An Open Letter to David Campos, and Anyone Else Who Thinks We Lost The Election Because Hillary Clinton Was Establishment, Moderate, or Uninspiring

Hillary Clinton

David Campos
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
San Francisco, CA

Dear Supervisor Campos:

I’ve now heard you say this twice. You said it at the Harvey Milk Memorial March and Vigil on November 27. And you said it at El Rio on Election Night, the night we were all reeling from shock and grief. You’ve said — I’m going to have to paraphrase here — that the reason we lost the Presidential election was that the Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton, who was an uninspiring, establishment, Republican-light, business-as-usual candidate.

When you say this, it tells me a few things.

1: You have no idea what it’s like for women participating in political discourse. Millions of women were greatly inspired by Hillary Clinton — and when we spoke about it, we were harassed, trolled, dogpiled on, dumped on with a dumptruck of false accusations, dumped on again with the same accusations every time we said her name, targeted with sexist microaggressions, targeted with openly sexist aggressions and slurs, and harassed some more. Clinton supporters had to form secret groups on Facebook, simply to talk about the fact that we liked our candidate. Millions of women were inspired and enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton — and were silenced. So when you’re analyzing the reasons we lost this election, perhaps you should take that into account. Perhaps you should consider how many people were persuaded not to vote (or to vote third party) by people who insisted that Clinton wasn’t inspiring and the candidates weren’t really different. Perhaps you should consider how many people might have been persuaded to vote for her, and weren’t, because her supporters had to put a lid on their enthusiasm and couldn’t make their case. And when you say Clinton didn’t inspire enthusiasm, that tells me you don’t know how to listen to women. It tells me that because you were personally not inspired by her, because the people in your circle were not inspired by her, therefore nobody was. It tells me that I, a queer woman in your city, am invisible to you.

2: You don’t understand what it’s like for women running for public office. I’m very sorry that you found Hillary Clinton uninspiring. Perhaps you’re not aware of how tightly her emotional expression was policed. And that’s true for any woman in politics: Clinton just got it more because she was running for President. “Smile more! No, not that much. But a little more than that. Would it kill you to laugh? No, not like that, it comes across as derisive. Can’t you be more approachable and friendly? But not too much, when women are too friendly they don’t look like powerful leaders. So look like a powerful leader! But not that much, men find it intimidating. And smile a little more! Maybe just a centimeter.” Hillary Clinton’s emotional expression was critiqued more thoroughly, and more viciously, than anyone I’ve ever seen in public life. And then she was critiqued for being robotic, impersonal, and uninspiring. Of the many sexist critiques of Hillary Clinton, including critiques from the left, this is — well, one of them.

3. You aren’t familiar with Hillary Clinton’s record and platform — or you don’t care about it. When you call her “Republican light,” that tells me you didn’t take ten minutes to look at her campaign website. You didn’t look at her record and planned policy on reproductive rights, global warming, taxing the rich, repealing Citizens United, raising minimum wage, closing tax loopholes on corporations, campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, education, LGBTQ rights, women’s issues, children’s issues. When you call her “business as usual,” that tells me you have no idea about her extraordinary skills, legendary even among her opponents in DC: her wide-ranging and detailed knowledge of government and policy, her willingness to listen and change her mind, her ability to get things done. Either you don’t know about any of this — which would surprise me, since you’re an elected official in a major U.S. city — or you don’t care about it, and don’t think these skills are important enough to be considered exceptional.

4. You don’t seem to understand that Hillary Clinton won the election. You don’t seem to understand that she won the popular vote, by a considerable amount. You don’t seem to understand that she lost the electoral college, in large part, because of voter suppression; that this was the first Presidential election since the loss of the Voting Rights Act, and it showed up in the results. This surprises me: I know that you must know about voter disenfranchisement, probably even more than I do. But when you insist that Hillary Clinton lost because she wasn’t exciting or progressive enough, that tells me you’d rather grind your personal political axe than focus on the fact that hundreds of thousands of people in swing states wanted to vote for her, and couldn’t.

5. You have no idea about appropriate timing. At El Rio on Election Night, many of us were in deep emotional shock and despair. We were in fear over the world we were facing under Trump — and we were grieving the world we were losing, the world we’d hoped to work for with Hillary Clinton. And you chose that time to tell us that the candidate many of us had fought for, worked for, lost friends and family for, wasn’t someone anyone really cared about, wasn’t worth caring about. You chose that time to grind your political axe. You chose that time to blame the victims — the victims who had busted our asses to keep ourselves, and other people, from being victimized.

I’m told by some of my friends that you’re generally a pretty progressive guy, that you’re mostly a pretty good ally on San Francisco progressive politics. But I can tell you that every time you open your mouth on this subject, it makes me unwilling to support you, or have anything to do with you.

Sincerely,
Greta Christina
San Francisco

An Open Letter to David Campos, and Anyone Else Who Thinks We Lost The Election Because Hillary Clinton Was Establishment, Moderate, or Uninspiring
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Resistance Is Not Futile

resistance-image-black-ohm-on-pink-background
Ohm — a unit of resistance.

Content note: depression, the 2016 election

It seems like too much.

I haven’t said anything here for a while. In the weeks before the election, I was mostly doing election work. In the weeks after the election, I’ve been in a deep depression, struggling to find my way in the new world, struggling to even want to find my way, struggling just to put one foot in front of the other every day. (Don’t worry, I’m hanging in there, I’ll be okay. But this one’s been rough.)

I keep wanting to write about smaller things, but I don’t want my first post after the election of a hard-right, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, bullying fascist to be, “Hey, we’re having a meetup!” I keep wanting to write about the election, but the topic seems too big. Where the hell do I even start? It seems too big to write about, to think about, to do anything about.

But I know that’s not true.

It’s so hard to strike the right balance. It’s so hard to realistically face and accept the ugly reality of the rise of fascism in the United States — while maintaining the will to resist. It’s such a small window. Not enough attention to the realities of fascism, and it’s denial, minimizing, gaslighting. Too much attention to the realities of fascism, and here comes despair. It’s such a small window. And it’s a different window for everyone. Hell, for me it’s a different window from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. But for me, the lifeline I’m hanging onto is this:

Resistance is not futile.

The best-case scenario is unbelievably shitty, a rollback of support systems and civil rights that took decades to build, an upsurge in open bigotry and hate crimes, more people than ever dying of poverty, police brutality, hateful violence. The worse scenario is the rise of literal fascism. This isn’t hyperbole: historians of Nazi Germany are saying “Yes, this is what the rise of Nazi Germany looked like.” But resistance is not futile. Resistance can be effective. Resistance can reduce harm. Resistance can even win, if the concept of “winning” makes any sense in a permanent struggle.

I don’t know what exactly resistance will look like. I know it will look different for different people. I know I need to study more about resistance movements of the past — and I also know the resistance against this regime is going to be different from anything that came before it. (If for no other reason, they didn’t have Facebook in the Spanish Civil War.) Every resistance movement has been different, and we are going to have to invent some new wheels.

I don’t yet know what that looks like. But I know that one of the ways fascism rises is by endless repetition of the twin lies: “It’s really not that bad,” and, “It’s too powerful, you can’t fight it.” Neither of these is true. It really is going to be that bad — for Muslims and ex-Muslims, for immigrants and brown people who are assumed to be immigrants, for women, for queers, for trans people, for black and brown people, for disabled people, for poor people. At some point, it’s going to be that bad for pretty much everyone but the handful of people at the very top. But we can fight it. Struggle is powerful. Collective action is powerful. Resistance is powerful. And it is not futile.

(Note: I’m currently not allowing comments on my blog. Moderating them was taking too much of my time and energy. If you want to discuss this post, please share and discuss in your own spaces. Thanks.)

Resistance Is Not Futile

Brief Blog Break Until Election Day

I’m doing a temp job, doing get out the vote work, and it’s going to last through Election Day. So I won’t be blogging, or won’t be blogging much, until the election is over. In the meantime, here are some election-related posts you might enjoy.

Why You Should Vote in Downticket Races — and a Neat Trick For Doing It
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Disenfranchised Voters
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: The Supreme Court
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Trump Needs to be Trounced
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Liberal Voting Record
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Reproductive Rights
7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think

And here are some cute pictures of our snuggly cats. Continue reading “Brief Blog Break Until Election Day”

Brief Blog Break Until Election Day

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Disenfranchised Voters

Hillary Clinton

I’m not talking here about Clinton’s policies on voter enfranchisement. That is important, and her policies are good — but today, I’m talking about something else.

A lot of people can’t vote. Most of them would vote Democratic if they could. If you’re thinking of not voting in this Presidential election — or if you’re thinking of voting third party — I’d like you to consider voting for Clinton, on their behalf.

Voter disenfranchisement is a real thing in the United States. Obstructions to voting have been thrown up all over the country: they include insufficient voting hours, inaccessible polling places, voter ID laws (no, these laws don’t prevent voter fraud, that’s a myth), deliberate misinformation about voting, laws banning felons from voting (which disproportionately affect black and brown people, since that’s who the racist police system targets), and more. To give just two of the more egregious examples, Wisconsin has been systematically failing to provide voters with the voter IDs they say they need; and Texas recently had their voter ID laws smacked around by a federal court for illegally discriminating against blacks and Hispanics. What’s more, Trump has been encouraging his supporters to intimidate voters on Election Day — and the Trump campaign is actively organizing this intimidation campaign.

And the voters who are shut out by these obstructions would overwhelmingly vote liberal, progressive, and/or Democratic, if they could. There’s a reason these policies are put in place by Republicans. Many Republicans have explicitly said so. They don’t want black people, brown people, poor people, trans people, immigrants, to vote — because most of them will vote Democratic. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’m going to: If you know that millions of citizens don’t like your party’s policies and don’t want to vote for you, and your response is to keep these people from voting, there is something seriously wrong with your party.

If you think voter disenfranchisement is wrong, there are a lot of good reasons to vote for Clinton. She’s pledged to make voting more accessible to more people, and to re-enfranchise people who have been shut out of the political system. She’s pledged to repair the Voting Rights Act, set a national standard for early voting, make voter registration automatic when citizens turn eighteen, and more. Trump, to the degree that he’s expressed anything resembling a coherent position on this, supports voter ID laws, opposes same-day voter registration, opposes voting rights for felons, and has made false, unsubstantiated claims about a supposed epidemic of voter fraud in support of tighter restrictions on voting access. (See above: voter fraud is extremely rare, and these policies don’t prevent it. They keep people from voting who have a right to vote.)

But one of the best reasons to vote for Clinton is to give disenfranchised citizens a voice. The people being shut out of voting are among the people whose lives will be most deeply damaged by a Trump presidency. You may not have your own life thrown in the crapper, or put into literal danger, by a Trump presidency. Millions of people will. And many of those people have had their power to do something about it systematically destroyed. Most of them would vote for Clinton if they could. They can’t. Please give them your vote.

(Comment policy: In addition to my regular comment policy, I’m going to ask people to keep comments narrowly focused on this issue. This is not a platform to discuss everything else you do or don’t like about Clinton or Trump. Thanks.)

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Disenfranchised Voters

7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think

Hillary Clinton

(Comment policy: In addition to my regular comment policy, I’m going to ask people to keep comments narrowly focused on the issues raised in this piece. This is not a platform to discuss everything else you do or don’t like about Clinton or Trump. This piece was originally published on AlterNet.)

It’s entirely reasonable to criticize Hillary Clinton. She’s running for President of the United States, after all. It’s an important job, and she should be subject to careful scrutiny. If she’s elected, she’s going to be representing all U.S. citizens: we should tell her what we want from her, and speak out when she lets us down.

But a significant amount of anti-Clinton criticism is loaded with sexism. It’s not just the obvious examples, like critiquing her clothing (women’s appearance is policed far more heavily than men’s), critiquing her voice (ditto), microanalyzing her gestures and mannerisms (ditto), sexualizing her, or targeting her with sexist and misogynist slurs. Much of the sexism against Hillary Clinton flies under the radar. On the surface, it looks like legitimate political commentary: the sexism underlying it is largely unconscious. But when you understand some of the ways sexism commonly plays out, it’s glaringly obvious. Here are seven examples. Continue reading “7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think”

7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: The Supreme Court

Hillary Clinton

The next president in November will be nominating at least one Supreme Court justice, and likely as many as four. Yes, you heard me — four. Almost half of the Supreme Court could be nominated by the next president.

For this reason alone, the next president will have the power to shape every aspect of life in the U.S., for everyone, for decades.

Reproductive rights. Drug policy. Privacy. Health care. Policing and prisons. Workers’ rights. LGBT rights. Voting rights. The results of this election will resonate in all our lives, for years after the president is no longer in office. Supreme Court justices generally live long after the president appointing them has left office, and Supreme Court decisions made in the next four to eight years will set precedents lasting decades.

Who do you want nominating those justices? A largely liberal Democrat, with a strong track record on civil liberties and an extensive and detailed knowledge of government? Or a literal fascist, who’s repeatedly made it clear that he’s ignorant of the Constitution and holds it in contempt?

There are countless reasons a Trump presidency could set the country back decades. The Supreme Court is only one. But it’s one of the most obvious, and one of the most profound.

When you vote in November, you’re helping choose one to four Supreme Court Justices. Pick wisely. Vote for Clinton.

(Comment policy: In addition to my regular comment policy, I’m going to ask people to keep comments narrowly focused on this issue. This is not a platform to discuss everything else you do or don’t like about Clinton or Trump. Thanks.)

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: The Supreme Court

The National Anthem, and What It Means to Love One’s Country

american flag flying on cloudy day

(I developed these thoughts in a radio interview with Charone Nix, Mandisa Thomas, and Rogier. I can’t remember now who made which point, so I’m crediting all of us for all of them.)

I’ve been thinking about Colin Kaepernick and other sports figures sitting down or kneeling during the National Anthem, to protest systemic racism and racist police brutality. And I’ve been thinking about what it means to love one’s country.

There are things about the United States that are tremendous, and things that are terrible. And many of the tremendous things exist because people saw something terrible, and protested. We ended slavery, expanded voting to include women and people of color, created a social safety net (or the vague semblance of one), created protections for voters, established safety standards for the food we eat, established child labor laws and workplace safety laws and a minimum wage, and much, much more — because people looked at the way things were and said, “No. This is not acceptable. We can do better. We must do better.”

Protest is one of the highest forms of patriotism. Seeing things that are terribly wrong with the country, and speaking out in whatever form (short of violence) is available and effective, is one of the highest forms of patriotism. It says, “We can do better. Our potential is so much greater than what we are right now.” To look at a country with rampant poverty, inequality, voter disenfranchisement, racist police brutality, homophobic and transphobic violence, institutional trivialization of rape, and more — and think, “Yeah, whatever, that’s the best we can do” — how is that patriotic? That’s not love of your country. That’s giving up on your country.

There’s a lot to be said about the National Anthem protests, and many people have said it well. It’s been pointed out how absurd it is to shrug off or rationalize the reality of racist police brutality, but lose your shit over a football player sitting down and not singing a song. It’s been pointed out that a relationship that demands unquestioning support even when you’re treated terribly isn’t loving — it’s abusive. It’s been pointed out that it’s absurd to fetishize symbols and ignore the realities they represent. It’s been pointed out that Jackie Robinson also refused to stand up for the National Anthem, for pretty much the same reason as Colin Kaepernick: we love our rebels and protestors from the past, and yet excoriate them in the present. (Prophets have honor in other countries, and the past is another country.) It’s been pointed out that “when nationalism and religion are understood as functionally identical, we see what Colin Kaepernick’s crime is: heresy.” It’s been pointed out that anti-racism protestors are told to protest nicely and politely in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone, are told not to march in the streets or block traffic or even call people racist — but when someone protests by literally sitting quietly, that’s not okay either.

All of that is true, and important. But it’s not my point today.

Patriotism is often performative, in much the same way religion is often performative. I don’t think this is always conscious or cynical (although I think it sometimes is), but in circles where patriotism is equated with goodness, performing patriotism persuades people of that goodness, and bigger performances are seen as more authentic. Displays of both religiosity and patriotism are “in-group” displays as well — and as such, they’re often driven by fear. In some circles, there is considerable pressure put on people to perform both patriotism and religiosity, and a significant cost to not doing so. The demand that patriotism be performed is all too often a demand, not for genuine love and work, but for unquestioning conformity.

But protest is patriotic. Seeing our potential to be better, speaking out about how we could be better, and working to make things better — often at great personal cost — is patriotic. In the words of Carl Schurz: “My country, right or wrong. If right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right.”

The National Anthem, and What It Means to Love One’s Country

Taco Trucks, and Making America Great

In response to the dreaded spectre of taco trucks on every corner, Ingrid and I did our part this weekend, and visited one of our many local taco trucks. Hashtags: #ImWithTacos #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner

Streatfood taco truck with Greta and Ingrid

Streatfood taco truck

Of course, there are other possibilities. There could be ramen trucks on every corner.

Streatfood ramen truck
Continue reading “Taco Trucks, and Making America Great”

Taco Trucks, and Making America Great

7 of the Less-Noted But Still Very Sexist Attacks on Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

It’s entirely reasonable to criticize Hillary Clinton. She’s running for President of the United States, after all. If she’s elected, she’s going to be representing all U.S. citizens: we should tell her what we want from her, and speak out when she lets us down.

But a significant amount of anti-Clinton criticism is loaded with sexism. It’s not just the obvious examples, like critiquing her clothing and her voice, microanalyzing her gestures and mannerisms, sexualizing her or targeting her with sexist and misogynist slurs. Much of the sexism against Hillary Clinton flies under the radar. On the surface, it looks like legitimate political commentary: the sexism underlying it is largely unconscious. But when you understand some of the ways sexism commonly plays out, it’s glaringly obvious.

Here are seven examples.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, 7 of the Less-Noted But Still Very Sexist Attacks on Hillary Clinton. Enjoy!

7 of the Less-Noted But Still Very Sexist Attacks on Hillary Clinton

“Have you ever truly looked at Clinton with the same critical eye?”

Hillary Clinton

Some guy on someone else’s Facebook page: “Have you ever truly looked at Clinton with the same critical eye with an open mind or you just supporting the party?”

Me: “Hillary Clinton is probably one of the most closely scrutinized people in U.S. politics. There has been a decades-long right-wing smear campaign against her (much of which has been bought into by the left), and every mistake she’s ever made has been examined with a spotlight and a high-powered microscope. So yes — I have looked at Clinton with a critical eye. It has been literally impossible not to.”

I would have said more, but I try not to burst into long streams of invective on other people’s Facebook pages.

“Have you ever truly looked at Clinton with the same critical eye?”