I am pushing 70 and I have lived in a sexist world all those years; yet, I have been appalled at the hatred that young women have expressed to me against Hillary Clinton. Even older women have told me how she lies, how she supports corporate America over people’s interests, that she can’t be trusted. I heard things like that about me most of my career as well so I know what lie beneath those words. Reasoned people don’t understand Trump’s continuing success. I do. I know that we still live in a country where a powerful, empowered woman is more feared than an overt racist. I know it but I struggle mightily with why.
I gave the Bernie Sanders campaign money because I believed and still believe that he would and could be a powerful catalyst in shaking HC out of some of her outdated beliefs. I felt Bernie could serve the Democratic Party in bringing disparate groups together. We are at the threshold of the world changing for good or evil. But until women of all ages can empower themselves, be unafraid of powerful women, and are able to support empowering each other without collapsing into old stories, our world won’t change and we will elect Donald Trump. Even Bernie has failed my expectation because Bernie seems to be an angrier man with a singular agenda now that he has legitimately lost. He could continue his strong movement by helping get people elected to Congress who share his beliefs but Bernie may fail to do that because angry people have a tendency to wallow in their anger. I hope I am wrong. Bernie in his long career never helped get anyone elected. Hillary in her long career devoted time, energy and money to get many qualified men and women elected to Congress.
If Hillary isn’t elected, there will be plenty of blame to pass around. Die-hard Bernie supporters say they won’t vote for her or they will vote the Libertarian Party. I will piss many people off by writing this but I know that people won’t vote for Hillary because of lame excuses that she’s liar or corrupt or God knows what else. The real reason they won’t vote for Hillary is because they are afraid of her. She represents the last bias stronghold and the one that dominates our culture. If there hadn’t been a severe backlash the past four years in states reducing a woman’s right to an abortion to a felony for a doctor who performs one, I wouldn’t be so sure of national misogyny. If the Supreme Court hadn’t handed down the most ill-conceived decision regarding voting rights, I wouldn’t believe that racism is rampant in America. If Bernie Sanders hadn’t said that Hillary Clinton was unqualified to be president, I would still hold him in some regard. If some twit of a college athlete, Brock Turner, hadn’t brutally raped an unconscious woman and called it “college culture” and blamed his drinking while a judge slapped his wrist with a six month jail sentence saying he could be irreparably harmed in jail while the woman was sexually assaulted by a “foreign object”, I might believe we had turned a corner in respecting women. But all these things are true and I, like Hillary Clinton and millions of other women my age who have decades of experience trying to find our power in a man’s world while labeled as aggressive man haters in the process know that it’s prejudice and fear not all the other bullshit. It also comes from years of women in the workplace moving against each other rather than together because only one job could be filled by a woman. Once I found my voice, I scared the bejesus out of people. I still do. I am one hundred percent certain that if I were running for president I would be vilified and called a liar, corrupt, and unfit for office. Hillary is taking the heat because she has worked all her life to realize her ambitions just as a man would and does, but even in the 21st Century, its unseemly for a woman to expose her ambition.
Trump supporters don’t care that he is a racist. They don’t care that he lies and they don’t care that he can’t get any of his nonsensical promises done. He plays to the “otherness” that we should all fear. He labels women, African Americans, Hispanics as Devils. If you’re not white you are contemptible. If you are a woman, you are an object of derision if you are not a “10” and what self-respecting, empowered woman wants to be a “10” in Donald Trumpland.
Woman as “the devil” is the last myth society needs to dismantle if our world is going to move forward. Disempowered human beings have long needed scapegoats, an object to project their unincorporated shadows upon. Hitler did it to the Jews and any minority group that didn’t fit the image of his ideal self. Religion is filled with hatred of “the other.” Trump is banking on the fact that “white” America will rise against women, minorities, Muslims (as the new Jews) and research is showing that he just might win it because white America is terrified for itself.
There is no perfect presidential candidate – there never will be – because democracy is an imperfect system, but it is the best system available to human beings in the 21st Century. Hillary is the best-qualified candidate this country has had in decades, yet she is hated. I studied the Benghazi/Libya controversy that put her in the hot seat for 11 hours in front of a witch-hunting Congressional committee. What happened in Libya was a moral test that would have been successful if Russia, France, Saudia Arabia and other allies had lived up to their promises of solidarity. Hillary/Obama/US was left holding the proverbial bag. Had a man held that bag I believe we would have investigated and exonerated his mighty effort. Hindsight exposed the flaws as hindsight always does. The willingness to chart a moral course is not often acknowledged and if it fails,as it did for Hillary and Obama, should we as a country scapegoat the person who charts that course or should we as country explore the why of the failure and find a solution. Should she not have tried?
Bernie has served a great purpose in moving her beyond outdated beliefs, but Bernie has the potential to destroy his message and what can be a hopeful future if he doesn’t empower his supporters with future goals rather than end his campaign with empty, unfulfilled rhetoric. Bernie, too, is facing a moral test – will he serve the greater good or serve himself?
I hope that people will look beyond what the years of bad press and constant misogyny have done to many empowered women like Hillary and Elizabeth Warren and others, to find where the disempowered feelings reside within themselves. We all make mistakes some knowingly and some not. Hillary has made both and been punished more severely for them than any public figure in recent history and that includes her husband. If I hear one more person tell me they will vote for Trump over Hillary or that they won’t vote, I have learned everything I need to know about that person.
What this primary campaign has taught me is that Hillary, Trump, and Bernie are metaphors for what lies within ourselves.