You wanna hate on Hillary? Fine. But stick to her policies.
It’s January of 2016, and I said I wasn’t going to talk about the 2016 presidential primaries until it was relevant. But now the Iowa caucuses are days away, The Des Moines Register, Nation magazine, and the New York Times have all announced endorsements, and this race is finally in the hands of voters.
What I want to say is not an unabashed love for either of the candidates, though I have good (and critical) things to say about both. My thoughts are largely my current frustration with the HATEFUL Hillary Clinton comments from friends, family, and my Facebook and Twitter feeds. As a woman working in politics in 2016, I am so damn tired of it. There are legitimate issues that give me pause when considering Hillary. Her close ties to Wall Street and big banks. Her war hawkishness. Her refusal to condemn some of her husband’s racist policies in the 90s such as the War on Drugs that drastically impacted people of color.
You want to hate on Hillary for those issues? Fine. Go there. Go there all you want on her policies. But Stop. The Sexist. Name Calling. Stop attacking her looks — a friend of a friend recently called her “ball sack ugly” on Facebook and then claimed the Constitution when I called out the sexism and lack of policy-based attack. Stop calling her a “bitch,” a “witch,” a whatever awful, misogynist name you can possibly thing of. This is only damaging to all women, and to any little girl or even a 20-year-old in college thinking of entering politics. Why would anyone want to become a part of the paltry 20 percent of Congress that is women when you are constantly bombarded by questions about your looks, whether you can manage being a mom and a leader, and everyone is commenting on your “likability” more than your leadership record?
I genuinely consider myself one of the few progressives that hasn’t made up my mind about who I will vote for in the Democratic presidential primary this August. Bernie Sanders has made some brilliant comments on single-payer health care, on taxing the rich, on fixing our incestuous relationship with big banks and Wall Street. But in the words of one reporter who used to cover him, he can be contemptuous and unyielding when working with others, and that will get him nowhere with Congress or other nations. He hasn’t led on two issues that matter most to me, gender equity and gun safety. I don’t genuinely believe middle America swing states like Ohio will vote for a self-described socialist. Plus, I am completely disenchanted by the entitled white male supporters of his that are harassing women, people of color, and even Bernie’s own supporters online.
These supporters may claim to be progressive, but the misogyny and vitriol coming out their mouths is just as bad if not worse than conservatives. Worse because they should know better — if we are not all in this together, we risk losing to one of the seriously terrifying clown car candidates that belongs to the Republican presidential candidate field. As mentioned in the linked BBC article above, Bernie supporters have called critics anything from shills to “bitch” and have even used racial slurs like “N*****” to refer to black activist Elon James White, a critic of Bernie’s racial justice policies.
Hillary, on the other land, has been a leader on gender equity internationally for 30 years, including her famous 1995 speech in China that changed the conversation about women’s rights being human rights. She has also given unprecedented support to repealing the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on abortion access for low-income women, a critical reproductive justice issue for low-income women in the 33 states that do not provide Medicaid funding for abortion. She has been a strong vocal supporter of gun safety measures; she is the most qualified person among any party running given her years in the White House as a First Lady and as Secretary of State; and godamnit, she’s a woman, and it is about time we break that glass ceiling once and for all.
Neither of them are great on racial equity, though it was refreshing to see Bernie respond to the Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle with a policy on racial equity (though Hillary co-sponsored a bill to end racial profiling while she was in the Senate, like Bernie, her racial justice platform was far too slow to form, and seemed to come only amidst protest).
But these aren’t the issues many people are talking about when they criticize Hillary. I’ve seen bumper stickers that say “Trump that Bitch.” She’s been called a liar, a whore, her need to wait in line at a women’s restroom “disgusting,” her ability to lead has been put in question because (and it hurts to type this) “she couldn’t satisfy her husband, how can she satisfy America?” Hell, she was even asked about Bill’s infidelity at a national debate, as if that was relevant to her foreign policy stance (thankfully, and to his credit, Bernie refused to engage). There are hateful words she has been called in Berniebro forums that refer to female anatomy. I cannot imagine having been first in my class at Yale, having led the world on gender equity and the country on a discussion around health care reform, having served as First Lady, in the U.S. Senate, and as Secretary of State to mostly positive reviews, and having ran for president previously and yet face this kind of vitriol. If any man on either side of the political spectrum had this kind of experience, smarts, and service on their record, would he face these kinds of attacks? I doubt it.
In the end, I still have not made up my mind on the candidates. Nobody’s perfect and I doubt either of these two would profess to be. Plus, other than the selection of Supreme Court justices, I still think local politics affect my life in more ways than the presidential race ever will. But I have made up my mind that I will no longer sit silently when a friend in my Facebook feed calls Hillary ball sack ugly and everyone likes it or laughs it up. It is time for the sexist remarks to stop. If you want to criticize Hillary, stick to her policies, or don’t say anything at all.