Monday, February 4, 2008


This is an exciting political season. And I’m an old political animal, passionately engaged and paying close attention. My plan was to vote for Hillary. I’m a life-long democrat, and a sixty three years old . I’m female. I’m a feminist, and I’m volunteering for Barack Obama. I don’t have children or grandchildren influencing this decision. I came to it slowly and it took the behavior of both candidates after the South Carolina Primary to galvanize me to take action and actively support Senator Obama. I have written a letter to the editor of my favorite local news paper. I write a daily political blog and I am calling folks on the phone, asking for their support but most importantly urging them to vote. Really the most important thing in a democracy is the right to vote. Give up that right, leave it to someone else to make the most important decision of you life, and you get the government you deserve. What’s worse, you’re stuck with it for at least four years. And very often that mistake can last eight years. And look what can happen in just eight years.

I love the Clintons. The Clinton years were some of the best of my life. But the rancor and divisiveness during the Clinton years was exhausting. It was the press and the very far right-wing side of the Republican party that kept the engine of vitriol cranking out mud to be slung everywhere. And Bill didn’t help much with his licentiousness and his inappropriate choice of on-the- side partners. So Hillary as our nominee will churn up all that hatred again. It is tiresome and boring. I do not want to go through that again. And as we all know, with the 24 hour cable news cycle, a rumor seems to be as good as the truth. Say it long enough and a lot of people are going to take it as the truth just because everybody’s saying it.

My second problem with Hillary is her vote on the resolution for the Iraq War. I have listened to every debate on both sides of the aisle and I have heard her tortured rationalizations for her vote several times. If the Clintons learned nothing else from their experiences in the White House, the one thing they should have learned is that we Americans can forgive a lot of bad behavior and wrong votes, but we can’t abide a liar. But if once the lie has been told we are pretty quick to forgive once an apology has been given. We seem to like to forgive. John Edwards knows us pretty well. He was quick to say he was wrong on that vote and he apologized for that vote. ‘Nuff said. On to other subjects. But Hillary keeps explaining as if that changes anything. We need an apology. That’s the bottom line.

Then there was the Primary in South Carolina. There were three things about that Primary that made me change my mind:
First there was the stunningly beautiful speech Senator Obama gave that night. It was so moving I sat on my bed as I watched and sobbed. I’m a tough old bird and it isn’t all that easy to move me to tears. But Barack can do it. He inspired me to write a letter to the editor of my local paper. A first for me. The second thing about that Primary was Senator Clinton’s boorish behavior toward Senator Obama. She didn’t have the courtesy to go to South Carolina, face her disappointed supporters, and deliver a graceful concession speech. She was campaigning in Tennessee (I think that’s where she was) and gave a graceless stump speech. Yes she did say “congratulations”, but that was about it. And unlike Senator Obama, who almost never uses the personal pronoun “I”, her stump speech was full of “I”. “I have the experience” “I will be ready from day one.” We yearn to be a united country again. We do not want anymore politics of polarization and divisiveness. We are sick of huge egos and it isn’t all about you. It’s all about us. But the final thing that made me volunteer to work for the Obama campaign was the demographics of that vote in South Carolina. I knew that the large African American population in South Carolina would give Barack a slight edge, but what I was unprepared for was the vote by young people. I have watched young people turn away from participation in electoral politics over the decades and worried about the fact that the old farts are choosing the leaders who will set policy and direction for a Nation that will soon be in the hands of those disaffected young people. It made me hopeful once again that we will be able to keep this country a democracy. It makes me proud of all of you young people. And so I join you to support the new leader of your generation. Yes we can.

Dear Hillary Clinton

Dear Hillary Clinton,
I have always admired you and your husband. I voted for Bill both times. Those were the best years of my life. For the first time, with a growing economy and a rising stock market, I was able to invest a little and watch my investment grow. I had hope that this path we were on would carry us on to another eight years of peace and prosperity under the leadership of Al Gore. And that we would be able to tackle the urgent problem of global warming under his administration. But one of the things that happened along that difficult path was divisiveness within the Democratic party. What stands out in my memory of the Primary season, and the campaign after the Primary was an absence of enthusiastic support for Vice President Gore’s candidacy by you and the former President Clinton. If you and Bill had whole-heartedly stumped for Al Gore, if you and Bill had called in all the favors, cashed out all your political chips, he could have won.

Within the first year of the G.W. Bush Presidency I cashed out my dwindling portfolio of stocks and hunkered down for what has been the most painful and depressing period in our Nation’s history during my lifetime. If Al Gore had won decisively, we would not have spent the last nearly eight years in a ruinous war of aggression, scared by the fear-mongers, made poorer by tax breaks for the richest among us and benefits cuts for the poorest among us: poor children, the disabled and the elderly living on small social security checks and medicare. Why didn’t you put the welfare of our Nation above the petty little problems you had with Vice president Gore? I have been wondering about this for almost eight very painful years. It seems like very small thinking to punish a nation for disagreements and disappointments that really amount to personal pettiness. We all had a right to be angry with President Bill Clinton when he risked so much to satisfy his hunger for a little strange sex with a young White House intern who will always be famous now for the dress she saved, for the words your husband uttered in front of this Nation, and those words now stand to remind us all that he lied to us. He lied to us over something most of us didn’t really care about. It wasn’t the sex. It was the lying. It was the standing there and saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” that fractured our country and polarized us even more. It gave traction to the Christian fundamentalists. It angered and galvanized the religious right-wing of both parties, so that people across this land voted against their own self-interest to protest what they thought was sinful and dishonest behavior by your husband. This put Vice President Gore in a tough spot, and I think you and Bill were petty not to understand his dilemma, not to get behind him, and help in whatever way you could to make his Presidency a reality. Frankly my dear, none of us gives a damn if Al’s disapproval pissed you off. It was up to you to rise above it, and to do whatever it took, even if that was entirely behind the scenes, to help him win the ‘02 election. This past eight years is what pettiness has given us. Now I’m asking you to do something that will require giving up your own personal ambition to be the first female American President, so we can have the first African American President.

I am 63 and female. I’m a feminist. I would love to see a woman President in my lifetime. I was a supporter of yours until the night the South Carolina Primary was decided in Senator Obama’s favor. I watched the results come in on CNN and was thrilled by the large turnout of young people. I listened to his victory speech and sat on the edge of my bed with tears streaming down my face because not once in his entire speech did he use the personal pronoun “I”, and I found myself whispering “Yes we can,” along with him, as I sat alone in my small house watching what I believe will be the seminal moment in our country’s history. But the real reason I switched my support that night from you to Barack Obama was your behavior after that Primary. I’ve known all along that Barack is an orator, a brilliant and inspirational speaker, but the absence of a gracious concession speech from you was heart-breaking. It was a real low-point in your campaign. I watched you in, where was it, Tennessee? Your speech was just a stump speech, just another stop along the way to Super- Tuesday. I listened to you say over and over “I can do this, I will be ready on day one, I, I, I.” It was graceless, it was rude. And in the end it was alienating.

I have watched in horror over the decades as young people have become cynical and disaffected by the political process. Fewer and fewer even registering to vote. They have tuned-out and stopped paying attention to anything politicians have to say. They believe you are all liars. But Barack has touched something in their collective consciousness that has ignited a flame of hope. Please, let’s keep that flame of hope alive. So in the spirit of unity, I’m begging you to do the right thing for our country. I’m asking you to go before the Nation and give a speech stating your support for Barack Obama. I’m asking you to step aside and throw all your mighty political power, all your connections, all your drive and passion into a unified campaign to make Barack Obama our next President of the United States. Please Senator Clinton, make history now. Make history in a way that will forever make you a hero with the young people who so passionately want change now. Help Barack end the war in Iraq. Help him unite a country that has not been this divided since the days of Richard Nixon and the waning days of the Vietnam War. Please help him restore trust and solvency and hope and integrity and generosity and a spirit of enthusiasm to this fractured land. We so need your help. We can not heal our tarnished reputation around the world without you help. But now, in this day in this time, we need a great and inspirational orator to speak for us. To make us proud of who we are, to give hope to other nations that we are not the bullies and thugs they see us as today. Please help us heal our Nation. Please support Barack Obama now. With your help, we can do all of this. Yes we can.