she comes across as insincere. Ms. Clinton is probably afraid to speak the truth sometimes for fear of ridicule!

But I will get off my feminist soapbox and return to more modest musings, for the prime reason for my supporting Hillary Clinton is not gender. I think Hillary is better equipped to handle this country's mess than Obama. Some say the role of First Lady is not "job experience," but I disagree. It is not easy to renovate the health care system while performing the socially expected obligations of the First Lady while facing attacks and criticism from all sides. When one of us does that, we can talk about "experience."

I really am getting off my box now.

After a recent discussion with two of my closest friends about whether Hillary or Obama would serve as a better symbol of achievement for America (Hillary breaking the gender boundary and Obama crossing the race line), either way, I have concluded, there will be someone different representing change. I suppose the deal on campus, though, is that Obama is better at verbalizing that change better. CMCers are apparently just like the rest of our idealistic generation who want to see change. Who knew?

I guess this means I have been humbled. I was feeling out of place a few months ago at CMC when I realized that my goal in life was not to find the most lucrative job. I was not an Econ/Gov major (as much as I tried to be) who was stereotypically chasing "get rich quick" schemes. Yes, I know CMC students care about politics, but I did not think that they would seriously latch onto the ideals and notions of "change" that Obama works so hard to portray.

So while I believe Hillary might be better prepared to deal with the current issues plaguing America, maybe we need that excitement and ardor Obama can stir up, this "change"he speaks of. If Obama is the candidate better suited to unite the country, and if that is what we need at this point, then by all means, give the people what they want.

Do not misunderstand me. I refuse to abandon my girl, but if she loses, I will move on. I just hope that others come to realize that they too will not drop dead if she manages to ride that political bandwagon all the way up to the steps of the White House.

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