In the fall of 1992 I was a school media specialist and my best buddy was a Social Studies teacher. We were around the same age and utterly sick and tired of the Reagan-Bush I era. I was particularly angered and depressed by the constant anti-abortion message being shoved down our throats and had marched on Washington twice over abortion rights during these years. It felt like women were under constant attack.
So when Bill Clinton hit the scene, Kathy and I became big fans. We weren’t policy wonks at that point–we were just looking for some oxygen and Bill Clinton was it. One of my favorite expressions at the time was that Clinton “had a PULSE” and after years of ossification at the hands of Reagan-Bush I, that meant a great deal to us!
Around the time the fall was still warm and sunny, Hillary Clinton came to the Rutgers University campus on College Avenue, in New Brunswick, NJ. Kathy and I decided we simply HAD to go!
It was a beautiful day and a platform was set up as one entered the quad. I don’t recall the crowd being exceptionally large, nor do I remember a word that was said. But I do remember Hillary. She was wearing a bright purple skirt suit and her hair was fairly long. After she spoke, she came down the rope line and I shook her hand. What struck me was that she was very petite. And her skin–very fair and almost translucent. She looked almost fragile.
Bill Clinton and Al Gore started with great plans which were thwarted, particularly the 1993 energy proposal detailed in an earlier post. Hillary made mistakes with healthcare. The Telecommunications Act was a huge mistake. But, I understood the political climate was toxic and Clinton probably did the best anyone in that situation could have done, overall. Of course, like many liberals, I was mad at Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky affair.
I was particularly frustrated, however, by his playing footsies with the Bushes and the corporate ties. So, like many Democrats, I was ready for a new face this time around. I was adamantly against a Hillary run and decided John Edwards was delivering the message that appealed the most to me; he seemed to be the only candidate willing to address the issue of corporate power and its pervasive role in all aspects of American life. The media refused to report on him and apparently, Democratic voters were quite content to go with Obama and Hillary and their corporate ties, which was a major disappointment for me.
In the meantime, Obama devotees continue to be blind to Obama’s relationships and corporate ties and are buying into the “image” of change and at the same time have become virulently hateful toward the Clintons. It seems to be irrational hatred because their own favorite is proving to have clay feet, although they refuse to acknowledge this fact.
As the primary season has worn on, it’s become clearer to me that the media and Democratic Party are hell-bent on destroying the Clintons, specifically Hillary, for once and for all. Never mind that he’s been our only two-term Democratic president in decades and that he really did fix up the huge deficit mess left by Reagan-Bush I. Never mind he left the country poised to move forward. Suddenly, he and Hillary are the devils incarnate. And who is supposed to take up the party’s torch? A man who is arrogant and has advisers and endorsers who are the party elite! A man who will carry on the Democrats’ march toward becoming no different than Republicans. Big change…not at all. So getting rid of the Clintons seems more personal than a matter of political differences.
So, here I am, a woman slightly younger than Hillary watching as the hate and misogyny spews. I watch the Democratic party and “progressive” bloggers actually willing to disenfranchise voters in two states in order to fix the nominee. I watch Hillary Clinton being insulted and derided for positions that are no worse than Obama’s.
Over the years, of course, she has proved how resilient she really was and today she is robust, feisty older woman taking this stuff and dealing with it.
All this begins to make me angry, since I am one of those “older, under-valued women” who is of no interest, apparently to the party. The final straw comes a couple of months ago when a progressive site to which I had contributed columns every week since 2001 finally spews enough garbage that I no longer wanted my name associated with it. And then I watch a competent, well-spoken, woman well-versed on the issues being gestured at to “F*ck off” by the oh so “cool” guy being given a soft ride and I wonder, “What the hell is going on?” I feel like Obama is aiming his “coded” finger at me, too! My “misogyny radar” now has been re-activated as I listen to the media and the sly words Obama.
At this point I’m coming from a place which many of us who lived through the 60’s are now at and I am reflecting on all we’ve lived through. Over the last couple of years, I’ve shed my youth and have accepted the fact that I am middle-aged. As I’ve done that, I’ve noticed that like many women, I’ve become increasingly feisty and unwilling to put up with bullshit. My own language has become saltier and I do not suffer fools gladly.
In the last few months I’ve begun using a phrase “Don’t complain, DO” as I work to keep control of my life and continue to resist being pigeon-holed by marketers, doctors, and “youth.” Life needs to be addressed head on now and I’ve decided to “dig in” –I’m not leaving without a fight.
All these personal feelings are now dovetailed into the political season. After my guy Edwards was shoved out by the media and Democratic party voters, I tuned out for awhile. But Clinton hate, particularly Hillary-hate, has reawakened me and a lot of memories of past fights on women’s issues and current battles that need to be fought, especially the ongoing battle to be respected and taken seriously.
So, on Monday night, I actually tuned into to watch the Clinton rally in Philly. I listened to Bill Clinton and smiled as I heard him describe a “phalanx” of women mobilized if Hillary became President. I took note as he ticked off some the things she has accomplished over the years that have actually CHANGED people’s lives, such as the micro-bank funding, adoption law changes, and so many other things.
Then I watched Hillary and saw a real fighter. While I’m not a blind devotee, I really appreciated her energy and guts and passion as she spoke. Heck, she reminded me of…ME!
Later, I watched the video Keith Olbermann’s interview with Hillary and noted how he tried to insinuate that by meeting with Scaife, Hillary was a sell-out. She came right back at him and said it sure showed how she could work with almost anybody!! I hope Keith didn’t wet himself on that one. As a fellow Cornellian, I was once proud of Keith, but his anti-Hillary bias has become unbearable. He should be ashamed of himself because HE is the real sell-out and has lost his objectivity.
By the end of the night I felt as if I had been on a real journey of “rediscovery.” I had rediscovered how much I valued a lot of what Hillary had accomplished under trying circumstances and I wondered if Hillary was finding this campaign a journey of rediscovery as well. Because the woman I saw last night seemed to be on fire. The petite, almost fragile looking woman I saw in 1992 was transformed into a real force of nature.
I have to say I’ve become fired up as well. Does the Democratic Party really think that I’ll vote for just anybody they shove at me? After all this? No, they’re wrong. Because this “older, under-valued woman” has seen another woman of “a certain age” taking the hits and hitting back.
You know something? I’m proud of Hillary, just for that. I may not agree with her on everything she’s done or plans to do…but it seems she’s tapping into an energy that I recognize…it’s that I’m here, now, and it’s MY time! And maybe it’s HER TIME, too…
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