I'm A Hillary Clinton Supporter On A Campus That's Seriously Feeling The Bern
On Wednesday, 27,000 Bernie Sanders supporters flooded my university's "campus" — i.e. Washington Square Park — for one of the candidate's largest rallies yet. Although NYU sent out multiple emails reminding students that classes would not be cancelled during the Sanders rally in Washington Square Park, my peers were geared up for the event, and I sat in class on Wednesday looking at multiple images of Sanders' face — on my classmates' T-shirts, buttons, stickers, phone cases. To say NYU is "Feeling the Bern" would be a great understatement. It's no secret that young Democrats vote overwhelmingly in favor of Sanders, and NYU is known to be one of the most liberal universities in America, so the Sanders mania on campus is not surprising. However, I'm a 21-year-old NYU student, a Democrat, and I am not voting for Sanders.
I've supported Hillary Clinton long before she announced her candidacy last year, and I was understandably excited coming into the 2016 primary season. Finally, all my peers are old enough to vote, and I hoped they too would be interested in the election. As the primaries kicked off, I started seeing more and more political engagement on my Facebook news feed. However, all the memes, articles, and GIFs were pro-Sanders. I can count on one hand the number of times anything pro-Clinton has popped up on my social media pages.
At first, I was intimidated by the overwhelming support for Sanders at NYU, and kept my political views to myself. And after speaking with my (few) pro-Clinton friends on campus, I realized I was not the only one staying silent about my candidate of choice.
Even Lena Dunham has received backlash for supporting Clinton. She's quoted as saying at a Clinton campaign event back in March, "I have received more hostility for voting for a qualified female candidate than I have ever received anywhere from the American right-wing."
I am not suggesting that most, or even a significant percentage, of Sanders supporters are vitriolic to their Clinton-supporting peers. However, in my view, the rhetoric around Sanders' campaign does not shine a positive light on Clinton's constituency.
Since the beginning of his campaign, Sanders has positioned himself as a political outsider, and not a member of the establishment, which millennials find appealing. Therefore, Clinton quickly became the establishment candidate, making her the politician to avoid. However, as Clinton herself said during a February debate, this claim that she represents the establishment is unfounded:
Honestly, Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman President, as exemplifying the establishment. It’s really quite amusing to me.
I agree with Clinton. She may not be calling for a revolution, but she's not the typical American politician, either. In fact, I often wonder why fewer young people do not find Clinton to be the objectively "cool candidate."
Just as Sanders' revolution rhetoric appeals to millennials, I find Clinton's gender to be extraordinarily, well, cool. I'd be lying if I said that Clinton's gender does not play a large role in my excitement over her candidacy. However, ever since Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem condemned women supporting Sanders in February, it seems to me that it has become entirely taboo to take Clinton's gender into consideration when voting (especially amongst young women), and I often feel the need to validate my support of Clinton by referring to her policy. Which I can; she has a better record on reproductive rights and gun control.
But I'm going to stop avoiding Clinton's gender right here, right now. I'm a young woman who will soon graduate college and enter the workforce, and I find the possibility of a woman president to be incredibly reassuring. I'm pretty sure that if more young people stopped to think about it, they too would realize the significance of Clinton's potential presidency.
I did not attend the Sanders rally in Washington Square Park on Wednesday night with the rest of my NYU peers. Instead, I watched as my news feed filled with images from the event.
However, I saw Clinton when she spoke in Sunset Park, Brooklyn on April 9. I almost skipped the rally because I didn't want to go alone, and I didn't have any pro-Clinton friends to drag along. Unsurprisingly, I did not find my peer group at the Clinton rally, either. However, as I watched Clinton give her stump speech (from less than 10 feet away, EEK!) I realized that I was glad to not be surrounded by my fellow college students — the crowd at the Clinton rally was far more diverse than it would have been at a Sanders event. In fact, while waiting for Clinton to speak, I made friends with three women ranging in age from 16 to 50, and with two men in their 30s.
I may be alone in my support for Clinton on campus, but that just shows that the Clinton campaign has drawn a diverse group of supporters, and in the long run, that's what is necessary to win the election.
Images: Rose Gilroy (4)