Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why I Don’t Support Hillary Clinton for President

Kit Kimberly

(please note that this is a personal opinion and does not reflect any position held by CodePink Women for Peace)


At the Take Back America breakfast yesterday morning, I got to see Hillary Clinton close up, in person, for the first time. Although I have not supported her since she began this campaign, to see a woman approaching the podium as one of the leading presidential candidates brought tears to my eyes. Twenty-five years ago, when I was first beginning my feminist journey, I could never have foreseen a woman and a black man as leading candidates in the US. That they are there is a credit to the people of the US. That they are who they are—I believe, products of a corporate, corrupt political machine—is due to the lack of true democracy and triumph of hypocrisy in this society.


Hillary Clinton, of course, spoke of issues that warm the hearts of all progressives. She set up a clear barrier between “us” (Democrat-supporting progressives—is that an oxymoron?) and “them” (the war-mongering, corrupt, corporate-controlled Bush administration). She called for all the issues on the Democratic platform: national health, a living wage, end to the war in Iraq (last on her list, but that may have been because of the expected, protracted support for that topic), affordable education from pre-school through higher ed, a decent wage for the working class—in short, everything that every Democratic candidate supports. She personalized her speech with the story of Lilly Ledbetter, the woman who was paid less than men for 20 years as a supervisor at Firestone, then was told by the Supreme Court that it was too late for her to receive compensation.


One of the non-“bumpersticker” (credit to John Edwards) truths, as I perceive it, that she mentioned was that US people are the “hardest working in the world.” As Dan Savage points out in his book Skipping Towards Gomorrah, US people work hardest of any in the industrial world (more about this distinction later, OK, Medea?). Folks in this country work more hours (and more jobs), take shorter, fewer vacations (minimum mandatory vacations in every other industrialized nation begin at three weeks), and produce more per capita. And where has it gotten us? We’re have the highest addiction, depression, suicide and violence rates of any society in the Western world. We’re over our heads in debt, our houses are being foreclosed on, and our economy is in shambles (a fact that, by the way, seems not to have reached the mainstream media at all. The US dollar is worth less in the world than it has been since the Great Depression. Why is no one worried about this?) I really don’t see why this “hard work” is something to be so proud of, since it doesn’t seem to have made us personally or societally very happy or well-balanced.


At this statement, however, she—and I—were immediately shot down by Medea, who reminded me of the 2/3 of the world we call "developing". In retrospect, it seems a shame to me that Ms Clinton (I will always call her “Ms”— I’d call her Ms Rodham but then no one would know who I was talking about!) didn’t tie in her Lilly Ledbetter story with the story of working women all over the world: Women, who make up 52% of the population and do 2/3 to ¾ of all the work in the world (in the Third World, women rise at 3 or 4 am to begin to carry water for the work they will do all day; in the vast majority of places, men do next to nothing while women do all the planting, caretaking, harvesting, production, slaughtering and processing of food and other goods, as well as “traditional” women’s work of childcare and homemaking); but they own less than 10% of the world’s wealth and less than 1% of the property.


And this, in a nutshell, is why I don’t support Hilary Clinton: Because she has chosen to side with the rich, almost all white, western, and male, power structure. Rather than build a campaign and coalition that reaches out, educates and empowers the majority of this country that is not the rich white male elite, she has joined their ranks. Now, whether or not they will ever accept her as one of their own is a question I have no desire to address. Some say they did Margaret Thatcher, but the way they treated her at the end of her term says otherwise. My point is that I’m not going to support a woman, just because she is a woman, if she isn’t addressing my concerns.


Now, to be fair, I’m sure that Ms Clinton affected President Mr. Clinton’s politics and policies. I argue that Bill Clinton is the best president women ever had, simply because he was the first to put women in visible positions of power—and in such a way that there was no going back. Do you really believe GW Bush’s cabinet and administration would be as diverse as it is if not for Bill Clinton's opening of doors that could never be shut? Sometimes I think I’m being too hard on the Ms, that I expect more of women—well, that’s probably true. I do expect more of women because for the most part, when I look around me, I see women giving, doing, being much more.


Until he said, in response to a possible attack on Iran, that “no options are off the table,” I supported John Edwards’ candidacy. I like the way his wife is his partner in what seems like every way; I like that he’s from North Carolina (as am I); I like that he went to work for the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity after a failed bid for vice president; and I like that he’s taken a strong stand against the Iraq war since he apologized for voting for it in the Senate (see http://femifesta.blogspot.com/) But it comes down to this: If their platforms sound exactly the same, and their way of addressing the issues similar, and their treatment of their constituents and audiences unvarying, then the candidate’s gender or color makes no difference to me. If I were to support Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman, or Barack Obama just because he’s black, wouldn’t that make me as sexist or racist as the rich white male elite who’ve worked so hard to keep us all under control for so long?

7 comments:

Eileen Coles said...

100% agreement. It is the positions of the candidates that should be the main selling point to voters. We can no longer afford to fall for appearances. I have been watching the way the candidates vote carefully. Actions speak louder than words.

I also will NEVER take Hillary seriously so long as she continues to say things like "We need to have dialogues with people who are different than us", etc. but she keeps very rudely blowing off ANY such opportunity with Code Pink. You all know that my introduction to your organization was as a person who could effectively lobby Hillary back in January. You also know that we essentially had to pass ourselves off as another affiliated organization in order to obtain that audience at all.

Hillary needs to practice what she preaches, and so does Nancy Pelosi. For that matter so does Obama, who fled like a wimp when he saw you guys coming. These people need to understand that they are not just dealing with a bunch of street clowns. We have the intelligence AND the courage to discuss and back up our positions on the issues. WHY DON'T THEY?

It's real easy to stand behind a podium and say you're willing to talk with people of differing opinions. Now let's see her actually do it. We just might take her seriously if at least she's honestly capable of returning the favor. I told her back in January that serving one's country with honor can be a very rewarding experience. That advice hasn't changed - it never will.

Happy summer solstice to all,

Eileen

JimPreston said...

They all seem like such children to me that I just get depressed. But then I think about all the cool ladies at Code Pink and I'm happy again, so it works out in the end.
peace,
jim

CODEPINK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morgaine said...

Thanks so much, Jim, for your constant support. It means a lot to have our blog read and to get feedback. Hooray for CodePink MEN for PEACE! xx

Katherine said...

Thank you for this. I have been following a lot of blogs lately that discuss living wage. It is amazing that many people can work full-time jobs at minimum wage and still live below the poverty line.

I recently began interning at the social enterprise, LaborFair.com, that helps support household help (the group that the supreme court decided is not entitled to the basic wages that others are). This pool of low-wage workers is predominently women. Laborfair.com, a useful online resource for promoting fair and living wages for household workers. Laborfair.com is a bay area website that is a combination of facebook and craigslist. Anyone looking for a housecleaner, plumber, landscaper, nanny...etc can access individual worker profiles with references and reviews.

The Laborfair.com workers are empowered to quote wages they deem fair for the work they provide and the consumers pay them directly. It is these working women that need our support most.

pass it on.

caterliz said...

a woman prez would be outstanding
but ...........
i want candidates that run on a peace platform diplomacy first
and - policy of withdrwawl-

i will never vote for any war mongers
war talkers or the military industrial fat heads

jim -i miss ya and feel thankful to have great supporters like you on the peace team in dc!!!

Elizabeth said...

I think many women now realize that having a vagina does not make a candidate someone you want to work for and vote for. Elizabeth Dole, Condoleeza Rice?? Etc, etc.