Why I'm Tuning in to the Hillary Channel
If it hadn’t been for DailyKos front-pager Greg Dworkin’s link the other day, I would never have known about a statement in that diary. As a rule I don’t have time to read the APR when it’s fresh and hot; on this particular morning, however, Younger Son was late bringing the baby to my house, so I had time to look around the site and read whatever caught my fancy.
And this statement in a diary about Hillary and Bernie definitely caught my fancy:
Meanwhile, it is difficult for him [Bernie Sanders] to make inroads among women who are understandably excited about finally getting a woman president.
As much as I like Bernie Sanders—in fact an online test showed me that I agree with his policy positions 94 percent of the time—I plan to vote for Secretary Clinton in the primary (if we can call George W. Bush by his previous title of “President,” I can certainly call her “Secretary Clinton”) . If you’ll bear with me for a few minutes I’ll tell you why.
I believe she is more qualified than any of her competitors, including her fellow Democrats. She knows how Washington, DC, works. She’s experienced in diplomacy. She has worked tirelessly for the rights of women and children; she tried hard to come up with a plan for universal health care, and her policy positions are in accord with those of the Democratic party.
She has been vetted more thoroughly than any of her competitors. She’s been laughed at for talking about a “vast, right-wing conspiracy” (which, it turned out, does exist), criticized for “standing by her man” (perhaps she actually meant it when she stood in front of a preacher with Bill and repeated, “for better, for worse”), and reviled for voting in favor of giving President Bush the authority to declare war on Iraq.
Indeed, Secretary Clinton has been reviled more than any woman in history, from Boudicca to Eleanor Roosevelt to Margaret Thatcher. She’s been criticized for her hair, her makeup, her age, her voice, her figure, her choice of marital partner—you name it, she’s been criticized for it. If she’d left her husband during L’Affaire Lewinsky, she would have been criticized for deserting her husband; as it was, she was criticized for staying with him. This is emblematic of women’s lives: we’re damned whatever we do.
She voted to give President Bush the authority to declare war. All right, it was a mistake. She has admitted it was a mistake. That said, President Bush’s war of choice hardly hinged on her vote alone: a majority of the Senate voted to give him the authority.
We’ve all done things we now regret. I voted for a Republican once. Had never done it before, have never done it since, but yes—20 years ago I did cast a vote for a candidate from that political party.
Secretary Clinton is three years younger than I, but she’s still one of my coevals. We’ve been, to put it vulgarly, through the same shit.
She and I grew up in a society where everyone and everything of note was masculine: the presidents, the Congress, the doctors, the astronauts. Even Deity was masculine. The history books mentioned only the achievements of males—Caucasian males, of course, of European heritage. The TV shows mostly were about the funny doings of men. The few shows that featured women stars made sure the characters they played were ditsy, stupid, or inclined to nag.
If Secretary Clintion wins the nomination and then the presidency it will be a victory for women, not only for the women of my age cohort but for all women. The success of this one woman will in some sense compensate all of us for what we’ve lived through.
And we’ve lived through plenty of crap. “Honey, you don’t need to take algebra in the ninth grade,” said my junior high school adviser back in 1957. “You can take business math. After you graduate from high school you’ll work in a department store until you get married.”
So much for an exciting future, eh?
In the 1970s a male chauvinist pig in my office chided me for being a working woman. “You should be at home with your children.” Well, gee, honey, if someone really loves her children, the first thing she tries to do is keep a roof over those children’s heads. In the Washington, DC, area it takes two adults working full-time to afford a modest house in a neighborhood where the sound of gunfire doesn’t punctuate the days.
As recently as 2004, my colleague and I overheard a manager in our office telling one of his staff, “Make sure those girls are doing their job when they stay late tonight.” She, a 39-year-old professional who had won awards for outstanding work, and I, a 60-year-old professional, stared at each other, aghast.
Women encounter misogyny every day in this world, from catcalls when we simply walk down the street minding our own business, to risking rape if we drink alcohol at a frat party, to being the prime prey for predators (because women have been told not to fight back), to being relentlessly criticized for the way we dress, wear our hair, bring up our children, fail to negotiate higher salaries when hired, and bla bla bla.
It’s a world in which the phrase, “man up” encapsulates the prevailing ethos of our patriarchal society. To be perfect in behavior, to be admirable, to take responsibility, one must be male or behave like one.
When Secretary Clinton is relentlessly criticized every second of every day, I feel as if the vituperation is being hurled at me, because she and I were born in the 1940s and share a common background. It’s one thing to disagree with her policy positions or her past decisions; that’s legitimate. But to vilify just for the sake of piling on, to revile just because one might be enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders, is reprehensible. One can like and support a candidate without denigrating the other candidate.
If Secretary Clinton is elected president of the United States, it would show for once and for all that women are equal in qualifications and gravitas. I could tell my six-year-old granddaughter, “See? You too can grow up to be president.”
My first granddaughter, now aged 21 and working on a political campaign for a Democratic candidate in the Southwest, will be elected POTUS in 2040. But I won’t be around to see it—I’ll have been pushing up the daisies for years.
I can’t wait until 2040, folks! I want to see a woman president in the White House in January 2017. In that spirit, just to counter the “all Bernie, all the time” channel that seems to be playing on a certain blog, I offer this diary to explain why I am tuning in to the Hillary channel.