Steve Ralls

Called Back Together Again

Filed By Steve Ralls | November 28, 2007 8:15 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Bill Clinton, Democrats, gay rights, gays in the military, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Editor's note: This post is part of series called Meet the Candidates in which Bilerico contributors write about why they are supporting their chosen candidate.

In 1992, my mother did something she had never done before: She registered to vote for the first time in her life. A single mother who was raising her son in rural Virginia with what most of us would deem a low income, she went to the voter registrar's office and signed up so she could cast her first vote for Bill Clinton.

My mother, who is by all accounts a practical woman without any fierce political passions, had had enough of the Bush administration. She watched as then-Vice President Dan Quayle demonized a fictional television character for daring to raise a child on her own. She watched as our economy went into free-fall. Perhaps most importantly of all, though, she had been watching her youngest son - me - come out of the closet in a country with a leader who did not believe I was just as good as anybody else. And when Bill Clinton declared, at the 1992 Democratic convention, that "if other politicians make you feel like you are not part of their family, come on and be part of ours," she had found the leader that, in her words, would be a new Jack Kennedy.

She never regretted that vote, and she cast another one for Bill, as she affectionately calls him, in 1996.

Now, at age 70 and after suffering a series of strokes during the past year, mom doesn't leave the house very often, except to go to doctor's appointments. But she's preparing to do something in 2008, too, that she's never done before, and never thought she'd live to do: She's going to cast a vote for another Clinton . . . and she's going to help elect our first female commander-in-chief.

She, like most of us, has had enough of another Bush administration gone bad. This Bush, she tells me, is the worst president she's seen in her lifetime. And though she's not voting for Hillary Clinton solely because she's a woman, she and I both understand that, this time, her story - our story - can come together to make history.

I'm joining her at the polls in 2008 because I believe, passionately, in the power of experienced, knowledgeable women to change the political dynamic in our country.

One of the most vivid memories I have of watching the first Clinton inaugural at home with my mother was the image of people lining Pennsylvania Avenue with signs that read "Hillary 2000." There was a palpable expectation in our country that this First Lady would re-define that role and give women a powerful voice in politics that they had not had before. There was a sense of reality sinking into Washington: Women, who had so often ran our families, helped keep our economy moving and fought so hard for a little bit of liberty, were finally arriving.

Hillary Clinton did not disappoint.

This First Lady did not shirk from the challenge of trying to bring universal healthcare to the American people. She did not shy away from the podium in Beijing, China, when she declared - boldly and unapologetically - that women's rights are human rights. And she did not step away from the microphone when it came time to talk about women, children and the challenges facing single-parent families doing their best to raise their children (even the gay ones) the best way they knew how.

And even though those "Hillary 2000" signs were eight years premature in their predictions, Senator Clinton does not disappoint today, either. She's still the fiery, determined leader with a vision of an America that includes all of us. She's still making mom, and me, proud.

Hillary Clinton is still our girl.

She's our girl because she understands that it's not necessary to roll back civil liberties in order to promote national security. She knows that in the richest country in the world, no one should be forced to choose between medicine and meals. She believes that we can make a graceful exit from Iraq without abandoning the Iraqi people, whose lives have been shattered because of the American invasion. And she puts out enough chairs so that everyone - gay or straight, black or white, man or woman - has a seat at the American table.

Hillary Clinton is still our girl because she still gets it . . . and she's still our girl because she's still got it, too.

Hillary gets that gay Americans are just as patriotic and able to serve our country as our heterosexual neighbors, and she'll sign legislation to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." She gets that our relationships are just as loving and committed as straight couples, and she'll push for federal recognition of those relationships. She gets that HIV/AIDS has not gone away, and she'll support a federally funded needle exchange program to help combat the epidemic that has taken so many from us so early. And she gets that all of us, regardless of who we are, have a role to play in the story that is the United States of America.

When she enters the Oval Office in January 2009, Hillary Clinton will instantly become the most pro-LGBT president in American history.

Now, it's up to each of us to help make that history.

There are a lot of enormously good people running for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but one, more than the rest, understands how to get things done in Washington . . . how to shatter the glass ceilings that have left so many behind for so long . . . and how to re-ignite the beacon of hope and possibility that America was meant to shine. It takes experience to effect change in our nation's capital, and one candidate, more than the rest, has the experience to make that change happen.

At that first Clinton inaugural, Dr. Maya Angelou implored a nation to "Lift up your eyes upon the day breaking before you. Give birth to the dream again."

In 2008, millions of Americans will have an opportunity dream again of a country where there are no prejudicial limits to our potential. They, like my mother, will have the chance to do something they never dreamt they'd live to do. They will travel roads to voting booths that are paved with the blood, sweat and tears of countless others before them who marched, sang and joined hands to make this election day possible. They will come - some who were born before women could vote; some who believe in the power of mothers and sisters and daughters to change the world; some who have never come to that voting booth before - and help make history again.

As Dr. Angelou so eloquently reminded us in 2000, "The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change."

Hillary Clinton has the experience to help us lay down those steps of change. That's why, on this election day, we can all lift up our eyes again.

So if you feel like other politicians don't want you as part of their family, come be part of this one. America's mothers - who, after all, have been training for this job their entire lives - are calling us back together again.


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Steve, this is the first post in the "meet the candidates" series that actually listed specific policy objectives.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 28, 2007 10:57 AM

Steve,

That's an amazing story about your mom. Thanks for sharing it.

I am still supporting Barack because I think he has the vision we need to move us past the complete incompetence of the last seven years.


Thanks Steve. Certainly the best post in the "Meet the Candidates" series IMHO.

Though I am still undecided at this moment, you have articulated precisely the reasons I identify with Clinton. Coming from a family of strong women who know how to get things done has molded me into who I am.

A few points:

1. Bill Clinton is by no means a saint. Let's not forget that this is the guy who signed Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act into law, and the guy who advised John Kerry to throw the gay community under the bus in '04 by supporting a Federal marriage amendment in order to pander to conservative voters.

2. Hillary only addresses our issues when she has to, and even then only at the bare minimum. She's still the only Democratic candidate in the race who still hasn't addressed transgender issues or even publicly said the "T-word". To expect real, proactive leadership from someone who exhibits this level of political cowardice on LGBT issues is, I believe, unrealistic in the extreme.

3. Hillary is firmly in the pocket of the corporate interests, taking more corporate money than any other candidate. Haven't we had enough of that over the last seven years?

4. She's not only ok with our relationships being given a second-class status under the law, she's said she doesn't favor repealing all of DOMA, and is in favor of continuing to allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex relationships under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution. Her position on this is the least proactive and progressive of any Democrat running.

5. She doesn't see past the Human Rights Campaign in terms of recognizing legitimate lobbying and representation of our community. For someone with this attitude to take the office as President would be nothing short of disaster for the cause of real LGBT equality for anyone other than the wealthiest and most politically connected groups.

A Hillary Clinton Presidency would set our movement for equality back decades. Despite all his shortcomings, I'd vote for Obama long before I'd cast a vote for Hillary. At least he has the courage to address the issues that matter in our lives directly instead of avoiding them.

At election time the hype about candidates can reach comic opera proportions as their campaigns labor mightily to create self-delusional imagery to cover the grubby reality. In the worst cases the spin doctors turn into virtual whirling dervishes.

Spin, however fanciful, won’t stop wars, suppress bigotry or repair the economy. At best it's a niave projection of goals and hopes onto canadidates who don't share them at all. The real Hillary Clinton wanders between the right centrist core and the far right of the Democratic Party. Her election would absolutely guarantee a continuation of the policies followed by both Bushes and Bill Clinton. Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton will mean at least four more years of rightist domination of US politics and war.

Recognizing that Pat Robertson said of Hillary Clinton “Well, she's-- tacking to the right as hard as she can tack. And-- you know Hillary's got some good points.”

The central question is the war for control of the Middle Eastern oil reserves. Bush 1’s attack against Iraq was sustained nonstop by Bill Clinton, who lied about WMD’s and used air power, missile strikes and food and medical sanctions to end Iraqi sovereignty. Bill Clinton still defends the invasion and it’s supporters like Lieberman. 2003 Hillary Clinton (and most of Congress) voted to go to war even after the UN refused to. Hillary Clinton’s a passionate supporter of Bush’s plans to divide Iraq into three procounsular provinces, to steal its oil and to extend the war to Iran. She votes for anti-constitutional measures like the Paytriot act and can be counted on to use them. She, like Obama refuses to disavow the use of nukes in the region or to guarantee withdrawal before 2013.

If she wins she’ll end up recapitulating Nixon’s role in the Vietnam era. The difference is it’s unlikely she’ll get impeached and for the same reason that both Democrats and Republicans refuse to impeach Bush – they want that oil.

Like Obama she gets significant contributions from big business, although she gets more from multinational lawyers than he does because of her long association with and support for NAFTA. Don’t miss the last item, the nearly $100,000.00 from ultra rightist Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is the neo in neo-Nazi. He and Pat Robertson ended up supporting Giuliani but both are admirers of Hillary Clinton as are extremists like Santorum and Brownback. Murdoch supports Giuliani but he’s hedging his bets by ‘contributing’ to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and holding fund raisers’ for her.

DLA Piper $356,100
Goldman Sachs $350,050
Morgan Stanley $323,550
Citigroup Inc $307,350
EMILY's List $211,642
National Amusements Inc $193,850
JP Morgan Chase & Co $173,350
Kirkland & Ellis $172,000
Skadden, Arps et al $151,460
Greenberg Traurig LLP $150,900
Cablevision Systems $135,113
Merrill Lynch $125,550
Time Warner $124,150
Lehman Brothers $123,450
Bear Stearns $120,580
Patton Boggs $118,400
Ernst & Young $110,650
Blank Rome LLP $105,100
Latham & Watkins $100,950
News Corp $99,350 (Fox News, owned by Rupert
Murdoch)

Amid all the fighting, charges and counter charges Hillary Clinton has maintained a stony silence about Barney Franks gutting of the real ENDA. Frank is a key figure in her campaign. She is obstinately opposed to samesex marriage. She says it’s a state’s rights question, just as earlier Dixiecrats said civil rights was a states rights question. She’s the godmother of DOMA and DADT.

The fortunes of the Clintons have risen in part because they’re tied into support for NAFTA and its prime corporate beneficiary Wal-Mart. Hillary Clinton spent six years on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart, her law firm represented them and she and Bill Clinton are shills for Wal-Mart, providing cover for their infamous anti-labor policies and their callous degradation of the environment.

Giuliani is the most dangerous Republican candidate because of his record, fundraising and lead in the polls. Ditto for Hillary Clinton and for the same reasons. Her lead in the poll of polls http://www.pollster.com/about/ is a bone crushing 45%. The rest divide the difference, with Obama a distant second at 25%.

http://www.cnn.com/US/9802/04/us.un.iraq/

www.youtube. (threats to nuke Iran)

http://www.boston.com/news/local/connecticut/articles/2006/07/14/bill_clinton_defends_liebermans_iraq_stance_1152922213/ Bill Clinton on the oil war and Lieberman
http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/68064/ (attack on Iran)
http://www.alternet.org/audits/68032/ NAFTA

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/66754/

http://www.alternet.org/story/65596/

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/64433/ (3 provinces)

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/09/hillarys-prayer.html Praying with Santorum and Brownback.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/07/sunday/main1481776.shtml Pat Robertson hearts Hillary


Thank you for this, especially for making your post about your candidate, instead of bashing your candidate's opponents.

While there is consensus that Hillary (like Obama and Edwards) is qualified for the job of President, we must ask ourselves (putting aside my strident support for Edwards) whether we want to live through a year of the press and the GOP re-examining every aspect of Bill's presidency (thus overshadowing Hillary's efforts to keep the national debate focused on the issues). Bill's off-the-cuff remarks already appear to be causing problems and could prove to be a HUGE distraction should Hillary get the nod from voters in the early states.

http://thepage.time.com/2007/11/28/bill-clinton-for-iraq-war-before-he-was-against-it/

In related news, and I'm not going to post on this since it's not really in the scope of what I focus on here, HRC just announced that she'd try to get the gen. Colin Powell involved in diplomacy. Yep. The guy who sold the Iraq War that he knew was based on a lie to the world is supposed to try and rebuild our international cred.

Oh, well, that's why we have a primary season, right?

The Clintons will do and say anything to win. That is why they cannot be trusted. They are everything to everyone. (Of course, Powell snubbed HRC with a "no comment.")

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 28, 2007 8:01 PM

Once burned, shame on her.
Twice burned, shame on me.

Sorry, Steve, but this is just sentimental horsepucky. She's actively participated in rolling back our rights -- yours, mine, and your mother's, pandering to ShrubCo fear-mongering that she either knew to be a pack of lies or damned well ought to have.

She's all the worst parts of Clinton rolled into one without at least being a fun philanderer to take the edge of it all and give it a little humanity. And worse, unlike Bill, she doesn't bother to study up when it's critical to -- or at least she didn't when it came to reading the documents she'd been given proving that the Shrubbites were lying about the need to go to war in Iraq.

For all the reasons given by others above and then some:
No how, no way -- forget it.
If she's what the Dems offer up for my vote, I'll find someone else to vote for in November instead.

Well, I suppose personality is the way to go with a post in support of Hill. American politics, with its heavy focus on personality and political symbolism, actually ends up making decisions on how two or three perceived positions of a candidate define that persona's narrative, which is taken as the equivalent of actually knowing the person or something about politics. To really support a candidate, I suppose, means to write a better narrative for him or her than the ones that are going around.

What I'm trying to say is that this is probably the best post that could be written for Hill considering who she is, and is more than just "sentimental horsepucky" (although I can see where a comment like that is coming from). "Sentimental horsepucky" is what people actually vote on, like when they voted against the weak on terror/pro-gay marriage Kerry, even though he wasn't either.

Of course, I could never vote for someone who voted for the Iraq War, supports an individual mandate in health care while maintaining private insurers, and voted for the patriot act. It's just too much.

She never regretted that vote, and she cast another one for Bill, as she affectionately calls him, in 1996.

This is one of the most fascinating parts to me. Your mother called him Bill - as did most of the country. He had an easy-going way about him that encouraged folks to call him by his first name.

I've watched as they've tried to remold Hillary into the same populist heroine, but it doesn't seem to be working. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary, Hill. It's almost as if they're test marketing names to try and recapture that bit of Camelot magic your mother felt.

But sadly, Hillary doesn't have the same good-ole-boy magic that Clinton (and Bush II) have. She's not someone you'd want to go have a beer with or someone you could sit and chat with like anyone else. She comes across as stiff and stilted.

But it goes back into what Alex commented above:

American politics, with its heavy focus on personality and political symbolism, actually ends up making decisions on how two or three perceived positions of a candidate define that persona's narrative, which is taken as the equivalent of actually knowing the person or something about politics.