If someone had told me 12 years ago, while I was interning for then-Republican state House Speaker Matt Ryan, that today I would be defending the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton I would have laughed incredulously. If nine years ago, while serving as a member of the Republican State Committee, someone had told me that one day I would vote for Hillary, I would have vehemently said "no way."
But times change. In my view, they changed drastically after Sept. 11, 2001, and I began to question and become fearful of the direction this country was heading. I soon made the difficult decision of officially switching my party affiliation to Democrat.
Oh, I do not believe I changed fundamentally -- call me a "Casey Democrat." I was in the midst of volunteering for another of his campaigns back then and realized that was truly where I fell on the political spectrum. But to go from Bob Casey Jr. to Hillary was still a stretch for me.
I began to follow her bid for the U.S. Senate. As I heard her speak, I began wondering to myself: Who is this woman? Where has she been? This certainly is not the Hillary I have heard Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Pat Buchanan detest since 1992. Then I had to admit that perhaps I had given these gentlemen more latitude and credence than I should have. I began to realize that perhaps Hillary was not quite the "feminazi" -- to borrow one of Limbaugh's terms -- as she had been portrayed; maybe -- gasp! -- she was not only human, but a decent, viable candidate for the Senate.
Well, we all know how that contest ended and she went on to actually put the phrase "uniter not a divider" to work, not simply paying lip service to it. I had to admit it. Not only did I think she was doing an excellent job, but I actually liked her. I thought, "Wow, this will be the first woman president."
When I heard Sen. Barack Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, my brother and I immediately texted each other. We believed we had just heard the first African-American president give the speech of his life. I have read and enjoyed his second book. He is a decent writer and one of the best orators I have ever heard. I believe that, barring something unforeseen, his time will come. But I do not believe his time is now.
I believe strongly that this is Hillary's time. Women of all colors, creeds and socioeconomic backgrounds, this is not only our country's time in Hillary, but it is our time. And I think we should stop hesitating to say that.
If one looked at the resumes of the three remaining candidates -- Clinton, Obama, and Sen. John McCain -- Clinton stands out as the best person for the job. But I never believed her to be the formidable candidate that was going to stomp through primary after primary and caucus after caucus. Democratic contender or not, she was still female, as am I, and I know that no matter how much something appears and should be a foregone conclusion, it often is not.
A large swath started falling in love with Obama. When, in some states, even women began to abandon Clinton, I realized we were right back at it again: women not only choosing not to support the best candidate, but choosing not to support a woman.
A number of women will tell you that a woman's worst enemy in the workplace is often other women. At 32, I am only starting to really get past the shock of this; save for two special women in my career thus far, the people who have downplayed my accomplishments and attempted to squelch my progress and promotion have been other women. Women, I implore you: wake up.
No, Clinton does not embody my political ideology and views 100 percent, but what candidate does? For example, we differ drastically on abortion -- but when I look at where she is on the other issues that comprise truly being "pro-life" she is a leader (health care, education, child care, realistic and pragmatic plans for Iraq withdrawal, wages, etc.).
Am I concerned about "the Bill factor?" Let me put it this way, my husband and I have very different views on issues and policies. We are two separate people and have two different brains and, at times, two different perspectives. We do not think this is a bad thing. There are times where I would not want to be judged on my husband's or parent's or brother's view of an issue because it is not mine. Would you want that?
In some ways, Hillary really cannot win with her personal decisions. She was the woman-behind-the-man for many years, raised what by anyone's standards is a wonderful young woman, stood by her husband and worked on her marriage when he was unfaithful, then pursued her own career after he reached his pinnacle. Now, that same husband says some stupid things and the media wants me to write her off? No way.
I am not impugning Obama's integrity or attributes, but his own supporters have problems naming a true accomplishment. Heck, I have vehemently been against the invasion of Iraq from the beginning -- I am not sure that alone qualifies me to be president. While on the one hand his having no real public record can be viewed as refreshing, I find it to be a concern.
Some, including several Kennedys, have likened Obama's bid to John F. Kennedy's back in 1960. But Kennedy's and Obama's backgrounds and records at this juncture are different.
As a mother of daughters, I think this election is too important not to speak out on behalf of the best candidate for the job, a candidate that also happens to be female. Women, please wake up, stand up and be heard. Men, I implore you to seriously evaluate and consider who is the best candidate for the job.
To slightly paraphrase Hillary, together in Pennsylvania we could make a difference. Yes, we could. Yes, we could. Yes, we could.