*Editor's Note: This will be my final DNC post, I'll move an updated version of my "Going Under" post to the top of the page and I'm going back to my health-minded, surgery to come, recovery imminent bunker.
It was the night in New Hampshire that changed my mind about Hillary Clinton. It was the night she stood before her supporters in a state that hosted the greatest political victory of her campaign and attested to the fact that she had finally found her voice that I realized she was a candidate I could connect with.
Most voters my age flocked to Barack Obama the way young voters rallied behind Bobby Kennedy in 1968. Most voters my age saw Obama's message of change as a reason to become more politically minded. Most voters my age could more easily connect with Chelsea Clinton than with her mother.
But not me. I don't know why it surprises me anymore when I don't fit the mold of "most people my age." I didn't jump on the Obama wagon, I still haven't, and I decided to support a woman that I'd never really looked to as the one who could potentially break the highest of glass ceilings. Then again, I never thought Nancy Pelosi would be our first female Speaker of the House, either.
The reasons I supported Hillary Clinton were nearly identical to the reason I had supported Joe Biden. I may not have been very old when the Clintons were in the White House, but I was old enough. And I've certainly not been oblivious to how horribly dissimilar the Bush White House has been by comparison. I looked to Hillary Clinton the way I have always looked to Joe Biden, two people experienced in the ways of Washington, but somehow still sensitive to the needs and concerns of small town America.
On her own, I have watched as Hillary Clinton has become an accomplished senator following her tenure as perhaps one of the most policy-minded first ladies in American history. I watched an historical campaign make strides my mother and grandmothers and many other American women waited their entire lives to see. I watched as they accused her of being cold. I watched as they accused her of getting emotional for votes. I watched as they said she was too experienced. I watched as they said she lacked the necessary experience and wisdom of opposing war in Iraq and dodging gunfire in Bosnia.
No critic or pundit could tell me more than what Chelsea Clinton did last night when she introduced her mother and hero. We are not all as lucky as Chelsea Clinton as daughters and sons. Yet, it wasn't about Hillary Clinton the mother, it was about Hillary Clinton the leader. We are a nation grappling with the world's view of who we are. We are a nation with a leader we cannot be proud of and a government we often oppose. We need a leader we can be proud of and Chelsea's brief introduction spoke volumes to that essential need we have as Americans.
Last night Hillary Clinton took the stage knowing that there were a good number of people she could never please. No matter how many times she said she supports the historic candidacy of Barack Obama, for some it would never be enough. No matter how many times she mentioned universal health care, for some it would be too much. She took that stage knowing that there were people in that audience who see her as the villain. The making of Hillary Clinton into a villain happened long before this campaign season. Hillary's case is one mirroring many in Democratic party politics. When Democrats don't win it's because they've turned on each other. It is division among themselves. Unlike the Republicans who have, for the most part, ignored the faults of their candidates, haven't turned so swiftly against one another, and have united to make Obama or whoever the opponent is the monster of the election cycle.
Hillary Clinton did something last night that few politicians are willing to--she put aside her own ambitions, her own dashed dreams for the good of her party. In my book this is the very definition of statesmanship.
There will be those who read this and say I should get on board with Obama. There will be those who read this and say I am a Clinton-apologist and I've put gender before common sense. There will be those that will read this and say that I am being far too sentimental. To them I say this: Hillary Clinton has been a prominent figure my entire life, someone I could look to as an inspiring role model, someone who knew what she wanted and fought hard to get it. As someone still trying to find my place in this world professionally, she has been an inspiration to me. She is a constant reminder that anything is possible and the limits of those possibilities are endless.
Last night on that stage I was reminded all over again of how deeply Hillary supporters connected with their candidate. I dare say it was not superficial and certainly was not lacking in substance. We weren't the people camping out at our candidate's venues, sporting our candidate's name on our apparel. We weren't the people crying at the sight of our candidate as she made her way into venues large and small. But what we felt about her, about ourselves, and the future of this nation cannot be dismissed and is no less than what Obama supporters felt.
We know it's over. Don't tell us to pack it in and get on board. Imagine finally coming around to the idea of something, something you'd spent a great deal of time resisting, and then being crushed slowly in election after election up until the moment all hope is lost. And then your candidate takes to the floor of the convention offering her opponent the nomination through acclamation, never to know how many people would have been brave enough to support her, never allowing the historic process of a roll call to continue.
From New Hampshire to Ohio, Nevada to Virginia, this campaign has been a roller coaster of a ride and it has screeched to a halt today. Forgive me if I'd like to sit in the car and take in the scenery for a minute longer.