When A Great Story Reminds You of Your Own

I cried during Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Her words were brought home to me that Hillary and any woman after her can be President of the United States of America. They say that children can’t be what they don’t see. And I rarely saw women in politics growing up. But that story changed for women around the world this week. 

I remember the first time I ever voted. I was six. My teacher explained to us that there was a presidential election going on, and we were going to vote for who our class thought should be president. She gave us a flyer with a picture of George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. We circled the picture of who we thought should be president.

 Image used from https://www.hillaryclinton.com/bio/

Image used from https://www.hillaryclinton.com/bio/

I decided H.W. looked nice, and a bit like my grandpa and that sealed my vote. I didn’t understand a thing about politics. It wasn’t a subject that was ever discussed in my house when I was growing up. I floated through the 1992 and the 1996 elections with barely a thought. Though I vaguely remember my mom going to the firehouse across the street to cast her vote.

I had just turned eighteen in 2000. And I voted for George W. Bush. Frankly, it wasn’t too different from my circling the picture of the man who looked nicest. I voted for him because I lived in New Mexico and he was the popular choice. In 2004, I voted the same way for the same reasons though this time I was in Texas. 

I was becoming vaguely aware of politics. My roommate was a political science major, and I remember being surprised that she had such passion and interest in politics. At that point in my life, it never occurred to me that a woman could have political aspirations, much less become president. 

 Image used from https://www.hillaryclinton.com/post/10-little-girls-who-are-ready-first-woman-president/

Image used from https://www.hillaryclinton.com/post/10-little-girls-who-are-ready-first-woman-president/

I felt excited and informed about the election in 2008. I watched the presidential debates with my boyfriend, and we went and voted together. I voted for Obama. And I understood why I had voted for the first time in my life. It was an incredibly empowering experience.

I grew up in a world where politics were mostly a man’s world. I can count on one hand the number of women I saw in politics. I also grew up in a place where you never brought up politics or religion at the dinner. And as a young girl, I absorbed a story that said women only play a supporting role in politics. 

I was surprised by my emotional outburst this week and the joy I felt seeing powerful women take and command the stage. I heard their message loud and clear. Women have a place in politics. Hilary is running, and now every girl can image herself behind that desk in the Oval office. That is a powerful change in the narrative for every girl in America. And today Hillary’s story has changed my own.