Archive for August, 2008

Angry Hillary Supporters

Friday, August 29th, 2008

The day following Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Convention, Diane Rehm, on her show, wondered why Clinton supporters just couldn’t “get over it” — why they still felt so angry and betrayed.  I couldn’t respond at the time, I was trying to thread my way through flooded roads in North Florida, but when I got home, I sat down and wrote her this letter — which I’m sure never reached her. So, I will post it here:
Dear Diane,

I listened to your show today (on WFSU) with great interest — as I do most of your shows — but I couldn’t understand why you can’t understand the sense of anger and betrayal felt by so many supporters of HRC.  It’s not so much that she lost, but how she lost.

Just to put my remarks in context, I have been a Democrat for many years.  Like many Democrats, I was very pleased with the Democratic  lineup at the beginning of the primary season.  I wasn’t leaning toward any particular candidate, but did send some money to the Obama campaign.

I have always believed that “my” Democratic party was friendly to feminists and would, therefore, be hostile to misogyny directed against one of their candidates, just as they would — and did — readily condemn racism, even where it didn’t exist.

Therefore, when the deluge of incredibly destructive and ugly misogynistic invective directed at Hillary Clinton began to pour fourth from every media outlet (including NPR — e.g., Ken Rudin), I expected both the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party to quickly step forward and point it out.  Instead, there was a deafening silence, which I found almost incomprehensible.

The Clinton campaign was certainly on notice on racism — even though no one has worked harder to overcome it; and I fully expected the high-minded Obama to step forward and say something or do something when his opponent was being so unfairly and disgustingly attacked.  But, he did nothing.  And, I suspect he did nothing because he knew without the sexism directed against his opponent he would not win. So, he sat back and let the media do his dirty work for him — and they did.

Political candidates have to be able to “take it,” but white male candidates are attacked on their policies or their personal lives, they are not attacked because they are either white or male.  Hillary Clinton was relentlessly attacked over and over because she was female, thus all women were being attacked. However, sexism is so much a part of our culture, that it is still invisible to many — even women.  But it is there and it is ugly — and it does — and did — a great deal of harm.  I understand that an organization called WomenCount has gotten language inserted into the Democratic platform to ensure that the party will no longer tolerate sexist language.  Too bad this didn’t happen before the primary. But, who knew?

Ask yourself if the DNC or the Clinton campaign could have survived if they had stood by and done nothing if similar racial garbage had been aimed at Obama.

As to Hillary’s speech, I thought it was great. She just gets better and better.  She has the passion Obama lacks. We had our chance –  but we blew it.  If the party and the Obama campaign had done the right thing and condemned the misogyny (as they expected the Clinton campaign to condemn racism) and Obama had won fair and square, there would be much less rancor. But that didn’t happen.

Anyway, that’s my take on why HRC supporters are so hurt and angry and feel so betrayed. And Obama still has said nothing.  I think if he would at least acknowledge the fact that sexism exists, that it was a factor in the campaign, and that something needs to be done about it, it would go a long way toward healing the wounds.