dear feminist moms for hillary,
you hold positions of power in the democratic party, federal, state and local government.
you are labor leaders and change makers, elected officials, public servants, caregivers, creators, peacemakers, community tenders. you are the ones who fought to make sure your kids had access to a decent education, equality in the workplace, equal pay, parental leave, the right to form and join unions.
i am so grateful to you for your work. i see you struggling with these great weights that i can’t imagine trying to shoulder. helping your kids figure out their lives, working full-time, holding emotional space for your community, caring for your aging parents, working full-time. your lives appear dauntingly dynamic. i see your sacrifices, i hear your demands for i want to be up to the task.
i am still learning how to use my voice and my power in this world and i find that this is a continuing process, a journey not a destination. its hard. its been incredibly painful. i see now how many stories i stand at the apex of. not only could i spend my life learning how to use my voice, i could spend another lifetime learning how to hear all the stories showing me how to be a woman in the world. one of the things i’ve learned and am desperately trying to integrate is the awareness that i have been trying to take up the space you have made for me without causing harm or taking space away from voices that have been silenced and erased. sometimes i am afraid to use my voice, in this space you fought and bled for, because i fear that my voice will somehow distract attention from voices i am trying to hear, from voices that are missing from our history books.
you have incredibly large shoes to fill, and the world has changed since you were fighting to make your way. struggling to figure out how to raise children, make your relationships work, build a life, support your community, follow a career path, express yourself creatively, care for those that needed caring, doing the intimate emotional work that so often goes completely uncompensated, unacknowledged, unsung. i am amazed by your strength and your seemingly super-human ability to take on the world of patriarchy and capitalism and still maintain your composure. i know it wasn’t easy. i know it was painful, brutal, soul-sucking sometimes. and i also know how you weathered that and kept going. i am so grateful for your work, i am so grateful for your voices, i am grateful that you are still fighting for equality and justice, that you are using your voice to speak up for what you believe in.
i mourn the moments when you were shamed, silenced, shouted down, brutalized, raped, killed for your beliefs. i regret all the moments when i turned away from your lessons and your gifts. i am sad that i was not always grateful.
i want you to know that growing up i learned so much from you about how the world works, how change is made, how care is given, how to mend what is broken.
you told me i could make my own way in the world, forge my own path, guided by my senses, my intuition and my heart. i tried to listen to you. i tried to mimic your actions, employ the skills and lessons you passed on to me. you taught me that i have a right to speak my truth. that i have a responsibility to share my gifts with the world. today my heart is telling me to write these words. to ask you some questions, to share some insights. they are offered here with deep and abiding respect to your many collective lifetimes of work, insight, creativity and wisdom.
what i am wondering is if you might take a moment to consider a request.
my request is this . i ask that you take a moment of pause before casting your vote for hillary clinton, and consider the generational resonance of the current decision we are facing. and if you feel you could use some assistance understanding how the future is unfolding, then i ask you to spend more time talking to and listening to the younger voices who are trying to make themselves heard in the cacophony of this current election cycle.
i would ask that you consider their perspective in relation to your own memories and your individually nuanced view of history, what you have seen in the past twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years. i ask you to think about what you have seen and then to consider why it might be that younger women like me are confused by your decision to publicly support hillary clinton’s campaign for presidency.
i want you to understand that i am confused, and i want to explain why in my own words. i want to give you a chance to see through my eyes. I want you to understand that the idea of voting the clinton administration back into the white house goes against every fiber of my being. that is because i remember what it was like to come of age during the first clinton administration. my political consciousness was shaped through my passion and eventual dissillusionment with the clintons, their agenda, their actions and the megalithic, autocratic, machinations of the democratic party. when al gore won and then lost the 2000 election and everyone blamed his loss on ralph nader instead of the republican party’s nationwide pattern of voter suppression and electoral fraud, i said sayonara democrats and i switched my voter registration to green and i didn’t look back.
i never thought i would find myself participating in the inner workings of the democratic party again. i was so hurt
in no way do i believe that the way to mend my own broken heart and the way to mend the warped and ragged fabric of our civilization is to vote for her.
the idea of doing that goes against the very fiber of my being. and i don’t have to question why that is. i remember the things i have seen during the last 30 years of my political and social indoctrination and evolution.
i have a very distinct association with the clintons. i remember loving the clinton family so much that i convinced our family to name our new kittens after them. bill and hillary, the turkish van’s kittens we picked up a unitarian universalist church family camp. it just made sense to give them those names. even when we found out they were both boys the names stuck and we went with it.
i believed in the clinton family then. they seemed relatable, they said they cared about women, workers, the environment. it all seemed like something i could believe in. my mother believed in it, so did her friends, and they were amazing women who i looked up to. union organizers, executive directors of non-profits, children’s advocates, lawyers, artists. the progressive bubble i grew up in voted down the democratic party line out of necessity. there was never time to consider another choice. and anyway what other choice was there? the lack of choice mattered less to me then, because i had yet to learn our deeper history. how long this has been going on.
i have this very distinct memory of having my faith in the clinton family’s dedication to issues affecting working families shattered sometime in the late 90’s. it wasn’t because of the monica lewinsky scandal. it was because of the WTO, NAFTA, the deregulation of the banks, the logging of our old growth forests, the laws that equated defense of mother earth with domestic-terrorism, the expansion of the school to prison industrial complex.
these things didn’t happen in a vacuum, in some other place or other time. they happened to us, in our communities, to our neighbors, our families, people i went to church with. and the effects of those decisions, systems, and functions resonate in our lives today.
please don’t try to tell me that it doesn’t matter. that these things are in the past. that the clinton’s learned their lesson in that time. don’t tell me that they are ready to make amends to the people whose energy they used and squandered to win power and influence. if they are willing to make amends i would love to see them try. its not a stretch at all to invoke a fractal-like expanse of people, places and organizations that the clintons could make reparations to. but i never heard any remorse in hillary’s words, only this sense of offended defensiveness. like she has earned the right not to be questioned. but the job of a politician is to field questions and respond to them. and if i learned anything from all of the people who empowered me in my life i learned the terribly awesome power of a question. If they had one thing in common they shared an absolute devotion to sharing information and stories, the joy in that connection, in the illuminating nature of shared knowledge. If the clintons wanted to make amends, the first thing they could do is be more humble in their response to questions. acknowledge that we have a right to question their actions, their record. that we have right to the truth. they seek employment in the field of public service. first and foremost a public servant must serve the public. i don’t see the clinton’s as having fulfilled this most basic of requirements.
i don’t want to come off as angry, but i also don’t care about how i am perceived, because if i let concerns about that distract me i would never get anything done. as i write these words i can feel tension in my back and shoulders, a tightness in my gut. i don’t like it when someone tries to tell me that something i experienced didn’t happen or that i don’t have the right to speak up or ask questions or to even remember things that happened clearly. and my perception is that this is what the clinton campaign is trying to do. i have a good memory. i know what the clinton administration facilitated in the 90’s and i saw the aftermath of that work in the Oughts. as i wander the streets of my hometown i see ghosts and apparitions. i see buildings that shouldn’t be there because they represent resources that went to the haves instead of the have-nots. if you stay in one place for a very long time you will find echoes of the past etched into your psyche like someone’s initials scrawled in wet cement.
today i said a prayer as i sent my ballot in to be counted. my prayer is that the older generations will find a way to make space with the new generations, so that we have a shared container for engaging collectively in the essential work of coming to terms with our evolution. our work in this time of humanity is to fully engage in an ongoing series of conversations that are at the same time a hyper-local, globally devastating meditation that is helping us come to terms with our current circumstances.
so, dear mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, mentors, teachers. please help keep the lines of communication open between the generations. please don’t let the democratic party establishment speak for you or use your name or your energy to support values you do not hold. identify the parts of the system that do not serve. take them apart and remake them.
i remember what you were fighting for back in the day. i want to remind you, so we won’t forget. i remember when i was there as a little girl looking up at you wondering what exactly a picket line was and why we had to get up so early to stand around holding signs in the cold and the rain? it has taken me a lifetime to understand why you were doing what you were doing. and now that i think i do, your words don’t seem to be in alignment with your work. but i do have faith, you are wise, i believe in your ability to figure it out. its definitely not too late, and no matter what happens on election day, we have to keep working together, so we might as well figure out how to have this conversation.
i know this letter has gone on, thank you for your patience. i have one more request, if you will permit me.
i ask you to take a moment and consider how much faith you have in the values that you tried to instill in your children, in the history you attempted to teach us, in the work you taught us to do. consider your faith in the skills you taught us, the resources you made available, the love you showered and the stories you told. i would ask you to consider this, and if you feel you can place your trust in your children’s values, and the values they are passing on to their children, then please go and ask them who they would support for president. offer them space to share their knowledge and vision with you. ask them how they would change the world if they had the power. their answers might surprise you.
i ask you to consider whether your passionate defense of your candidate’s political character and historical significance takes into consideration the entirety of your knowledge, experience, history and desires for the future. if you find it does not, please allow yourself the space to reconsider your support for that campaign. you children are trying to tell you something. they are asking for more space in the conversation, they are asking for your trust.
i know how thoughtful and passionate you are about the people and beliefs you hold dear, about building a better world for your descendants. i trust you to make the right decision for the children based on your knowledge of yourself and your own values. thank you for your work. thank you for considering my words.