An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Back in the day, when you were First Lady and your husband was President, I had enormous respect for you. I couldn’t understand why the mere mention of your name would cause otherwise reasonable people to begin foaming at the mouth as though they’d were demon-possessed with some unspeakable evil. When your husband was impeached for philandering, I applauded your backbone in standing by him and working through your marriage in a very, very public arena, instead of walking away when you had every reason to do so.

It came as no surprise to me that you intended to run for President this year. I knew when you ran for the Senate that it was only meant to be a jumping-off point for the prize. I was gratified and optimistic at the prospect, figuring that if we were actually able to survive this final Bush term, we might have hope for a revolutionary, transformational presidency. Despite the tendency of everyone around me to spew invective every time your name was mentioned, I truly believed that bringing you back to the White House might just be what this country needed to turn itself around.

But Hillary, somewhere between your departure for the last time on Air Force One and your arrival on the scene as The Anointed Democrat, things changed. You changed. I changed. Enduring eight years of George Bush and his minions has left me with zero tolerance for the dirty backroom political gamesmanship, the subversion of the Constitution and the power politics that symbolizes the White House today. For that reason, I will not even consider a Republican. Ever.

Up until about a month ago, I was ambivalent but prepared to choose you as my candidate. That is no longer the case. I am not ambivalent, nor will I support your candidacy. My reasons are simple:

  1. Your attempt to do an end run around your pledge not to campaign in Florida and your efforts to reinstate the Michigan and Florida delegates. That is nothing more than political gamesmanship, perhaps masterfully played, but gamesmanship nevertheless. Making a pledge and breaking it is typical of the folks in Washington who are so cynical and so power-hungry that they will stoop as low as possible to gain the upper hand.
  2. Your assumption, along with the women of my time, that I would vote for you simply because I am a woman. I don’t really care if you have breasts or a penis, if you’re honest and get the job done in a straightforward and up front way. Your gender is irrelevant. The women who argue that you are ‘entitled‘ are exactly the reason I will not consider gender as a criteria for voting. It’s a stupid argument, but the one truth they tell is this: You DO believe you’re entitled, which is precisely why you’re not.
  3. Your lack of leadership after the Iowa caucus, through the New Hampshire Primary and into South Carolina. Most particularly into South Carolina, where the gloves came off along with the robocallers and the emails with lies in them. Your abrogation of your authority to your husband was definitely the end of the line for me, because it became painfully evident that you didn’t mind the innuendo and petulance as long as it netted a gain in your column. Hillary, you and Fmr. President Clinton certainly learned at the feet of the masters. On the receiving end of Newt Gingrich and the GOP smear machine for years, dealing with the Rovian era for the past eight years, and rubbing noses with the purveyors of fear definitely gave you experience. On that, we agree. You are experienced.

Unfortunately, your experience has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Because when I evaluate your conduct against the other leading Democrats, you come up short against both Mr. Edwards and Barack Obama. You do not know where the high road is any more because you’ve spent too much time being dragged down the low road. You are NOT entitled, you are NOT anointed, and you are NOT a shoe-in. Do not presume such things of California and Californians, because we have seen with our own eyes what you are doing and why you are doing it.

I have chosen a different candidate, one who represents a new approach to politics, and one whose call to the high road is seductive. Lest you suggest that I have been captured by the cult of personality, let me disabuse you of that right now. Before making my decision I read his books, your books, and all of the published position papers on both sites. You aren’t that different, except that he is a different color and you are a different gender. But your thoughts, your ideas, your plans — not that different.

What is different? He calls me to my best. You ask me to excuse your worst. When he speaks, he is inclusive. He calls Americans as a collective to stand for better things. You tell me what you will do with the singular “I”. I have had enough of the singular. I have had enough disenfranchisement. I don’t want someone to do FOR me, I want to work toward a goal WITH someone. I want to see the rest of this decade and the next become a time in our country where we all sacrifice time, talent, and effort as a group to make this country better.

I want to pick up a newspaper and read what we have done to make this world better, not what we’ve done to hurt others. And I want the leader, the President, to lead that call and that charge. He will make mistakes. He will have the old-guard scorched earth remaining Rovians to contend with, as would you. But in this time, in this era, what I see is you and Mr. Clinton climbing into the gutter with them, and I see Mr. Obama stepping over them onto the next step toward a better country and a better life.

I will do whatever I can to make that happen in California. Don’t be so confident of our state. We’re known for our independent streak and our trend-setting ways. It may not be as much of a cakewalk as you think.

The woman who will receive my vote for the Democratic nomination will not be you, though if one steps forward in the future with a vision, a passion, an ability to lead and an ability to rise above the fray, I will certainly support her.

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