After The Call
I didn’t really feel like going out on Thursday night, but a longtime friend was in town, and we’d made plans to go dancing. Yes, we are young-at-heart baby boomers.
Basement Bhangra in NYC is an upbeat Indian, family wedding-vibe-type club where ‘the kids’ go to flirt, find a mate, etc. They enjoy the kind of dancing they grew up with in their families of first generation Americans from Punjab. Some are trained as professional dancers and have performed in dance troupes, which is really a treat. They move rhythmically and gracefully, arms and hands extended, as they jump around, while entertaining their partner — feels tribal, subtle.
I held my head down, still deep in thought, trying to push away from the computer. I knew that I should leave, but didn’t feel much like it. I’d just gotten off of a 20-minute conference call with Hillary and some of her supporters, followed by a 2-hour commiserative rant and debrief of the call with a fellow PUMA and Just Say No Deal member.
Hillary’s Conference Call: My Notes
During the call, Hillary gave thanks to her fundraising staff in DC, NY and around the country. The support that each of us has provided to her throughout her campaign made it possible for her to show that a woman could compete in terms of the money, and as Commander In Chief. She was the first woman in history to ever win a Presidential primary.
There is a lot to be grateful for. The campaign involved a great coalition of all races, groups, economic backgrounds. What we have done is a strong part of Democratic history, and she is absolutely committed to continuing to fight for our goals and issues for Democrats and Senator Obama. Given the progress we have made in healthcare, the economy and women’s right to choose, the stakes are too high to not elect a Democrat.
She wanted all those to know who raised money, made phone calls, traveled from state to state: all the things we did really kept her going. Many of us are concerned about the attitudes about women, not just about her but about all women. She was surprised at the press’ reaction to women, said it wasn’t right. Part of why she ran was to make it better for women and girls.
Hillary said we needed to do everything we can to help Senator Obama. She wants help paying her debt so she can pay her vendors, saying she was outspent. She’s not asking us to pay her personal debt, and took it as a given that she spent it because she wanted to. She’s asking us to raise the money however we can.
There are big issues in the Fall. She understands that her campaign was a heroic effort of the finest people and bravest women. She is very hopeful that what she stood for will come to pass.
I Heard What She Said, But What Did She Mean?
I phoned my Hillary friend who was on the call, too. I was dumbfounded. We got nothin’. She gave us nothing, not even the teeny tiniest hint that she was fighting the nomination, that there were caucus improprieties, they’d be taking it to the credentials committee, that she thought she’d won, wanted to be on the first ballot in Denver, didn’t support him, or would be dropping out of the Democratic Party anytime soon to form a third party. Nada. Wasn’t there.
Of course, how could she? How could she say any of that? She couldn’t. Even after last week’s garden party “liberal” ex-supporter Superdelegate women senators met without inviting Hillary, but unveiled her programs and policies as their own. That was maddening. Even after nearly every single colleague in her Party turns their back, she continues on. Ugghhh, that’s why I’m not in politics. Couldn’t do it.
I clung to, “but she said ‘first candidate to win.’ She said ‘win’ — that means she’s acknowledging it.”
My friend knew better, “No she meant she was the first woman to ever win a Presidential primary.”
“Oh right, that she did.”
She went on, “It was canned.”
“What? No way!”
“I think it was pre-recorded.”
“Wow, I hadn’t even considered that.”
“No matter what,” says my friend, “I’m not supporting Obama. We need to take it to Denver. Nobody’s the nominee until they vote in Denver. We need to keep up the pressure. Keep petitioning superdelegates. We can’t let them get away with this. It’s not over!”
Beyond Hillary, It’s About Integrity
I went on: “Right, it’s also more than just about Hillary. It’s about the principle of treating a qualified candidate and former First Lady so disrespectfully. The MSM did it, the DNC, Obama and his supporters, women, the blogosphere. It’s about the caucus improprieties, bullying. It’s about the Democratic ‘leadership’ selecting a candidate for us.”
“There’s nothing wrong with getting progressives in office. We want that. What’s wrong with it is that they chose him, early on. That happened with moveon.org too. I was a member from their inception, participated regularly in their action and voter campaigns. They took a members vote early, perhaps in February, and Obama won. I thought, why are they making us decide now? Just like Pelosi and Reid forced the Superdelegates to choose. Now who’s side were they on? Hint: Do you remember when Pelosi came out and snidely replied to questions about a dream ticket, ‘No, I do not think that will happen'”?
“Howard Dean began working on this campaign right after he didn’t get to the White House the last time, and he’s still trying to get there. He formed an extremely organized grassroots organization, and built it from the ground up. They trained thousands of organizers at the city, county and state level, got all their people in there, and then elected Dean to DNC Chairman! Isn’t that the epitome of hubris? He created an organization so he could elect himself. Their initial intentions seemed good, but why did they make it exclusive? Why did they throw the rest of the Party under the bus? Why were Dean and DFA so averse to Hillary, slamming her in their press release after Iowa, taunting brazenly, look at who’s not inevitable anymore?”
“So if she doesn’t want to continue or want us to do so either, what do we do? I mean, besides helping with the debt, I have to get back to work. It seems to me that now is the best time ever for a third party or a new movement, with so many people seeing right through these Dem schemes. But in order to mobilize people, you need a leader, Hillary, or someone with experience in government who can do the job.”
“Perhaps we need to create a more inclusive, compassionate, responsible, and responsive organization than the current Democratic leadership. Millions of voters are angry that they were manipulated, cheated and bullied out of their candidate. They don’t know what to do or where to turn, but they’re not happy. We need to build a group from this which can be a force for shaping politics.”
Americans Are So Stupid
I went out for the evening as planned, and ended up having a lovely time. On my way home, I stepped in to a take-out place to get a bite to eat. There was an older (than me), upscale-looking white guy who was jumping around excitedly. He exclaimed, “Obama! I was so excited to see the sign on the outside, and that’s why, that’s why I came in!” He was beside himself with glee. I’d entered from the other door, and now looked up to read the storefront window-sized sign from behind, Senator Obama, Yes, We Are Ready. “Oh,” I said.
In New York City, sometimes you get a cab driver who talks in mumbled tones on his headset the entire drive. Other times, you have an engaging conversation. Pretty discouraged after the Obama old guy, I must have been a glutton for punishment, because I dove back in. Believing I’d get an Obama answer, because the driver was black, I asked him, “So what do you think about the election”? He was from Haiti:
“Acchhh, He-lah-ree. I was forr He-lah-ree. She haas the expeerience. She knows what she’s doing. She’s smart. I like her programs. That Obama, I don’t like him. Not his wife either.”
“Oh, I’m surprised.”
“Because I’m a black man?”
“Yes,” I admitted. “Well, I supported Hillary too.”
We commiserated all the way across town. In the end he said, shaking his head,
“People in the United States are soo stuu-pid sometimes. They have something, the best candidate rright in frront of them, and they don’t choose it. The US is sooo stuu-pid!“
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