A revolution happened last night, and no one noticed

How’s this for women’s history month?  For the first time in the long history of the republic, members of a major American political party voted decisively to nominate a woman as their presidential candidate, and no one noticed because all we want to talk about is the baloney-faced misogybag DONALD DRUMPF!

It’s true!  Even articles online this morning purportedly about Hillary Clinton’s amazing wins in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Illinois are really all about her potential opponents Drumpf and (mysteriously, fantastically) Ted Cruz.  I guess we really don’t want to admit that Clinton–with all of her older, darker, uncool, non-hipster voters–was able to win last night, and win big in both the south and the industrial midwest.

Deborah Tannen explains exactly why this is revolutionary–and importantly why we don’t want to admit it–in a succinct new article, “The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Disliking Hillary Clinton.”  She analyzes not just Clinton’s long history in the public eye, but specifically draws a comparison to her current opponent for the Democratic nomination (and FINALLY brings up something I don’t see at all in public conversations about the candidates):

All public figures are subject to criticism and attack, but Clinton has been subject to more, and Sanders to less, than most. For one thing, she is widely expected to be the Democratic nominee, so why bother wasting effort scrutinizing him? That Sanders has a son whose mother he never married has received so little attention that most people don’t even know about it. This is as it should be. But what are the chances that a woman would be given a pass under similar circumstances?

Especially a woman of Clinton’s generation, who came of age in the 1960s?  There are a lot of women who had children out of wedlock then–but we don’t know their names, do we, because many of them put their children up for adoption and lived with their secret for decades, or–like Sanders’s son’s obscure mother–it never occured to them that they could run for president, unlike Sanders himself.

Tannen also shows how Sanders’s supposed “authenticity” is completely unavailable to any woman candidate:

Sanders is appealing when he comes across as tough by railing against Wall Street and corporations, and as comfortingly homey and authentic with his rumpled clothes and hair and down-home Brooklyn accent.When Clinton is tough, a characteristic many see as unfeminine, it doesn’t feel right, so she must not be authentic. And a disheveled appearance would pretty much rule her out as an acceptable woman. As Robin Lakoff, the linguist who first wrote about the double bind confronting women, put it, male candidates can have it both ways but Clinton can have it no ways.

Eight years ago, Democrats (and even some Republicans!) were very excited about the history-making candidacy and potential presidency of Barack Obama.  A nation that devoted itself to enslaving African people for 350 years elected a man of African descent to be its leader–and we did it TWICE!

By contrast, this year I don’t hear any discussions–outside of the voices in my head, and a few conversations with fellow women’s historians–about the history-making nature of Clinton’s run.  All I hear (again, outside my own head and some private conversations) is “oh, God, I just don’t like her.  She’s so corporate/corrupt/conservative/.”  Or from the right, “She’s so socialist/corrupt/leftist/anti-family!”

In the long run, it’s probably just fine with Clinton if people prefer to talk about the baloney-faced misogybag all year long, so long as people do what they did yesterday and vote for her.  Maybe it’s better that we don’t go on and on about how revolutionary her candidacy is–that might upset people even more, and the contrast with Drumpf is pretty good for her.

You don’t need to like her or believe she represents a political revolution.  She doesn’t need our love and friendship.  She just needs our votes.

41 thoughts on “A revolution happened last night, and no one noticed

  1. I’ve concluded that for Hillary, no attention is better than media attention, since as you correctly note, all the media does is find fault or broadcast mindless man-on-the-street interviews about how unspecified people “just don’t like her.” So let this be a quiet revolutionary moment, since if the media grants her a 10% triumph, they’ll go after her with a 100% vengeance in buyer’s remorse a day later.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if a bulk of the democratic voters are like my husband, not really paying much attention to the media (or coming into any contact at all with berniebros) and voting for the person who is most obviously qualified (and also not crazy). If you take away gender, it’s an easy decision.

    (Disclaimer: #2 on the blog is still in favor of Sanders because his policy positions slightly better align with hers, but will also be happy with Clinton.)


    • And perhaps in the general, this will turn into Republicans for Clinton! (Probably not…but in the current field there is very clearly one person who is most qualified….)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. second note: I was wondering why the headlines this morning didn’t include SANDERS WINS MISSOURI…. and I see it’s because they haven’t called MO yet and with the 99%+ of precincts in, Clinton is slightly ahead.

    So yeah, the supreme court is much more newsworthy.


  4. HA-haha!!! Thanks for all of your comments–out for a cut & color today.

    I think Undine may well be right: better Clinton be ignored or overlooked so long as she wins. But, it’s still disconcerting to see zero recognition of last night’s historic developments in the news today. (Part of this may be Freud’s pleasure principle at work–so many were cheering for Clinton’s losses that they don’t really want to talk about or acknowledge her wins. But part may also be the undertow against seeing women as legitimate revolutionaries that Susan mentions.)


  5. My recollection is that there was lots of such “Hillary as first woman!” stuff in 2008, and what might be happening this time is that it feels like we’ve already had the conversation, even if we didn’t get the result.

    I, of course, am seeing a lot of anger about “the establishment” thwarting the will of working Americans and nominating Clinton, where establishment here presumably means “African-Americans in the rural south.” Calm down, Bernie people!

    Liked by 2 people

    • HAhaha! Yes, “the establishment” is controlling all voters in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Illinois somehow. I guess that’s better–marginally?–than lecturing voters who are people of color that they don’t understand what’s best for them. (But it’s pretty tinfoil-y, no?)


      • This is where the loony left and the loony right meet: conspiracyland!

        Jill Stein & the more extreme BernieBros are peddling birther-style conspiracies.


  6. It’s a testament to her trailblazing that this didn’t make a headline. About a decade or so ago, in the ncaa championship basketball game there was an all white team coached by a black man vs an all black team coached by a white man. The teams were racially mixed but with substitutions and there were times when the races playing were as white coached by black vs black coached by white. The fact that this wasn’t and isn’t a story is amazing when considering where we’ve come from. Society is mucked up still but at least what we present is getting better. I’m sure 99% of republicans would vote for Condoleezza rice in heartbeat over their current choices and would only later realize they voted for a woman whose black. Probably would hire their buddy before her if they could in private. Its still a racist sexist society, but the mindset of possibilities is progressing.


  7. And here is yet another article shamelessly telling us how Hillary has no opposition in her run for the Dem nomination. It neglects to tell us how the Clinton machine made sure that the media gave Bernie absolutely no air time. That his speeches were not heard, that his numbers were not announced, that the only candidate anyone realized was running was the Clinton candidate. That the Clinton machine, in cohoots with the President of the DNC (Debbie Wasserman-Schultz), conspired to schedule the debates in patently obvious favor to Clinton and to the detriment of Bernie. You can go on and on about all the reasons Clinton gets mistreated because she’s a woman (such a lousy reason you provide when in fact, people do simply just plain dislike her) but that shifts the emphasis on to her as a victim of sorts when, in fact, she is the perpetrator of as many roadblocks to Bernie as she could possibly get away with.. Her being a woman is no reason to call this a revolution. Firstly, because this country is way behind the rest of the world in having a female leader. 100 years behind in fact. So don’t embarrass yourselves claiming unique celebration of something that only serves to highlight how backward you are. Secondly, Bernie was the first with the revolution and as with pretty much everything Bernie has implemented with success, Hillary comes along and misappropriates it. The Clinton Campaign would better be called the Clinton Campaign of Copy. Thirdly, keep in mind, that for many people, a vote for Hillary is nothing more than not a vote for Trump.


    • “that for many people, a vote for Hillary is nothing more than not a vote for Trump.”

      Yeah, that’s pretty much where I’m at this electoral season. I think it’s very, very important to stop The Donald from turning the US of A into a Casino Royale of various and sundry dubious cheesy business ventures (with no coherent foreign policy whatsoever), so that’s a pretty big vote for me. If the American people happen to accidentally elect a woman to the highest office in the land, in their attempt to stop Trump, well, I’m going to take that as a win (first woman president of the US of A would be really and truly revolutionary). So, thanks, Eleanor Moon, for clarifying.

      Thanks, also, to Historiann for helping keep me sane this electoral season. Look forward to your new posts.


    • Really? I have seen tons of coverage on the non Democrat Sanders. I am tired of his supporters trying to play the victim over and over. Remember when they tried to steal information, but somehow, they ended up blaming Hillary for that.

      The Republicans have been trying to destroy her for 20 years now. Molly Ivins wrote about in a piece from 1996 in “Who Let the Dogs Out’. A the Bernie bots, LOVE to repeat the lies that they pushed.

      Claiming that you just ‘don’t like her’ is just the same as the Republicans claiming that they fight Pres Obama, just because he is a Democrat and not because he is black. There is still a lot of rascism and sexism out there.

      I will leave with this. This was a bumper sticker I saw in Dec of 1996 “Impeach Clinton and Her Husband, Also’. Keep believing the Republican pablum.


    • I agree, Eleanor. I am one of those people who will vote for Hillary just in order to not vote for Trump, (or any Republican). I voted for Bernie in the primary (Michigan) & continue to have high hopes for him.


  8. Revolution my foot! I don’t want a “history making because she’s a woman” President. I want a that cares about the American people more than the corporations. I want a President that I can feel fairly confident will at least fight for a left, progressive agenda and stand up to Congress and Wall Street once in office and not just say words to win an election. What! Barack Obama cheated us out of our first female president and by George, we’re not going to let that happen this time!!! My support is for Bernie Sanders because he and Elizabeth Warren have been “walking the walk and talking the talk since before he became “the Candidate.” Hillary Clinton was virtually silent until she became “the Candidate.” I didn’t vote for Barack Obama because he was Black (and I’m a Black woman) and I’m not going to vote for HILLARY because she’s a woman and it will make history ( YES I’M OVER SIMPLIFYING). She may be a competent politition, but I don’t trust her to follow through one a progressive agenda or stand up to Wall Street. NOW, GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN HER AND DONALD TRUMP, THAT’S A “NO BRAINER”! DONALD TRUMP IS A MENTAL CASE IN SERIOUS NEED OF A GOOD PSYCHIATRIST!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I guess we really don’t want to admit that Clinton–with all of her older, darker, uncool, non-hipster voters–was able to win last night, and win big in both the south and the industrial midwest.

    This is definitely my favorite description of the Election 2016 thus far. Thanks for this article in general, as well.

    Myself, I’ve taken to calling Sanders, Saint Bernie, as it’s clear to me that so many ideological purists have invested all of their hopes and dreams into him as their savior. Yet, he hasn’t had to endure decades of obsessive smears and attacks from the media and opponents, unlike Clinton. So, they think he can do absolutely no wrong – he gets every benefit of the doubt, every assumption of good faith.

    Just today, Sanders’ supporters were sharing a video of him literally doing nothing more than “being concerned” about a man who fainted at one of his events. They gave him all the cookies for that very basic act of decency, because that is how low the bar is for male candidates in order to be seen as likeable and charming.

    Meanwhile, Mother Theresa herself could be running for President, ladling soup to homeless people at every event, and a significant number of people would still see her as a conniving b!tch.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I published a similar story moths ago in medium which was about the double standard that applies to Hillary Clinton. The title of the story tells the story. The title is: “SAINTHOOD and FEMINISM and why both are IMPORTANT when discussing HILLARY CLINTON” I think you would enjoy my story which you can find on medium or tumbler. I can email it or it is also on my Facebook timeline


  11. The longer this campaign goes on, the more it’s obvious that some Sanders supporters have truly gone off the deep end with Clinton hate. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos of Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. Sanders’ supporters are pretty vocal in the comments.

    Just last night I learned that Clinton has been waging a war against gay rights. Which rather surprised me, because I recall when, right after becoming Secretary of State, she extended benefits to unmarried domestic partners, including gay ones (few states having legalized gay marriage at that point). I guess it was another of her evil “psyche!” moves.

    Please, Sanders supporters, tell me what he has DONE. Not protested, not voted, DONE! Women’s shelters established. Food pantries organized. Job training programs for displaced workers established. So far I’ve learned that he kept a (tourist-draw) lake shore from being monopolized by a developer and filed a suit to lower cable rates. If there’s more, please, inform me. As Clara Peller said, I want to know, “Where’s the beef?” (God, I’m getting old.)

    I remember the 1960s. (I was still a bit young to do drugs.) Handing out flyers? No big whoop. Getting arrested at a protest? Hell, my grandmother did that, back in the days when union members were often being beaten by company stooges. There was his 1972 Mother Jones “gender essay.” Even after the startling bondage/rape fantasy beginning, it’s really, really lame, filled with the tritest gender assumptions. I could pass it off as a relatively youthful folly if his response hadn’t been: It wasn’t serious! It was really satire! That cut just a bit too close to “can’t you broads take a joke” territory for me.

    I like most of Sanders’ policies, and if he is the nominee, I’ll vote for him. But I don’t trust him to go to the mat for anything. I’ll put my money, thanks, on the woman who’s been tested in fire.


  12. “there’s no age limit for guys to be judged on their “potential”

    Oh, snap! You have no idea how personally painful this realization has been for me at this moment in my career.


  13. What a nreath of fresh sanity so many of these comments are! Just yesterday I read the answer to a major question that i’m amazed nobody seemed to ask: What is the gender makeup of his
    campaign staff! Because that’s surely one indication of whether or not his administration will be the typical boys’ club. Well we know the answer, don’t we, as evidenced by the behavior of his trolls—all the top staffers are men. So cool and progressive. So revolutionary. I want. To hear Hail to the Chief played for Hillary, and I cringe when i think of him on the same world stage as Putin or Merkel. Go, Woman!!


  14. hi. there. I don’t know if this has been said, and though i think this race is revolutionary in general, Clinton has not yet secured the nomination.

    i thought that might be an important point of contention for you. but I love the things you’re pointing out.


    • Last week’s sweep makes her the nominee, unless she drops dead between now and June.

      My expectation is that most Sanders supporters will get on board and support Clinton in the general, and my hope is that true lefties who dislike Clinton will see the revolutionary nature of her candidacy. We’ve never nominated or elected a woman president; even if you don’t like “this woman,” remember she’s not Sarah Palin or Nikki Haley. In fact, she’s pretty far from them politically, even if you don’t believe she’s far enough left for your preference.

      Those who don’t jump on the bandwagon: I hope you all enjoy President Drumpf!


      • I really hope that lefties backing Sanders do turn over. There’s so much anger in this race between people who are generally on the same side. It really tears me up and I can’t help but think it’s at least in part due to inherent sexism. I honestly would be happy to support either candidate, wholeheartedly, but either this post or another post on Clinton spawned a generally friendly and liberal person to launch into tirades culminating in that if Clinton’s the candidate, he’s not voting because he’s tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, etc., and I’m just like whoa buddy, Drumpf is the devil himself, not even a comparable evil to Clinton, what has she done? Has she single-handedly murdered all of the puppies or something, because I wouldn’t call her or her policies “evil”. I mean, this person, in my opinion was crossing a line of aggressive language that I was not at all prepared for so I actually said nothing, hoping they would get the point. I find that when folks are that aggressive for whatever reason, they can’t be reasoned with, which I found out this week over something not at all political when they got similarly aggressive and I’d been pushed to my limits. Am still avoiding FB and them until I can speak with composure. ANYWAY, basically women and people of color cannot afford a Drumpf, so hopefully we can all ban together, whatever the outcome, I’m just about to start start yet another grad degree program in Iowa, so I can’t move out of the country for at least another two to three years.


  15. #ImWithHer I Believe in Her! @HillaryClinton #ShesWithUs The Most Intelligent, Experienced Leader who will be our next President of the United States in 2016!


  16. I will definitely vote for her in the general. But I think she might be pleasantly surprised if she just came out and told us what she said in those speeches to Wall Street, and what her true feelings are about fracking. I think her heart’s in the right place, and if she talked about why she takes the positions she does that some of us find troubling, we might be reassured that she’s on our side ultimately.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Shelley, did you see Jill Abramson’s article yesterday in the Guardian?

    Hilary Clinton is Fundamentally Honest, something the haterz will never believe! But, whatever: so far, those of us who support her are giving her more votes and more support, although that’s not the story that’s being told. If she wins, it’s all “big deal, she was the favorite anyway, the DNC cleared the decks for her, she’s the ultimate insider.” If she loses a caucus or two, it’s all “oooh, she’s vulnerable, SOME people (NOT US!) don’t trust her, SOME people (NOT US!) don’t like her. . . :


  18. Pingback: Trust, gender queerness, and Hillary Clinton | Historiann

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