“If you switch your vote, I’m telling all of our friends that you’re the reason Obama lost a delegate in Washington,” my ex said as we walked into our district caucus. I was a delegate for Obama; my ex was an alternate.
“What? Why would you do that? This is a free country! I can vote for whomever I wish,” I said.
“Sure,” he said. “But you chose to represent people who voted for Obama. Wouldn’t you feel bad if you betrayed them and voted for Hillary?”
Perhaps I would have felt bad if not for the fact that I felt pressured into voting for Obama and was still unsure of whether my heart was in it. Don’t get me wrong – I liked Obama. I liked him a lot. The problem was just that I liked Clinton an equal amount and was having trouble deciding (or, for that matter, distinguishing) between the two.
My first instinct had actually been to vote for Clinton. Afterall, she was a strong, intelligent woman and I loved her proposal for universal healthcare. She was the first woman who had ever made a run at the American Presidency and who stood a solid chance of winning. In a country where the line between flaky and bitchy is razor-thin, Clinton walked it as adeptly as one could. Our country, it sadly seems, is not yet able to handle a strong, intelligent woman, but I would not be dissuaded from supporting her simply because ignorant white men would never vote for her over McCain or because some critics felt it necessary to sling mud at her for showing emotion.
It turns out, however, that I would be dissuaded by my own pride and insecurity about needing to be reassured that I was a member of the educated elite. As David Brooks in the New York Times proclaimed, “Barack Obama is an experience provider. He attracts the educated consumer…Hillary Clinton is a classic commodity provider. She caters to the less-educated, less-pretentious consumer.”
My ex forwarded me the article.
Now, I shouldn’t have been so self-conscious about that. First of all, my ex had an agenda. He supported Obama and was trying to manipulate me into doing the same. Second, implying that I was uneducated was clearly a joke – I mean, I had graduated from Harvard for crying out loud. So why did I suddenly feel so uncomfortable?
I started to question myself. I was a creative person capable of broad, optimistic thinking…wasn’t I? Perhaps my support for Clinton said something about who I was. Perhaps I was really a just shrewd, tactical pessimist who couldn’t see beyond the day-to-day minutia of my life. Perhaps my acceptance to Harvard had been a mistake!
A week later, my ex and I attended our precinct caucus. To my horror and dismay, I quickly learned that votes in this archaic process were cast publicly – by a show of hands! There was no privacy of opinion here. I would have to raise my hand and pledge my allegiance in front of my entire neighborhood.
When the voting finally took place, I raised my hand for Obama. I’m not sure if it was the watchful eyes of my ex, the ridiculous fear of seeming less educated than I actually was, or the possibility that I actually did prefer Obama when it really came down to it. Thanks to the confounding variables, I guess I’ll never know.
I do know that I still really like both Clinton and Obama and that I will wholeheartedly support whoever wins the nomination (no matter what my ex or the NYT has to say). Go Dems!