US Politics

Bernie v. Hillary, a Conversation with My Daughter  

I was talking to someone a while back about progressive candidates — past, present and future.

“Did you vote for Obama just because he’s black?” I asked my very progressive African-American friend. Well, of course she did. And it’s not like she voted for Ben Carson or Herman Cain. Obama represented a milestone to this African-American woman even though she didn’t endorse a number of his policies.

Is that it any different than me asking my daughter, “you’ll vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman?” She’s not voting for Hillary exclusively because of gender but it certainly plays a huge role.

As you may have guessed, I am not a woman. Try as I may, I will never totally comprehend the gender issues that are so vital to my daughter or the importance of women in leadership roles, any more than I’ll understand what it’s like being a person of color.

My daughter and I – stepdaughter actually, although we go back many decades – got into a rather heated discussion as to the merits of Sens. Clinton and Sanders, and the upcoming Presidential election.

Although she can be even more progressive than I am on numerous issues, she is supporting Clinton while I continue to support Sanders.

Part of it goes to electability – she just doesn’t believe that there’s any way Sanders can get elected in the good ol’ U.S. of A. She also believes that Hillary will be more adept at working with Congress to accomplish progressive legislation.

But it goes much deeper than that. There are issues I will never fully fathom because I will never experience them: the discrimination against women in so many arenas or the attacks on their reproductive rights. Finally, although it happens on rare occasions to men, I’m not too worried about being sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or raped.

And where does the support and mentoring of women, for the most part, come from? Other women. (It’s not called “Bob’s List,” is it?) Women tend to cooperate instead of compete, at least on the left side of the spectrum.

She is the mother of two boys but you know that if she had a daughter she would never accept any barriers to her daughter’s success, and those barriers are still out there. Also, as a mother, gun violence is an important issue to her (even more so than to me, if you can believe that). Hillary is certainly stronger than Bernie on the matter of gun legislation. Another issue is reparations to African-Americans for years of slavery, Jim Crow, separate but equal — discrimination in general — that Hillary and my daughter support but Bernie does not.

Bernie does not inspire my daughter. He appears to her as an old, strident, white guy. She supports his message on mitigating income inequality, on reigning in Wall Street excesses, on single-payer health care but doesn’t believe he can accomplish those goals.

I’m still backing Bernie – I wish he’d flesh out his platform more than the usual platitudes – and I don’t subscribe to all my daughter’s arguments supporting Hillary. But the conversation with my daughter has given me insights that I didn’t have before.

(One thing we definitely agreed on was that Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be a great candidate to get behind. But she’s not running.)

I’m not good at keeping my mouth shut and it’s gotten me in trouble with some of my good, progressive, female friends. Please forgive me for my sometimes snarky comments on Hillary’s campaign.

My daughter has enlightened me and I will certainly not disparage any woman, again, for supporting Hillary Clinton.



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  • Does your daughter know that Hillary covered for her sexual abuser husband?

    “This month, Lena Dunham, wearing a red, white and blue sweater dress with the word “Hillary” emblazoned across the chest, told voters how Hillary Clinton had overcome sexism in her political career.

    “The way she has been treated is just more evidence of the fact that our country has so much hatred toward successful women,” Ms. Dunham, the creator and star of the HBO series “Girls,” said at a Clinton campaign event in Manchester, N.H.

    But at an Upper East Side dinner party a few months back, Ms. Dunham expressed more conflicted feelings. She told the guests at the Park Avenue apartment of Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, that she was disturbed by how, in the 1990s, the Clintons and their allies discredited women who said they had had sexual encounters with or been sexually assaulted by former President Bill Clinton.-NYT.

  • Does your daughter know Hillary takes money from countries that suppress women’s rights?

    “Yet a study of Clinton’s record paints a different picture. Donors from Saudi Arabia gave millions to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit operated by Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, despite Saudi Arabia’s appalling record on women’s rights. In return for their financial support, Hillary Clinton helped Saudi Arabia obtain billions in military equipment from the U.S.

    In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to hold political office or drive cars, and four princesses from the royal family were imprisoned and tortured for speaking out in favor of equality. Saudi forces have also been instrumental in suppressing the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, where female leaders of the movement like Maryam al-Khawaja face imprisonment or exile.”-Kit O’Connel

    • Being smarter and better informed than both you and me, Swede, I imagine my daughter is aware of these things. Rules in the political game are basically drawn up by men and Hillary is playing by those rules, IMHO. That means doing things that may go against her nature but are politically expedient. Being a person with a penis, Swede, you may have difficulty understanding this.

  • Her ability to work with Congress? History is not on her side. The first health care plan was a disaster and Congress was Democratic. The Repubs hate the Clintons so much that they impeached Bill. Now they are trying to destroy her. She’s going to work with that bunch? I don’t buy the claim. Sanders does have a record of being able to reach across the aisles.

  • Like Emmanuel Gobry I feel sorry for Hillary. His words.

    “Hillary Clinton is not the most likeable politician. And there’s good reason for it. Her political career paints a picture of naked self-interest and a win-at-all-costs attitude. Her public persona is endlessly cautious and poll-tested. It is impossible to believe anything that comes out of her mouth.

    And yet… And yet…

    Empathy is an important virtue, and we should always exercise it, especially when it’s hard. And I have to recognize that it’s important to empathize with Hillary Clinton.

    She almost certainly married, at least in part, out of political interest, and because of her belief that as a woman in 1970s America she couldn’t have a political career on her own. And the man she married was not only serially adulterous (and maybe worse), but humiliated her globally in the most mortifying way imaginable. And yet, for political interest, she had to stick by him and defend him.

    She became a culture war flashpoint almost as soon as she stepped onto the national stage, and has been on the receiving end of everything in politics that you can imagine. Everything she does is bound to be criticized, and taken unfairly, at least by some people. She has made countless enemies in both parties, some for good reason, but some, undoubtedly, not.


    Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both clueless about the next president’s biggest problem

    Why I’m weirdly cheered by the 2016 primaries
    And the reward, the ultimate reward, everything she’s worked so tirelessly for, the Oval Office, keeps eluding her every time she tries to snatch it. First, Barack Obama came out of nowhere to rob her of her coronation. Now, Bernie Sanders. Will it ever end?

    Is it any wonder, then, the bunker mentality? Is it any wonder, the defensiveness? Is it any wonder, the over-cautiousness, the poll-testing of everything? Is it any wonder, turning the other eye to corruption, or engaging in it, if it’s the price to stay on the treadmill? Yes, using a private email server as secretary of state may have harmed national security, but you have to put yourself in her shoes and understand why she was so anxious to avoid having her emails in U.S. government records.

    Don’t get me wrong. I detest many of the policies Hillary Clinton supports. I think that she doesn’t have the right temperament to be president. And I think that her ethical baggage, as well as that of her husband, disqualifies her from the presidency.

    But I do empathize with her at a human level. Many of her worst traits are probably the consequences of deep, personal wounds. And as we get into a campaign where everyone will demonize everyone, I don’t want to forget that.”-Gobry

  • Although I would love to see a woman elected president, I support Mr. Sanders. I have never liked either Clinton, and everything you two said drove that even further home. Thanks, gents.

  • Well Pete – the conversation I had with my daughters is to get out and vote in local elections, because young people never show up for those, and those are the elections that most affect our lives. You are well aware, and so am I, that neither Bernie or Hillary have a chance of winning Montana, and the electoral votes will go to the GOP.

    I’m wondering what happens if Bernie beats Hillary, since it’s looking like he’s leading her in Iowa, New Hampshire, and within striking distance in South Carolina. It’s just like Montana where Kelleher won the primary to face Max some years ago. Would the Dems let Bernie get nominated, or would they do a brokered convention and change the outcome?

    It should be good to watch.

    • I think we should wait and see who the Republican nominee is before we write off Montana’s electoral votes, Eric.

      I agree on the importance of getting the young folks out to vote, particularly for the local candidates.

      I don’t see brokered conventions, either Dem. or Rep., but I could be wrong. It would be cool if the primaries went down to the wire and the Dem. and Rep. candidates had to come to Montana and plead their cases for our very late, and usually unimportant, primary election (remember Obama and Clinton in 2008?).

  • Obama came here 5 times, and the ‘Hope & Change’ bandwagon didn’t win Montana. Do you see either Bernie or Hillary coming here at all ?

    • We’re talking primary election here, Eric, and If it comes down to the wire, yes. And maybe Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Bush … too. After the primary, I doubt we’ll see hide nor hair of any of them.

  • Your daughter is probably voting for Hillary Clinton because she is by far the most qualified candidate to run the federal government. She probably views the election, as I do, as a job application process. The only other candidates even remotely close to having Ms. Clinton’s credentials to manage the federal government are John Kasich and Martin O’Malley. Ideologues are poor choices to be managers.

    • Do Clinton’s “credentials to manage the federal government” include her vote to invade Iraq, her unconditional support for Netanyahu’s Israel (which is currently committing genocide in Palestine), or her coziness with Wall Street and big corporations? If she were running as a Republican, she’d be a credible candidate.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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