Editor's note: This post is part of series called Meet the Candidates in which Bilerico contributors write about why they are supporting their chosen candidate.
In 1992, my mother did something she had never done before: She registered to vote for the first time in her life. A single mother who was raising her son in rural Virginia with what most of us would deem a low income, she went to the voter registrar's office and signed up so she could cast her first vote for Bill Clinton.
My mother, who is by all accounts a practical woman without any fierce political passions, had had enough of the Bush administration. She watched as then-Vice President Dan Quayle demonized a fictional television character for daring to raise a child on her own. She watched as our economy went into free-fall. Perhaps most importantly of all, though, she had been watching her youngest son - me - come out of the closet in a country with a leader who did not believe I was just as good as anybody else. And when Bill Clinton declared, at the 1992 Democratic convention, that "if other politicians make you feel like you are not part of their family, come on and be part of ours," she had found the leader that, in her words, would be a new Jack Kennedy.
She never regretted that vote, and she cast another one for Bill, as she affectionately calls him, in 1996.
Now, at age 70 and after suffering a series of strokes during the past year, mom doesn't leave the house very often, except to go to doctor's appointments. But she's preparing to do something in 2008, too, that she's never done before, and never thought she'd live to do: She's going to cast a vote for another Clinton . . . and she's going to help elect our first female commander-in-chief.
She, like most of us, has had enough of another Bush administration gone bad. This Bush, she tells me, is the worst president she's seen in her lifetime. And though she's not voting for Hillary Clinton solely because she's a woman, she and I both understand that, this time, her story - our story - can come together to make history.
I'm joining her at the polls in 2008 because I believe, passionately, in the power of experienced, knowledgeable women to change the political dynamic in our country.
One of the most vivid memories I have of watching the first Clinton inaugural at home with my mother was the image of people lining Pennsylvania Avenue with signs that read "Hillary 2000." There was a palpable expectation in our country that this First Lady would re-define that role and give women a powerful voice in politics that they had not had before. There was a sense of reality sinking into Washington: Women, who had so often ran our families, helped keep our economy moving and fought so hard for a little bit of liberty, were finally arriving.
Hillary Clinton did not disappoint.
This First Lady did not shirk from the challenge of trying to bring universal healthcare to the American people. She did not shy away from the podium in Beijing, China, when she declared - boldly and unapologetically - that women's rights are human rights. And she did not step away from the microphone when it came time to talk about women, children and the challenges facing single-parent families doing their best to raise their children (even the gay ones) the best way they knew how.
And even though those "Hillary 2000" signs were eight years premature in their predictions, Senator Clinton does not disappoint today, either. She's still the fiery, determined leader with a vision of an America that includes all of us. She's still making mom, and me, proud.
Hillary Clinton is still our girl.
She's our girl because she understands that it's not necessary to roll back civil liberties in order to promote national security. She knows that in the richest country in the world, no one should be forced to choose between medicine and meals. She believes that we can make a graceful exit from Iraq without abandoning the Iraqi people, whose lives have been shattered because of the American invasion. And she puts out enough chairs so that everyone - gay or straight, black or white, man or woman - has a seat at the American table.
Hillary Clinton is still our girl because she still gets it . . . and she's still our girl because she's still got it, too.
Hillary gets that gay Americans are just as patriotic and able to serve our country as our heterosexual neighbors, and she'll sign legislation to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." She gets that our relationships are just as loving and committed as straight couples, and she'll push for federal recognition of those relationships. She gets that HIV/AIDS has not gone away, and she'll support a federally funded needle exchange program to help combat the epidemic that has taken so many from us so early. And she gets that all of us, regardless of who we are, have a role to play in the story that is the United States of America.
When she enters the Oval Office in January 2009, Hillary Clinton will instantly become the most pro-LGBT president in American history.
Now, it's up to each of us to help make that history.
There are a lot of enormously good people running for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but one, more than the rest, understands how to get things done in Washington . . . how to shatter the glass ceilings that have left so many behind for so long . . . and how to re-ignite the beacon of hope and possibility that America was meant to shine. It takes experience to effect change in our nation's capital, and one candidate, more than the rest, has the experience to make that change happen.
At that first Clinton inaugural, Dr. Maya Angelou implored a nation to "Lift up your eyes upon the day breaking before you. Give birth to the dream again."
In 2008, millions of Americans will have an opportunity dream again of a country where there are no prejudicial limits to our potential. They, like my mother, will have the chance to do something they never dreamt they'd live to do. They will travel roads to voting booths that are paved with the blood, sweat and tears of countless others before them who marched, sang and joined hands to make this election day possible. They will come - some who were born before women could vote; some who believe in the power of mothers and sisters and daughters to change the world; some who have never come to that voting booth before - and help make history again.
As Dr. Angelou so eloquently reminded us in 2000, "The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change."
Hillary Clinton has the experience to help us lay down those steps of change. That's why, on this election day, we can all lift up our eyes again.
So if you feel like other politicians don't want you as part of their family, come be part of this one. America's mothers - who, after all, have been training for this job their entire lives - are calling us back together again.