I have no idea what it's like to be the "president" of a feminist organization that focuses so much energy on electoral politics.
Does it just get to a point where people are so blinded by PR and spin that propping up Hillary as a symbol of peace, justice, and equality in the name of feminism seems like a good thing to do?
An Open Letter to Senator Hillary Clinton
From: Marcia A. Pappas, President of NOW NYS
August 28, 2008
Dear Senator Clinton:
You gave a fabulous, eloquent, and dynamic speech at the Democratic Convention. It brought tears to the eyes of the millions of women who worked so hard for you. One phrase in your powerhouse delivery rings on in my ears. In your call for us to back Obama you asked: "Were you in this campaign just for me or were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"
For some people your question was a turning point. I was one of those people. And I need to answer you, not just because you are my wonderful Senator from New York, but because I want to give you the answer I know many are thinking, but lack the forum to express. You see, my dear Senator, I too sometimes have the occasion to speak for the invisible. In my capacity as President of New York State National Organization for Women, I often speak for the millions of women who are denied reproductive healthcare. I speak for the women who are beaten and abused by their partners, and whom no one believes. I speak for the women who lose their children when corrupt judges award custody to the abusers. I also sometimes speak for the millions of women who feel discrimination in the workplace, and for victims of rape and trafficking.
Then, on a micro scale, I even campaigned for and won a contentious race, backed by supporters who believe I'm a person who speaks truth without fear. I was the person they trusted would work for justice in the lives of women and all oppressed people.
So I know what you wanted to hear, Senator. You wanted to hear people in loud unison declare: "No, we were not just in it for you, Hillary; we were in it for the invisible."But for me, the only answer can be: "Yes, Senator, I was in it for YOU, precisely because YOU were in it for those people who feel invisible, and because YOU were the candidate who saw clearly that over fifty percent of the population was being ignored."
Who are those people? Why they are the poor, the hungry, the underinsured, i.e. women and their children. YOU are the person who addressed the issues of that fifty-plus percent. YOU are the person who worked her entire life for that fifty-plus percent. YOU are the person who, in the face of rife opposition and ridicule, stood firm in favor of health care for the invisible. YOU are the person with a proven record on Emergency Contraception for all women, because YOU understand that without reproductive freedom, women are held hostage to unwanted pregnancies. And it is YOU who has proven, over and over, that you can deliver for the invisible.
YOU were the candidate whose followers felt they knew so well, they could call her by her first name. Little girls yelled "Hillary" because they knew their future was in your hands. Single mothers saw hope for the future, knowing that their struggle would lessen under your leadership. Older women came out in the wintry Iowa Caucuses to finally vote for the first truly possible woman president. They looked into your heart, into your eyes, into your soul, and saw something different. And those of us, who traveled around the country, working for your campaign, watched you emerge as a new kind of politician. We saw YOU.
Today, your popularity endures, bigger perhaps than even you imagined. Why? Because YOU represent the invisible. YOU persist as our symbol of hope, justice and equality. Please don't be afraid of it. Please embrace it. YOU inspired us, brought us to tears, made us laugh, and made us finally feel that we were not voting for the lesser of two evils. There are eighteen million people out here who are, like me, not ashamed, like me, to say: "Yes Hillary I was in it for YOU."
Marcia A. Pappas
(Thanks to A.R. for the heads-up.)