Why I See Myself In Hillary

I'm for Hillary. When I pressed the lever for her in the New York primary, I did so with a flourish, feeling as though I would be part of an important victory for her. I've been on the roller-coaster ride that her wins, losses and wins have created, feeling by turns triumphant and despondent.

That said, when I'm in conversations with my friends and colleagues I tend to be somewhat defensive about my choice. I'm the daughter of working-class progressives who marched for social justice and peace as far back as the 1930s and as recently as two decades ago. While not as actively involved as my parents were in protest movements, I've done my share of demonstrating against war and for civil rights. I think I've lived my life hewing to the values they instilled in me.

So why did Hillary Clinton, who voted for launching the war against Iraq, and who perhaps does not represent a new day dawning for our nation as much as Barack Obama does, get my vote?

She and I are about the same age, an age when most women have become invisible to the rest of society. There she is: energetic, exuberant, attractive and feisty, capturing the world's attention as she wages an arduous campaign to achieve a historic first. There is a tangible pride that I feel in being of her sex and of her age.

But there's also a more personal reason. A little more than 10 years ago I heard her speak at Rockefeller University, in New York City, about the use of microfinancing in underdeveloped nations to help women pull themselves and their families out of poverty. She used the communities of women in the Indian state of Kerala, which she had recently visited, as an example of the success of these programs, and how they were models to implement in other areas. I felt good listening to this very smart woman broaden my knowledge about something I had known nothing about. Afterward, I joined the line that was filing past her to shake her hand, and when it was my turn I told her that she had given the commencement address at my Brooklyn College graduation. While shaking my hand, she looked me straight in the eye with that direct gaze of hers and said, "Wasn't that a beautiful day?" It had been a beautiful June day—a blue sky and bright sun enhanced the elation that my friends and I felt as adult women who had returned to school for this achievement. I felt certain that she remembered how lovely a day it had been.

Some years later, probably while she was running for the Senate, I read an article that profiled her and her staff and talked about some of their strategies. I found out that she used stock exchanges. For example, when someone remembered how they met her at such-and-such event, she was to reply, "Wasn't that a beautiful day?" You know what, though? It really didn't matter to me when I read that, and it doesn't matter to me now when I recall it. That afternoon at Rockefeller, Hillary Clinton displayed qualities that were important to me: a sharp intelligence and a strong commitment to social equality. And as far as I'm concerned, she remembered an important day in my life.