(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
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