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 Thursday, June 05, 2008

Letter to a CLINTON Supporter


R.J. Eskow

Read here in Huffington Post

Sure, we've had our differences. We've seen the Clintons in very different ways, you and I - especially their campaign tactics.

Where you've seen honest if tough campaigning, I've seen the CYNICAL manipulation of DIVISIVE emotions and a desire to put SELF before others.

The race is over, so the question is: Now what?

Are you going to cling to the belief that this outcome proves a woman can't be President?

I think that perception sells this country, and its daughters, very short.

After all, most of the polls take a few months ago showed Sen. Clinton winning the nomination overwhelmingly, and handily beating McCain in November.

What happened?

I say voters were turned off by the slash-and-burn tactics used by both Bill and Hillary. While the primary results were close, polls now show that Democrats decisively prefer Obama as their candidate.

You see things differently: You think that media sexism (of which there was a great deal) did her in. And that there was some sneaky double-dealing from the Obama campaign - as if somehow it was in collusion with the same media that pummeled it with Rev. Wright stories.

For you, it's as if Sen. Clinton has no independent agency, no autonomy, and no responsibility for the outcome of her campaign.

But the fact remains: She was the leading candidate. It can be done.

Had she not voted for that Iraq war resolution, waited too long to recant that vote, and taken bad advice from the likes of Mark Penn, she would be the Democratic nominee today.

So don't tell me a woman can't be President.

She was just the WRONG candidate at the WRONG time.

And if you're disappointed that your second-grade daughter won't see a woman sworn in next January - well, so am I. I have a daughter too.

I still remember how proud her mother and I were when that daughter was a toddler and Geraldine Ferraro became the Democratic nominee for Vice President. We dreamed of a world of possibility for that little girl - and she enters law school in September.

Now let me tell you about our Godkids. They're twins, a boy and a girl. They're biracial - white and African American, like Sen. Obama. They just graduated from the sixth grade last Sunday.

How do you think it would have affected their dreams of the future if they had heard Hillary Clinton say that only she can win, because unlike Sen. Obama only she can appeal to "hard working Americans, WHITE Americans"?

Or if they had heard Bill Clinton dismiss Obama's achievement by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's?

Or Geraldine Ferraro saying that Obama's "only winning because he's black"?

I'd love to see a woman President, too - but not at the cost of having her, her campaign, and her supporters shut out the dreams of one group of young Americans in order to serve the dreams of another.

No group that suffers from discrimination has ever conquered prejudice by turning its back on others in the same boat. Why try now?

Instead, let's break one great barrier this year and lay the groundwork to break the next one when the right candidate appears.

And she will.

No, I don't think the Clintons are racists. I think they ran a rough campaign because they wanted to win. I think they crossed a line in doing it.

No, I don't think you're racist, either.

I don't think race influenced your decision - that is, unless you one of the 20% of primary voters in Kentucky or West Virginia who said it did. (I took a lot of heat over that one, but I was just taking these voters at their word.)

Another thing:

Doesn't the argument that this was "the last chance to have a woman President in my lifetime" - an argument I've heard many times this year - discount 51% of the American population?

Out of all the brilliant and gifted women in this nation, was there only one with the ability to win the Presidency - the one with the well-connected husband?

I don't believe that.

And, if you're middle-aged like me, I'm asking you to consider this:

It's not about our "lifetimes" anyway. It's about the next generation and THEIR lifetimes.

At our age, it's time to ask ourselves: Which course of action is best for those that will follow us, those whose destiny has been placed in our care?

Sen. Clinton's speech last night was very effective - in parts.

And it was clever of her to pose and pretend to answer the "What does Hillary want?" question.

Her litany of policy goals was admirable.

But she didn't address the real question:
If she's not staying in out of purely personal ambition, how does her refusal to
concede do anything but harm that list of goals?

I understand why you supported her. But why would you allow yourself to be played as a PAWN for a Washington power couple's PERSONAL ambitions?

The Vice Presidency is a matter to be worked out between Senators Obama and Clinton, without perpetuating ugly divisions - divisions that threaten the future of our country, the safety of our world's civilians, the lives of our troops, our reproductive rights, and the ability of many of us to survive economically in the years to come.

We who opposed Hillary Clinton paid her the ultimate respect as a woman, and as a human being: We judged her on her policies and her actions.

The verdict is in. It would be wise and fair to accept it.

Don't misunderstand:
I'm asking you to rejoin the rest of us - but I'm not begging. The decision, and its consequences, are yours and yours alone.

But I hope you make the right choice. I hope you choose with the needs of others foremost in your mind.

Oh, and one last thing: Congratulations on a historic campaign. The next one will be even better.

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