Why I Will Support Hillary Clinton, and it’s not because of her gender or party affiliation.

When I started to write this month’s blog post and newsletter I was focused on writing about Raising Ms. President’s nonpartisan message. I don’t want to tell my audience who to vote for and I don’t want to indoctrinate an entire generation of young women to lean a certain way politically. What I want is for girls and women to think about politics,  issues, to vote, and to hopefully run for office one day; and whether they are Republican, Independent or Democrat, that is their choice. Raising Ms. President advocates for growing female political leaders across the board and so do I, but today, in this blog, I want to take a moment to go a little off script and express my own opinion on who I will be supporting for president in 2016. 

Full disclosure, I am a registered Independent. When I checked the voter registration box at 18 I knew that I would be limiting myself from  being able to vote in a primary in my state by choosing Independent. This pains me, but it doesn’t drive me to change my affiliation. I believe in electing qualified people, not parties, as I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats over the years. No one party defines ALL of my beliefs.

I know that this message today will not be popular with my Republican friends and fans, but I hope that it will not remove them from the conversation I have been cultivating for the last two years around how we can get more women, ALL WOMEN, running and winning elections. We need all voices represented in this dialogue and around the table, so I’m asking you to stay, even if you don’t like what I’m about to say.

Today, I pledge my support for Hillary Clinton for United States President in 2016. I once wrote that it was the 2008 presidential election that made me start to think about women in politics. I was astounded when Clinton didn’t win her party’s nomination for president as I felt she was the most qualified person for the job even then. She has been a lawyer, a partner, an advocate, a board member, a mother, a wife, a First Lady, a Senator, Secretary of State, and now, I hope, our first female president.

Hillary Clinton has the most experience in both domestic and foreign policy than any one of her opponents, but do we deny her the position as President of the United States because she wants it too much? Do we deny her the nomination because we don’t like the sound of her voice or the style of her hair? Do we deny her the presidency because she’s driven and not always sweet and kind? Because she’s annoying or ugly or makes us feel threatened? These are some of the words and adjectives that have been used against Clinton over the years on radio talk shows, television, in blog posts, and in the comment section of some online publications. The attacks are usually always personal and are not based on Clinton's qualifications, but this doesn't surprise me.

What I've learned over the last 10 years is that in order to get ahead, you don't necessarily have to be the smartest or the most experienced person in the room, but it pays to be the most well-liked; especially if you're a woman. For me, I don’t care if Clinton is the most likable personality on the stage because I feel she can best represent me. She represents women and men who are struggling to balance work and family. She represents marriage and the strength of that commitment. She represents anyone who faces contestant scrutiny, but doesn’t hide or back down from a fight. She represents humility, grace, possibility, equality, strength, resilience and intelligence, all the things I look for in a leader.

Clinton is not perfect, she is human and has made mistakes, but I’m sure she is stronger because of them. She is ready, poised and willing. Our country needs strong leadership, tolerant and thoughtful policy decisions, and we need a female role model just as much as the rest of the world does. Clinton proves that women should be standing beside men, not behind them. So, Hillary, you have my vote, not because you're a woman or a Democrat, but because I believe you are the best person for the job.