Wednesday, September 27, 2017

No YOU shut up...

Hillary Clinton has always been a polarizing figure for the left and right. However, since the 2016 presidential contest the ever-present debate between her detractors and supporters seems to emanate loudest from the political left. The anger arises, in part, from passionate Bernie Sanders supporters, who feel Clinton is too centrist and that the Democratic party was biased in its support for Clinton in the primaries. Additionally, a vocal number of disillusioned "party line" Dems resent Clinton for bungling what should have, in theory, been a slam dunk campaign. Both sides criticize her post-election for remaining visible and vocal... "picking at old wounds" wrought by the improbable election of Donald Trump to the presidency.

This debate was reinvigorated with the recent release of Clinton's post-election memoir What Happened (full disclosure: my hardcover copy is being lovingly packaged and shipped through the magic of Amazon Prime as I write this blog post) and her accompanying book tour (full disclosure: I will be attending her Davis, CA event with bells on). Reading commentary on Clinton's book and tour, I found not everyone was thrilled to hear from her. Predictably, traditional and social media were full of criticism. As is typical with criticism of Clinton, the language ranged from condescending, to harsh, to vulgar.

Allow me to present some charming excerpts:

“The best thing she could do is disappear.”

"What’s to be done with Hillary Clinton, the woman who won’t go away?"

"Hillary . . . is a major optimist. That’s great for persistence and mental well-being. She’s ready to keep driving the bus. But it’s not so great for knowing when to quit. That’s where the passengers come in."

"The vibe I'm getting is that Democrats wish someone would just lock her in the basement indefinitely. Not in a cold, damp, dark cellar exactly, but locked in a basement — perhaps one with carpeting and high windows — that she can't climb out of."

Of course, there is significant precedent for shushing women in politics. This certainly isn't Clinton's first rodeo. As Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Maxine Waters can tell you, when you're a powerful woman with something to say, inevitably someone is waiting to interrupt you, talk over you, or just plain tell you to "shut the f--- up." And lord help you if you if you're a woman with an axe to grind...

The ire directed at Clinton largely focuses on her alleged inability to "take responsibility" for the failure of her campaign. Instead, the argument goes, she blames sexism, she blames the media, she blames Jim Comey, she blames Russia, she blames Bernie Sanders. It's not enough that she suffered a humiliating election defeat to a ridiculously unqualified misogynist. It was her fault, and now she must suffer in silent, demure penance for her role in the entire catastrophe.

To borrow a term of art from Clinton's critics, I say, shut the f--- up.

I want Hillary to painstakingly dissect the 2016 presidential election. I want her to turn over every rock and connect every dot. I want her to ruminate. I want her anger. I want her frank opinion. I want to hear from the woman who was in the eye of the storm. I want to heed her warnings, her wisdom, and her advice to women who will follow in her footsteps. I want to know what happened. And you know what? It sounds like Hillary's version of events - involving sexism, terrible media coverage, and a corrupt Trump campaign aided by Russia - is being corroborated by an ever-growing mountain of evidence.

The one year anniversary of Trump's election is around the corner and the fact that he is running the country is ever-maddening. I fear for our nation's most vulnerable citizens on a daily basis: our immigrants who live in the shadow of deportations, our sick and disabled who depend on the ever-threatened ACA for healthcare, and our people of color who are dealing (as they always have) with blatant racism and white supremacy... now with the implicit (and some would argue, explicit) endorsement of the administration. Our public education system is being undermined, our environmental protections are being dismantled, and our system of government and political norms are under constant stress.

I think many reasonable people can agree that our country is facing a crisis. Yet all the while a parade of men within and around the Trump administration continue to bend over backwards to defend the indefensible, embarrass themselves, and practice blatant hypocrisy, only to show up later, unabashed, in the public eye because... you know... the past is the past.

We've got a lot of problems... but you know what doesn't feel like a problem? Hearing from the intelligent, thoughtful, badass woman who should have been president.


Omar de la Cruz said...

Full disclosure, as a Bernie Sanders supporter I was initially rooting against Hillary Clinton. However, once she won she secured the nomination, I had no problem supporting her. I respect her for who she is and all that she has accomplished both as a woman and simply as a politician regardless of gender. This is especially true considering the nasty backlash and vicious attacks she was victim of. The day she lost the election is one of the more shameful in this country's history as long as I've been alive. I agree with you, I also want to hear from her in full uncensored detail. Since the election nearly a year ago, I have found myself wondering what she must be doing and thinking. It's not surprising to see that people continue to seek to silence her. Ironically we have a "president" in the White House who can't seem to shut up and stay off twitter.

Aoife Mee said...

The shock of Donald Trump's victory over Hilary Clinton in last year's election was felt even as far away as Ireland. I remember being in college when the results were released and myself and my fellow students were completely in shock - we had been certain that Hilary would have won the election by a landslide.

Personally, I have always had great respect for the Clintons - both Bill and Hilary - because of the crucial role they played in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Bill, with Hilary's support, played a key role as a mediator in the negotiations between nationalists and unionists which led to the Good Friday Agreement. This agreement, signed in 1998, was a peace deal which brought to an end the 30 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland known as 'The Troubles'. The agreement set up a power-sharing assembly to govern Northern Ireland by cross-community consent.

While I recognise that Hilary's campaign was not perfect, I still believe that America has missed out on having an incredibly capable President who, throughout her career, has been committed to peace and equality - even in countries that are not her own. This, in my opinion, is something that is greatly needed in America, especially in the current political climate which the overriding themes are xenophobia and aggressive foreign policy. It is a shame that Hilary's great presidential qualities and potential were overshadowed by sexist criticism from the media and her political opponents.

Lisa R. Pruitt said...

I really appreciate this post! I, too, have seen the criticism of Clinton not only on social media, but in the mainstream media, criticism suggesting she should shut up and go away. One of my favorite comments on social media went something like this: "You know who wants to know what Clinton has to say? The little girl who is going to be President of the United States some day." Of course, I'm hoping it is not a "little girl" now who will become our first woman president because that would mean we'll have to wait at least three decades to have a woman president!

Here's an interesting--and annoying--commentary on what Clinton "got wrong" in her campaign.

I respect Stanley Greenberg and agree that Clinton should have reached out more to the working class, including working class whites, but his voice in this piece is so patronizing. Plus, the more we learn about the Russian "hack" of the election (via social media and, some evidence suggests, voting machines), the more gratuitous and self-serving the "piling on" of Clinton criticism looks ...

Joterias! said...

Thank you for writing this article. Frankly, I am still dumbfounded by the number of men who aggressively dislike Hillary for, well, I’m not sure what. Some dislike her for her policy outlook, some for her supposedly questionable business deals, and others because she stayed with Bill after he cheated on her. Truth be told, however, I think the majority of men who aggressively dislike Hillary do so they find her intimidating and emasculating. To them, the idea of a woman being more capable and accomplished than the vast majority of men, including men who were fed by daddy with silver spoon or small loan of one million dollars to get started, is unfathomable. That is why I hope that Hillary comes back with a vengeance and unapologetically exposes the majority of these men for what they are: misogynists with fragile egos.

But to be effective in the current political climate, Hillary will need to draw from her “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies”-feminism of the 90s. Granted, many found her remarks polarizing then. But her valiant intrepidness was refreshing and energizing. Hillary could use her 90’s no-holds-barred feminism today to shift the media’s attention to the current administration’s selective incompetency. For example, she could highlight the ways in which the current administration’s tax proposal will drive greater income inequality, and further enrich the rich by eliminating estate taxes—what “conservatives” deceitfully call “death taxes.”

Hilary: Keep talking, and don’t be afraid of what men with fragile egos have to say.