Megan, a reader who voted for Hillary Clinton, shares a powerful confession:
I’ve been thinking about the election a lot for the past two days, and the idea that I keep coming back to is that in some ways this is my fault.
It’s my fault because I voted for Clinton when she ran against Obama in the 2008 primary, but I didn’t tell anyone because she was the unpopular choice. I wasn’t embarrassed about my decision, but being a real liberal seemed to mean voting for Obama. So I voted quietly in the primary, felt my disappointment quietly when she lost, and seamlessly joined the Obama supporters in the general election.
It’s my fault because I voted for Clinton when she ran against Sanders in the 2016 primary, and I didn’t tell anyone because again she was the unpopular choice. She was even more qualified this time around and I had a greater appreciation for the depth of her public service, but being a real liberal seemed to mean supporting Sanders. So I voted quietly in the primary, and rarely mentioned my preference for her.
It’s my fault because during the long months of the primary and the general election I didn’t tell anyone how strongly I felt about Clinton. I didn’t put a sticker on my car, I didn’t put a sign in my yard, and I didn’t wear a T-shirt. My loudest statement of support was the tiny pin I purchased after the convention, at a time that it felt safe to be a Clinton supporter.
It’s my fault because when I ran into people who were voting for Trump—at the grocery store, in the gym, in my neighborhood—I changed the subject because I didn’t want to get into an argument. I told myself that it wasn’t worth it and that they wouldn’t change their minds.
It’s my fault because though I knew my mother was genuinely torn between the two candidates I didn’t engage with her. I didn’t want to know that she actually thought there was a real choice to be made.
It’s my fault because I never once asked my sister what she was thinking. She’d supported the Tea Party in the past, and I assumed she was leaning towards Trump. I didn’t want to know.
It’s my fault because my father and I had a massive fight about Clinton over Easter, and in an effort to preserve our relationship I stopped talking to him about politics. If we didn’t talk about it, then I didn’t have to deal with the possibility that he was sexist and racist in a way I’d never considered.
It’s my fault because I capitulated to the expectation that I not express my emotions publicly. I’m upset right now, and it isn’t lost on me that expressing this upset is potentially disqualifying. It isn’t lost on me that saying I’m angry will make me vulnerable to the accusation I’m too emotional. I’ve spent a lifetime calming down. It’s something that I try to do when interacting with men professionally, and it’s something that I try to do when I interact with men personally. And every time I do this in my private life, I normalize it and make it harder for women to succeed in public life.
And it’s also my fault because when I did support her, I did so in a provisional and caveated way. I said things like, “I realize she’s not a perfect candidate” and “I’m not arguing that she isn’t flawed.”