Last week, Hillary Clinton was in New York City at a fundraiser with the former Chief Financial Officer of the huge investment bank Morgan Stanley, where some attendees bundled as much as $27,000.
At the same time, Bernie Sanders was talking with voters in Wisconsin. It’s always free to come hear Bernie Sanders talk about the issues facing our country. No hundreds or thousands a plate behind closed doors.
Should that not be pointed out? Is it not relevant? Is it “attacking,” “hating” or “negative tone” to talk about such differences when they go to the heart of what matters to so many?
It matters. It ALL matters to me. The taking obscene amounts of money from Wall Street, drug companies and the fossil fuel industry matters. The weak defenses of this behavior (and more recently, the angry and untruthful defenses).The uninspiring, unconvincing banalities on what’s “realistic.” The wrong-sided votes/positions/ideas/expedient flip-flops on wars, NAFTA/TPP, GMOs, fracking, for-profit prisons, health care, climate and energy, the minimum wage, immigration, public college tuition, criminalization of marijuana, and much more.
And you know what? The private server and FBI investigation at this point matters quite a bit too. And moreover, her attitude about it matters. Her former position on DOMA matters. The way she treated the Black Lives Matter activist in South Carolina—and the Greenpeace activist last week. And the persistent sense I can never shake that I am hearing someone furtive, rehearsed, staged, groomed, and somewhat entitled, arrogant and “above it all” who is in this mostly for herself and her career, and will say anything to get the prize—often in vague, hypercrafted, blandly rhetorical codes. (The latter is my interpersonal, intuitive read; I own it as my own. Although, as it turns out, I’m not at all alone; we know similar words surface repeatedly via voters, focus groups, even pundits and reporters on the subject of trust and likability.)
The bottom line, though, is that Clinton simply doesn’t represent my values, views or interests—hardly at all. So pardon me, but the fact that she uses the ladies’ room simply will not compensate for a gross mismatch on countless critical issues.
And caring about issues first, and humans first, doesn’t make me less of a feminist. Gender doesn’t cover a multitude of sins; it’s the domain of a one-issue voter. I didnt vote for Obama because he was black, either. Very cool bonus, sure. But foremost, he was the best candidate in my view. She is not, not by a long shot—not in this field, not with the fierce, compassionate, issue-driven, sacred-cow-slaying Sanders as a bolder, braver option. As Sarah Silverman put it in her video endorsing Sanders: “I’m not against Hillary. It’s just—I met someone I have more in common with.”
Exactly. I can say precisely why I am supporting Sanders—both in terms of issues/positions and in terms of character. The list is long, and specific. For that reason, it’s the height of irony as well that many Clinton supporters often name-call Sanders supporters “blind followers.” It’s particularly rich because I don’t think a President has ever run a more issue-oriented campaign in my lifetime, or attracted a more intelligent, awake (and massive!) crowd of citizens. Sanders supporters are deeply concerned and conversant about the issues (and solutions) he has (always) championed.
In contrast, in all my conversations with friends and acquaintances—and canvassing and phonebanking—I have never heard one Clinton supporter explain, “What I love is that she opposes a $15 minimum wage (and yes, she DID until today!), reinstating Glass-Steagall, and decriminalization of marijuana possession, and supports/supported fracking, The Patriot Act, for-profit prisons, and the death penalty.” (Or whatever.) I never hear “She represents my views and concerns the most closely.” All I ever hear is “more electable, woman president, don’t rock the boat, got to beat Trump, Sanders can’t win.” (And all of the electability/Trump arguments have been thoroughly debunked.) So who is demonstrating blind, abject loyalty for…reasons?
Being able to say “we got a woman president!” is to me hardly worth compromising on everything else, or squandering the potential we have now for something much bigger. There is a far more pernicious glass ceiling that is hurting more than just women. Repudiating the opportunity for desperately-needed sea change just to taste the words “Madam President” on your own tongue is, in my view, simply selfish and short-sighted. There’s far more at stake than indulging you and your little satisfactions; this opportunity is about all of us.
Sanders knows and represents that; his entire career has exemplified it—and for many of us, that’s incredibly inspiring, hopeful, and exciting. To me, having THAT sensibility and ethic sitting in the White House—THAT possibility is intoxicating, and would be a breakthrough miles beyond gender.
Plus, I think a woman president is coming plenty soon enough, regardless. We don’t need to swing at this pitch like it’s the last one we’ll get. When we raise the wider, far more oppressive glass ceiling of a rigged economy and big money in elections, there will be more opportunities at every level for women—and men and children—of all ages and races, and in a healthier, fairer, truly democratic nation.
Till the RIGHT woman is up for the nom, meantime I’ll take this man—PERSON, human—whose authentic and consistent positions on all of the above-named issues DO represent me. And whose rare blend of guts, heart, and experience might really make him the last pitch we get to knock real change out of the park in my lifetime. As Susan Sarandon has said, “This man may be the only one who can come up through the system unscathed, unsold, and pure—and we now have the opportunity to make that man our choice for President of the United States.”
I’ll happily call that a plenty satisfying glass ceiling to have busted through. (It’s not like electing a Jew who calls himself a Democratic Socialist wouldn’t be progress to celebrate.)
That’s how it is for me. I don’t want “a woman at any cost.” I don’t want a candidate who says “me,” but rather one who says “we”—and can be trusted to mean it. I want honesty, integrity, justice, morality, compassion, principle, and vision that’s backed by action and cooperative leadership. I want someone who not only takes a clear and constructive position on the most meaningful and challenging issues we face, but takes what I feel are the right ones, for the right reasons—and has done so consistently for forty years.
I want the peaceful, powerful political revolution—and social evolution—embodied by Sanders and his platform. And I won’t sit quietly to be called an “attacker,” “hater” “follower” or “unfeminist” for saying so.
Robyn Landis is a writer, author of two bestselling health books, health blogger, fitness trainer, communications specialist, and award-winning songwriter who is passionate about the environment and social justice. Find her at www.robynlandis.net and www.robynlandis.com, and on Twitter @cagefreechick. She is a NYC native, a longtime Seattleite, and now lives in Tucson, AZ.