I see myself in Hillary Clinton.
I’m a 14-year-old girl and my dream is to become the President of the United States.
Now I may only be in my freshmen year of highschool, but already, I’m positive the presidency is for me. I have so many ideas about how to solve the problems of our world. Sometimes I brainstorm what I’d do if I had the power to change what I saw wrong around me. I think about what I’d do to fix the education system, rampant homelessness and climate change. (I actually have some pretty good ideas.) I’m sure with enough preparation and experience, I could do a good job in office.
So I’ve already started preparing. I’ve volunteered for a political campaign and joined my school’s debate team. I’m researching how our government works, with the idea that if I start educating myself now, I’ll be extra prepared to lead when the time comes. But then I remember the 2016 election. I remember how Hillary Clinton had more than her share of knowledge and qualifications and still lost. I remember how Donald Trump had never held elected office in his life and still won. How he didn’t even bother to talk about any real plans except “build a giant wall” and how Hillary had laid out in detail everything she would do for the country.
I look at the 2016 election and wonder if it’s even worth educating myself. If it’s pointless being prepared and knowing what you're doing. Why be overqualified if you’re just going to be overlooked?
Hillary Clinton knew every nook and cranny of what the presidency entailed. She had tangible plans. She was prepared. All we had to do was elect her and she’d roll up her sleeves and get right to work. But Trump was elected instead, and he looked like a deer in headlights when Obama showed him around the White House. According to the press, he seemed “surprised by the gravity of the job” and Obama decided he was going to spend more time with Trump then he usually would with his successor because apparently Trump didn’t bother to read through the requirements of the job he’d been running for for 18 months. The American people had chosen the underqualified man instead of the over qualified women.
And so I wonder if maybe because I’m a girl who's loud and challenges what I’m told to accept, that it doesn’t matter how hard I work. That a man can just snatch anything away from me, qualifications be damned. With the 2016 election, that illusion of security that as long as I dream big enough and work hard enough, I’m going to achieve my dream, has been ripped away.
I will still continue to work towards my dream and do the right thing because I genuinely want to make a good difference in the world, presidency or no presidency. And I believe that and no matter what the American electorate thinks, preparation, intelligence, and qualifications should mean something.
But as I work, I am and always will be haunted by the 2016 election.
“Remember Hillary?” A tiny voice will whisper to me every step of the way. “Being qualified doesn’t pay off. No one cares if you know what you’re doing. Trump was clueless and unqualified. He won just by tapping into enough fear. So stop thinking about the White House. You’re a girl. You’re too ambitious and outspoken. People don't like loud, ambitious girls with a lot to say. Everyone will just see you as a crooked witch and tear you apart. People won’t care how much service you do for the world. People won’t care how hard you work. People won’t care how much you want the job- In fact, being a girl who wants something will make them like you even less. So why even bother?”
The values I had clung to: that hard work pays off and that the bully always loses in the end, have become childish fantasies as soon as the 2016 presidency was called.
I’m working hard. I’m doing community service, I’m researching, I’m practicing my speaking, brainstorming how I’d solve the country's problems, keeping up with the news- but that doesn’t matter.
Some man with no qualifications will just sweep in, and with lies, prejudice, fear-mongering and grandiose promises, rip everything I’ve worked so hard for away from me. He won’t know the first thing about the job. But it won’t matter. He’ll be living my dream for me.