Sunday, July 24, 2016
#HealtheBern: Give Yourself Permission To Be Excited About Hillary
I have something important to say to my friends and colleagues who supported Bernie during the primary process: Give yourself permission to be excited about Hillary. I'm not saying that for my sake, or as a criticism, or because the stakes are just too damn high--although they are-- but rather, as friendly advice from someone who knows what you're going through.
As you know in 2008, I worked for John Edwards for a year in Iowa. I was a true believer as all good organizers must be. I believed, as many of you do now, although I would have loved to see a woman or a black man become President that the white guy was the most progressive choice, the best poised to carry out my vision for America and the most likely to win in a general election. Before the primary I had considered working for Obama, but in my fervor I convinced myself that HE. MUST. NOT. BE. PRESIDENT., that his supporters were all brainwashed and that he was as disingenuous and phony as ever a politician was.
And then...we lost. My candidate wasn't even part of the conversation for the last several months of the primary. Add on to that suck sundae the hot fudge and cherry of Edwards admitting he had an affair and paid off his pregnant mistress while his wife was dying of cancer and, to mix culinary political metaphors, I was vomiting up kool-aid for weeks.
When you've worked yourself up into a devotional lather for a candidate, it can be a hard scent to wash off. Of course, the smug indifference of Obama stalwarts didn't help either. By that time I was a Regional Field Director for Mark Udall and the Democratic Party in Colorado. Although nominally we were working for the entire federal ticket, OFA had its own campaign in the state in full force. This was my second cycle and forth campaign and yet staffers who had only ever worked for Obama felt justified in talking down to me, commandeering my resources and bulldozing my operation completely. It wasn't just his staff. I remember fighting with my county chair over my insistence on keeping my rainbow John Edwards bumper sticker on the back of my car next to my Udall and Obama stickers--a fight which culminated in him chasing me around the office with scissors and calling me a bitch. (Neither my 4Runner nor my relationship with that county chair survived the campaign.) Of course these are extreme examples, but I think its fair to say that those of us who currently worked or had worked for other candidates in 2008 felt a sense of scorn and derisiveness that we had not been on board with this "new" brand of organizing from the beginning.
In 2008, the Democratic Convention was held in Colorado and although the Obama fellow in my office very sweetly got me a ticket to the historic nomination speech (not all Obama staffers were as rude as those described above) there is a 50/50 chance I would have participated in a fart-in had such an event been promoted. The night of Obama's election the streets of Denver were like an opening number from a musical. I would not have been surprised if someone had pirouetted by and offered me pie. Yet despite my pride for in my team and excitement for Senator Udall, mine wasn't the celebratory fervor of those elated by the election of our nation's first black President.
The irony is that now I love Barack Obama, even more so than some of his early supporters who seem to be disappointed by his inability to turn water into wine. But I missed out on the opportunity to celebrate and to really be part of his historic candidacy because I was too proud. I was in the perfect space to feel that same patriotism, that relief, that sense of justice that as the pie dancers, but I just didn't. And I don't want that to happen to you.
I'm not writing this post because we need your vote, although we absolutely do. I have every confidence that my friends and colleagues who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary will at very least hold their noses and cast their ballots to keep a fascist like Donald Trump out of the White House. (Anyone who advocates opting out in such a crucial election is neither my friend nor my colleague.) But I want more than that for you.
Whatever your issues may be with Hillary there is no denying the historic nature of her candidacy. As progressives, we care about descriptive representation. We want to see historically oppressed communities rise and be able to celebrate milestones, even if that's not the only thing on our minds when we choose between two progressive candidates. What I have been saying all along continues to be true: electing Hillary Clinton would be a Big. Fucking. Deal. to girls, to women, to our country. If you are part of that fight, that larger fight, no matter who you supported in the primary, you deserve to be part of the celebration. Don't rob yourself of that over lingering resentment.
I hope you can be proud of the work you did in the primary and join me on the general election bandwagon. You can bring your bumper sticker. I'll move over and give you part of my seat.