| Super Tuesday is only a few days away when thousands of Californians will cast their votes in the Democratic primary. It seems this has become a race where campaign issues have become dwarfed by the diversity of the candidates themselves. Amazingly, the two most diverse candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, are the only contenders for the Democratic nomination. It has made this election one of the most fascinating and inspirational elections in our history.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the work of the CALIFORNIA LIST that I personally support Senator Hillary Clinton for president.
Yes, I support Senator Hillary Clinton because she is a pro-choice, Democratic candidate, but more importantly I believe she can potentially accomplish more than the other contenders in this presidential race. Senator Hillary Clinton has a plan and the experience to bring that plan to fruition.
I support Senator Hillary Clinton because she is tough. Working with women candidates here in California, I have learned that when a woman runs for any office she inevitably faces challenges because of her gender. During the recent presidential contests, some of these challenges made front page news - most topics have little to do with her ability execute the office for which she is running. We have discussed Senator Hillary Clinton's laugh, her clothes and now her husband. She has been held to a much higher standard than her opponents and to her credit has risen to the occasion. Too bad we are not talking about the issues that really matter, because when you actually listen to her speak it becomes clear that she is knowledgeable, articulate and understands of the issues facing our country.
I know that women aren't the only proponents for what we call "women's issues"-issues of wage fairness and reproductive health and work/family balance. Thankfully the women's movement has sensitized many men to these concerns and certainly men have taken up the gauntlet on such issues. However, by and large women still experience problems in these areas more forcefully than their men. In this particular instance, Senator Hillary Clinton's gender and her focus have coincided. These are the issues of particular concern to me personally and to the CALIFORNIA LIST, so her work and advocacy on them is another strong reason for my support.
If you doubt that a woman can win, just remember Senator Hillary Clinton won her Senate seat twice in a state where she was a first judged to have an unlikely chance of winning at all. She won both the Michigan and Florida primaries - two large, diverse states that are important to win in the general election.
And, maybe most importantly, I like Senator Hillary Clinton. In my role as the founder of the CALIFORNIA LIST, I know that in politics, "likeability" counts. I find her warm, personable and funny.
According to a poll released by Field Research on January 22nd, Senator Hillary Clinton leads California with the largest margins amongst women at 43% compared to 24% in favor of Senator Barack Obama. In a state where so many delegates are up for grabs, this is where the discussion among women gets especially interesting...because it calls into question whether, as a gender, we can accurately be considered a single group-or courted as a single group-demographically. As the CALIFORNIA LIST continues to work to elect women to government in California, we hope to capitalize on what we are learning to help build the pipeline of future women leaders.
Whether on the sidelines of the soccer field or volleyball court, at a Boy Scout dinner, or during my son's sixth grade field trip, I have been so energized by the debate about the different candidates. For the past six years I have been traveling the state of California talking about the importance of being engaged politically. My personal life has always been divided between my political friends, my carpool mom's and my social friends, until this primary season. I think that both Democratic candidates have equally inspired political activism.
While I support Senator Hillary Clinton, I also want to make it perfectly clear that I truly respect those who think otherwise. I believe in the Democratic process. I look forward to the day when all people have an equal voice - regardless of race or gender. We have come a long way. We have a long way to go. But, the most important thing is to make your voice heard and vote on Tuesday, February 5th.
Bettina Duval is the founder of the California List, a political fundraising network that helps elect Democratic women to all branches of California state government.