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Susan Estrich: Why Women Should Be for Hillary

There is one reason young women should support Hillary Clinton for president.

It happens to be, in my judgment anyway, precisely the same reason men should support her: because she is, by leaps and bounds, the only candidate in the race with the experience necessary to lead this country.

Indeed, The New York Times, in endorsing her candidacy, noted that she was among the most experienced people ever to seek the presidency. 

And what about the fact she is a woman. Should women support a woman they disagree with on fundamental issues, just because she is a woman? 

I wouldn't, and I have described myself as a feminist for the last 40 years. I didn't support Sarah Palin, even though I took issue with the sexist attacks on her by some of my liberal "friends." 

Years ago, I remember the endless internal discussions about whether groups such as the Women's Campaign Fund should support women candidates who were taking on men who shared our liberal views. I always thought not.

Make no mistake: I am the first to recognize that having a significant number of women in the room changes the dynamic of any meeting; and I have no doubt that electing Clinton as president would bring a host of positive changes for women around the world.

I have nothing but respect for Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright, and I understand their frustration with young women who don't share our determination to see a woman in the White House.

But it is precisely because of the successes and the changes brought about by the courage and determination of women like Steinem and Albright that young women today don't feel they have to think of gender first.

Isn't that what we taught them? That every individual should be judged on his or her merits, and not according to stereotypes based on their sex?

So if you're anti-choice and against immigration reform and gun control and gay marriage and you name it, why should the fact that you share anatomy with Hillary Clinton be more important than what she believes and what you believe? 

Women make up more than half the electorate. Obviously, half the electorate doesn't vote as a bloc or we could ignore all these pesky primaries and debates. 

I think I've been using the line about the "special place in hell" for women who don't help women for even longer than Albright has (she's stolen your line, Yahoo blogger Brian Goldsmith wrote to me in jest; he knows Albright is welcome to anything of mine).

But in my version, it's not younger women I'm scolding. It is women of my generation. The special place in hell is reserved for women of my age, women who know how tough it was for us and respond not by trying to make it easier, better — possible, at least — for younger women but by insisting that they suffer just as we did. 

And mostly, they do.

"Why didn't you tell me," my female students often ask me years later, when they come back after their first or second jobs, "that sexism is alive and well and continuing to impose unfair limits on our careers?"

It's not something you can just tell a young woman, any more than you can tell her that she should vote for Hillary Clinton.

Because, down the road, she will discover that all those things people say about Clinton — that she's "difficult" and not "likable" — they are also saying about her.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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