Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Do The Most Good

Hey, Berners. I get it. I really do. Back in 2008, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter in the primaries. (Spoiler alert: I am still a Hillary Clinton supporter now.) Those of us with long enough voting records to remember, that year was a highly contested and incredibly heated primary. It was ever closer – in fact much, much closer – than this primary. And Hillary lost. She lost fair and square. That was hard for a lot of people to accept and there were some stubborn stalwarts (PUMAs, dear God, no).

But in the end, and pretty quickly for some of us, we got over our real heartbreak and got behind Barack Obama. Hillary herself was gracious in her loss, and at the convention took the magnanimous step of being the one to nominate him. She suspended the roll call vote and agreed to a nomination by acclimation (as Bernie graciously did for her yesterday). And, yeah, I cried too when I watched back then – not out of rage or feeling cheated, but because of the disappointment that the hard work and effort it took to get to that moment did not quite get us all the way there.

So, yeah, I get it. Politics is high stakes and emotional and at times exhausting beyond belief. But you have earned the party’s respect. That’s how I felt about Hillary back in 2008. That is how I feel about Hillary now. I supported Hillary then, I wanted her to be my president then as I do now. But I understood and agreed our country needed Barack Obama to win in November. I’ve never regretted either vote. I am so proud of both of them.

Voting for what you may consider to be the next best thing at the time is not surrender. It is how our democracy works. You always vote for those who will move us forward – however incremental or imperfect that may be. The history of our country is one of small steps, giant leaps and tumbles backward. That’s the mess of governing. Purity is luxury for the demagogues. The grind is what makes change happen. It’s not sexy, but it’s true.

That’s how we got marriage equality. I did not refuse to vote for Barack Obama because he did not believe in same-sex marriage when he ran for president in 2008. I did not hold out and cast my vote instead for a doomed-to-fail third party candidate. I voted for the person who could win whose policies were closest to mine. I helped to elect him because I believe progress is a process. Indeed, in 2012 before he ran for reelection, President Obama finally fully embraced marriage equality.

Holding out for perfection might seem noble, but it skips all the hard work. Changing people’s hearts and passing legislation that moves the ball in the right direction are how we actually win. It is the backbone of our nation and every great advancement we’ve made. It is how a nation literally built by slaves is now able to elect a black man as President of the United States.

I am also old enough to remember and have voted in 2000. That’s when the last major third party candidate rose up and acted as spoiler. Al Gore wasn’t liberal enough (because we used the term “liberal” and not “progressive” back then – because even progressivism is a process). Only Ralph Nader fulfilled the progressive purity principal in those days. The crucial state – with all those hanging chads – was Florida. Gore “lost” by 537 votes. How many votes did Nader get in the state? 97,488. So instead we ended up with eight years and two wars with George W. Bush.

Now, we have a candidate for the Republicans even more dangerous than George W. Bush. Now we have a candidate for the Republicans even more incompetent than George W. Bush. Now we have a candidate for the Republicans even more hateful than George W. Bush.

But you refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton because of what? The TPP? Drones? Look, there can be sincere disagreement about Hillary’s policies. There are certainly fair criticisms of her positions. But while those issues may be significant, there are so many others where she no doubt falls exactly in line with your beliefs - which are just as important. LGBT rights, reproductive freedom, civil rights, climate change.

I also believe she has proven herself a candidate willing to listen, willing to evolve. Like Obama, she did not support full marriage equality in 2008. But then, like him, she came around and fully endorsed it. And, as a whole, the Democratic Party has moved to the left and – thanks in part to Bernie – produced the most progressive party platform in history. That matters and only comes from the hard work and slog of hearing each other out.

Now, if you are refusing to vote for her because of the “Crooked Hillary” nonsense you have unwittingly bought into 25 years of right-wing propaganda that has vilified a strong woman for being just that. You are allowing a campaign built on nonstop misogyny and distrust of females in power to cloud your feelings. Citizen United, which we all hate – yeah, that whole thing began as a way to take down Hillary.

Our continued denial of sexism is how some can be so blasé about the historical significance of having our first woman presidential nominee for a major political party. It hasn’t happened in the entire history of our country, but who cares, right? Like don’t make such a big deal of it, OK?

If you watched any of the convention yesterday, you heard story after story of Hillary working hard and tirelessly for everyday people. You heard people who were not her employees or her family praising her attentiveness and warmth and genuine concern. Sure, this is her convention – they’re not going to say terrible things. But think hard about last week’s convention – when even the nominee’s children barely had a genuine personal story to share about him. It’s almost it’s as if there has been a deliberate narrative perpetuated about Hillary over decades that paints her as cold and calculating super-villain robot. So now there has to be an entire convention to remind us that, hey, guess what – she is a real human person. Whoddathunkit?

The Hillary Clinton I’ve watched for 25 years is not a heartless automaton. She is a tireless worker, willing to put in the thankless hours in the trenches to do what she believes to be right. Has she made mistakes? Sure, what human hasn’t? But I’ve always watched her grow and learn from them, come our stronger and smarter. So I simply cannot fathom those who see her as the same or even worse than Donald Trump.

One of the most depressing things about this election has been watching progressives plead with other progressives to please not help the hateful Cheeto with narcissistic personality disorder assume the presidency.

The American journey toward a more perfect union can seem impossibly slow at times. The desire to hurry it up the process is one we all share. But sitting back and watching the world burn will never be the way to get there.

Being a progressive does not mean abandoning POC, women, LGBT, immigrants to the mercy of a man who will absolutely hurt them as president. Being a progressive does not mean allowing a man who stands against everything you purport to hold dear to fill up the Supreme Court.

If you think there isn’t a real difference between Democrats and Republicans, then you aren’t one of the people Trump has been scapegoating for the world’s problems. Look at their party platforms side-by-side. Really look at them. I mean, for fuck’s sake, the GOP still supports conversion therapy.

Every day I wake up hoping it was just some fever dream that a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic egomaniac with absolutely no governing experience or ability is only one election away from having the nuclear codes. You may survive the rubble of Trump’s presidency. But that means you are willing to sacrifice the rest of us who will not.

The one thing I can say to by Bernie supporting friends – as someone who in 2008 experienced the same side of the coin you find yourself on now – is how good it felt to embrace the history of that movement. Supporting Barack Obama in the general election was a great privilege. Cutting through centuries of ugly, shameful history and electing him president ranks among our nation’s proudest moments. We did that. Sure, it didn’t end racism or solve continued inequalities. But it means something each time our country accomplishes a first.

And the first woman president – yeah, that matters. We have had 240 years of only men in charge and now, finally, a chance for a Madame President. Hell yeah, that should feel good.

This is the story of the America I want to live in. The America I know we can become. One step forward, pulling together, doing the most good for the most people for as long as we can. That is why I’m with her. Let’s do this thing, America.


Karey Godwin said...

Perfect. Exactly right.

Helena said...

So true , thank you for putting the need for Americans to vote for Hillary in such a clear way.

Pat Cooper said...

Well said, very well said. Thank you!

Carmen SanDiego said...

Standing ovation DS. PERFECT
We won the battle, now let's go win the war

Rachel said...

Perfectly said. We must unite to defeat him. Just for the supreme court alone if not for the COUNTLESS other glaring reasons why.

Anonymous said...

You remember 2000, I get a kick out of that. I remember 1962, I was 19 and to young to vote for John Kennedy. I was crushed. I have seen a lot. I've been escorted out of restaurants, denied an apartment, threatened, tormented, harassed in every phase of my life. In 1962 and many years after the absolute worse thing you could be is queer.

Yes, change does come slowly. I see the younger ones complain constantly and marvel about how little history they know or understand. SAD. I am seeing something I truly believed I would never see in my lifetime. The possible making of a female president. I'm moved to tears every single day.

It's been a long tough journey. This is the worst country in the world except for all the rest. Cherish the moment!

January said...

Wow, Ms Dorothy, you hit the ball out of the park with this installment. Your point about how Gore came to lose in Florida needs to be reminded to everyone daily. Bush will become a walk in the park compared to the mayhem that could be wrought by a Trump/Pence presidency.

Unknown said...

Bottom line is your vote is for party policies, not personalities. Pick the one that aligns most with your values. Voting out of spite will not turn out well; there are lifetime Supreme Court appointments at stake.

Nici75 said...

DS, this post is the best thing you've ever written.

Nader and Gore disasters: history cannot be allowed to repeat itself. Like President Obama said last night, "Don't boo. VOTE!" Vote with your heads. Anyone who thinks, "I can't stand either so I'll vote for neither" is giving one less vote to the side they're just hoping might win. Bernie supporters, please, remember that you can still ensure that Sanders lands up in a majority Dem and therefore Independent-aligned Congress. YOUR votes can make that happen. YOU can make that happen. You want Bernie to win? You wanna feel the Bern for years to come? Vote with your heads. And keep on voting. Vote in those mayors and sheriffs and governors, every single year, not just every four years. VOTE WITH YOUR HEADS.


a South African who knows more about US politics and policy in general and the US electoral system than many Americans, and who definitely knows a shitload more about it than Trump, and who finds that incredibly SCARY.

CommentingOnComments said...

"You may survive the rubble of Trump’s presidency. But that means you are willing to sacrifice the rest of us who will not." I want this as a bumper sticker. And billboard. And sky-written. Thank you for saying so well what so many of us are thinking and what others need to hear.

CommentingOnComments said...

"You may survive the rubble of Trump’s presidency. But that means you are willing to sacrifice the rest of us who will not." I want this as a bumper sticker. And billboard. And sky-written. Thank you for saying so well what so many of us are thinking and what others need to hear.