White friends, I need you to let me know you're safe.

“I’m writing a new blog series about HIV now that we’re home,” I told her, barely balancing the phone between my chin and shoulder as I carried the basket of dirty clothes to the laundry room. Laundry still overwhelms me now, of course. It was even harder then as I was newly adjusting to our life as a family of eight. Going from three to six kids - all aged 6 and younger then - in one adoption is no joke.

“I’ve heard whispers that some people at church were worried about having their child in class with mine, but no one has said anything directly to us. So, have you heard anything?”

The silence was so loud on the other end that I thought we had gotten disconnected. I said her name and “hello?” 

She said, “I’m here,” as I moved laundry from the washer to the dryer.

I thought, perhaps, I needed to rephrase the question. I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t fishing for her to tell on anyone or name names or anything like that. This time, I asked, “Are there any specific concerns people have that I could address on the blog to clear things up?”

“Well,” she started and then paused. “Well, no. I haven’t heard anything from anyone else, but… well, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this.”

“Huh?” I dropped a couple items. I couldn’t bring myself to pick them up. Something about her tone made me freeze. I waited on her words.

“Well, we’ve decided we aren’t comfortable with playdates anymore. We love your kids. We do. But with HIV, we just don’t know. [Husband] isn’t okay with that. I didn’t know how to tell you.”

“Oh.”

I’m honestly not sure how I ended the phone call. I know I finished swapping the laundry. I remember emailing her with fact sheets and links, in hopes that this was a simple lack of education. My husband and hers sat down to talk it out. We tried to assure them that our child with HIV posed no risk to theirs.

(After all, HIV – other than mother-to-child transmission – is spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and sexual intercourse. I think we can all agree that those activities should be off the table for playdates, right? So, no problem.)

They were resolute, though: they could tolerate our child with theirs in Sunday school, but we didn’t want to risk any more contact than that. We could still be friends, they offered. (That didn’t really work, as you might imagine.)

I felt numb for weeks. I stopped inviting people over, not knowing who else might reject us. I felt more unloved and betrayed than I had since my childhood. No one seemed safe if this best friend wasn’t, I figured.

That was almost three years ago. Yet I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot this week. As I continue to lament what this past election showed me about our country, I'm lamenting anew at the denial of justice for Walter Scott and his family in Charleston. His name became a hashtag in April 2015 because Officer Slager shot him eight times in the back while he was 17 feet away. We watched the video. It also showed Slager depositing his taser next to Scott’s lifeless body, planting evidence to match the lies he planned to tell, saying Scott had his taser when he never did. (Not while he was alive, anyway.)

If we hadn’t seen the video, I think of how the narrative might have been different. If we hadn’t seen the video, I think of how many of my friends would have believed Slager’s lies. If we hadn’t seen the video, I think white America would have ignored another black man’s blood.

But even with the video, the trial ended in a mistrial, a miscarriage of justice, as the jury was able to render a verdict but proved unwilling to do their job.

I feel numb again, like I did after Tamir and Trayvon and Sandra and Keith and Philando and Alton and Eric and Levar and John and Tyre and Laquan and Ezell and Akai and Aiyana and Dontre and Jonathan and Samuel and Freddie and Rekia and others. (The list is too long, my friends. Too long. Lord, have mercy.) I grew up the daughter of a law enforcement officer, taught to respect the badge. Now I watch story after story play out of those wearing badges who neither respect their own code or the humanity of those with skin like three of our children. I feel so numb. No one feels safe when officers aren’t.

And if those officers are just a few bad apples, then why the lack of accountability? Why aren’t their colleagues the first in line to say that this sort of behavior doesn’t represent their work? Why isn’t the justice system willing to be just when the offender looks more like my father than my son?

Just like in those dreary months following my former friend’s declaration, I’m not sure who I can trust now. I’ve heard white friends defend the hatefulness of Trump’s campaign and followers, as if their words didn’t sting. I’ve seen posts and comments about how black people just need to not run and then they won’t die. I’ve been told, “your kids will be fine because you’re raising them right,” with no realization of the racist implication held in those words, the suggestion that black mothers and fathers aren’t good parents like we are.

Somedays it’s easier to just avoid you, white friends, unless you’ve explicitly told me or shown me you are safe. I know silence doesn’t equal racism. I’m not saying it does. I'm not saying that being quiet and white equates to being racist. But I am saying that silence from white people right now equates to uncertainty for me. It means you’re a wild card. It means you might be safe for us but I can’t know that for sure. It means that if I’ve never seen you show solidarity with those who have experienced racism, then I can’t know where you stand when we do.

And when I’m feeling particularly raw, I won’t turn to you if I don’t know you’re trustworthy. I can’t. I’ve been hurt too often for that. While for many white friends, the Slager mistrial feels like just another news story, it feels personal to people of color (and those of us raising black children). As I see white friends shocked by the mistrial, most of my friends of color aren’t surprised; they’re weary from carrying pain we’ve refused to even acknowledge. How can we heed the words of Galatians 6:2 to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens if we try to pretend they don’t exist?

Please, friends, try to understand. Listen. Ask. Engage. Enter the hard conversations so that we can all grow. (As an example, you’ll find an amazingly helpful conversation under my friend Laura’s comment on my post here. That might be a good starting place.)

And once you can empathize, even just a little, then do something. I’m not asking you to speak out in all the ways I do. What a boring world it would be if we all used our voices in the same way! If posting on social media isn’t your thing, I get that. I really do. (Some days, it maybe shouldn’t be my thing either.)

Maybe doing something means having a conversation with a neighbor. Maybe it means texting a black friend to say, “I know the past month has been full of heavy race-related news… how are you feeling?” Maybe it means clicking “like” on something to let a friend know they aren’t alone. Maybe it means something more, something bigger, something bolder. Or maybe it means something simple, something in your school, something in your church, something in your home.

I tried to patch things up with my old friend, but our relationship basically ended with that phone call. She wasn’t willing to treat our child like anything but a threat. I learned then, though it broke my heart, that sometimes you have to walk away from friendships. I still love her. I still miss her. It's been almost three years, and I still can’t type these words without tears. My heart is still broken over this loss, to be honest. I’m still grieving.

But a friend isn’t a friend if she can’t see my children as fully human and worthy of love and belonging. A friend isn’t a friend if he chooses the fear of my children over the truth about them, whether the topic be HIV or race or immigration or disability or gender. A friend isn’t a friend if I share sorrow and the knee jerk reaction is defensiveness instead of care again and again. (Once or twice gets a pass, though I’ll call out that behavior for what it is. But we all have bad days. I don’t think it helps any of us to drop friends lightly.)

What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to know which friends are true friends right now. It’s hard to know if all our friends are safe. It’s hard to know who would stand with us if it had been my son murdered with evidence planted next to him instead of Judy Scott’s son.

In other words, white friends, I need you to let me know you’re safe. I don’t know how to guess at that anymore. Too many people who have shown us love in every other way have surprised us with indifference or hurtful responses about racism.

And – while I know HIV status and race aren’t the same – I can’t bear to have one more conversation with someone who I think is safe who instead replies, “Actually, I’m the one who doesn’t want my kids playing with yours.” 

40 assorted thoughts about the Gilmore Girls revival

You know those super long and controversial posts I’ve written about politics lately? Well, here’s another. Except instead of politics, Gilmore Girls. Because they’re approximately the same level of importance, right?

 

1. We all endured poolhouse Rory, but no one loved her. And for the revival? We mostly got poolhouse Rory. Give me young bookish Rory or Yale Daily News editor Rory or independent ring-rejecting college grad Rory. But poolhouse Rory? For the love. No.

 

2. Welp, it seems that the show discovered black people exist other than Michel. Isn’t that quaint? Maybe by the next revival, some of them will get speaking lines and more screentime than the black back-up dancer in the musical that would not end.


3. And about the musical, I think I almost died during it. And if I had, it would have been sweet mercy. Good gracious, it was awful. And it. would. NOT. end. I mean, I get that they wanted the final song moment, but seriously? Couldn’t we have gotten there some other way? Any other way?


4. I do think the musical was supposed to be a bit of mirth in a plot-heavy revival. But, no. It was just bad. And I think that’s the overarching theme here: we all followed the plot of Gilmore Girls, but we loved it for the mirth not the plot. The most plot-heavy parts of the original were the stretches we all hated, like when the elder Gilmores were separated and when Lorelai and Rory were estranged. The best episodes were the ones that were all light and whimsy and such… and the revival just didn’t deliver that.

 

5. But it did give us Mr. Kim for a moment, and that gave me life.

 

6. But it only gave me Sookie for a few minutes, and that was just enough to make me mourn her absence through the whole rest of it. Because Sookie and Jackson? They gave so much light and whimsy, and without them, it wasn’t the same.

 

7. Taylor gave whimsy too in the originals, and he just seemed sad in the revival. And while I get that the joke about his sexuality at the town meeting was supposed to be funny... really? Gay jokes are pretty tasteless.

 

8. As are body shaming jokes, like the pool speedo bit.

 

9. As is adultery. C’mon. Rory as the hidden away mistress? I mean, I’m glad she didn’t go for that full-on, because that’s not her, but Logan is better than that too. And Rory’s low point as the homewrecker for Dean and Lindsay? We really didn’t need to revisit that.

 

10. But Dean, sweet Dean. I loved his appearance and where his story went. He, minus the infidelity bit, is the one who I always loved but? I think he’s too good for Rory.

 

11. And Jess? I’ve never been the biggest fan of that greaseball because I aspired for so much more for Rory, but I have to admit that she is her truest best self with him. Except I think present-day Jess is too good for present-day Rory, which is an ironic turn of events.

 

12. I know that Logan is Rory’s Christopher and Jess is Rory’s Luke. And maybe Dean is Rory's Max. I still don’t like it.

 

13. Overall, though, Rory is 32. I’m 34. I don’t expect everyone to have an established marriage and six kids by 31 like I did, but I had hoped Rory would be more found and less lost by now.

 

14. And the final four words? Amy S-P was all about them from early on in the show. She had them planned way in advance. But then she left the show before the end, and the words remained unspoken... until now. And I really think they would have worked as a full-circle sort of magic if they had come at the end of the final season with Rory newly out of college. That would have given us some parallelism with 16 year old mom Lorelai and early 20s mom Rory. But acting like Lorelai having a baby as a teenager and making a wonderful life for herself after that is the same as Rory becoming a single mom at 32? No. Puh-lease. Amy should have given up those four words as no longer working well for this iteration. (Also, is it just me or does Lorelai look a bit like Abby Bartlett from The West Wing with her hair and makeup in the scene pictured below?)

 

15. The Life and Death Brigade is weird. There, I said it.

 

16. And Rory’s goodbye to those boys was a lot like Dorothy saying goodbye to her comrades, except that Dorothy wasn’t as much of a lost girl as Rory still is.

 

17. Yes, I’m a little bitter at how lost Rory is. Unapologetically. Just like I couldn’t stand the 30-something gang (though the bit with their parents was cute). I’m not down with delayed adolescence. Grow up, already.

 

18. Speaking of growing up, though. Emily Gilmore became my everything. I love her so. (Who else do I love? Her maid - played by the same person who plays Gypsy - and her entire Latin family living with Emily.) And her final DAR meeting? Oh my goodness, words do not suffice.

 

19. I think forgettable Paul was supposed to be funny. I just felt bad for him, though, and I was so proud of him for finally ending it. I don’t think we were supposed to be rooting for him to extricate himself from Rory, but I totally was. (That said, Lorelai certainly set an example of selfishness for her - and poor treatment of nice guys - at many times throughout the originals. So maybe this was more realistic than my hopes for Rory? But still. This is not the Rory I love. And this Rory is actually worse than poolhouse Rory because she’s not a kid anymore but everyone is treating her like she is. Sigh.)

 

20. Speaking of sigh, the whole surrogacy thing and comment about not wanting to get a baby from another country? Ugh. Made me want to vomit. So unnecessary, at least that comment. And surrogacy is so rife with ethical problems… it just set the stage for me, in the very first installment, to have major gut feelings that were less than charitable about the show. (And, of course, his remark was about getting a non-white baby, to revisit the diversity piece.)

 

21. I hated the not so subtle digs about therapy and such. Mental health issues have enough stigma. I don’t need Gilmore Girls to add to that. Between that and the adoption stuff and the racial diversity fails, all they needed was a joke about HIV or refugees to make a bingo of all my pet peeves.

 

22. Yep, I’m all sorts of petty in these observations. I don’t even care. But I did love the ooober bit.

 

23. Paris. We’ll always have Paris. I love her.

 

24. Paris and Doyle have to reconcile. They must. It’ll happen.

 

25. Fall was definitely my favorite. And not just because their fall didn’t include our presidential election, but that helped. Our fall would have been better without it too.

 

26. Poor Lane. They ruined her honeymoon and now her hairstyle.* Mom hair doesn’t have to be like that. (*Shout out to my girl Esty who said that sentence first and from whom I shamelessly stole it.)

 

27. Michel. How I love thee, Lorelai's angry friend!

 

28. And the secret bar. I loved that.

 

29. But April? She never brings anything good to Stars Hollow. Be gone, girl. (Yep, I'm not even including a picture of her below because NOPE.)

 

30. Oh my goodness, what if the baby is from the one night stand with the Wookie instead of from Logan? Honestly, I just realized this possibility now. My brain just exploded.

 

31. But I swooned a little when Rory went to Richard’s desk to write.

 

32. I should probably say something about the Parenthood cameos. Okay, here goes: Meh. (That’s how I felt about Parenthood too. Hate all you want. See again, an unrelated picture because that's how much I care.)

 

33. So, how long did it take you to go, “oh, THAT is why she went to see Christopher!” after the final four lines? Confession: It took me longer than it should have.

 

34. Luke’s fall speech to Lorelai. Lor’s call to her mom from the weird Wild trip. Emily’s rant at the DAR. Those were the plot-rich moments we all love from GG. The rest of the plottiness? Eh.

 

35. The cheese sign from Richard. My. Heart.

 

36. Can we talk about how I want an intervention for Rory about alcohol? Child. Stop. (Except you’re not a child, even though everyone treats you that way.)

 

37. Hep Alien lives. I love that. (But, you know, not enough for its own picture.)

 

38. Everything Kirk was totally on point.

 

39. Amy S-P said she never watched Season 7. Which (a) is petty as all get out and (b) is lazy for someone writing a revival following it and (c) explains a lot of the terrible in this one. Seriously, Ames… you clearly had a stellar season 7 planned. And ten years ago, it would have been awesome. Except now? Nope.

 

40. A lot of people say the final four words mean that there’s more episodes to come. And Netflix’s labeling of this as season one makes me think that might be true, even though those four words were always meant to be an ending instead of a to be continued… but? I’ll take the heat for this, but I have to say it: No more. Please, for the love that all is good, no more. This wasn’t great. No by a long shot. Let's not do it again.

 

So, what are your thoughts? (You know, other than that I have clearly spent far too much mental energy on this show.)

reclaiming Christmas

Today, I am reclaiming Christmas.

I've always wrestled with the holiday, for reasons I don't ever plan to share publicly, but I've celebrated because I'm supposed to. I protested in my own little ways, though. I'd switch to CDs when the radio cut over to Christmas tunes. I'd make plans for December devotions as a family but not actually do them. I've drug my feet each year about putting decorations up (pretending I was opposed to it pre-Thanksgiving but I was really just trying to avoid it altogether) and then struggled with taking them down because it pained me, reminding me of a near-Christmas event in my past that I didn't want to admit was part of my story.

a little Shannon, from the days before Christmas felt like pain for me

a little Shannon, from the days before Christmas felt like pain for me

This year isn't going to be easy, but I've worked hard to reintegrate all the pieces of my story - the brutal and the beautiful and the brutiful - into my life. Those dark moments don't define me, but they are part of what makes me who I am. And? For the first time I can remember, I want to celebrate Christmas this year... not because everyone else says I should but because I genuinely desire it.

I know it's going to be hard at times. This is one of those both/and sorts of realities... I'll be both reclaiming Christmas and grieving the full truth I'm finally letting myself feel about why it needs to be reclaimed in the first place. I'll be both celebrating the Christ child and mourning all the brokenness that made his ultimate sacrifice necessary. I'll be both letting in the joy and holding space for the sorrow.

Both/and.

And right now? My loved ones are on their way to pick up three artificial trees from Target (yay sales! yay slim trees since our house is jam packed as it is! yay ordering online! yay having a good excuse to go fake since the real trees aggravate some of our dear ones' asthma!). I've only ever had one tree before this year, even then begrudgingly. But we have mini trees from last year for each of the kids' rooms, and now one big tree each for my office, our family room, and the sitting area in our dining room. I got an obnoxious light projector thing for the house, and I'm going to be on the lookout for the most annoyingly ridiculous inflatable yard decor, because we're a lot of things in the Dingle household but classy isn't one of them.

And for the first year ever, I have a Christmas playlist on my phone, and I'm listening to these songs by choice, even before Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure what your both/and is this year. I'm not sure the stories you hold, the brutal and beautiful and brutiful ones. But I know none of us are alone, and I know the first Christmas found a messy, unsanitized birth in a dirty stable surrounded by animals and manure. So I know Christmas doesn't have to be all about the trimmings and tidy bows and sparkling lights... it's gonna be a merry, messy Christmas, y'all.

And I think that seems pretty perfectly imperfect to me.

I want to help you understand my lament.

I'm hurting, friend. I'm hurting deeply. And I'm being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can. 

My heart is so tender, and I'm praying with each word that they will be received in the manner in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart. 

I occupy a unique space. Here is our family from a couple Easters ago.

I'm white, but four of my children aren't. I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I've been targeted online as a "race traitor" for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabiling), but I'm raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren't or don't. I'm a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn't "read books by women because they aren't any good." (And I'm a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that's not how I'm feeling. I have voted in five presidential elections, and my candidate only won one of them. It's not new for me to watch election results and see that it didn't go the way I voted.

But I've never felt this way before. And I want you to understand my lament. I want to try to help you grasp the depth of and heart behind this pain.

Before that, let me be clear about what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that I feel this way because the candidate I voted for wasn't elected; that's not the basis of my feelings. I'm not saying that I don't trust God; I do. I'm not saying that I reject anyone who disagrees; I find beauty in our diversity of all forms. 

What I am saying is please don't dismiss my pain or put a timeline on anyone's grief. Hold space. In the words of James 1, please be slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to become angry. 

(And if you're wondering, I've confessed to God and others when I've fallen short there too. I'm not pointing to a speck in your eye while I have a log in my own. I promise. And I wrote these words today instead of yesterday because I couldn't ask others to repent yet then without words dripping with my own sinful arrogance.)

I'm not going to list every way Trump acted or spoke in hurtful ways about groups to which my family belongs. This post isn't about him. He is our next president. I am praying for him. I'm even rooting for him. I genuinely hope none of the grave concerns I have about his leadership, character, and policies will be accurate. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.

But I believe Maya Angelou is right when she said, "when people show you who they are, believe them." This post isn't about who Trump is. We've known that for a while. This post is what the votes of white evangelicals have shown me about who they are. 

I don't believe most people who voted for him did so because of his expressions and actions of racism or ableism or xenophobia or misogyny or sexual assault or religious discrimination. I'm not saying that's who you are if you filled the bubble by his name. I want to think the best of my neighbors, so I'm telling myself you were driven by other reasons. 

But? Whatever your reasons, a vote for Trump required a rationalization. 

What he said about "the blacks" is terrible, but...

What he said on mic about sexually assaulting women is awful, but...

How he mocked several people with disabilities isn't okay, but...

His statement that immigrants are rapists and criminals was out of line, but...

I could keep going. I think you get the idea, though. In order to vote for Trump, something mattered more to you than his mistreatment or discrimination of certain groups. Whatever followed the "but..." is why you voted for him. Maybe it had to do with the economy or the Supreme Court or his anti-establishment vibe or [fill in the blank]. I trust that you had your reasons. Some policy aspect of his was compelling (or of hers was so awful to you that you felt like you had to vote for the person with the best chance of stopping Hillary).

But here's the deal: Your policy stance followed the "but..." Our personhood preceded it.

So to me, here is what I hear:

What he said about Patience, Philip, and Patricia is terrible, but...

What he said on mic about sexually assaulting someone just like you were assaulted is awful, but...

How he mocked Zoe and Robbie isn't okay, but...

His statement that Patience, Philip, Patricia, and Zoe are rapists and criminals was out of line, but...

Can you pause for a moment and empathize with how that feels?

You can say I'm being too sensitive. You can tell me I'm taking it too personally. You can try to dismiss my feelings. (You wouldn't be the first.)

I'm writing this because I want to help you understand my lament, though. I do. But it is sensitive and personal and rooted in some valid feelings. So trying to help you understand means I have to be vulnerable and open myself up to criticisms from the cheap seats. 

My heart was broken when I realized Trump had won. I didn't have much time to work through my feelings, though, because I'm a mom. Our kids had been being told by classmates that they would be sent back to Uganda if Trump was elected. I had been responding with truth and compassion, but I also didn't think he'd win. When he did, I had to struggle with how to find the words to help her feel secure and prepare her for how to respond when those kids said anything that day after, emboldened by a Trump win. (This is the same child who had a classmate yell, "go back to Africa!" at her last year after Trump's campaign had taken off with racist undertones.) I coached her white sister through how to respond and how to have her sister's back. I walked them in to the elementary school, and I spoke with my kids' teachers to make sure they were aware of these concerns. 

And then I walked back to my van and wept. 

And then I went on social media and was told that my grief came from being a sore loser, that I was being divisive by sharing my hurt, and that I was more concerned with the gospel of Shannon than the gospel of Christ.

And I wept some more. 

I don't think most of my white Christian brothers and sisters intended their votes as racist or ableist or misogynistic or anti-immigrant acts. But? Overwhelmingly, white evangelicals voted for Trump, deciding that their "but..." reasons trumped discrimination against our family. This isn't an isolated event, though; our previous church supported the adoption of black children but then members became critical of me and my faith when I began speaking out about racial injustice, and every week I hear from families who are asked to leave their church because their children's disabilities are too much to accommodate. That makes me feel like the church - at least the white church - isn't for my family, if their political priorities are more important than our personal pain. 

I knew how to handle it when my daughter didn't feel safe at school. But the church - especially the white evangelical church - does not seem safe to me right now for my family. I'm not sure how to handle that. I am listening to try to learn and love better, but what I'm hearing is often hurting me more deeply. I want to understand you, but I'm being wounded in the process. I really don't know what to do with this.

Right now, I'm feeling like the man left beaten and bloody by the side of the road, while my religious neighbors pass on the other side. A sizeable chunk of my white Christian brothers and sisters - maybe you among them - voted for a man who unapologetically disrespected so many groups to which our family belongs: immigrants, women, people of color, those with disabilities, and sexual assault survivors. It's good that my faith in God is firm, because right now my faith in his church is shaky.

I'm still for the church. I'm just not sure the church - at least the segment that looks like me - is still for me. 

And that's why I am lamenting. 

10 reasons I’m voting for Hillary, even though I’ve always voted Republican

I’ve shared a few Facebook posts lately in which I’ve drawn attention to flaws of one candidate and asked people not to reply with “but Hillary…” I think we all should vote for the candidate we support and not against any other candidate. So I’m taking my own challenge. That’s only fair, right?

My first political post – I’m pro-life, and I’m voting for Hillary. Here’s why – compared the two major party candidates. This post, however, will answer “why Hillary?” without invoking the other candidate’s record. As aversion to the other candidate is a key factor in voting decisions in this race, I think it’s important for any decided voter to speak more about why they’re voting for their chosen candidate and not just why they’re not voting for the other one.

I’m not voting for Hillary because she’s the lesser of two evils. (I don’t buy that.) I’m not voting for Hillary because she’s better than the alternatives. (Even though she is, in my opinion.) I’m not voting for Hillary because I’m brainwashed by liberal media. (So please don’t insult my intelligence with that counterargument.) I’m not voting for Hillary because I’m a Democrat. (I’m unaffiliated, though I used to be registered Republican and I’ve historically voted for the GOP in most national elections, including every presidential one.)

I’m voting for Hillary because I – a white pro-life evangelical suburban Christian housewife and mother of six – am for her.

I’m with her. Below are 10 reasons why, many addressing some of the most common criticisms I’m hearing about her campaign. Like my previous post in support of Hillary, I’m not writing this to change your mind. (I think most of ours are set by now.) Rather, I’m offering an explanation. I don’t think every Christian is obligated to vote the way I am. I think we all need to vote our conscience, and that might not look the same for you as it does for me.

(Side note: A few commenters have tried to argue with me on that last point. They say it’s moral relativism to say that your vote and my vote can be different, even as we share the same faith. That’s nonsense, y’all. I believe absolute truth exists. So many issues are clear cut in the Bible. Murder is wrong. Justice is good. Adultery is not good. Sinners can be forgiven. Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t and then became the perfect sacrifice to defeat sin and death. And so on… those are points on which I hold that there’s only one biblical stance. But I also believe the Holy Spirit convicts us in different ways on other issues. And who to vote for? I don’t see an unambiguous single verse that says “Go, therefore, and be with her” or “Voteth third party” or “Let the GOP come to me and do not hinder them.” It doesn’t work that way. So, yes, I do believe Christians can worship together on November 6 and vote differently on November 8.)

We’re all responsible for making the best choice we can make. In North Carolina, those options will be Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, or – as a write-in candidate – Jill Stein (and any other write-in votes will be grouped as miscellaneous and not counted toward the person because our state has strict requirements for write-in eligibility, and only Stein met them). In your state, you might have more options. In any state, abstaining from voting in this particular race on principle is a valid choice too, no matter how anyone tries to vote shame you (though please engage in the process by voting down the rest of your ballot!).

As for me, here’s 10 of the reasons my best choice this year is Hillary Clinton, in short, and then you’ll find the expanded reasoning below. (Like my pro-life post, this is a lengthy one, so feel free to scroll to the sections that interest you the most! Or, if you’re sick of politics, then come back Monday for an apolitical post in this space.)

1. Her experience is deep and extensive.

2. She owns her mistakes.

3. Her career has demonstrated concern for vulnerable children and families again and again.

4. And, no, she doesn’t want abortion readily accessible up until birth.

5. While we’re at it, she doesn’t want to take away your guns.

6. But she does care about security, both our officers at home and our armed forces (and those of us they protect).

7. I don’t think her Supreme Court nominees would be dangerous to our country.

8. Her economic plans make sense and benefit average Americans.

9. She is bringing together a divided nation (to some degree).

10. She is a woman of faith.

A friend asked online a few weeks back what parts of the Bible had led me to support Hillary (and acknowledged she would ask the same of a Trump supporter, though I suspect she asked me because her network doesn’t include many Christians who are vocally supporting Hillary). I struggled to answer the question, not because verses didn’t lead me to where I am but because I feel like matching Bible verses to human candidates is dangerous. I can only share where I have landed, after a lot of time between me and God, wrestling with all this. I will be writing a post soon about what key passages in scripture have guided my political views, and they’ll probably answer that friend’s question in a roundabout way, but I think including them here – though I could – would carry with it a sort of implication that there’s only one biblical way to vote.

As for you, if we share the same faith? Get your Bible. Sit with God with all of this. Wrestle through it. Do the work yourself. This post – and my one to come about the Bible and my political views – isn’t your fast track to skip that. (Sorry.)

You shouldn’t take this post as anything more than the opinion of a flawed woman striving to be a faithful follower of her God. This post isn’t scripture. I’m not God. But I think he has given me a mind and a voice to use them, as well as a nerdy desire to research topics in depth, and many people have asked pointed questions as follow ups to my prior posts, so here goes…

1. Her experience is deep and extensive.

She is a proven leader who, yes, has made her fair share of mistakes (which I’ll get to in a moment). She started her career before federal special education law IDEA or its predecessor Public Law 94-142 had been passed, yet one of her earliest projects with the Children’s Defense Fund was advocating for kids with disabilities to have a place in the classroom. As First Lady of Arkansas, she was active in HIV/AIDS advocacy (back in the 1990s when most were steering clear). As First Lady of the United States, she championed the health care needs of vulnerable children. As senator, she fought for the responders to 9/11. As Secretary of State, she met with leaders in 112 countries (in addition to the 82 countries she visited as First Lady). Since then, she has continued to stay involved in local and global issues that matter to her.

In other words, Hillary has served in a wide range of roles over the course of my 34-year lifetime. I’ve heard some scoff at what her record is if she has all that experience. That’s a valid question. I’ve known some veteran teachers who were crummy teachers and others who were nothing short of heroes. I could point to some senators who seem to just warm a seat and others who champion needed stances. So in the rest of this post I’ll dive into the quality of her experience too. But I think it’s important to start by taking note of the quantity.

(Also? She’s a person. If your opposition to or discomfort with her is based in dehumanization, then that’s not biblical or humane. Find some pieces – like this one – that she about her as a person. If you’re hating her and you’re a Christian, then that’s sin. I would say the same if we were talking about Trump. She was created with intent by God, fashioned in his image, and is valued deeply by him. She’s not a villain or a caricature or a devil. She’s a person.)

At this level, we need someone who is more than an apprentice. I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 because I thought he lacked the experience necessary to be president as that point in his career. So why wouldn’t we consider someone who has held a variety of public service positions at all levels as a worthy candidate?

2. She owns her mistakes.

During the first debate, Hillary’s shortest answer was about the email situation. She didn’t lecture or deflect. She simply said, “I made a mistake using private email.” Yes, she messed up, but she was piggybacking off a secure system set up for her husband, using a protocol similar to previous secretaries of state, and deleted emails prior to major investigation that can’t be accounted for now. The whole scenario is bothersome, though not on the same scale as when the second Bush administration lost 22 million emails. I wish no Secretary of State used personal email for confidential matters (including Rice and Powell). I wish Hillary had made different and better choices with regard to email. I do. But I’m not convinced this is as huge or unforgiveable as we’ve made it out to be. (Maybe it is, in your opinion. If so, that’s valid. All I can offer here is my own. But that rumor that she’s legally ineligible for the presidency because of the email debacle? Even the guy who started it has conceded that it’s not true. And the additional investigations? The FBI declared today that they warrant no additional action. Many media sources oversold the story, and the facts have me far more concerned about the ethics of the FBI, particularly Comey, than about Hillary

As far as last month’s conspiracy theories after she didn’t fare well at the 9/11 memorial? Well, we found out shortly thereafter that she had pneumonia, chose to keep working, and came clean about it once something was obviously wrong. That’s not concerning to me. That’s impressive.

(Both major candidates are roughly the same age – Hillary 69 to Trump at 70 – yet women tend to outlive men, so our better health bet is on her anyway, right? As for other concerns about her health, I’m not quite sure when we started believed websites no better than the National Enquirer for truth, just because they fit your political slant. I just know it’s well past time for that to end. I know many of us are too old to have learned lessons in school about verifying online sources, but find a college student or even a middle schooler for some lessons if need be. “I saw in online” isn’t a valid excuse for passing along nonsense. Please. Stop and check before re-posting something.)   

As for all the scandals I’ll see listed in the comment section, it seems like most of you have made up your mind about her honesty, despite the fact that she is rated highly again and again for her truthfulness. Surprised by that last bit? Then you might be surprised that the family of ambassador Chris Stevens doesn’t blame Hillary for his death in Benghazi. His sister said, speaking for their family, “We all recognize that there’s a risk in serving in a dangerous environment. Chris thought that was very important, and he probably would have done it again. I don’t see any usefulness in continuing to criticize [Clinton]. It is very unjust.” As for the rest of the families, their accounts of what Clinton said or didn’t say following the attacks is unclear.

On so many issues, I’ve seen conservatives say again and again that the media is misleading us. So, if you believe that, then dig into the full email report and the full Benghazi findings (and earlier ones too). Given the total number of pages, I doubt most casting her as evil have even skimmed the full contents.

Well, for me to be confident in voting for her, I thought reading it all myself was important. So I did. (Yes, every. single. dadgum. page.) I didn’t think it would be fair to write this piece without doing so.

And? I see mistakes, certainly, but the smoking gun? It’s not there. This seems like many instances in the past in which lives were lost and hindsight 20/20. Sure, we can pick apart each move now, and Hillary has admitted she would do some things differently (and will from the Oval), but the incident doesn’t disqualify her from leading our country. Tragic loss of life happens in unstable parts of the world. That’s the reality in which we live.

At this level, mistakes cost lives. Every president has seen that happen under his watch; Benghazi was a mistake, but it wasn’t an anomaly. So why wouldn’t it be a benefit to elect someone who already has learned those hard lessons prior to being Commander in Chief?

3. Her career has demonstrated concern for vulnerable children and families again and again.  

In her work with the Children’s Defense Fund, she advocated for the inclusion of kids with disabilities in public schools. She increased access to preschool for poor families in the state of Arkansas and helped rural families access healthcare.

As First Lady in Arkansas, she made huge strides in improving public education there, cooperating with numerous teaching organizations and listening to constituents from throughout the state in doing so. She co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families as a non-partisan organization to benefit the wellbeing of minors in the state. She served on the board of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, helping it to grow to become one of the nation’s ten largest children’s hospitals.

As First Lady of the US, she advocated for children in foster care to have permanent placements with the Adoption and Safe Families Act and for those aging out of foster care without families to have needed supports with the Foster Care Independence Act. She also worked with both Democrats and Republicans to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program during that time.

And in this campaign, she is the only candidate with detailed plans for our most vulnerable kids, from those with complex medical conditions to autism to other disabilities. On education, her stances are solidly backed by research. And while I’ve heard some say that she’s pro-Common Core, what she’s actually said is “like many Americans, I have concerns about how the Common Core has been implemented.” In other word, she holds the same view I – as a former teacher in multiple states with a MAEd in special education – do: the concept was good but the execution wasn’t. 

And now to the two child-focused stories I’m asked about the most: the so-called story of her tearing apart a rape victim and the myth of her using a derogatory slur about a group of children with disabilities. You can tell from my wording here how I feel about both. They’re fiction. As a rape survivor and mother of multiple children with disabilities, I would be the first to criticize her if these stories had merit. They simply don’t. 

Let’s start with the rape case. She was assigned, against her expressed wishes, to defend a 41-year-old man accused of raping a 12-year-old victim. (I’ve written about being a rape survivor in the past. Well, I was young when those assaults occurred, so I would be first in line to stand against Hillary if some of the claims about this case were accurate. But they aren’t.) She took the case in accordance with the 6th amendment to the Constitution, which states that accused parties shall be provided with legal representation in criminal proceedings. Some old recordings captured a conversation she had about the case a few years after the fact, and she laughs at a few points at her naïveté in the justice system as a young lawyer. Despite what some sources say, she didn’t laugh at the victim. She didn’t mock the victim. She didn’t tear apart the victim. She did her job, in accordance with the Constitution. And her client ultimately pled guilty and was sentenced for the rape. The facts certainly seem a lot different than what hard right think pieces would have you believe, don’t they? (You’ll find the same to be true about her so-called attacks on women involved with or making accusations against her husband. And as far as claims against her husband, he’s not the one running this time, so I’m not so interested in those, to be honest, at least not in weighing who I will vote for.)

As far as the story alleging she used the r-word about a group of children with disabilities at an Easter egg hunt as First Lady of Arkansas, this story is even less grounded in reality. The source? A mistress of Bill’s. The citation? A tell-all book that, without salacious content, wouldn’t sell many copies. The event described? A public remark at a well-attended function with many in earshot, yet no one else has confirmed the story and no one shared it until now.

Here’s my rule when it comes to scandalous stories on hard right or hard left media sites: treat them like Wikipedia. I don’t accept anything as fact, but I take a look at the basic information and then search for credible, less-biased information to back it up. In good journalism (and even on Wikipedia), those links or citations are there, so it’s not hard, but sometimes they aren’t. If the links shared are circular – just bringing you to another post on the same site, for example – then the credibility of the story is suspicious. Dig deeper.

At this level, the lives of the most vulnerable are at the greatest risk of exploitation. We need to fight for them, and we need to elect someone who will champion them. So why wouldn’t it make sense to vote for the woman who has literally spent her whole adult life advocating for children?

4. And, no, she doesn’t want abortion readily accessible up until birth.

I know some of you bristled at my remark about “the most vulnerable.” But what about the unborn?!? you cry. I hear you. I do. I share your concerns. I am pro-life and I am opposed to abortion.

But I won’t spend much time on this topic, because I’ve covered it in depth in another post. I don’t side with Hillary entirely here. I’m grieved that she used to talk about wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” but now usually just says “safe and legal.” I consider all life valuable and sacred, from the womb to the tomb. And her stance on access to abortions doesn’t align with that.

That said, I also wrote recently about what actually reduces abortion rates. Many of her policies would, based on the research I examined, function in that way. For example, having better supports for maternal and family leave make giving birth less of a financial hardship, which is important since 75% of women receiving abortions in 2014 were classified as poor or low income. So while access to abortion might increase under a Hillary presidency, the demand would decrease, given historical trends and factors.

Even by the assertion of a conservative former presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, Hillary’s opposition to the partial birth abortion ban wasn’t because she is a huge fan of killing babies. As Santorum writes in his book It Takes a Family (titled as a conservative response to her book It Takes a Village), she expressed – back when they were both senators – that her “great hope is that abortion becomes rarer and rarer.” They were debating the partial birth abortion ban at the time. She asked, “Does the Senator's legislation make exceptions for serious life-threatening abnormalities or babies who are in such serious physical condition that they will not live outside the womb?” And he answered no. In response, she said if this law “does not have such a distinction under any circumstances, I think, demonstrates clearly the fallacy in this approach to have a government making such tremendously painful and personal and intimate decisions,” she couldn’t support it, but followed up by saying “I value every single life and every single person.” That value for life is why she voted against that bill. She wasn’t taking a stand in favor of partial birth abortions. She was taking a stand for a terrible option to be available in the terrible circumstance if a mother’s health required it or if a baby had a condition incompatible with life.

(I do see the risk here for such exceptions to be exploited. I know babies are aborted at times because of prenatal conditions that are completely compatible with life but aren’t compatible with a secular worldview that measures a person’s value by what they can do or how they look or who they worship or where they’re from or some other irrelevant metric instead of seeing the inherent worth of every single person created by God. I’ve written about this again and again and again and again and again and again. So, please, don’t pick a fight with me in the comments over that. We agree here. But? Based on what I’ve just shared, Hillary isn’t disagreeing with that point either. She is simply expressing her political stance that the government should not be able to regulate how an expectant mother chooses to respond to life-threatening news for her or her child. As much as conservatives talk about the government not being involved in so many other issues, I’d expect this one to make sense to more than just me.)

Finally, the myth about Hillary’s intent to abort babies up to their due date is false. Carly Fiorina brought it up, as if it were true, in a Republican debate, bringing the rumor to life for this election cycle. Here’s what Hillary actually said:

I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected.
— Hillary Clinton, Senate debate, 2000
This decision [that is, abortion], which is one of the most fundamental, difficult, and soul-searching decisions a woman and a family can make, is also one in which the government should have no role. I believe we can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women. Often, it’s a failure of our system of education, health care, and preventive services. It’s often a result of family dynamics. This decision is a profound and complicated one; a difficult one, often the most difficult that a woman will ever make. The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
— Hillary Clinton, (Speech to the NYS Family Planning Providers, January 2005
I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare. And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create the conditions where women had other choices.
— Hillary Clinton, Speech at Messiah College in 2008
Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account… So you can regulate if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account.
— Hillary Clinton, answer during the second presidential debate, 2016)

She’s backed up these stances with a focus on healthcare reform and legislation like Prevention First to reduce the demand for abortion by reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies. As far as the Hyde Amendment goes, I wish her position were different. I don’t think tax dollars should pay for abortions. I pray that the legislative support won’t be there for her to follow through with that repeal.

At this level, even loading the Supreme Court with pro-life justices wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade right away and, even if that were done, abortion laws would revert to the states. In other words, I don’t see logic or wisdom in hanging our hopes on the president to be the changemaker some of us want for abortion. So why wouldn’t I consider supporting a candidate who sees the tragedy in abortion and is open to regulation as long as it accounts for the health of the mother and child? (And then work with others to hold her accountable to that and remind her of her own words.)

5. While we’re at it, she doesn’t want to take away your guns.

I like guns. I’ve shot guns. My husband goes hunting on occasion, and I’ve enjoyed that meat. He holds a concealed carry permit in North Carolina. And he’s a lifetime member of the NRA.

In other words, I’m not anti-gun. But I am concerned about gun violence in this country. I am concerned with statistics that indicate that the presence of a gun in the home significantly increases the odds of suicides, homicides, domestic violence, or accidents involving firearms. Despite claims to the contrary, guns don’t necessarily keep women safe. I could go on, but I won’t. I’m not saying guns need to be confiscated. I’m just saying we need to be having real conversations about these issues instead of sound bites.

Hillary isn’t saying guns need to be confiscated either. Surprised? I’m not guessing here. I’m just going by what she’s said:

What I support is sensible regulation that is consistent with the constitutional right to own and bear arm. I think a total ban, with no exceptions under any circumstances, might be found by the court not to be (constitutional).
— Hillary Clinton, April 2008 debate
“You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl. You know, some people now continue to teach their children and their grandchildren. It’s part of culture. It’s part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter.
— Hillary Clinton, comments during the 2008 campaign
Now, I lived in Arkansas and I represented Upstate New York. I know that gun ownership is part of the fabric of a lot of law-abiding communities. But I also know that we can have common sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable, while respecting responsible gun owners. What I hope with all of my heart is that we work together to make this debate less polarized, less inflamed by ideology, more informed by evidence, so we can sit down across the table, across the aisle from one another, and find ways to keep our communities safe while protecting constitutional rights.
— Hillary Clinton, remarks to US Conferences of Mayors following the Charleston massacre, 2015
If we can’t figure out how to respect the constitutional rights of responsible gun owners, but keep guns out of people who have felony records, who are fugitives, stalkers, have domestic violence restraining orders against them, are dangerously mentally ill, shame on us.
— Hillary Clinton, C-SPAN interview, February 2016
https://www.c-span.org/video/?405409-1/hillary-clinton-campaign-rally-fairfax-virginia&start=1495
Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill by supporting laws that stop domestic abusers from buying and owning guns, making it a federal crime for someone to intentionally buy a gun for a person prohibited from owning one, and closing the loopholes that allow people suffering from severe mental illness to purchase and own guns. She will also support work to keep military-style weapons off our streets.
— Statement from Hillary’s 2016 campaign website
I think what the court said about there being an individual right is in line with constitutional thinking. I’m not looking to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not looking to take people’s guns away. But I am looking for more support for the reasonable efforts that need to be undertaken to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
— Hillary on Fox News Sunday in July 2016

In other words, the claims that she doesn’t care about the 2nd Amendment? Not true. Wants to repeal it? Nope. Wants all guns out of all hands? Not that either.

At this level, we need someone who can protect the gun rights of those who should have guns and restrict access to those who shouldn’t. It’s a balance between a sense of security and a sense of safety. So why wouldn’t I vote for the person who has regularly called for that?

6. But she does care about security, both our officers at home and our armed forces (and those of us they protect).

When she was a senator representing New York, she advocated for first responders. Many of them speak highly of her. She didn’t know she was stepping into that role just prior to 9/11, but she excelled nonetheless.

Meanwhile, some people accuse her of being anti-police because of her stance against police brutality, but no one says I’m anti-parent when I speak out against child abuse. It’s the same thing. Speaking against those who abuse power is actually a way of showing deep respect for those who don’t abuse their power. And her plans for police accountability? They hold a lot in common with what many police chiefs have advocated for. That doesn’t sound anti-police to me. Sure, she’s walking a fine line in both support for the police and opposition to police brutality, but I think that’s where we should all be.

She also championed the needs of veterans and military families. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. She is more heavily endorsed than anyone else by leaders in our armed forces, with more supporting her than is traditionally the case for a Democrat. They aren’t just resigned to vote for her; they have overwhelmingly voiced their confidence in her ability to serve as commander in chief for our nation, with a few samples here:

Clinton has demonstrated the ability to conduct foreign affairs and achieve the objectives and goals of the United States.
— Retired Major General John Phillips
[Under Hillary,] our armed forces will be stronger. They will have the finest weapons, the greatest equipment. They will have the support of the American people – you! — and the American military will continue to be the shining example of America at our very best.
— Retired Marine General John Allen
Our votes have always been private, and neither of us has ever previously lent his name or voice to a presidential candidate. Having studied what is at stake for this country and the alternatives we have now, we see only one viable leader, and will be voting this November for Secretary Hillary Clinton.
— Joint statement from Retired General Bob Sennewald and Retired General David Maddox

And about our borders? She has never said they should be wide open. In 2007, when campaigning last time, she said, “A comprehensive solution to our immigration crisis must include strengthening our borders.” She has affirmed that stance since then. (And? Immigrants actually commit less crime than US-born citizens.)

At this level, our leader influences several layers of safety for all of us. So why wouldn’t we want someone experienced in the multifaceted needs of national security?

7. I don’t think her Supreme Court nominees would be dangerous to our country.

I get that the Supreme Court is a touchy subject right now. We often cast this as a pro-life issue, centering on Roe v Wade, but I think that’s an oversimplification. In July 2014, there was no party difference in Supreme Court job approval, but now – after the ruling to legalize same-sex marriage and uphold the Affordable Care Act – the gap is wide, with 67% of Democrats, 42% of independents, and only 26% of Republicans now approving of the work of the Supreme Court.

But can we all admit that our debates about the Supreme Court’s future are based in hypotheticals and suppositions and guesses? And even then, knowing how any president’s nominee will rule in the future is another game of uncertainty and hypotheses. So all our arguments about the court are about predictions. The truth is that none of us know for sure who will end up on the court under either candidate. (That’s why this point begins “I don’t think…” because none of us can forecast what will happen with the court under either candidate.)

That said, I regularly hear conservatives say they’re concerned about the kinds of justices she would nominate, but I’m not. Why? First, as we’ve seen by the partisan stalling of Obama’s nominee, a justice nominee isn’t solely determined by the president. He or she must be confirmed by the legislative branch. I am ashamed that we’ve reached a point in our polarized politics that Republicans refuse to let a Democrat president nominate a justice to a vacant Supreme Court seat (and I’m confident the same thing would happen if a Republican president were in office, as I think Democrats would use the same tricks they’re decrying now).

Second, when Hillary was a senator and faced with voting on Chief Justice Roberts’ nomination, she wrote in her statement, that she considered the ideal justice to be “someone I am convinced will be steadfast in protecting fundamental women’s rights, civil rights, privacy rights, and who will respect the appropriate separation of powers among the three branches.” I want those rights protected and those powers separate too. (That said, I do believe the rights of the unborn should be protected too, though Roe v. Wade denied them those. Legally, as Hillary has stated, the unborn do not have constitutional rights in our country; that’s not a personal opinion on their value but a legal opinion by a woman with a law degree.) 

Third, the Supreme Court decides far more than issues related to abortion. For example, I was grieved recently by the 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff in which the rights – and lives – of minorities weren’t valued. Racial profiling was upheld as constitutional under a broad swath of circumstances, in direct violation of 4th amendment rights. After detailing the evidence that minorities are more likely to be stopped without cause, Sotomayor states, “By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights.” (I encourage you to read Justice Sotomayor’s complete dissent, starting on page 14 here.) Hillary says she believes protecting civil rights, like this case failed to do, is a priority for her nominees. I’m okay with that. Why wouldn’t we all be?

(And if you’re wondering about my views on Obergefell v. Hodges, I’m fully in support of that ruling. No matter where you stand on religious views about sexuality, we don’t restrict marriage to Christians in this country so I don’t see why a single biblical interpretation for marriage should be set as law for everyone, regardless of beliefs. Additionally, the legal protections this offers for gay couples, as well as security for their children, is profound. How can anyone, regardless of faith views, look gay friends and neighbors in the eye and say, “I love you, and God loves you, but I don’t think you should have the legal protections Lee and I have and I think your kids should lack the family security that ours have?” Even if you believe homosexuality is a sin, I don’t see why that means civil protections should be denied. For example, as a Christian, I don’t think people of other religions should be denied freedom of religion just because they don’t follow mine. Why can’t this be treated the same way? Finally, within the body of Christ, we’re not all straight, so can we stop talking like gay Christians don’t exist?)  

Fourth, I trust the process. I look forward to the hearings. (Though I think it’s ridiculous that they haven’t even considered Obama’s nominee and some are already posturing to oppose any Hillary would appoint.) I am thankful for the rights and freedoms afforded us in this country. I don’t think Hillary will appoint the exact people I would if I were in office, but I don’t ascribe the same evil intent to her as it seems like so many friends of mine do. And her experience as a lawyer – both in advocating for others and working in corporate law – is worth noting too when we’re talking about the court.

At this level, so many of us like to talk about the politics of the court. But the court’s role isn’t to make laws but rather to interpret them. So why wouldn’t we trust the process in the hands of someone who has proven her own legal abilities?

8. Her economic plans make sense and benefit average Americans.

She plans to raise taxes on those earning the most, to allow for the programs she’s proposed as well as tax cuts for the middle class. The numbers say this is possible. While so many of us were talking about pussygate, she proposed a policy to help families with children, especially poor families. I do have concerns about how/if she’s be able to enact all the tax plans she intends in order to fund all her campaign plans, but I trust that she has the experience to adjust as needed. (Again, this is why I’m encouraged by her extensive political career.)

As far as the Clinton Foundation, I think that’s relevant here as their financial practices have been questioned this election season. If you can’t trust the economic practices of a candidate’s philanthropic arm, how can you trust them with our national economy? So I think these questions are fair. So I dug into everything I could find. I was surprised, but maybe not in the way you might expect. Did you know that neither she nor Bill (nor Chelsea, for that matter) have taken salaries from it? In other words, the claims that they financially benefit from that charitable work aren’t true. And nearly 90% of their funds go toward charitable causes. (As such, the concerns raised about those with oppressive governments donating toward the foundation? They’re irrelevant. If those countries or individuals choose to fund the beneficial work of the Clinton Foundation, so be it. I’m not sure why that’s a big deal, unless the Clinton Foundation were using said funds to further oppression, which they aren’t. In fact, it’s a kind of Robin Hood situation of taking from oppressors to give to the oppressed, which I consider to be rather ingenious.)

At this level, we need someone who understands how to manage the finances of a country. While businesses aim to benefit those at the top, good economic plans for a country require consideration for all citizens, with special consideration to the most vulnerable among us. So why wouldn’t I choose someone who shows in her policies that she understands this?

9. She is bringing together a divided nation.

Every week, more and more high-profile politicians voice their support for her. Sounds normal for any election year, right? But here’s what’s noteworthy: these are Republicans. The most recent was Colin Powell, joining many others. For the love, even a former prosecutor of hers has thrown his support behind her. I see this among my friends too. I’m not the only one voting for a Democrat for the first time in this presidential election.

Beyond partisan divides, Hillary isn’t vilifying marginalized groups. Her immigration plan isn’t based on the myths that immigrants don’t pay taxes, that they drain the system, or that a simple solution is just following immigration laws. She has stood up for religious liberty, including for Muslims. Her proposals related to the LGBT+ community come from a place of deep understanding of research and life experiences. She has related to people of color, in admitting that her concerns aren’t the same as those of a black grandmother. And Hillary isn’t just a symbol for women but an active advocate for their rights.

In reality, the only demographic she doesn’t carry is white men. Historically in our country, this demographic has held the power, money, and decision-making for all of us. That’s not true anymore, and this shift – especially after 8 years of our first black president and heading into the first term of our first female president, given what polls suggest – plays a significant role in the unrest we’re seeing throughout our country. Whereas calling women “honey” and “darling” and touching them in unwanted ways was once accepted, it isn’t anymore. Whereas racism and xenophobia and homophobia were the norm once, they aren’t anymore. None of those things made America great. This tide that’s turning is healthy and good, but any change brings resistance too. .

At this level, we need a leader who can relate and work well with others, not just those who agree with them. I don’t feel like any politicians do that well nowadays. So why wouldn’t I consider someone who has support from diverse groups instead of just one?

10. She is a woman of faith.

Hillary’s faith has been central to her since her youth. Throughout her life and this campaign, she has often repeated the Methodist saying, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you ever can.” (It’s often attributed to John Wesley, but there’s no evidence he actually said it.) She doesn’t talk about her faith often, but she has made consistent mention of it throughout her public life. She has shared that watching her father kneel to pray regularly made an impression on her in her childhood. In 2009, she gave the eulogy at her old youth pastor’s funeral and said no adult, other than her parents, was more influential in her life than he was. (This religious leader was the same one she turned to during her husband’s public infidelity scandal.)

But don’t take my word for it. When she was asked about her faith at a town hall meeting in January, she said,

Thank you for asking that. I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. My study of the Bible … has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do. And there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up… I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith. I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God, that being more open, tolerant and respectful is part of what makes me humble about my faith. I am in awe of people who truly turn the other cheek all the time, who can go that extra mile that we are called to go, who keep finding ways to forgive and move on.
— Hillary Clinton

I’ve heard people of other denominations make remarks about “real Christian churches that preach the gospel,” implying many Protestant churches – including Methodist ones – and most Catholic ones aren’t really Christian. We almost didn’t visit the Methodist church to which we now belong because we believed that might be true. But we’re finding a rich tradition of faith in action and of the gospel proclaimed in word and deed and of a deep love for God’s word at Church on Morgan here in Raleigh. So, please, don’t come back at me with, “well, she says she’s a Christian, but she’s really a Methodist,” as others have, because that’s just not going to be convincing for me. (Also, for what it’s worth, George W. Bush is a Methodist too.)

If you have a knee jerk reaction against this point, maybe you should read this piece. The hate for Hillary shown by some Christian groups is appalling. And I think it’s influencing more of us than we’d like to admit. (Just take a look at some of the hateful comments I got on my last post if you doubt this.)

At this level, we don’t have a religious requirement for office. We shouldn’t. But I am a Christian, and my faith matters to me. So why wouldn’t I cast my vote for someone who shares something that’s so foundational to my life?
PHOTO: ALEX BOERNER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PHOTO: ALEX BOERNER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

She isn’t perfect.

I’m not tricking myself into thinking she’s the best candidate we could have. If I could pick my ideal candidate, it wouldn’t be her. But I do think she’s the best candidate in this race.

I am aware of third party candidates, but I would only consider them if I found both major candidates to be unsupportable. I don’t. I support Hillary.

Beyond that, in my state of North Carolina, only Johnson is on the ballot while write-in votes for Stein will be the only ones counted as no other candidate filed as a write-in candidate. (Sorry, McMullin/Castle/etc. supporters in NC, you can write him in, but per state law, votes for him or any other write-in except Stein will be grouped as miscellaneous.) I won’t support Johnson because I take issue with his isolationist foreign policy, with how much needed programs would have to be cut to slash spending as much as he proposes, and with almost every facet of his education plans, particular how they would impact the most vulnerable students. I won’t support Stein for a variety of reasons, but I’ll share just one: her primary political experience comes from running for office (and almost always losing) rather than serving in those roles.

In this post and my previous one about my pro-life reasons for supporting Hillary, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I don’t think you have to vote for Hillary if you’re pro-life or a Christian or a real American or any such nonsense. I’m simply offering my own explanation for how I’ve landed where I have. If it’s helpful or starts some needed conversations, great! If not, enough other people are writing about this election that I’m sure you can find someone else saying something you like better.

At this level, all of our votes matter. So why wouldn’t we openly discuss why we’re voting for someone and not just why we’re voting against someone else? As for me, I’m with Hillary. I trust you to vote as you see fit.