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Screw the haters – I’m genuinely excited about the prospect of President Hillary Clinton

It is historic; it is a big deal.

By Jonn Elledge

There are many ways in which I find myself out of touch with the public mood. I like the European Union. I think migration is basically a good thing. I think that Frank Sobotka is the best character in The Wire, and that publicly expressing opinions about The Wire is a thing that it’s socially acceptable to do.

Also: I’m genuinely excited about the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

It feels like this is an opinion that one is not meant to hold. Bernie Sanders it was okay to get excited about because he was a political outsider who described himself as a socialist. Donald Trump, well, obviously the man’s a monster – but we’ve been exhorted, often, to put time and effort into understanding the social and economic factors that have led a good 40 per cent of the American electorate to want to vote for that monster.

Hillary Clinton, though? The warmongering establishment sell-out, who would be the least popular major party candidate ever to run in a US election were it not for her opponent? Who could possibly be excited about her?

Well, me, actually, and for at least three different reasons. For a start, she’s a policy nerd: someone with a genuine interest in the workings of government, and of the sort of social programmes that can make a country better.

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Because the world is terrible, this is generally not seen as a selling point in a presidential candidate; it’s an active handicap when it comes to the all-important “who’d you rather have a beer with” test. But I’m going to make the radical suggestion that, in an actual president, it’s probably a pretty good thing.

Related point: being a Washington insider is also, honestly, a pretty good thing. Okay, Washington is sclerotic, both by design and thanks to modern partisanship. But Hillary’s been around long enough, and in enough different roles, that if anyone knows how to work the system, it’s her. President Clinton will be able to get things done, and be willing to work with whoever she needs to do so.

(A response to the obvious comeback on that: Yes, the Republicans hate her. They will hate anyone who beats them. Let’s not be so naive to think they’d go any easier on someone else.)

Those are boring, wonkish points, though, and as much as I’d love to be living in a world in which elections were about things like that, I’ve long accepted that it isn’t this one. But there is another reason I’m rooting for Clinton, one that I’m genuinely a bit baffled that we’re not talking about more.

This week, the US may very well elect its first female president. It should be historic; it should be a big deal.

And yet, it feels oddly like we’re not meant to be excited about this, in the way we were when Barack Obama was first elected – because she’s not quite lefty enough, or because her husband was president, or because she’s had a career long enough to make decisions that alienate pretty much anyone. Or just because it’s Hillary Clinton, and the received wisdom is that nobody likes Hillary Clinton.

But – we should be excited by this. It is historic. It is a big deal. Not because a female leader automatically brings social progress – just look at the state of the UK right now – but because symbolism matters. If Obama had achieved nothing in his eight years, he could at least be content that a generation of African-American kids had grown up with a black first family in the White House; that he’s sent a message that this is a possibility. Even if Clinton’s every move as president is blocked by those dastardly Republicans, there will still be a woman in the most powerful political office on the planet. Even if she gets nothing else done, that will send a message, too.

Also, and let’s be honest about this, the fact that the US hasn’t had a female president yet is starting to get weird.

I sometimes wonder whether I am alone in this. We’ve heard a lot this election about the possibility of shy Trump voters, who don’t show up in polls, just as the UK once had shy Tory voters. But those voters weren’t shy just because they were right-wing: they were shy because they held views that were considered unfashionable. Well, the least fashionable position in American politics right now is to actively support Clinton, because you think she will actually make a good president. What if it turns out to be her supporters who don’t always show up in polls?

We’ll know soon enough. Tomorrow, an incredibly clever, ludicrously well-qualified woman may be elected President of the United States. And in between gawking at the bullshit about email servers and the existential terror brought about by Donald J Trump, I’ve been feeling rather good about that.

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