You want me to vote for you? Be someone I want to vote for.

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Dear Ms. Steinem and Ms. Albright,

I am no longer a “young woman,” but I’m youngish; younger than both of you, in any case, and a Bernie Sanders supporter, so I presume you are also talking to me. And I would love nothing better than to back a progressive woman candidate for president. Unfortunately, Hillary is not the one I’ve been waiting for. Is she a competent human being who gets things done? Sure. Unquestionably. But she’s too cozy with Wall Street for my taste, and her record does not align with my own wishes for my country. She’s not really progressive enough for me; in saner times, she’d be considered a very moderate conservative.

I thought the same 8 years ago when I voted for Obama (twice) in both the primaries and the general elections. If my sole interest were getting a woman into (or near) the White House, I could’ve voted for Sarah Palin, but that wasn’t going to happen, and it’s not going to happen now. I, like many women of various political stripes, am very interested in voting for women candidates, and study them eagerly when they show up, but we’re not going to vote for them just because they’re women. Their positions and politics actually matter. For me to vote for a woman just because she’s a woman is the ugly flip-side to people NOT voting for a woman just because she’s a woman. There’s a whole lot of not-thinking involved in either of those choices.  And I know there are plenty of voters who seemingly do not think, but I don’t happen to be one of them.

If you want sisterly solidarity, then you need to give me a sister who’s in solidarity with, or at least respectful of, my ethics and expectations, not just demand I fall in line with hers because we are both women. It goes both ways. Because when I vote, I’m looking for someone to represent ME, as much as possible, in this representative democracy. And I’m one of the little guys. Or gals, rather. Bernie is a true servant of the people, interested in bettering this country for PEOPLE and not for corporations. I dig that. And based on the results in Iowa, I am clearly not the only one.

I only have one vote, and with it, only one tiny voice to speak with. By voting for Bernie, whom I agree with 99% of the time, I and everyone else planning to vote for him are asking to be heard, to pull things back from the neo-Dark Ages of the far right, where people don’t believe in science, in women’s humanity, in the humanity of non-white or non-straight persons, in society itself–where the group helps itself by helping each other–at all, and all these voices raised for Bernie should inform your candidate’s considerations and her own politics. If she wants my vote, she has to earn it, and not by yelling at me, or getting her pals to scold me, or displaying her utter and unshakeable conviction that she’s entitled to the job, but by showing me she’s a candidate whose plans and dreams for this country are something I also think are good for us. Ms. Clinton cannot change her past record, but she can change what she does and says going forward.  And she has to mean it.

Should she win the primaries and become the actual nominee, then I will vote for her, because she’s a damn sight better than any one of the Republican candidates, who are frankly appalling in their ignorance, their insensitivity, and their selfishness. But in the meantime, I’m going to vote for someone I want to vote FOR, while I have the chance.

Sincerely,

Kristie Cunningham
Registered and active female, feminist voter since 1990