Smeared on the Internet, Young Women Candidate Fights Back
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When I was fifteen-years-old, I watched Hillary Clinton during the difficult times she faced when her private life and President Clinton's private life became public. Nevermind that the people conducting the impeachment hearings were having multiple affairs and oozed hypocrisy. Nevermind that they wanted to know every voyeuristic detail of the President's sex life under the guise of righteousness. What I remember thinking as a young woman was watching Hillary Clinton's expression after she had to face the entire country with her private life exposed for the world to see. I admired her so much. I thought she had this toughness and grit, style and pain, all at the same time. She must have been such a jumble of emotions inside, but she persisted. But what must that first time facing the public be like, knowing that everyone knows about your private life? Knowing that your political opponents did this in order to hurt you?
I am a 28-year-old wife, mother, Certified Public Accountant and small business owner, and the Democratic Nominee for US Congress in the 1st district of Virginia, where I was born and raised and where I am now raising my own daughter. My father has a Ph.D. in physics and did his dissertation on crystals. Fortunately or unfortunately, my mother allowed him to name me and so he chose the name Krystal Ball.
If elected, I would be the first woman under 30 to serve in Congress in our nation's history. When I decided to run for office, I had never been involved in politics before. My husband and I own an educational software business and we design software for charter schools and public schools, to teach everything from river ecology to Spanish.
In 2008, I was sitting in the hospital, holding my baby girl Ella in my arms. She was born on the day before the Presidential Primary. I remember looking at Ella and watching the election and thinking about Hillary. Thinking about how she, my own mother, and their generation of women proved that a woman can be just as competent as any man. They had to fight against the dominant narrative that women were somehow less capable, so they worked twice as hard, had twice as much experience and determined not to be victims of sexism but instead to smash the glass ceiling by sheer determination. This was not without cost. Women felt they had to choose between family and career, and they had to cover up almost any hint of sexuality in the workplace if they wanted to be taken as seriously as men. Many women of that generation came into their own after their children left the house, unleashing their intellects with a fierce determination to succeed, but somewhat handicapped by how far they could rise by having spent so much time subordinating their lives to their husband's careers.
So, I decided that part of the reason that things in this world are the way that they are, the reason I had to wonder whether the baby bottles I bought contained toxic BPA, the reason that there was not affordable day care, the reason that society would tolerate throwing anorexic girls out of treatment after the insurance expired and the reason that my own pregnancy had been legally treated as a pre-existing condition was because ultra-talented women, like Hillary Clinton and my own mother, weren't in Congress while they were young . I thought to myself, what if I ran for Congress, at 28 years old? What if I won? What if my generation ran for office as young women, often with young families? Could that change our country? Would my generation tolerate marriage inequality, failing schools, an often-tainted food supply and a level of scorched earth politics? Absolutely not. It's not an accident that the only two Republicans willing to consistently reach across the aisle in the Senate, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, are both women. Put that rationality and willingness to compromise that women naturally possess together with the idealism and pro-growth environmentalism of my generation and we could be a powerful force in politics to change this country. So, I decided to run for Congress.