Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why Hillary Lost

A lot is being said today about why Hillary lost the primary. As an over 65-year-old woman, a feminist, and a former elected official, I agree with Hillary that sexism is alive and rather well in the general population, in government attitudes and Supreme Court decisions, and in the main stream media (MSM). However, that isn't why she lost the election. Other diaries have discussed other reasons, so I'm going to discuss Hillary's failure to constructively deal with sexism.

Before I go there, let me say I was never a Hillary supporter. I actively supported Edwards and then moved to Obama after considering Richardson when Edwards dropped out. My original reasons for opposing Hillary can be summarized briefly: 1) She is not always honest. She does a lot of word parsing and changing positions to suit the situation. 2) She represents old-style of politics, taking money from lobbyists and too often, permitting them to affect her positions, and participating in the politics of personal destruction.
3) She voted for the war and would not admit it was a mistake. I've never heard her admit to making any mistakes, and I think most women are capable of admitting their mistakes. 4) She was the most conservative Democrat in the primary. By the time Hillary got to South Carolina, my earlier views about her had been validated.

Initially Hillary said she wanted a conversation with voters, that she would be listening. Along the way she began speaking more to women, but she focussed on herself--what she wanted, what she would do as president, what her solutions would be. Hillary communicated that she knows what's best for us. While she may have listened to voters, I don't think she REALLY heard them and spoke in their language until the race was almost over.

Instead of addressing sexism head on months ago, like Obama addressed racism, she waited until two weeks ago to speak about it and then it was all about her, how badly she was being treated. Look, Hillary's life is GREAT compared to many women in this country. Did she lift women up, yes with a few anecdotes along the way, but she could have done so much more. She let her women supporters down, used them, and got them to participate in HER anger about HER primary loss and blamed it on sexism against HER. She could have made a serious impact on how women are treated, but she didn't really do that until yesterday (Saturday). Finally, the day she conceded the election, she talked about why women should have respect, about women in history and what women contribute every day. HER respect for women was too little too late.