–written by Bianca Betancourt & illustration by Raziel Puma

EDITOR’S NOTE : Solely for transparency, it should be known that CIRCUS itself as a publication is not endorsing Clinton or any other candidate for that matter in the 2016 Presidential election. This essay is an opinion-editorial based on the personal experiences, rather than the politics, of the author. 

Every year in the fifth grade it was a tradition within my conservative school district for every 5th grader to pick a president, politician, or first lady to dress up as and do a presentation on. We had a slip of paper where we had to list our top three choices to report on–and first on my list was Jacqueline Kennedy. She was pretty, I thought to myself as I wrote down her name in my too mature for my age scripted scribble. Plus, I wanted to wear a pastel pink dress suit and pillbox hat to school.

She ended up being the most popular choice between all the girls in class and I got nervous when my teacher came up to me on the side later that afternoon to ask me a question. 

“Dammit,” I said inside my head. “I really don’t want to have to be Eleanor Roosevelt.”

“Four other classmates of yours choose your number one,” she told me pointing her index finger at my jotted down choices. 

“But,” she said, giving me a sliver of hope, “No one else chose your number 2.” My eyes glanced down at my handwriting where I had written “Hillary Clinton.” 

Me being me, even at 11 years old, I was a born hipster never wanting to be the same as everyone else. I went home instantly being proud of the decision my teacher helped me make and immediately asked my mom if i could borrow her Louis Vuitton briefcase for school later that month. She was confused. 

It was that day that started my love affair with Hillary. When I was 11, I didn’t understand the complexities of the Monica Lewinsky scandal or feminism or how much of a political trailblazer she truly was. I did know, that she was like me, a woman, and she worked for everything she had in her life. (Her first job out of college was gutting salmon at an Alaskan–and probably illegal–fishing factory).

When she was running against a then fairly unknown Barack Obama in the 2008 primary elections, I rooted for the two of them equally–but I knew her quasi-conservative stances on some social issues would only hurt her, not help her against Obama’s then characteristic charm and enthusiasm. I knew when she conceded defeat against him that it wasn’t going to be the last we saw of her. 

Hillary re-running for 2016 is easily the worst kept secret in political history–her gradual ease back into spotlight after leaving her position as secretary of state, her mum responses to whenever she was asked what the future held for her and the most solid piece of evidence–her 2014 introduction to Twitter and her account bio: “Wife, mom, FLOTUS, US Senator, Sec State, author, dog owner, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker...TBD.

But everything following those suspense filled moments–were underwhelming. Her official campaign announcement video–though diverse–was bland–and dare I say a smug confidence got the best of her in the beginning of her campaign trail. But do I blame her? 

She’s the single handedly most prominent and powerful female politician in the United States–she probably agreed along with her PR managers that glamour and gimmicks were not needed in her campaign. She has the political resume to back it all up. And the fact that she’s Hillary fucking (Rodham) Clinton. She, like everyone else watching this campaign race, didn’t expect someone named Bernie to threaten her run.

So while good man Bernie is swaying millennials left and right with his outspoken stances on race, economics, and immigration–Hillary is staying quiet–unless it’s the occasional SNL appearance or video interview with Lena Dunham talking about Lenny Kravitz’s penis (which is an important topic, but still).

We got a little bit more of the gusto we’ve been needing during this week’s first Democratic candidate debate when she claimed her firm stances on gun control, equal pay for men and women and the necessity of Planned Parenthood in the United States. But while it’s obvious to me living my life and understanding my role as a woman in this country today, I immediately connect that common denominator to how Hillary will hopefully run these United States as our leader. But then why are so many of my peers and colleagues still swaying towards Sanders–another old, white, male politician and “activist” who in terms of social issues, is just chanting the same things Hillary herself has completed strides towards? 

Maybe Sanders seems more genuine with the fact he doesn’t have million dollar corporations tied to his fundraising campaign and the fact he’s slowly but surely made his presence known with no gimmicks or celebrity endorsements–to many, he seems authentic and the complete opposite of what Americans are used to in a Presidential candidate. 

And maybe Hillary, as qualified as she is for this Presidency and a life of experience behind her name, doesn’t seem like she wants this enough. Is it the step the public has been wanting her to take since her husband left office? Of course. But is the step that she truly wants and believes in for herself? 

I can’t firmly answer yes.