It feels like déjà vu but, suddenly, I have to defend Hillary Clinton on social media, and it’s becoming time consuming:
I have to explain why she has every right to analyze, in her soon-to-be-released book, “what happened” during the 2016 election cycle, and why that analysis is helpful to Democrats and healing to her supporters as we move forward.
I have to discuss why she lost the election due to, among other factors, so-called progressives failing to vote for her (for largely sexist reasons).
I have to posit why a new media platform, Verrit, that proudly caters to the 65.8 million Americans who voted for Hillary is (while admittedly late to the party) relevant, and even necessary.
Underlying all of this, I must defend why I’m “still with her,” even after her devastating loss in the Electoral College, and with the knowledge that (sadly) she most likely will not be trying again.
It’s different now — defending Hillary, that is — then it was spring 2016 through Election Day. It’s much less lonely. When I first started writing about Hillary in relatively glowing terms during the primaries, it made a splash because so few were willing to go out on a limb defending her publicly for fear of disapproval, harassment, and hate. Progressives either raved about Bernie (“Feel the Bern”) or they were largely silent. The strident “Bernie Bros.” took page after page straight from the GOP playbook as they unfairly and inaccurately maligned their chosen candidate’s opponent. They had plenty of grist for the mill since Hillary had been in the public spotlight for over 30 years and had been savaged much of that time by right-wingers who hated her strength and trailblazing ways (and ability to pick herself up and dust herself off after every setback). Conspiracy theories abounded about Hillary—who had never even been charged with a crime—and the Internet was the perfect place to disseminate these theories, which became truth in a campaign season where the mainstream media repeatedly dropped the ball on fact-checking. (We now know that the Russians played a role in this as well.) The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact filled in the gap and found that Hillary was actually the most honest candidate in the presidential race (even more so than saintly Bernie) as it fact checked both her statements and statements made by her opponents
The members of the “secret” Facebook group I wrote about last October, soon known as Pantsuit Nation, and other enthusiastic Clinton supporters, are now much more likely to be speaking up and out. The Resistance against Trump’s policies includes scores of women who not only voted for Hillary, but also worked tirelessly to get her elected. We are now putting our skill set to use in defending ourselves and others against the Trump agenda. 90% of the participants in the Women’s March voted for Hillary Clinton. We carried signs in sister marches across the country with Hillary quotes, such as “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” and other pro-woman messages.
The postmortem public displays of affection for Hillary are bittersweet, to say the least, but real. So many progressives and Democrats realize the lost opportunity—to have done a better job of explaining to our friends, family, and neighbors what Hillary would have done for working Americans, women, children, families, people of color, the LGBTQ community, the sick, the disabled. How she was the better choice—not just because she wasn’t Donald Trump—but because of who she was, what she had done for average Americans her entire adult life, and what she would do as our president. When it comes to politics, “silence is golden” in the same way Trump’s toilet is—use your imagination.
Tens of millions of people voted for Hillary, first in the primaries and then in the general election and, of course, we now know she won the popular vote. Nevertheless, starting within 24 hours of Donald Trump’s shocking win, I was already being mansplained on social media about losing gracefully, about moving on, about supporting our new president—blah, blah, blah. The Bernie Bros, once getting over the initial shock that their new president was never going to be about overturning Citizen United, or protecting us from evil corporations, attempted to make Clinton’s loss be primarily about her alleged shortcomings—as a candidate, and as a person. Never mind that the percentage of Bernie supporters who either stayed home, voted for Jill Stein, or even voted for Trump, more than covered the difference between Hillary winning or losing in critical battleground states.
The same sexist and misogynistic attitudes that prevailed in the election could explain why, even after winning the popular vote by a sizable margin, some people said Hillary should go away, stay in the woods, or sit down and shut up. Those attitudes also explain why there are more than a few people who seem to want Bernie Sanders to get more—not less—attention, despite the fact that he lost even among Democrats during the primaries. Why? Well, Bernie may not be a Democrat, but he is a white dude. We learned the hard way that there is such a thing as white progressivism. Who knew? These are the self-professed guardians of “true” liberalism: predominantly white males who claim to care about the poor and middle class, while simultaneously espousing racist and sexist views. For example, any time Bernie lost a primary in a state with many African American voters, these white progressives discounted the wins for Hillary since it was African Americans more than whites that had disproportionately supported her. Really? Last time I checked, African Americans had the same right to vote as white men—even so-called progressive white men. White progressives also tend to be the type of “progressive” that want to play fast and loose with women’s rights—despite the fact that women (including women of color) make up a large chunk of the Democratic Party’s base. Sure, says the DCCC, we don’t need to support candidates who are anti-choice, all the while professing to be progressive. This is false progressivism at best and, at worst, it’s racism and misogyny, which we Democrats are supposed to be against.
So, yes, I’m still with her! Why wouldn’t I be? She should have been our 45th President and, if she was, you can bet that we wouldn’t be spending all of our time and energy fighting against Muslim bans and the rollback of transgender rights in the military, begging to save the Affordable Care Act and programs like DACA, and having an actual conversation about whether there is more than one side to blame at a violent neo-Nazi rally. We wouldn’t have a racist Attorney General, a clueless Secretary of Education, or be worrying about a nuclear war with North Korea or a Supreme Court that will have the opportunity to chip away at our civil rights. There would still be sexism and misogyny, and plenty of it directed at a Madam President Clinton, but I’d rather that any day than having as our leader a man who brags about sexually assaulting women and has incredibly offensive and backwards views about a woman’s role in society. And when I say I’m #stillwithher, I can’t speak for everyone who uses the hashtag, but I also mean to say that I have the backs of all women who endeavor to succeed despite the odds, and are brutally and even fatally attacked for it.
The book “What Happened” is about analyzing what went wrong in the 2016 election. I haven’t read it yet (other than the excerpts that are already floating around the Internet ahead of the September 12 release date), but I will go on record here and defend Hillary’s right to present her own unique perspective. And I’m pretty sure I will be defending her analysis, if she includes in there the media’s sick obsession with glorifying Sanders and Trump, while shining a continual, blinding spotlight on her alleged flaws rather than her stated policies; the October 28 Comey letter; Russia’s interference with our election (likely in collusion with the Trump campaign); and the disheartening fact that we were far more racist and misogynistic (read: deplorable) than we thought possible in 2016 America.