By Beth David, Editor
To My Sister’s Children, who are paying attention to their first presidential election as adults.
I’m so sorry this is your first presidential election.
They are not usually like this. I promise you that my zeal and love for politics is not because of this dung-heap you are witnessing. This kind of garbage is not what made me a political junkie.
I was old enough to vote in 1976 (Carter vs. Ford). The law had just changed so 18-year-olds could vote, so I’m sure I did. I can’t for the life of me remember how I voted, though. I suspect I was more informed on the local races.
The first presidential election I remember clearly was in 1980. I was depressed that Ronald Reagan won so handily. Even so, I wish that it could’ve been your first one. Jimmy Carter was so smart, so affable, so damned cute. Ronald Reagan was so dapper, so clever, and he made us chuckle. We chuckled at his jokes, not at him.
Honestly, I don’t remember the debate itself; some now say it was nasty, others say that it wasn’t. But, they were certainly not what we would label as “nasty” now. I’m sure they were pointed, they were direct. I’m sure they did not shy away from the issues or their criticism of each other. I’m equally sure they did not roll around in the sewer.
I’m so sorry 2016 is your first election.
I was here when Gov. William Weld challenged sitting Senator John Kerry. I wouldn’t be too surprised if you studied those debates in college, as a lesson in how to debate, how to get your point across, and how to stay out of the gutter doing it. As I recall, they called it textbook debating at the time. The two Brahmins, the sophisticated men who had learned to debate the same way, going toe to toe. They were both ridiculed for being so utterly polished.
At the end of the debate, they both stood up, exceptionally tall, exceptionally well dressed (and, dare I say it, exceptionally white, too). They shook hands, went their separate ways, and started running some really nasty ads. Kerry kept his seat.
I was here for Romney vs. Kennedy, too: A little more personality, of course; with Ted Kennedy, there always was.
Oh, it was glorious to watch. Kennedy was reaching out to voters who were too young to remember his powerful family, people like you, like my sister’s children. Kennedy had to prove his case. And he did. He showed his mastery of the issues, his quick wit, his presence of mind, and how his long history working with other Senators, in one of the most exclusive clubs on earth, would continue to serve the people of Massachusetts, and the country (yes, the whole country), well.
He won easily.
Romney won the governorship after that; I’d say largely because he did not drag his opponent into the gutter.
I’m so sorry you were too young to witness that. I’m so sorry that your first election includes a man who speaks in a way that would have your aunt slapping you silly if ever those words came out of your mouth, if ever your friends exhibited that kind of disrespect for other human beings.
What came out of Donald Trump’s mouth, what has been coming out of his mouth, is rape culture defined. That’s what it is.
And those who say nothing, who apologize for him, who egg him on, who tell a woman, “How about a little hug for the Donald,” are every bit as bad. Every damned bit.
I truly hope you shun people like that. Just stay away from them. Just…stay…away.
People will try to tell you that Hillary Clinton is worse in one way or another. Believe that if you must, but know that it does not make Trump’s behavior any better.
Remember when your mother would say, “I don’t care if everybody else is doing it”? Yes, I know you do.
This horrible episode in our presidential politics will pass at some point, and, hopefully, with Trump losing so badly that no one will ever spout off his nonsense again.
In any case, the episode will fade, to a certain degree.
But the attitudes will not.
The men in the bus will still be here among us.
Every woman will still know that she is being sized up, ridiculed, and imagined in disrespectful ways.
I know in my heart that you, my nephews, will not be one of those men. I know in my heart that the friends around you will not be, either.
I also know that you, my niece, are just as smart as any politician, smarter than most. You are on your way to becoming an accomplished, hardworking and dedicated professional, just like Hillary Clinton, whatever path your professional journey takes you on. Along the way, I hope you are able to avoid the men who would be in that bus, and you are able to surround yourself with friends who would not be complicit in their silence, or, worse, would egg on the bad behavior.
The last, gasp-inducing stunt by Trump was to hold a photo session with Bill Clinton’s victims.
The women in Bill Clinton’s past have every right to get in the middle of this election and tell their stories. And voters have every right to take their stories into consideration when choosing how to vote. Hillary’s treatment of them is fair game.
But it is still a sad day for politics in the U.S.
Hillary’s husband is not running for president. She is.
I know that pronoun freaks out a lot of people: She.
Yes, SHE is running for president.
Men are rarely punished for the indiscretions of their wives; but women are routinely expected to explain their husbands’ misdeeds. She’s wrong if she leaves him, she’s wrong if she stays with him.
This, My Sister’s Children, is what sexism looks like.
To my readers I say: You should know me well enough by now to know that I don’t want to get into the business of pretending that I can tell you how to vote. You vote how you want. The right to use your vote as you want to is sacred.
So, that’s not what this is about.
This is about rape culture: Recognizing it, defining it, fighting it.
It’s a sad commentary on our political process when the news anchors have to warn viewers that what they are about to hear is offensive and very graphic, and it’s coming from the Republican nominee for president. It’s a sad commentary on our political process when parents of middle schoolers and high school students won’t let them watch the presidential debate because they are afraid of the sordid content of the discussion…by the candidates.
Let’s hope the next generation can lift us back up to where we belong.
My Sister’s Children, we are counting on you.
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