I’m on my third cup of coffee. I usually limit myself to one to begin the day. More than that can result in a headache that lasts into the evening. In spite of having run out of coconut milk creamer, I am thinking about a fourth cup as I stare at my ballot for the California primary.
I was clear about my choices for most of the offices, having been inundated with pre-election coverage and information gleaned from political websites. What I’m stuck on is the choice between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Most of my liberal women friends have already advised me: It’s Bernie in the primary and Hillary in November, like dating the nice social work major and then marrying the computer science grad.
But I’m too old for dating and just want to commit. Hillary or Bernie? Loves me, loves me not.
My heart races with Bernie’s sweet talk of a universal right to health care and free public college education. His is the country I’ve always wanted to live in. Only I know that the real name of his country is Sweden, Denmark or Norway, not the contentious United States of America. It doesn’t work to live in one country and have your values reside in another, thousands of miles away.
So maybe it is Hillary that’s a better match for me. Having lived through the feminist upheaval and the rise of women in politics and in society in general, I am ready to see a woman in the highest office. Like Barack Obama’s shattering of the racial barrier, it’s past time that we disqualify anyone from being POTUS based on gender or religion.
But Hillary is not a symbol or an icon. She has too much of a public track record to be worshipped. We have shared her political history and bear the scars to prove it.
Is she qualified for the office? Probably the most qualified candidate in the history of the U.S. presidency. Has she earned it? Absolutely, and she has the scars to prove it. But do we really want 20th-century thinking on foreign and domestic policy dragged into the 21st century White House with the Clinton’s luggage? A deep feeling of “been there, done that” emerges whenever they are in the spotlight. It’s like your parents showing up at prom and wanting to DJ.
I shouldn’t make fun of Clinton or Sanders because they each have important messages that deserve our full attention. Like all decisions, this is more about me and who I am or want to be. Do I want to hear a glass ceiling shatter or help more young people get to college?
It’s now past noon and I’m switching from hot coffee to iced coffee, still staring at the names on the ballot. I know what I want. It’s not Hillary vs. Bernie, but Hillary and Bernie, in one candidate, only younger.
Michel Inaba is a psychologist practicing in Sacramento. She is a lifelong Democrat who wishes she had the concession for American flag lapel pins. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.