Respecting the Women on Whose Shoulders You Stand
11 Feb 2019
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm made history by running for president in 1972, becoming the first woman to win a non-binding presidential primary in New Jersey. She said: “I’ve always met more discrimination being a woman than being black…” and “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.” Shirley Chisholm was a trailblazer who made it easier for Senators Harris, Warren, Gillibrand and Klobuchar to now run for President. The other trailblazer is Hillary Clinton, who won 22 binding primaries in 2008 and was the first woman to win the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016 by nearly 4 million votes. She went on to win the popular vote by almost 3 million, yet “lost” the election. Hillary faced the grotesque stereotyping and bombast of which Ms. Chisholm spoke. Therefore, it is vital that those who run on her shoulders not repeat disses and slanders to curry favor with those who worked to defeat her by elevating their false, ego-satisfying talking points.
Senator Elizabeth Warren angered the “Sandernistas” by endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016. In order to win them back, a calculus I assume she made based on her intention to run in 2020, she later said that the primary was “rigged”. It was a cheap shot. Warren knows that is untrue. She said it anyway. It was a mistake.
Senator Amy Klobuchar just announced her candidacy in Minnesota yesterday. She blemished her own solid beginning with the dig: “We’re going to be in Iowa and in Wisconsin…” “…I think we’re starting in Wisconsin because as you remember there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes.”
No, the campaign didn’t turn on Clinton making more appearances in Wisconsin. It was also a cheap shot and an unnecessary one made by an otherwise solid Senator who should know better.
This isn’t about ‘don’t you dare criticize a sister’. This isn’t about ‘don’t you dare criticize the woman I fought for.’ But by Klobuchar and Warren playing into these narratives, they are giving quarter to those in news media and the opposition who would push revisionist history—and they push such falsehoods to absolve themselves of responsibility for 2016’s outcome:
Corporate media ignored Hillary Clinton’s progressive policy prescriptions, instead thrashing her for 600+ days on nothing-burger emails. She was plagued by Vladimir Putin and his army of Russian bots, a rogue FBI director, a GOP smear campaign 25 years long and Independent Bernie Sanders giving Trump his negative campaign talking points, yet she was still able to win by 3 million votes.
Klobuchar and Warren need to remember how many millions of women and men were appalled by the unjust treatment Hillary received and the hair shirt she was asked to wear, even for situations that had nothing to do with her, like rampant voter suppression in Wisconsin (and yes, she did campaign there). How much positive mileage do they think they are going to get with voter coalitions they desperately need to win a nomination, much less a general election, by dissing someone who has spent a lifetime working on behalf of the Democratic Party and for those in need.
As has been noted elsewhere, Democrats didn’t win resoundingly in the 2018 midterms by going after Republicans – or die-hard Bernie Bros. They won by exciting, growing and turning out their base.
I realize walking into a primary, we’re going to have to delineate policy differences and some sharp elbows will be thrown. But Hillary isn’t even running. It is crucial that we not diss those who came before us in any way. The male dominated media is going to seize on any opportunity to do what the male-dominated media always does with women: divide and conquer. It is a trap and I would strongly suggest that no woman candidate succumb to it.
Kirsten Gillibrand is already being ridiculed for not knowing how to eat fried chicken—meaning she is an out of touch elitist. Klobuchar is the subject of a number of hit pieces for being mean to her staff. Warren is being dissed for claiming she has Native American ancestry. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, is criticized for being a “cop” a “corporate sellout” and “not black enough” for marrying a white man.
Do you see where this is going? Who do you think is behind this material?
“When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.” –Shirley Chisholm
Hillary Clinton stood alone to bear the onslaught for every quarter. These ladies better hope that since there are more of them, media doesn’t have time to focus on and destroy any one. But it is just as likely that the feeding frenzy will pick—and pick on—one at a time until, one by one, they are done.
Don’t allow this.
And certainly, as candidates be smart enough never to be baited into contributing to the pile on.
Again, I quote Ms. Chisholm’s wise words:
“Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes…We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action affirming it, and more. But we must also remember that we will be breaking with tradition, and so we must prepare ourselves educationally, economically, and psychologically in order that we will be able to accept and bear with the sanctions that society will immediately impose upon us.”