By Morgan Gilbard
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Chloe, age seven, waved a homemade valentine at Hillary Clinton’s rally on Saturday night. She clutched a heart flag, cut from construction paper with a hand steadier than her own. At every crescendo of Clinton’s speech, she cheered.
After the candidate’s words and the crowd’s cheers had faded away, I went up to Chloe and asked, “What’s your favorite thing about Hillary?” She looked at me through her glasses, grinned sheepishly and said, “I don’t remember.”
Her aunt prompted Chloe to tell me about their other sign. “There’s been 227 years of men!”
For girls as young as Chloe and women far older, seeing Clinton vye anew for the presidency sparks sentiments more powerful than an abstract conversation about the possibility of the first woman president.
Kimberly Frederick, more than 30 years older than Chloe, held a similar valentine and danced through the crowded high school gymnasium. She reflected on what a Clinton victory would mean and said it reminded her of what changed for many black children when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.
Big dreams suddenly seemed more attainable, she said: “I want every girl to grow up like that, too.”
Frederick flew to Iowa from Texas to volunteer for Clinton. At Saturday’s rally, she wore a crown and donned an American flag as she moved. This was her Woodstock, she said, and she was dancing for far more women than just herself.
In 2008, she met a 94-year-old woman at a Clinton rally. “The woman said, ‘I’m old. If I could be in this fight, I would. So I need younger women like you to fight for me. I want to see a woman president before I die.’”
The old woman died after Clinton lost the nomination. But Frederick never forgot: “She’s not around anymore, but there are other 94-year-old women out there who want the same things. I’m fighting for them.”