I have always been interested in politics. Hell, I was born the day of the Lewinsky Scandal Apology. I’m going to be minoring in history in the most political city in the country. I idolized women like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, heads of the Seneca Falls Convention and leaders in the fight for womens’ suffrage, my whole childhood. I can distinctly remember my mom taking my sister and I into the voting booth with her each election day and explaining to us how important it was for us to vote because women had fought, been tortured, and died for this right.
Obama was the first president that I can remember actually understanding. I was born in the late Clinton era, and was just a little kid when George W. Bush was first elected in 2000 and again in 2004. But in 2008, I was in fifth grade, and I can remember learning about the political system and thinking it was the coolest thing in the entire world. I remember having our own election in class, watching Obama and McCain’s debates for homework, and learning for the first time about the ideologies of each party. I learned (in basic terms, I was only 10 years old) about Obama’s policies and what it meant that a black man was nominated to be president, when 50 years earlier, people were dying for the right to stop segregation. I can remember sitting in a crowded classroom with the entire fifth grade on January 20th, 2009 and watching Obama’s first inauguration on the pull down screen with tears in my favorite teacher’s eyes. I can remember him telling me that I was watching history.
I got really into politics around the 2012 election. I was a freshman in high school and spent my free time learning about all the terms and policies of the election season—what a primary was, what a contested convention was, what a delegate was, etc.—and tried to learn as much as I could about each candidate so that, even though I couldn’t vote, I could make my own decisions about each candidate. I often had long talks with my parents about the political system and everything I didn’t understand, and sat and watched every debate between Obama and Romney. I had my own political issues I was concerned about and started to form my own opinions based on what each candidate said.
When the candidates for the 2016 presidential election each announced their nomination, I was overjoyed. I had been waiting for this moment my whole life, to be a part of the election process. This would be the first election I was allowed to vote in, and it was a presidential election. I spent hours upon hours learning about each candidate on both sides, and registered to vote on my 17th birthday. In the state of Connecticut, if you turn 18 during the election year, you can vote in the Connecticut primaries of that year, and I had never been more excited. I proudly wore my “I voted” sticker around the whole day and stuck it on my laptop after, where it proudly sits today, and urged my friends to do the same.
I followed both conventions and watched the primary season religiously. I watched last week as Donald Trump accepted his nomination with 28 Connecticut delegate votes, and eagerly awaited the Democratic Convention. I watched with tears in my eyes as Connecticut pledged 44 delegates to Hillary Clinton (who, fun fact, went to Yale for her undergrad!), and when I watched Vermont pass, only to have Bernie Sanders himself announce that Hillary had won the nomination. I watched as speeches were made from incredible speakers, and I watched as Bill Clinton described the nominee herself in more personal terms.
Watching Bill’s speech, I was overcome by a wave of emotion and a humbleness that I had never felt before. I realized that the year I graduate college will be the 100 year anniversary of the amendment that gave women the right to vote. Women were starved, tortured, and killed for their willingness to fight for the right to universal suffrage. I realized that 100 years ago, women weren’t going to college, couldn’t legally vote, and were staying at home to watch the kids. I realized the weight of Hillary’s nomination, that she was the first female to be nominated for president by a major party. There is a possibility that she could be the first female president of the United States. I live in a country that encourages women to follow their dreams—I can dress how I choose, speak my mind, get an education, and follow my passions in life.
No matter your political affiliation, no matter your stances on Hillary Clinton, you have to acknowledge that she made history. You have to acknowledge that this woman wrote a letter to NASA when she was a child asking to be an astronaut, and they wrote her back saying that women couldn’t be astronauts. Now that woman is the democratic nominee to be president. You have to acknowledge that this is history being made, and showing little girls everywhere that they can be anything they want if they work hard enough, even a presidential nominee.