We must find a way to talk about politics, Hillary Clinton said in Orange County, California last Monday, without resorting to pettiness and put-downs—standing our ground when necessary, but rising together toward the common good.
Turns out, it’s impossible to keep separate my personal observations and political leanings, but I’ve done my best to share my experiences here in a respectful, inclusive way. I hope you’ll feel equally inspired to meet your preferred candidate in a local venue and to share your stories afterward.
I carry a clipboard, entrance forms and my camera, wade into the long line at the UFCW Hall in Buena Park, and invite people to share their stories as we wait together for the Secret Service to usher us through the metal detectors.
Here as elsewhere, Hillary draws a diverse crowd, representing (as Leela Daou so eloquently says), the “millions who were born here and millions who were born elsewhere and made the choice to become American citizens…millions of marginalized people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, and religious affiliations who have fought and are still fighting tirelessly to be seen and have their voices heard equally.”
People from all walks of life have come together for a larger purpose—longtime supporters standing shoulder-to-shoulder with first generation citizens, curious but as-yet-undecided voters, and people who will cast ballots for the very first time in this pivotal election.
Who says politics can’t be fun?
This little girl carries with pride her research project on Hillary Clinton, says she hopes to get it autographed.
“My hat says it all,” this woman says. Same as Erica Jong, she’s impressed by Hillary’s longstanding support of her favorite causes: civil rights, children’s rights, and women’s rights.
Music pulses through hidden speakers–upbeat tunes from Hillary’s official playlist–as the crowd filters into the Union Hall.
“I’m going to play my Woman Card, says Jamie Lee Curtis to wild applause, before she delivers a fiery introduction.
She’s the Most Admired Woman in the World, 20 times over, the first female to run for the highest leadership position in America. But she greets us warmly, quickly shifts the attention to us.
She leans forward, shakes hands with everyone close and makes eye contact with people in the farthest reaches of the room.
See the blonde head, highlighted by the gold star? That’s me. Soon after that picture was taken by Campaign Staff, I’m nudged even closer to the podium by my thoughtful, ever-so-much taller new friends.
Secret service rim the stage, rove through the crowd and guard the exits. But absent any teleprompters or talking heads, nothing else stands between the Presidential candidate and us.
I’m not one for taking selfies, but quick, look! A Secret Agent man’s lurking over my right shoulder!
Hillary’s energy is palpable, electrifying.
She has a quick wit and an easy laugh, as evidenced by…well, you’ll want to see for yourself. 🙂
Here, a woman who’s not afraid to show the depth and breadth of her emotions, despite what you might’ve read elsewhere.
In this intimate moment, Hillary was recalling for us her first visit to Ground Zero, less than a day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NYC. You could’ve heard a pin drop in that union hall as she spoke passionately about the need for a steady hand in similar circumstances.
She spoke in glowing terms about the first responders who worked 24-hour shifts, digging through rubble in a desperate hunt for survivors and then trailing their axes through ashes and soot at the end of the day. In her eyes, you see remembered pain, the untold stories of everything she witnessed. But in the set of her shoulders, you also sense the steely resolve she used to forge ahead, and which she’ll call upon again, as she brings us all together on the road to a better future.
Hillary shines in these intimate settings, specifically chosen over larger stadiums because they highlight the importance of listening over speaking.
Presidential candidates, she says, should prove themselves willing and able to:
1) Make positive differences in the lives of all Americans.
2) Keep us safe.
3) Unify our country—its citizens and its elected leaders.
She paints her vision in vivid strokes, and then offers real-life examples that bring home to Orange County the global issues that affect each of us, far beyond the primary season.
We come away from the event, more committed than ever to work for the ideals she stands for, and to help her take her rightful place in the Oval Office.