An Open Letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton

young_hillary_clintonApril 6, 2016

Dear Hillary,

Please excuse the informality of the greeting, but I am older than you, and everyone else seems to feel free to address you by your first name these days. I have admired you for a long time. I admire you for switching from Republican to Democrat early on because of your concern for children and the poor. I love those early photographs of you and Bill, fresh-faced, overflowing with intelligence and idealism. You thought you could take on the whole world. Many of us thought we could too, but, by golly, you two really did it! I admire you for the thoughts expressed in It Takes a Village, and for having the discipline to get it written.

I admire you for holding on to the powerful partnership that is your marriage, even after the “forsaking all others” part of your vows had become a very public joke. I am divorced and on friendly terms and can still talk about big ideas with either of my ex-husbands, but not being a person in the public eye, I had the freedom to get privately divorced. After watching “House of Cards,” I saw how a bedroom suite with large private bedrooms on either side could make preserving a partnership/marriage more palatable.

I thought you really meant it when you took on the medical establishment during Bill’s administration, and I admired you for doing more than decorating interiors, displaying clothes, and charming heads of State. (Don’t get me wrong. I loved Jackie Kennedy’s style, but that was her time. Your time was yours.)

Even though I am not a fan of dynasty politics, I admired you for your valiant campaign to become the first female POTUS. I might have voted for John McCain because of the dynasty thing, but when the Republicans recruited the intellectually challenged girl to be his running mate, I became Democrat or Bust.

You didn’t win, but you bounced back and became a credible, if not exactly admirable, Secretary of State. However, if it wasn’t obvious to me during Bill’s administration, it became perfectly clear during Obama’s that the whole lot of you had sold out to big corporations and their lobbyists, and a whole lot of us had been abandoned by the Democratic Party. I have remained a Democrat only because it retained the veneer of intelligence and progressive humane values that the Republicans lacked, but at heart both Parties have been thoroughly corrupted by lust for money and power.

I must confess that I have followed Bernie Sanders for a long time because of his independent spirit and actions, and I had hoped that he would toss his hat in the ring for the presidency with Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. Or vice-versa. I also thought that he would not have a much greater chance than Ralph Nader did.

Fast forward to today. I have supported Bernie’s candidacy from the beginning, but I was happy to see you in the running once again. I admired your resilience. I was happy that the Democratic campaign was such a sane contrast to the Republican Clown Car Show. I was determined to work for Bernie, but I would not have been unhappy to vote for you. It started well enough, but then you began to show that fair fight is not a concept that corporatists can even understand.

I have moved from “Hillary is okay,” to “Bernie or Bust,” mostly because of your campaign. Here are a few things, in retrospect, that might have kept me with at least one foot in your camp:

  • Insist on fair and equal media coverage for all candidates.
  • Welcome prime-time debates.
  • Avoid even the appearance of voting impropriety in the primaries.
  • Take a stand against gerrymandering and for voters’ rights–all voters’ rights
  • Refuse at all costs to propagate lies about your opponents, double-check what you believe to be true, and avoid putting an obvious and desperate spin on those facts.
  • Take stands on things and stick with them. If you change your mind for a good reason, be open and honest about it. Don’t flip-flop to impress one demographic or another. We have YouTube. We know what you said and when and where you said it.

But you didn’t, and I fear that the fresh-faced Wellesley girl, the born winner, who received the seven-minute standing ovation for her commencement speech, has been brought down by the “win at all costs” doctrine that overtook the belief in “do the right thing.”

I’m sorry, Hillary Rodham Clinton. I’m really, really sorry, to see you stumble on feet of clay as they crumble beneath you. It is never too late to do the right thing, but I fear it is too late to do the right thing and win back those of us who have admired you and wished good things for you. I would be hard put to say, at this moment, what the right thing for you to do would even be.

Mary Ann Lesh


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