2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

A Rock and A Hard Place


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Syreeta McFadden
Dear Hillary,

It doesn't seem right that I have to write this letter to you. But sometimes it's necessary to speak up. You've heard from all the pollsters and pundits about what my demographic is thinking and feeling. I thought it best that you hear this straight from the source.

It seems that you've failed to connect with me on a fundamental level. In fact, it seems that you've failed to connect with me when I was out in the street with ten and twenty thousands of people who peacefully demonstrated, voicing our objection to the war that you supported. How is that possible? I mean, seriously. The current administration, this war, is the most protested against cause and administration in the history of the country and your repeated response to the fact that we are angry, really F***ING angry about your vote, is frankly appalling. I would respect you if you would just admit that the vote and support for the Iraq War was a mistake. It's ok to admit you were wrong. I respect John Edwards for that. He said that the vote was a mistake. His vote was a mistake. I'm saddened that he's still not in the race. He was my one of my alternatives.

What I've noticed about you over the years is that you have difficulty admitting to the public that you were wrong. I'm not sure what that's about. There are all these lovely stories out about what you're like one-on-one, but in public, you are guarded, calculating. Sometimes, I feel that you were wrongly accused of this behavior. The complexity of a strong woman in power. That you were placed in this bizarre space of scrutiny because the rest of society has such dated and fixed ideas about femininity. I've been patient, hoping to see evidence of the contrary, and admittedly, when they do show up, the moment is fleeting and we're back to the same old, same old.

This brings me to an example that my best friend Dawn pointed out in a conversation we had last weekend before your latest stunt. We were discussing the state of our great country, a frequent topic these days for us. She is due to have her first baby this May. She said, "If I were to walk up and slap Hillary in the face, I feel that she'll stop and think about how she would react. But if I were to walk up to Obama and slap him in the face, he'll slap me back and then explain why." Naturally, I laughed. But Dawn continued. "My problem is that I don't know who she is. I feel like I know what kind of person Obama is. But I don't know what face Hillary will choose to show me." I thought about that. You've been a fixture in the party and politics for years and you still remain an enigma. Somehow, that doesn't seem right.

For years, I've supported you and your husband. Sometimes, I get caught up in the frosty hindsight of an era of the 90s of economic prosperity and peace that we experienced in America. But as a student of history and politics, my soft focus returns to a sobering reality of the facts.

In the summer of 1994, I worked as a congressional intern for Russ Feingold in the district office in Milwaukee. I worked the phones everyday, as calls would come from all over the state over the health care reform proposal that you so diligently tried to win support for and pass through congress. I noticed that most of these constituents pretty much regurgitated what they heard on morning television and talk radio, almost verbatim. It alarmed me a little, but it was invaluable lesson. I found myself deviating from my training in terms of recording constituent calls to engage some people in the debate. I believed in the proposal. Regardless of the critique, I supported you. When the Republicans took control over the congress in '94, it was no big surprise, but it was the beginning of the end. Much to my chagrin, the crime bill and welfare reform act were passed in the format with which I was less than satisfied (the crime bill seemed more punitive to offenders of color and class related to drug laws and the welfare reform bill created a sub-minimum wage class), yet I was still hopeful in the '90s that the Clinton administration would yield real change, restore the balance and alleviate the perpetual cultural war that has held a siege on this nation since 1968, before I was even born.

I even supported you and your husband when it was beyond obvious that your husband indeed had had "sexual relations with that woman.” I thought that it was distraction from real policy decisions that we as a nation needed to face. Admittedly, I was furious when the scandal broke in 1998. Shortly after a rather rousing State of the Union address given by your husband that inspired me to return to the party and become active again, I was stymied by that scandal. I knew it would be impossible for the remainder of his final term to affect the change to our society. You had won my sympathy in your accusations that the "vast right wing conspiracy" had subsumed control over our democracy.

But now, as I watch this campaign of yours for president enter its eighteenth month, I've grown tired. I can see no joy or inspiration or invigoration in another term of a Clinton in the White House.

I foresee an unfortunate future of more of the domestic turmoil in the '90s that corrupted our political process that allowed for an environment for a Bush Jr., Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld to come to power after the political process remained in a stalemate over bullshit. I do mean bullshit as a technical term because I'm unsure what to call it. The Right is so mobilized against the possibility of another Clinton Presidency that I fear all the damage that's been done on issues related the environment, education, economy, the war, military support after service, health care, national debt, military spending, international relations (I could go on for days) will all be lost under your leadership. Your exquisite mind alone can't affect the change we need now.

Please do not mistake my sentiments as a blind and all-consuming support for Obama. I still have concerns and questions. However, if somehow you do maneuver and manipulate your way to the nomination for the Democratic Party, I will change my registration from Democrat to Independent. I will more than likely vote for McCain in the general election. I don't love John McCain; he seems a bit too sanguine and that worries me. His position on the war worries me. But the one thing he has working for him is that he is not you. I feel that my back is against the wall here. And at this point, I feel like I have to actively campaign against what I don't want.

I am 33 years old and since I've been of voting age my choices have been distilled between a Bush and a Clinton. A rock and a hard place. I must surrender to clarion call deep inside and vote simply for Change.


Syreeta McFadden,
Wisconsin native, New York resident since 1995

BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Syreeta McFadden, is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY.



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