On an average day, hundreds of people I’ve never met take it upon themselves to attack me in the most personal terms. They do it for one reason: my unabashed and unequivocal advocacy on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

In 15 years of doing politics and speaking up about issues I care about, I’ve tried to remain respectful and factual, to consider the value of my adversaries’ views, to avoid attacking them personally. I’ve tried to adhere to issues and to avoid the trap of rhetoric for rhetoric’s sake.

Like so many people, I was raised to value integrity and respect and I’ve worked tirelessly to earn the respect of those I agree with – and those I disagree with. I’ve engaged in verbal battles on a wide range of issues, but never has my integrity been called into question the way it has in the 2016 cycle, where I’ve taken an unshakable stand in support of Hillary’s candidacy and against the vicious lies and smears directed at her.

Individuals on the right and left who know little or nothing about me have used the most demeaning and degrading language to describe my advocacy for Hillary, and they often do so without any reference to the actual substance of what I say, but simply because I say it.

I’ve survived a real war of bombs and bullets, so a war of words doesn’t faze me. I know who I am and my friends and family know it too. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter. It matters to me because I know other Hillary supporters are subjected to verbal abuse and they may be less prepared to handle it.

I’ve dedicated my political career to fighting inequality and injustice. I started as a progressive activist and made the decision to try to bring about change within the Democratic Party instead of outside of it. When I began working for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, I was the “netroots guy,” part of the first wave of progressive bloggers who embraced online activism.

I befriended (and in many cases worked with) activists like Glenn Greenwald, Heather “Digby” Parton, Susie Madrak, Pam Spaulding, John Amato, Jane Hamsher, Marcy Wheeler, Natasha Chart, Steve Gilliard, Jerome Armstrong, Armando Llorens, Chris Bowers, Matt Stoller, Josh Marshall, Oliver Willis, Jessica Valenti and so many others. The values and principles that brought us together a dozen years ago remain the same today and I see my defense of Hillary as a natural progression from those early days.

As I see it, there is no half-hearted defense of women’s rights. You either stand up for what you believe in or you don’t. In the case of the vitriol directed at Hillary — so much of it gender-based — I try to imagine my daughter, sister, wife or mother in Hillary’s position and ask myself what I’d do if they were subjected to the same venomous slander, the same unhinged, unprovoked and unwarranted scorn, the same double standard. The answer is clear.

Contrary to the straw man I’m confronted with daily, this is not about issues and not about overwrought accusations of sexism. I have absolutely no problem with people vehemently disagreeing with Hillary’s positions. I disagree with her on several things, from her AUMF vote to drones to fracking. I was upset by her comment on Nancy Reagan and AIDS and I’m glad she apologized for it. She is by no means perfect. No one is.

But I won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the exceptional. And make no mistake, Hillary is an exceptional human being and an exceptional candidate. She is by far the best positioned in this race to advance the progressive agenda and she is nothing like the caricature painted of her.

I find it mystifying when people imply that I overdo my support for her. How many times in my life will I have the opportunity to help elect the first woman president in American history? How much is too much when you’re defending someone’s integrity from unfair and unjust attacks? Someone you know and have worked for, someone you admire and respect.

I won’t back down because I’m attacked for defending Hillary. She is never intimidated by the invective and vilification and neither am I. She pushes through it and perseveres. It’s why conservative billionaires are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to take her down.

And there’s much more to this for me than just Hillary Clinton and the gender barrier. I saw the right savage John Kerry’s character with the help of the corporate media, and I vowed I wouldn’t let that happen again without fighting back. If you see a relative, friend or colleague’s honesty and motives under assault, you stand up and defend them.

I know I’ll keep taking heat from those who don’t share or understand my unwavering stance in support of Hillary. And I know Bernie fans will continue accusing me of being unfair to him. That’s their prerogative, but I respectfully disagree with their assessment.

I’ve always liked Bernie Sanders and I love the energy he’s brought to the 2016 election. He speaks for values I’ve held dear and he raises issues that matter deeply to me. I’ve praised him repeatedly over the course of the past year.

My fundamental critique of Bernie is that he veered from a pure issue contrast to a direct attack on Hillary’s integrity, which I believe is extremely detrimental to the progressive cause and to our capacity to stop the likes of Cruz and Trump. I’ve never gone after Bernie in purely personal terms and I never will, but I will point to areas where his actions undercut his words. And I do so only because he and his campaign surrogates continue their “artful smear” against Hillary.

Ultimately, this primary season will come to an end and the general election will come and go. Time passes and the only thing we’re left with is the results of our judgments, decisions and actions. I’ll never feel apologetic for my strong advocacy on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

And judging from the 140,000+ shares on this piece about Hillary’s true character, and from the countless individuals like John Lewis, Morgan Freeman, Jim Clyburn, Dolores Huerta, and President Obama who trust her, I’m not alone.