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No, I Won’t Vote for Hillary Clinton. And Yes, I Am a Feminist Millennial

Posted on Feb 11, 2016

By Natasha Hakimi

Hillary Clinton speaking in Iowa in January. (Jae C. Hong / AP)

I’m a Latina millennial and I’m sick of being told I’m not a feminist because I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

There have been plenty of great feminist responses to Madeleine Albright’s and Gloria Steinem’s comments about women who support Bernie Sanders over Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. I’d like to add another piece, one from a very personal point of view.

But first I want to be clear about two things: one, that I would love to see a female progressive lead this nation; and two, that I am sickened by all forms of sexism and am saddened to come from a country where a woman can’t run for president without being bombarded with misogynistic attacks. As a woman who has been attacked on the Internet and beyond for having a voice, I will never be on the side of sexism.

That said, I’m 100 percent in agreement with writer Glenn Greenwald when he states that the “Bernie bros” myth is a convenient establishment tool used to discredit Sanders and his supporters. (I mean, really, do Paul Krugman and company honestly believe we’re going to buy that Sanders supporters are all sexist pigs or that the economist himself isn’t a bro, as Greenwald points out, or that conservatives and others aren’t among those attacking Clinton?) I am far from a bro, but, I’m proud to admit, I certainly “feel the Bern.”

But this feeling started long before I even knew the Vermont senator’s name. It began when, as the child of immigrants, I was proud and excited to be the first in my family to earn a college degree—only to realize I’d been saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt to a government that kindly informed me in a loan exit program that one of my only options out of repayment was to die. Yes, death was at the top of a very short list. The sensation at the pit of my stomach when I considered how to pay back loans I’d taken out to attain the American life my parents dreamed I would have can only be described as a burn.

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My Mexican mother, who had escaped poverty and gave up her Mexican passport the day she became a citizen of the country she’d lived in most of her life and still believes is the best on earth, almost died of diabetes in her 50s, as had her father in Mexico City and her sister in Guadalajara. When hard times hit, my mother was among those too poor to pay for health insurance but not poor enough to be eligible for government subsidized care. When years of missing unaffordable medical appointments culminated in the amputation of her foot, I felt the burn of living in a nation that did not believe health care was a human right.

Then I learned that the financial crisis, which many argue was directly caused by Bill Clinton’s push to deregulate banks, disproportionately affected blacks and Latinos with a college education. And no, Hillary is not Bill, I’m aware, but the speaking fees she’s received from banks and the advisers she surrounds herself with indicate to me she’d be no different. To me she has always seemed a bit bemused by the idea that so many Americans are disgusted by “banksters,” since these are people she calls her friends.

I can’t describe my surprise the first time I went to a doctor in the United Kingdom and tried to offer my ID or credit card. They were turned away, but I was not turned away from care I desperately needed.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the U.K. and other parts of Europe (as evidenced by some of my recent pieces) and have met many women who remember Margaret Thatcher as Britain’s prime minister. They are not under the delusion that voting for a woman based solely on her gender means progress for women, or anyone for that matter.

There are plenty of reasons to support Sen. Sanders for president. One is his position on climate change. To me and many others of my generation, the need to take dramatic steps to stop our world from continuing to heat up is simply a no-brainer.

And there is Sanders’ stand against war. My first boyfriend was a young man from Oklahoma who, as I went off to college, enlisted in the Army because he wanted the benefits of the GI Bill and couldn’t afford a higher education otherwise. He made it out of Iraq and Afghanistan alive but with deep physical and psychological wounds that made it impossible for him to sit through the accounting classes he’d hoped to take.

I have plenty of other reasons to back Sanders, but right now the most meaningful to me is this: He is promising to help build the kind of nation I have for a long time dreamed America could become. For the first time since I’ve been old enough to vote, I’ve registered as a Democrat just so I could vote in my upcoming state primary. And I did something else I never thought I’d do: I donated money to a campaign, one that I believe will not only represent but fight for the rights and needs of the many over the few.

I study feminism in my Ph.D. program and often hear acquaintances call me “radical,” a “man-hater.” I can’t tell you how tired I am of these labels, but I’m far more outraged by feminists who try to discredit me or send me to hell for my lack of support for Clinton. They want me to vote for a woman who stopped believing in universal health care the minute she received a hefty sum from the health care industry, who as secretary of state was responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of women and children in the Middle East, who’s in bed with the billionaire bankers, as Elizabeth Warren would say, and who will not make the struggling 99 percent of Americans her priority.

I want a woman president of the United States of America, and I will fight like hell to see that day. But it is not here yet. That president is not Hillary Clinton.


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