My relationship with Hillary Clinton is kind of like my relationship with my aunt.
Sure, maybe she posts semi-coherent ramblings on my Facebook statuses; and, yes, perhaps she loudly lamented the infrequency of our phone correspondence to my mother at my cousin’s baptism; and, fine, she may or may not have been accused of gross incompetence for her response to the 2012 attack on the United States diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya.
But then she sends me $20 in the mail for a non-major holiday, or lets me have another glass of wine at Thanksgiving dinner, and I remember why I love her all over again. Not that I’m going to, you know, visit her at work or buy her a scarf or talk to her about my feelings, but all in all, I tolerate her and am even, at times, charmed by her busybody, empty-nester insistence on becoming my friend.
Monday’s debate was similar to one of those times. Finding common ground with my aunt is tough, what with me knowing the names of all 649 Pokemon and zero of the Brady Bunch.
Yet, we can always agree on one thing: Donald Trump. It’s something akin to how I imagine the Weasley relatives talking about Voldemort. Suddenly, we are two human beings with a common perspective: we live in the same world, see the same things.
On the debate stage, rather than appearing, as she often does, in isolation, Clinton was allowed the rare treat of being a spectator. While Trump tiraded about airports or China or whatever, Clinton had to appear respectful, serious, even interested in Trump’s tired nonsenses.
The situation was inherently comic. Nevermind “Between Two Ferns” or Humans of New York; the debate was the gateway into the stubborn youth vote the Clinton campaign had been waiting for. Her practiced nods of feigned attention at Trump’s gross gorings of the truth are funnier than any script you could write for her. It offered her a gateway into what she had always sought: genuineness and human relatability. She was thinking the same things I was, and for once, we were on the same page.
Yes, Bernie Sanders is out of the race, and his shadow hangs long. But just because Batman is gone doesn’t mean that Gotham has to elect the Joker.
The truth of the matter is that, come November, I have to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and only one of those is a real option.
I’m not stupid; I know what I have to do. But, damn it, can you blame me for wanting to whine about it a little longer?
Monday helped ease the pain. Clinton felt like more than just the “alternative.” She felt like a real possibility. When she laughed at Trump, when she barely suppressed an eye roll, I felt a trace of Bernie’s heroism: an unwillingness to compromise, a recognition of absurdity. In other words, I felt honesty.
Maybe she has a little bit of “cool Mom” in her after all. After all, she was on “Between Two Ferns.” With the guy from “The Hangover!” Just like my aunt trying to dab, I can appreciate the effort, even if (especially if!) it’s not really working. At some point, I have to let myself be won over.
Yes, Hillary Clinton probably texts in complete sentences with periods. And sure, Hillary Clinton doesn’t know how to pour a beer. And, I admit, Hillary Clinton is strongly in favor of unconstitutional drone strikes, which violate the very principles our country stands for.
But just like I can’t choose my mother’s biological siblings, I also can’t choose the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
So get in here, Hillary, for a stiff hug and the awkward kiss on the cheek that my parents always make me do.