September 16, 2017

I could spend hours, days, weeks, writing what I think about Hillary Clinton and the vitriolic reaction to her new book, What Happened, and I haven’t even read it yet. (Awaiting my library copy this week.) But I don’t have that kind of time. Not because—like so many people active in the resistance—I have young children, an actual paying job, and no more hours of sleep to sacrifice; we’re all trying to scrap together whatever we can do: call our Members of Congress, write letters to the editor, attend town halls and myriad organizational meetings, promote fundraisers, participate in protests, and on and on.

I don’t have that kind of time because all of these actions, and anything I have to say about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and for that matter, Donald Trump and his despicable minions, ultimately distill to one thing: Votes, at the grass roots level. No matter who in-the-know I talk to or read, it’s the common bottom line—get the vote out, and Democrats can win. Good—or at least equilibrium—can be restored. That’s what’s going to take the rest of my tank.

From now until November 2018 (at least), getting out the Dem vote is where I need to ruthlessly focus every last bit of my disposable time and energy, and waxing poetic about Hillary Clinton’s 40 year political career, how brilliant and badass and inspiring I find her, how I believe she—and we, the people—were completely screwed out of her rightful presidency, and how the sexism involved (among other factors), cuts me to the core, is a luxury.

Who’s interested in listening to me, anyway? Who’s mind isn’t already made up? How many more months would I waste trying to unite the Hillary and Bernie camps into a focused effort to resist and defeat Trump and the Republican congress? How many times would I write some version of the same thing, or merely echo what more politically savvy writers argue?

So I’m going to sum up what I think here (and cheat, at that, using links), and I’ll write a review after I read What Happened, but otherwise, I’m going to do my best to resist the fray (not going to be easy) and keep my head down to get out the vote and flip FL District 18 and Martin County.

Susan Bordo, University of Kentucky professor, and author of The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, has done me a solid by succinctly discussing the factors—yes, plural—here that I believe contributed to the results of the election, and the hypocrisy of demanding that Hillary shush already.

“The fact is, consumers of the popular media — and not just Fox — were virtually bludgeoned into dislike and suspicion of Clinton. Even the most sympathetic op-eds invariably would genuflect to her “flaws.” The caricatures, no matter how ill-founded, became nailed into popular consciousness.”

I don’t think it can be boiled down much more than that. People can say all they want about advertising not affecting their purchasing decisions, but the cost of a Superbowl ad tells another story: relentless ad campaigns work, and they work at a subliminal, cellular level. No matter her competence and experience, the message was Hillary Clinton is corrupt and evil at worst, and flawed at best.

And still, as I will never stop shouting, Hillary won.  She won by a lot.

There’s also this article by Hasan Piker, a millennial journalist and self-proclaimed Bernie-Bro, who at least attempted to offer a somewhat fair assessment of What Happened, and good god, to his credit, defended Hillary writing it.

(First, my own disclaimer: I voted for Bernie in the primary. I’m as far left as anyone, and if someone was going to offer up universal healthcare and college, I was sure as hell going to take it. I never even thought those could be on the table. Here’s the thing: I’ve since learned they couldn’t, not really. If Hillary had proposed those same things with Bernie’s plan (or lack thereof), she’d have been crucified, just as she was when she worked so hard for universal healthcare in the 90s. There are other reasons I’ve landed firmly in the Hillary camp in the endless, maddening battle between Hillary and Bernie supporters, but none of this mattered to me after the primary anyway. Once Hillary was the candidate, I never looked back, and I was never more excited to vote than the day I voted for her.)

Back to Piker, who writes, “So this isn’t going to be a “Hillary shouldn’t have written this book” rant. That’s a stupid talking point, not just because it can easily be dismissed as sexist, but also because, of course, the shoo-in candidate who took the biggest, most surprising “L” in recent political history is going to write a book about it. Are you kidding me?”

From the mouths of babes.

Still, much of Piker’s argument illustrates what rubs me wrong every time the Hillary hate spews from the Bernie camp: they project their scorn for the entire Democratic party, and much of everything else, onto her, and it’s, for lack of a less wimpy way to say it, simply unfair.

“It’s a deflection of responsibility away from the person solely responsible, which has been an overwhelming theme with Hillary and her supporters.”

Back up there, babe. How in the hell is one person solely responsible in this election? Hillary, yes, of course. And also, Trump. Conway. Sanders. Comey. Hannity and company. Fucking Putin. These are just the obvious ones.  And why can’t her supporters hold her responsible for things we don’t agree with or like—not that she’s grabbing anyone’s pussy/dick and bragging about it or mocking people with disabilities—and still genuinely, ardently support her for ALL the reasons?

“…when asked to sum up her faults and how she would change how she campaigned, Hillary drops her ultimate gem: ‘Nothing on the policy front, but definitely would be more open minded to weird unforeseeable things, like Russia hacking our entire election.’

 An entire book summarized with these words. Her profound inability to admit mistakes, in order to not repeat them, is ultimately going to let this circus machine that keeps pumping out new, and even more viciously racist assclowns on the Republican side while Dems keep throwing banal boring Hail Mary candidates like John Ossoff at walls in red districts with hopes that they stick. Without candidates who clearly support populist economic programs, as well as social justice, we will simply remain the anti-Trump party. And we will lose.”

Wait, what?

First, Hillary admits to mistakes (the fucking emails (my words, not hers) for instance), but why does she have to admit to policy mistakes if she still believes in her policies? Why, for that matter, do we so rarely talk about her actual policies? (Because, “flaws.”) The same goes for her supporters. When we don’t agree with parts of her campaign, or even policies, do we ditch the entire candidate? In that case, good luck finding a candidate.

Second, she’s not running again. How much longer will she be held to not repeat her mistakes when she’s not even running? (Answer: Eternity.) And “Dems keep throwing banal boring Hail Mary candidates…” is her fault how?

Pissed about banal candidates, progressives? Me too. I am dying for a hero here. But don’t put that shit on her, put it on the banal candidates themselves, few, if any of whom have or will have her resume. Fed up with the party? Aren’t we all. Let’s work like mad to improve it, grass roots, not vilify one person, whether she personifies the party or not. Frustrated we’re trapped in a two-party system to begin with? Well then, work to change that instead of trashing someone eminently qualified to be president, and who, by the way, was enormously popular when she held a position with the word “Secretary” in it. You know, a womanly position. Or figure out another way to navigate the system, because Hillary is no longer your worry, and now we’re even more fucked.

Piker adds, “I’m glad Hillary wrote her book, and she is rightfully an icon for girls all over the U.S. ― but if Democrats want to win, we’re going to need to latch on to clearly identifiable progressive policies ― no matter how economically unfeasible they may seem, policies that terrify Republicans who want a future where the poor are melted for biomatter ― and I don’t know if that will happen when we’re so busy blaming Russia and Bernie.”

I agree with the first part of his statement, but all in one sentence he’s still confusing the issue, laying everything at Hillary’s feet, and I’m glad she wrote her book for an entirely different reason, and utterly outraged it’s even a discussion. I’m glad she wrote her book for the simple fact that it’s her book, her story, her truth. And no one, from the most ordinary of us, to the extraordinary Hillary Clinton, needs permission to write her story or should have to defend telling it. Everyone’s story is automatically valid, and worthy of sharing should they choose to do so. It doesn’t have to be well-received, but it’s called memoir for a reason, and anyone who doesn’t get or respect what that means should write their own fucking book and call it a youmoir.

A few days after the election, I sent Hillary a note of thanks along with a copy of The Magic of Memoir, edited by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers, and of which I’m a contributing author. I inscribed that I hoped someone who has inspired so many would find inspiration in those pages; I couldn’t wait for her to write her newest memoir.

Shush, my real president? Retreat? Fade away? Sit still, look pretty? Oh, I don’t think so. As she goes, I go.

I will be a true patriot. I will resist. I will rise up. I will get out the vote. I will stay loud. I will believe, battle, push the needle. I will endure and persevere. Like Hillary.

Then, like Hillary, I’ll tell what happened.