Thursday, July 10, 2008

Letter to Progressive Bloggers

I could never satisfactorily explain to my family of Obama supporters why I was supporting Clinton because my political views were so much more similar to Obama's. I had some difficulty understanding it myself. I did think Hillary would make an excellent president; I greatly admired her brains, hard work, and indomitable spirit. Electing a qualified women president was tremendously important to me. I was convinced it would benefit women around the world in ways we might not be able to predict. I would not have supported any Republican woman for president. Obama seemed too much of an unknown. I preferred Clinton's health platform.

I want to share with you a letter I posted to several progressive blogs I have been avoiding for 6 months. To be a feminist for Hillary in the progressive blogosphere has been a bruising, lonely experience. Here is what I wrote:

"Hillary supporters are more likely to come around and work for Obama if they swear off reading progressive blogs for a month or two. They would be far better off joining Barack Obama's online community. Many of us perceived that too many progressive blogs became almost as hurtful and sexist as the mass media, albeit unconsciously in some instances. Saying it was unconscious is being very conciliatory, but I am a 62-year-old social worker and can afford to be kind.

Too many Hillary supporters stopped reading and commenting on their previous favorite blogs. We stopped trying to explain what sexism was and why it was so hurtful. Fewer women seem to love intellectual combat. I am ashamed to admit that I did too. Fancying myself as a member of the new creative class, I had suddenly become a low-information gullible. What a dismal fate for a reference librarian!

An ambivalent Hillary supporter, I tried rather stridently to discuss feminism and the election on several blogs in January. I then disappeared for five months and only reappeared when I had become an Obama supporter. I love to argue and debate. And yet I slunk away, muzzling myself. I even shut down my political blog.

The progressive blogosphere is bleeding and needs healing. To quote Digby:
"Clinton's campaign ripped open a hole in our culture and forced us to look inside. And what we found was a simmering cauldron of crude, sophomoric sexism and ugly misogyny that a lot of us knew existed but didn't realize was still so socially acceptable that it could be broadcast on national television and garner nary a complaint from anybody but a few internet scolds like me. "

Hillary feminists do need to take some responsibility for what happened in the netroots. If we had stayed to debate and educate, the wounds might not have been as deep. Most of us lacked Hillary's indomitable fighting spirit. Need I say that I am working my heart out for Obama. But the most helpful thing I can do right now is help Obama supporters understand the bitterness and pain of women HIllary supporters."

I shared this letter on my Obama blog, adding: "I realize that I was still a stranger in a strange land at mybarackobama. I have resolved to bite my tongue even if smoke is coming out of my ears and try to help Obama and Hillary supporters listen to and understand each other so they can unite to defeat John McCain. This time I won't slunk away or muzzle my blog. It is far easier to support a Democratic candidate against McCain than a Democratic candidate against another Democratic candidate when their positions are similar. I would prefer not to start a debate on whether their positions were that similar:)

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