I like Hillary.
There, I said it.
I'm tired of feeling like a pariah. Liking Bernie Sanders is cool. Liking Hillary Clinton is not.
Whenever I tell people I like Hillary, I'm met with incredulous stares and voices dripping with disgust. "Really?" they ask. "Why? How can you like her?" You'd think I confessed to killing puppies the way they carry on.
I'm then met with a litany of common refrains. "She lies. You can't trust her. Remember Benghazi?" Or my personal favorite, "She's a Clinton. She thinks she's entitled."
And those are just my Democrat friends! My Republican friends are even more unrelenting in their irrational disdain for this woman.
Yet when I ask them to explain, they can't delve deeper than the platitudes.
When President Obama famously said to Hillary in a debate before the New Hampshire primary in 2008, "You're likable enough," he was tapping into a deep vein of unlikability that surrounds her like a cone of shame.
I can't think of another national figure, politician or celebrity who has been as scrutinized and savaged for over two decades the way Hillary has.
In addition to the run of the mill haters, she has to contend with more stereotypes and overt sexism than anyone else in modern politics.
When Bernie raises his voice, it's cute and humorous. He's the beloved cranky grandpa. Memes are created. When Hillary raises her voice, she's a shrill, angry woman, and the hate ensues. Yet if she's soft spoken, compassionate or shows too much emotion, she's criticized as weak. She's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.
Any other public servant would have left politics for a career where character assassination isn't standard practice.
But Hillary hasn't retreated. With balls of steel, she's still here fighting the good fight, delivering a positive message in her stump speech. This stands in sharp contrast to the fearful Chicken Littles on the right.
To the purveyors of hate, Hillary is the dreaded "other." She's the embodiment of "those people" we're supposed to fear, like uppity women, African Americans, Mexican immigrants, the poor, the LGBT community, and religious minorities.
The media bears much responsibility for the defamation and demonization of Hillary. By giving self-serving zealots air time for the sake of ratings and blood sport, Americans are left misinformed.
It's one thing to disagree with Hillary over honest differences in policy. It's quite another thing to dislike her based on fear mongering, allegations and innuendo.