Browsing Tag

Donald Trump

Why I March: Looking Ahead to the Women’s March on Washington

It’s the morning after the election and I can’t open my eyes and face the truth:  Donald Trump won the electoral college and will be our new president.  So I continue to sleep.  For the next week, I walk around bleary eyed, still not quite believing that, not only did we not elect our first female president, but also we elected a man with a complete lack of respect for women, an admitted serial sexual assaulter.  I feel powerless, and hopeless, and helpless.  I can’t bear to watch Clinton’s concession speech.  It’s too painful. (Just between you and me, I only just watched Clinton’s concession speech today.  And yes, I still became emotional.)

Then, about ten days after the election, something occurs to me:  I simply cannot allow myself to accept President-Elect Trump as the new normal.  I realize I cannot avoid news for the next four years.  I cannot check out and bury myself in a bubble-like cocoon.  Instead, I know that I must do what we women have had to do periodically since the beginning of the United States of America:  acknowledge a setback of monumental proportions, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and forge ahead for the fight of a lifetime.  In other words, I forced my eyes to open wide, kind of like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, and willed them to gaze purposefully into the future.

But now what?  Die-hard Clinton supporters like myself were not only experiencing raw emotions–fear, anxiety, anger, profound sadness–in the days following the political upset to end all upsets, but also the loss of an underpinning.  For we had all known deep down that victory would mean an easier path forward for so many progressive goals.  So, we put our collective energy into electing Hillary.  Now that we had lost that critical battle, what could be done to make the best of a disastrous situation?  Well, it turns out that there have been and will be so many things to be done–even before Trump is sworn in and certainly afterwards.

I personally donated money to an array of newly vulnerable progressive organizations, like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, Emily’s List and the National Organization of Women, Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America/Everytown and more.

I subscribed to publications that advance honest-to-goodness journalism and investigative reporting, like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

I signed many petitions:  to stop Steve Bannon, to audit the vote, to protest Trump’s appointments, to investigate Russia’s hacking of our election.

I am boycotting NBC for its decision to air another season of The Celebrity Apprentice, and businesses that sell Trump products.

I wrote to all of the electors, imploring them to vote their conscience, and not for Donald Trump, on December 19th.

I didn’t participate in any of the protests against hatred, but cheered on my friends and those who did.

I continued writing my progressive feminist blog and shared noteworthy action items on my Facebook page.

I joined local organizations that promise to band together to fight against Trump’s threatened policies.

Women’s March: The Nuts & Bolts

Somehow, the one thing that has made me feel the best in the face of a seemingly insurmountable setback, was registering for the Women’s March on Washington and helping organize volunteers for what is shaping up to be a massive undertaking.  After some hiccoughs early on, we now know some basic truths about this prospectively historic march:

  • The march has been endorsed by a wide range of organizations, including 1199 SEIU, American Indian Movement, Amnesty International, Black Girls Rock, Black Women’s Roundtable, Brown Boi Project, Center for Popular Democracy, CHIRLA, Define American, ERA Coalition,Everything Girls Love, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Feminist Majority Foundation, Life Camp Inc., MADFree, MomsRising, Mothers of The Movement, MPower Change, Muslim Women’s Alliance, NAACP New York State Conference, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Newspaper Publishers Associations,National Organization for Women (NOW), One Billion Rising, Trayvon Martin Foundation, The Gathering for Justice, The National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, United We Dream.  (Martin Luther King, Jr.’s youngest child, Bernice King, who was only five years old when her father was assassinated, has been supportive as well, according to organizers.)
  • The mission of the March is to advance the cause of justice and equality for all American women, regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, gender expression, socioeconomic status, immigration status, age, or disability.
  • Principles of Kingian non-violence pervade the spirit of the march, which is a peaceful testament to our collective concern for our future, and each other, under the Trump administration.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us. –Women’s March “Mission & Vision”


#WhyIMarch is an ongoing hashtag on Twitter and I have enjoyed reading the reasons my fellow marchers give for choosing to participate.  At the center of the reason why I am not only marching, but pouring my heart and soul into this march, is that it advances women’s interests as its primary goal and purpose.  It is this march that is dedicated to the cause of justice and equality for all women.  It is this march that I have high hopes will go down in history with some of the greatest political rallies in American history.  It is this march that makes me feel like so many voices will come together and shout loud and clear that while we now know that many Americans were fine with electing a known misogynist to the highest office in the land, the rest of us most certainly are not fine with it.  At all.

So why do I more specifically plan to march on January 21st?  Here are some of the most powerful reasons #WhyIMarch:

  • To honor those female warriors before me–the suffragettes, women’s libbers like my now-deceased aunts, trailblazers like Hillary Clinton–and give voice to their concerns in a new era.
  • To join with likeminded, kindred spirits, and feel the power and sense of community when we merge together for a single purpose.
  • To use my voice to make an impact beyond sitting at my computer keyboard.
  • To forcefully and publicly declare that it is wrong and un-American to be sexist or misogynistic, regardless of one’s station in life, wealth, or fame.
  • To speak on behalf of those who are silenced and marginalized, or are too ill or elderly or poor to travel and attend the march themselves.
  • To acknowledge publicly that we live in a highly paternalistic, inherently sexist, and often misogynistic society, even in 2017.
  • To fight for the rights of my daughter (and her daughters) to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to not be a second class citizen in the country I hold dear.
  • To make clear that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all.
  • To fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, which failed to be ratified in the 1970s due to anti-woman sentiment, and continues to fail to be ratified by the necessary number of states.
  • To show my understanding that there is (to quote Hillary Clinton’s concession speech) “still work to do” and passionately assert that we will not rest until we ensure that women have the right to control our own bodies, that with hard work and diligence we can break the glass ceilings of our choosing, that we will not tolerate sexual harassment, bullying, and assault by strangers and acquaintances alike, either in person or online, and that working women deserve the same opportunities and pay as our male counterparts.
  • Because I agree wholeheartedly with Hillary when she said on November 9, 2016, “Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth” the effort.  I never will.  And neither should you.  Let’s March, Ladies!

For more information on the Women’s March, including how to register (not required but helpful for planning purposes) or to make a donation, click here.  The Women’s March is what we make it.  Let’s make it an epic turning point for women’s rights in this country.

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6 Unfortunate Life Lessons Our Kids May Learn from Trump’s Historic Win (If We Aren’t Careful)


A peaceful protest may help with closure for your older child or teen who mourns the loss of his or her chosen candidate. Photo Credit/Maury Feinsilber

Attending a peaceful protest may help with closure for your older child or teen who mourns the loss of his or her chosen candidate. Photo Credit/Maury Feinsilber

Upending conventional wisdom and pretty much all of the polls, Donald Trump coasted to an electoral college defeat of Hillary Clinton this past Tuesday, even as he lost to her in the popular vote.  Wednesday morning, many of us parents were not only shocked and dismayed (and sleep deprived), but also were wondering how could we could explain to our children what had happened.  After all, these were the same children who had watched us rally around the first major party female nominee for president, and had believed us when we said that Donald Trump did not represent American values of fundamental fairness and justice.   How to make sense of the loss?  What messages had been relayed to our impressionable children and teenagers in the process?  And how could we counter them before they did lasting damage?  Given that I wrote a piece entitled “7 Life Lessons Our Kids Can Learn from Hillary Clinton’s Historic Nomination,” it seemed only fitting that I take a stab at the life lessons our kids may now take away from Trump’s mind boggling win, as well as how we might counter and replace those lessons with healthier, more appropriate ones.  Here goes:

1. Bullying Rocks!/Nice Guys Finish Last

The Message:

That our children and citizenry have heard this message loud and clear can be seen by the alarming uptick in hate crimes and incidents being reported across the country. Some of these incidents appear to be perpetuated by our youth.   If our new leader can bully and get away with it, other bullies are bound to be emboldened and motivated to follow suit.

The Counter-Message:

Explain to your children that our new president ran a campaign based on hateful rhetoric, and by appealing to adults’ fears of the unknown. Tell them that as unfortunate as it may be, we are now seeing hateful responses by those who are ignorant and misguided. Emphasize that bullies are wrong regardless of what our new president may have done and said, that bullying is cruel and is never appropriate, and that ultimately it is up to all of us to point out when people—our friends, our classmates—are being bullied for their differences. Encourage them not to use labels to describe anyone else and explain how hateful names and labels and slurs can be hurtful even without accompanying physical harm.   Avoid using labels yourself, even to describe Donald Trump (easier said than done, but it helps to be consistent).  Explain to them the meaning of hate symbols and why such symbols are so cruel and harmful to others.

2. Never Apologize for Anything

The Message:

Trump ran a testosterone laden, alpha male campaign where he managed to get away with all sorts of bad behavior by deflecting to his less than perfect female opponent and her spouse. He also used the strategy of the non-apology apology (protesting that someone else did something even worse in the past) when he was caught on a hot mic bragging that he can sexually assault women and get away with it. In the meantime, Trump also managed to appeal to the baser instinct in us that wants our team to win at all costs and believes perhaps that apologizing only shows weakness that can be exploited.  Since Trump won, our kids might see this as a signal that they should dig their heels in when accused of something that they did wrong, rather than come clean and apologize to the person they have wronged.

The Counter-Message:

Remind your kids that it is not a sign of weakness for one to apologize when he or she is wrong.   It is better to do the right thing than to win in the end.  Set a good example by doing this yourself on occasion when they are watching.  Emphasize that it is not just women that are expected to say they are sorry–men must be willing to apologize and make amends as well.

3. Hard Work and Preparation Don’t Pay Off

The Message:

Donald Trump is the logical extreme of the neo-GOP anti-intellectual view that only nerds engage in preparation, reading, and studying. He famously avoided preparing for his debates and the lack of preparation was glaring relative to Clinton, who won all three debates handily. Indeed, Clinton is the quintessential policy wonk, who knows her stuff inside and out. Well, we saw how that ended up for her in the rust belt of this country, and she lost among the uneducated, including uneducated white women who we might have expected would want to help another woman get elected to the highest office in the land. Kids paying attention—especially those who are old enough to listen to commentary and watch the debates—might come away from all of this thinking that hard work and dedication are not virtues in the end.

The Counter-Message:

We must get the message across to our kids that hard work and preparation is a good thing worthy of their time and effort. Even if Hillary Clinton didn’t win the presidency in the end, she has accomplished so much over her lifetime, which is no easy feat as a woman, and that has been the result of all of her hard work and effort. Tell your kids that even Donald Trump had to work hard to get into an Ivy League college and build his business empire. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

4. Experience Means Nothing

The Message:

Donald Trump ran as an outsider and that meant that he has zero experience in either the government or the military. This is virtually unprecedented and yet lo and behold he got the job he was seeking. Some kids might view this as a sign that jobs grow on trees and experience is irrelevant if one is brash and bold and arrogant—like our new president.

The Counter-Message:

Tell your kids that Donald Trump is quite the exception to a general rule that employers require pertinent job experience. If he or she wants to succeed in life and grow up to become, let’s say, a scientist, he or she will need to study and get a degree and then get an internship working in a lab to gain experience. He or she will have to pay some dues. Trump is not the norm, in other words. The American public gave him a job for which he isn’t prepared.   We will now see how that works out for us all.

5. It’s Bad to Be Different

The Message:

Trump campaigned on a highly divisive, racially charged platform where he mocked a disabled reporter, called Mexicans immigrants rapists and drug dealers, threatened to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, and singled out “my African American” at one of his rallies. His “build a wall” battle cry and threats of mass deportation reeked of xenophobic nationalism. Trump also surrounded himself with some pretty racist characters, such as Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon, who is his brand-new Chief Strategist. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate and our new Vice President, is a man who believes that homosexuals choose to be gay and can benefit from cruel and discredited conversion therapy.   But guess what? He won the campaign despite all of this, so what child wouldn’t be thinking it is a bad thing to be anything other than a straight white Christian male.

The Counter-Message:

It is super important that we tell our kids that it is ok to be different and we need to be supportive of our friends and neighbors who are. Wear safety pins and explain to your child the symbolic nature of the gesture.   Encourage them to read books and watch movies that stress messages of acceptance and tolerance.

6. Women Are Not Worthy of Respect (Boys Will Be Boys)

The Message:

Our children have heard throughout the campaign Donald Trump say mean, vile things about women. He has said things about his own wives and daughters that show he views them primarily as objects or possessions. Older kids have likely seen or heard the infamous videotape where Donald Trump brags he can grab women by the pussy and move in on a married woman like a bitch. They may have heard reports of the more than 14 women who claim Trump had sexually assaulted them. They may have even listened to the Howard Stern shows where Trump rated women on a scale from 1 to 10 or heard that Trump called a former Miss Universe—the most beautiful woman in the world—“Miss Piggy.” All of this together showed a staggering degree of misogyny and disrespect for women—both those he knows and total strangers. Despite all of this, Trump is now our leader. What girl or boy wouldn’t be thinking that women in this country are second-class citizens and not worthy of respect?

The Counter-Message:

It is critically important that we treat women in our lives with respect. Set a good  example by refraining from making comments about other women’s appearance or even your own figure flaws. Avoid using the term “bitch” or similar words with negative connotations about women.   Do your best to raise your sons to respect girls’ and women’s personal space and explain to them that there are no blurred lines when it comes to sexual consent. Tell your daughter that she is valuable because of who she is and what she does and not because of her body or appearance. Make sure she understands that she is in charge of her body and it is her decision completely about whether she will allow another person to touch her. If your son does something wrong in this regard, do not dismiss it as “boys will be boys”—make sure there are consequences.


Why I Trust Hillary (& Why All Women/Moms Should Too)


 The media keeps reporting polls that show Hillary Clinton has a
trustworthiness problem. I personally don’t get this. To me, trustworthiness in a candidate means that if elected he or she will follow through and keep as many campaign promises as possible. I think that voters may be confusing trustworthiness with transparency. Yes, some politicians—especially those who have been burned for being frank and blunt—may tend to keep things closer to the vest. Hillary Clinton in particular has been in public spotlight at least since 1992 when her husband ran for the presidency. A trailblazer on many levels, she was often scrutinized in a particularly harsh and unfair light and many people hated her for rebelling against the status quo while First Lady. As a result, it really isn’t so surprising that she has strived to keep an element of privacy in her life, as difficult as that may be. Now this has prompted charges that she is not as transparent as people would like. I would argue, however, that when it comes to her trustworthiness to serve the American public, superficial transparency is largely beside the point. Why? Again, what I look for in a candidate for president is whether he or she will strive to fulfill his/her promises and get things accomplished. In this sense of the word, there can be no question but that Hillary is “trustworthy.
Women and moms should examine Clinton in this light when deciding whether to vote for her and, also, must scrutinize her trustworthiness as compared to her opponent, Donald Trump. In other words, how consistent has Clinton been over the years in making promises to get things done and then at least striving to get those things accomplished? How consistent have her positions on policy stayed over her years in the public spotlight? Is she more trustworthy than Donald Trump when it comes to many, many issues of import to women and moms? I think it is crystal clear that she is more worthy of women/moms’ trust, and here are six reasons why:

1. Women/Moms Should Trust Hillary More Than Trump to Keep Us All Safe

Hillary Clinton knows a great deal about foreign affairs and is respected at home and abroad for her work as Secretary of State under the Obama administration. She has made crucial decisions under great pressure and our country stayed safe during her tenure. Among her successes as our Secretary of State, Clinton restored our reputation in the world after George W. Bush’s presidency, championed the rights of women and girls around the globe, negotiated the toughest sanctions ever against Iran, negotiated a cease fire between Hamas and Israel, stood up for worldwide LGBT rights, reinvigorated American diplomacy with Asia, and took on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. Clinton’s stated policies on national security are designed with the primary goal of keeping us all safe.

 On the other hand, Donald Trump has no experience in foreign affairs. He has shown himself to not have a firm grasp on the details of foreign policy, has unnecessarily inflamed our relations with countries such as Mexico, and has criticized our nation’s able generals. He lacks the steady judgment and temperament necessary to be commander in chief over the U.S. and the free world. Don’t believe me? Well, then take it from the GOP experts, such as
Michael Hayden (former CIA director under George W. Bush), who have said the same thing, despite the political ramifications. Indeed, 50 GOP national security officials signed on to a damning letter stating that Trump would be “the most reckless president in American history.” Trump’s statements about getting rid of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance of nations that helps us avoid nuclear war, are also very troubling. Former Special Forces and CIA Operations Officer Michael Vickers, former GOP Senator Larry Pressler, Bush Administration vets John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes, GOP foreign policy advisor Brent Scowcroft, and Bush Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, have all said that it is Hillary Clinton, hands down, who will be more likely to keep us safe in a dangerous world.

 2. Women/Moms Should Trust Hillary More Than Trump to Fight for Equal Rights for All Americans, Including Women

Hillary Clinton has been fighting for the rights of women and minorities her entire adult life. She believes that women should make an equal amount of money as do men for the same job. She went to a conference in China 21 years ago, and boldly proclaimed that women’s rights are human rights. She has fought for a woman’s right to choose throughout her years in public service. Hillary believes that we are a great country that will become greater still if we treat all of our citizenry equally.

 Donald Trump? He has become the
darling of white supremacists, a fact that he was very slow to acknowledge or denounce. He demeans women at every turn and has said creepy, offensive things even about his own daughter. He has also said racist things about Muslims, Mexicans, an American judge, and our own President. In fact, here are 13 prime examples of Trump being racist.  

3. Women/Moms Should Trust Hillary More Than Trump to Help the Sick, Disabled, and Downtrodden in Our Society

In the early 1970s, Hillary Clinton sought to ferret out segregation and discrimination against African American schoolchildren by posing as a housewife. She fought for the laws that now require public education for disabled children. Today, Clinton has concrete proposals on how to help the disabled in this country, including autistic kids. Clinton also has proposals to assist the mentally ill and Alzheimer’s patients, as well as stop the Zika virus.

 Donald Trump? In the early 1970s, Donald Trump’s father and he were refusing to
rent housing to African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act. He mocks the disabled and seeks an end to “political correctness” (aka civility) as we know it in this country. Trump has also been sued multiple times for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including a variety of accessibility issues at his Atlantic City casino, Taj Mahal, which recently shut its doors after filing for bankruptcy. Trump has no concrete plans to help the sick, disabled, and downtrodden in our country.

 4. Women/Moms Should Trust Hillary More Than Trump to Reduce Gun Violence in This Country

As a corollary to #1 above, Hillary Clinton has been an ardent supporter for common sense gun safety laws. Her critics say, without any evidence whatsoever, that she aims to take away guns or abolish the Second Amendment but, in fact, she just wants enactment of laws that will operate to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, the severely mentally ill, domestic abusers, and convicted felons. Not only is this reasonable, it’s essential to protect Americans from mass shootings and other fatalities due to gun violence. Her goal of expanding background checks is supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners.

 Donald Trump? He has been
endorsed by the National Rifle Association for his views on guns, including the elimination of gun-free zones at schools. He also likes to tell jokes about gun violence, which really are not funny. At all.

 5. Women/Moms Should Trust HIllary More Than Trump to Help Families, Children, and Young Adults

Hillary Clinton has policies on K-12 education in this country that will ultimately benefit all of us. She wants to make pre-Kindergarten universal for all children, and has a plan for debt-free college. She is committed to fighting for paid family leave, and has done so both as First Lady and as a United States Senator. Starting with her work on the Children’s Defense Fund, Hillary has made children’s rights a priority. Also, most everyone knows that Hillary unsuccessfully fought for universal health care before it was Obamacare, but did you know that she helped pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which today insures millions of American children? She gave an interview to Parents Magazine in which she promised to help families and provided specifics.

 Donald Trump? As a lifelong businessman and entrepreneur, he is a relative newcomer to the question of education in our country and, since announcing his candidacy, has offered little to no specifics regarding how he would address or tackle the problems we face today. Most recently, his proposals to focus more resources on charter schools and voucher programs
seem likely to weaken or even gut our current public school system. When Parents Magazine reached out to ask Trump the same questions about families as were posed to Hillary, he declined to be interviewed.  Just this past Tuesday, he finally elaborated on his proposed childcare and maternity leave policies with daughter, Ivanka, standing beside him.   The maternity leave policy has already been criticized for being 50% shorter than Clinton’s proposal (six weeks vs. twelve weeks) and sexist as well (Clinton’s plan includes paternity leave for fathers; Trump’s is solely for working moms).  Trump’s childcare plan calls for a tax deduction that would benefit wealthy working mothers but not the average working mom who is struggling to make ends meet.

 6. Women/Moms Should Trust Hillary More Than Trump to Protect Our Environment

The graphic below makes clear that when it comes to protecting the environment for our kids and grandkids, there is no comparison between Clinton and Trump. Hillary understands the dangers of climate change and will work to protect our planet while creating jobs. And Trump? He has called the policies of the Obama administration, such as the Clean Power Plan, “stupid” and, like many Republicans, denies that climate change is a concern, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. 

Clinton v. Trump: A Referendum on Morality, Civility & “Political Correctness”

I don’t think of myself as having an alarmist type of personality.  So please give me a chance to explain exactly why I think that the upcoming presidential election is nothing short of a referendum on morality and civility in the United States. In fact, I think that it isn’t enough for Donald Trump to lose this election. He needs to lose badly.  Like in a landslide badly. Like Walter Mondale badly. I think Donald Trump needs to lose so badly that no one will ever again dare spend the time, and money, and effort to run a presidential campaign predicated on a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic platform. My concern, frankly, is that Donald Trump has—with his dismissive talk about the role of political correctness in a civilized society and his encouragement (incitement?) of violence against his rivals such as Hillary Clinton–uncovered a very ugly underbelly of American society that find in him their grotesque hero.  Now that Pandora’s box has been opened, the only way we can hope to close it up again is with a resounding loss of epic proportions.

It’s not that I didn’t know that this element existed in our society. Of course I knew that there are white supremacists, neo-Nazis, bigots of all ilk living in this country, and that there are people who have shrines in their homes devoted to the Confederate flag and what it represents. It’s just I felt in my almost 50 years of life that in my country–the country to which my own ancestors fled to escape hatred and persecution over 100 years ago–no one in a position of power and authority would ever sanction those views.

We all know the story of Trump’s unlikely climb towards the GOP nomination.  First, we laughed at his candidacy, taking it as seriously as we would if Ryan Seacrest or any other reality TV star suddenly said he was running for POTUS. Then, we recoiled when he doubled down after Megyn Kelly called him out at the GOP debate, asking him to explain sexist, misogynistic language he has used in the past to describe women.   We thought that no one would continue to support him after he said that Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals or after he mocked a disabled reporter. Of course, we now know all too well, we were wrong. Despite the 16 Republicans running against him, all vastly more qualified than he is for the job, Donald Trump went on to win the GOP nomination handily.   Since then, those in his own party who hoped he would suddenly transform himself into a “new” Donald Trump have been sorely disappointed as he continues to disparage Muslims—even Gold Star families, and weave farcical (and completely false) tales that President Obama and Hillary Clinton “founded” ISIS.  Even as GOP leaders have started to distance themselves from him, with some prominent Republicans going so far as to say they will vote for Clinton, there remains a solid base of Trump support that seems to be indestructible.

You see, I subscribe to the theory that nothing much distinguishes angry and frustrated Trump supporters from the Germans in the 1930s who were searching aimlessly for a scapegoat to blame for their troubles. Like 2016 America, Germany was a highly civilized country and we all know who came to power there and what he went on to do to those that he and his followers decided to scapegoat—the Jews, homosexuals, the disabled. Once we strip away what Trump and his supporters call with no small measure of contempt “political correctness,” but in fact is decency and civility, we are set adrift in a sea that has no boundaries. For if Trump can speak so freely and be so successful in the political arena, and if his supporters–previously closeted bigots–feel free to openly express hatred for their fellow Americans and not face any social or political ramifications, then where does it end?

This is why I am so disappointed when people I know who are pro-Clinton and anti-Trump talk as if Clinton has the election all wrapped up so why bother making an effort.   Yes, yes, I have read the articles about polls in battleground states and dire portraits of Trump’s campaign becoming the proverbial sinking ship, but no matter. First of all, voters can be fickle and Clinton’s support to date has been said to be less than exuberant.  But more to the point, it is not enough for Clinton to win this election. When Clinton’s platform is the most progressive in history and touts equality as an ideal to which we must continue to aspire, and her opponent is steeped in nationalistic jargon of going back to a bygone era when minorities and women had even fewer rights than they do today, then how can Americans view this election as anything but a referendum on equality, core American values and, yes, morality and civility?

All of this is to say:  no one who cares about making America even greater than it is today, by continuing to pursue the ideals that made us great in the first place, can afford to sit out this election (or even to vote for a third party candidate who has no chance of winning in November). If you believe that we, as a nation, are made up of people who are very different, but that we are stronger when we band together than we are when we build walls—physically or metaphorically—to keep out those who are different, then there is no choice.  Vote for Clinton, volunteer for her campaign, contribute to her campaign, and speak out loud and clear against those who try to tell you that a vote for Trump isn’t a vote for racism and divisiveness in this country. Because the only thing standing between an America that continues on the path to a more perfect union, and one that goes backwards in time to the days when it was perfectly acceptable to openly hate others, is all of us.

What Women/Moms Need to Know Now: Gun Violence Prevention 101

This is the first part in an ongoing series of posts that focus on educating about various hot button issues and how they impact women and moms.

Two recent shootings in Orlando. The first one–last Friday after a concert–resulted in the death of a former The Voice contestant, Christina Grimmie.  This horrifying shooting, that occurred as she was signing autographs, could have resulted in much greater carnage had her brother not tackled the shooter.  In retrospect, however, the Grimmie shooting seemed like foreshadowing for last night’s unfathomable massacre at an Orlando LGBT nightclub, in which a single assailant killed 50 and wounded another 53 with an assault-style weapon, making it the worst mass murder in US history. Gun violence continues to wreak havoc on and terrorize our country like none other in the developed world.  It’s thus well worth taking a look back to see how we reached this point in time where frequent mass shootings have become the new norm and how women and moms can help.

Following the 1994 midterm election, when progressives and Democrats everywhere woke up to a Congress that had changed hands overnight, there was a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, a lot of hand wringing, and a lot of finger pointing.  Many believed–right or wrong–that what made the difference was that Congress had passed and then-President Bill Clinton signed into law the assault weapons ban earlier in the year, as well as the Brady Bill the year before. At that time, this legislation was a major coup, and the powerful gun lobby known as the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) sprung into action, spending big bucks to ensure that members of Congress who had voted in favor of the law (primarily if not solely Democrats) lost in the midterm elections.

When the dust had settled, the NRA had accomplished two important things: (1) the most progressive members of Congress up for reelection, and who believed that reforms were necessary to reduce gun violence in our country, lost to more conservative Republicans, resulting in a new GOP majority in Congress, and (2) at that point forward, incumbents or politicians running for public office would think long and hard about going against the will of the NRA.  The NRA had won a major victory and common sense gun regulation would not be raised again for many years. When the time came for the assault weapons ban to be renewed in 2004, Congress and GOP President George W. Bush let it die, an unfortunate outcome given the current statistics showing that mass shooters have possessed these weapons over half of the time and when used they tend to result in higher casualties.

After the 1994 bloodbath, politicians considered backing, or even mentioning, the concept of gun violence prevention to be nothing short of “political suicide.”  In the meantime, the state legislatures that had previously attempted to make strides in gun law reform, particularly in areas with high crime rates such as the District of Columbia, faced certain push back by the NRA.  In the District of Columbia v. Heller case, D.C’s stringent handgun ban faced staunch opposition by NRA-hired attorneys, who challenged the law all the way up to Supreme Court.

The NRA’s lawyers argued that the Second Amendment, which provides, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” somehow meant that individuals have a constitutionally mandated right to own guns.   In 2008, Antonin Scalia and a Supreme Court made up of a majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents, sided with the NRA and, by a 5-4 decision, struck down the D.C. handgun ban as unconstitutional. The damage ultimately extended well beyond this limited circumstance, however, as the NRA and more conservative state legislatures around the country used this decision to justify a variety of laws aimed at making it even easier for individuals–even terrorists, convicted felons, mentally ill, and domestic abusers– to obtain, carry, and use guns.  The Supreme Court in 2010 did indeed determine that Heller applied also to state and local laws, thus extending the reach of the original decision.

Consequently, during the reign of terror by the NRA, not only were politicians afraid to support common sense gun legislation designed to reduce gun violence, but also GOP politicians in the pocket of the NRA worked to loosen the ties even further. Incredibly lax gun regulation, coupled with giddy gun manufacturers, led to a dramatic proliferation of guns in this country.  Even the NRA had at one time said that there should be common sense measures put in place, such as universal background checks.  The original NRA, however, was intended to be an association that represented gun owners in this country. Over time, that changed, as increasingly greedy and wealthy gun manufacturers turned the NRA into a massive lobbying machine that cared first and foremost about maximizing income to gun manufacturers with little to no thought or care given to what was done with those guns after they were purchased.

The story of the gun industry is not a new one. Other major U.S. industries have similarly become so greedy and so rich and so powerful that they could dominate politicians with their agenda and thus get away with murder (both literally and figuratively).   A couple prime examples include the American auto and tobacco industries.  People within those industries knew that they were manufacturing and selling to consumers very dangerous goods, yet failed to make changes to protect consumers. Why? All they cared about was their profits and, moreover, they were not adequately regulated by the government.

Take the Ford Pinto case.  Ford knew that the Pinto was unreasonably dangerous and could have recalled the cars sold and made modifications but discovery in a case brought against the company revealed that they had engaged in a callous cost-benefit analysis showing they came out ahead financially by just paying off those injured or killed by their defective product. The auto industry also fought hard against putting available but somewhat costly safety features in their cars–features that we now take for granted, and are mandated by law, such as three point seat belts and air bags.  Likewise, prior to a seminal suit brought against cigarette companies that uncovered what the companies knew about the dangers and addictive nature of cigarette smoking, the industry marketed cigarettes to minors–remember Joe Camel?– in the hope that they would get hooked at a young age and become lifelong smokers, thus spending millions of dollars on cigarettes (and much more likely to develop deadly lung cancer as a result).

Unlike these other industries, gun manufacturers with the help of the NRA shield themselves from such glaring scrutiny by wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as now defined by the Supreme Court. In fact, there is now on the books a terrible federal law that provides immunity to gun manufacturers against suit for damages caused by their product.   This law is virtually unheard of in the arena of consumer goods and, essentially, since the gun manufacturers have the deepest pockets, leaves individuals with no recourse when their lives are destroyed as the result of gun violence.

In the meantime, common sense and viable safety measures, such as a biometric gun lock with a fingerprint sensor also known as a smart gun (think the iPhone and it’s use of similar technology to unlock the phone), have been dismissed by the gun lobby (a parallel with the auto industry’s aversion to mandated safety features), nor utilized by the vast majority of gun manufacturers (an exception:  the intelligun)  though it could save countless lives.  Another parallel, this one with the tobacco industry, is the gun manufacturer’s attempt to market firearms to children by making them look more like toys, with colors like hot pink and designs, and utilizing cute cartoon creatures in advertisements (see images)images)




Rather than make us safer as touted by the gun lobby, the proliferation of guns led to an alarming uptick in the rate of deaths due to guns in this country.  Politicians looked away or swept under the rug the shocking statistics for fear of retaliation by the NRA. In 1999, after a major mass shooting that resulted in 15 deaths and 20 more wounded took place at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, gun control advocates had the ear and sympathy of the greater public for a time. Up against the NRA, however, they ultimately did not have a chance. The NRA was an extraordinarily wealthy and powerful lobbying organization by now, and regular citizens who were shocked and dismayed by this shooting in a public high school were neither organized, nor nearly as wealthy.

After Columbine, however, it became abundantly clear to anyone paying attention (and not a gun manufacturer) that something had to be done. High school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been able to scheme and plan a mass murder they carried out at their school, and develop their own arsenal of multiple weapons with relative ease, without their parents even knowing anything about it. Political activist and screenwriter Michael Moore filmed a documentary about the massacre entitled “Bowling for Columbine” that was released in 2002. As interest in the case faded over time, the NRA continued, largely unabated, their quest for loosened gun restrictions, advocating for state and local laws like concealed and open carry in public places, such as college campuses, bars and restaurants, and movie theaters.

The carnage continued. Between Columbine and Sandy Hook—the horrific massacre of 20 young children and six of their teachers in their own elementary school—there were five more mass shootings in public schools and on college campuses, including the deadliest mass shooting of all time (until yesterday’s nightclub shooting) at Virginia Tech in 2007, when 32 were killed and 24 more were injured by a student.  Other public places where people gathered became increasingly dangerous. In 2011, Gabrielle Gifford, a congresswoman from Arizona and gun owner, was shot and seriously injured at an outdoor public forum, that killed 6 people and wounded 13 others. Just as the shooting of James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s press secretary in 1981, led to a long, drawn out battle for common sense gun law reform such as background checks (the “Brady Bill”), so too did a shooting of one of Congress’ own, in a state with one of the least restrictive gun laws in the country.

Then came the 2012 shooting at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  A mentally ill man, who managed to amass many firearms and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, walked in to the theater, and opened fire, killing 12 and injuring 56.  A similar incident happened in Lafayette, Louisiana at a screening of the movie, “Trainwreck,” in 2015.  Also recently, a white supremacist gunned down 9 African-American men and women in their church in Charleston, South Carolina, a blatant hate crime by a young white man who loved guns almost as much as he loved the Confederate flag.   All told, there are on average 289 people shot by a gun every single day in this country, and 86 of those Americans die. 

Statistics or even high school and college shootings are one thing, but no one mass murder galvanized the American public more than the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  The shock of so many young children (20 kindergarteners and first graders, and another 6 adults) gunned down in their own classrooms shook many to their very core. Moms led the foray, immediately organizing a grassroots group on Facebook under the leadership of Shannon Watts, an Indianapolis mother of five.  Many moms and other concerned citizens, including grieving families from Sandy Hook traveled to DC a month later on a freezing cold day to march on the National Mall demanding improved gun safety laws.

The power of grassroots organization via social media became clear, as Watts’ group, Moms Demand Action Against Gun Sense in America, not only grew in number of members, but also evoked memory of an earlier group formed by concerned mothers: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).    MADD had led to reforms of the criminal justice system by holding drunk drivers more accountable for their actions behind the wheel. The hope was that Moms Demand Action could effect similar change regarding gun laws in this country. Other groups also formed in the wake of Sandy Hook, including a group of concerned mayors such as the mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg, known as “Everytown for Gun Safety.”  Gabby Giffords’ group, “Americans for Responsible Solutions,” also led the fight for gun law reforms. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gained a powerful new voice in Colin Goddard, one of the students injured in the Virginia Tech mass shooting.

Well-organized, motivated, and increasingly wealthy, these groups together pushed hard to enact common sense gun laws, such as universal background checks.   The NRA would not be defeated, however, and the push back was decisive. Split almost entirely along party lines, the GOP in the Senate killed a bill introduced at the urging of gun violence prevention groups.  In the past, this might have been enough to knock the wind out of the sails of gun law reformers.  But the new movement had some key differences in that it had many more members with a newly found determination, more money, and more influential leaders, as well as a simple, coherent message and mission that they shared—the enactment of “common sense gun legislation,” such as universal background checks without loopholes,  and increased gun safety measures, such as keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them–convicted felons, mentally ill, domestic abusers, and terrorists.

The battle went well beyond Congress, and included boycotts of businesses that allowed guns on their property, etc. as well as fighting for stronger gun laws at the state level.   Hollywood actors and actresses, and other entertainers, weighed in as well in favor of improved gun laws.

Where the NRA had previously had free rein in these areas, now there was finally an organized lobby to fight for the opposite position. Recently, President Obama made progress on these issues, by using his power of executive order to put as many measures in place as possible to combat gun violence in this country.  Congress continues to, in this area as in so many others, fail to act, despite polls showing that 92% of Americans, and 86% of gun owners, are in favor of common sense gun law reforms, like universal background checks.  Nonetheless, gun violence prevention groups have begun forming at the state level to push for the best possible laws to protect citizens against gun violence and strides continue to be made, particularly in states with Democratic-led governments.

Now that you have the history of the gun violence prevention movement, you may be asking, how does gun violence and the movement specifically impact women, and your daughters and sons, and also what can be done to help?

Domestic Violence: Although the NRA likes to insist that guns keep women safe, the truth is that a gun is far more likely to be used against its woman owner by a domestic abuser than as a means of self-defense.   In fact, women are less safe living in a house with a gun, period, according to the research. 

Negligence/Accidental Shootings: An appalling number of children die every year because a parent has failed to lock up a gun.  The child—often a very young child—accesses the gun, which is loaded and somehow discharges. In some jurisdictions, this is considered to be an accidental shooting, but really it is negligence or even recklessness on the part of the parent.  Any parent knows that just because you explain dangers to your toddler or young child, doesn’t mean he or she will listen to you and avoid the dangers 100% of the time. It only takes that one time for a child either to injure or kill himself, a playmate, a sibling, or any member of the family. The child is a victim either way, having to live her life knowing that she killed a friend or loved one.

Teen Suicide: Suicide is on the rise and is the third leading cause of teen and young adult death in this country. Lacking impulse control, and if severely depressed, a teen who can easily gain access a gun is a recipe for disaster.  While a person can attempt to kill themselves in a variety of ways, one who has easy access to a gun is much more likely to succeed before getting treatment for the underlying mental disorder.

School Shootings:  Since Sandy Hook, there have been an unacceptable 186 shootings in schools and universities.   That breaks down to be about a shooting per week.  Even when a school has a concern about a possible threat, it often will go into “lockdown” mode, thus terrifying our kids, who wonder if their lives are in danger.

There are so many things that you can do as a woman and mom to help reduce gun violence in this country—both on the micro and macro level. Here are some of the most important:

  • Join your local chapter of Moms Demand Action ( ) and respond to their calls to action. This grassroots group, formed in the wake of Sandy Hook, continues to exert influence through simple yet effective means of advocacy and lobbying. Moms are encouraged to bring their children to events so you don’t even have to get a babysitter.  In fact, I recall meeting with a Senator, and another mom brought her toddler into the conference room.  No one batted an eye.
  • Write and call your members of Congress. For a list of your senators and representatives, as well as contact information, go to this website: Tell them you’re a constituent and a voter who is concerned about gun violence in this country and ask them to take measures such as voting for common sense gun law reforms, holding gun manufacturers accountable.  If your members of Congress are already on board, thank them for their leadership and implore them to continue to make gun violence prevention a legislative priority.
  • Vote for candidates at the state and federal level who are in favor of enacting common sense gun laws and who have a history to back it up. This includes voting for Hillary Clinton for President. Clinton has been endorsed by all major gun violence prevention groups in this country,  because she has made gun violence prevention a major part of her platform, the first presidential candidate ever to do so. The NRA has endorsed Donald Trump, who believes that the Second Amendment takes priority over public health and safety, and who wants to eliminate gun-free zones.  Clinton has also expressed a disdain for the Heller decision, which adopted a nearly unfettered constitutional right for individual gun ownership, including domestic abusers, terrorists, felons, and the mentally ill. If elected, it stands to reason that she would want to appoint to the Supreme Court a judge who interprets the Second Amendment more consistent with her views than Justice Scalia’s. 
  • If you are a gun owner, lock up your guns and do not risk that your child will be able to access a gun. Take responsibility for your guns.   Even if it is legal to open or conceal carry a gun in public, seriously consider leaving yours at home. Too many guns have fired “accidentally” in public places, such as  public bathrooms, Wal-Mart, restaurants, and hotel lobbies.
  • Before your child goes to a playdate or to a friend’s house, ask the parent if there are guns in the household.  Consider restricting visits to that home (especially if the parents do not keep their guns locked up at all times) and plan more playdates in your home, which is hopefully a gun-free zone.  If not, and you must have a gun for self-defense, consider buying a smart gun that can only fire if the owner is holding it.
  • Still skeptical about the role that our lax gun laws play in mass shootings, such as the Orlando nightclub massacre?  Read the “Definitive Guide to the Gun Safety Debate.”

With Love & Kindness,

The FeMOMist




About Those Tired Old GOP Tropes Against Hillary Clinton: It’s Time for a Reality Check.

My 14-year-old, apolitical daughter came home from school about a month ago and said at the dinner table to me, my husband, and her 15 year-old brother: “[Insert name of classmate] said that Hillary Clinton is a liar.”

Drop the mic.

We all looked at each other. My husband and I are Democrats, live in a blue state, and an ultra-blue county and I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter for years. My husband is not as die-hard as I am but voted for her in the primaries. Deep breath. . . . How to handle this. . . .

“Did your friend say why she thinks Hillary Clinton is a liar?” My daughter’s response, “No.”

“Well, what did you say?” My daughter: “Nothing.”

What could she say to that? It’s a deeply engrained trope that was started by Republicans against Bill and Hillary Clinton back when they were the quintessential power couple and the GOP were still mourning the end of the Reagan/Bush administrations and their position of power beginning in the early 1990s.   I found it troubling in part because I am pretty sure the classmate’s parents are Democrats. But moreover, it bothered me that my apolitical daughter had no idea what to say in response to a slanderous label that finds no support in fact. My daughter did seem to know though that her parents weren’t going to be supporting a liar for President and she wanted to see our reaction. It made me realize that there is probably a lot of people out there—a lot of young (and maybe even older) women—who don’t know what to make of it when they hear the distortions that come out about Hillary Clinton.  Thus, I wrote this blog post. I hope it helps women and girls feel more secure in challenging or dismissing these tropes when they hear them. Far from being the demon claimed by the right (and some Bernie supporters too), Hillary Clinton has the opportunity to become our first woman president and continue the progress made under the Obama Administration.

Indeed, she undoubtedly will have the opportunity to appoint at least one if not more progressive Supreme Court justices who will aim to overturn Citizens United (which will pave the way for campaign finance reform), as well as return to minorities voting rights that were wrongly taken away by a conservative majority of justices; who will make sure that we do not go back to the days before Roe v. Wade;  and who will overturn Heller, the decision whose strained interpretation of the Second Amendment gave virtually unfettered rights to individual gun owners.  On the other hand,  Donald Trump threatens to nominate very conservative jurists to the Supreme Court who would decide these cases the opposite way, sending us further down the primrose path and back into the dark ages.  That is why it is essential for all progressive thinking women and men to rally behind Hillary Clinton and dismiss these old tired GOP tropes for what they are.

Tired Old GOP Trope #1: Hillary Clinton is not likable. Even women don’t like her.

How It Continues to Arise: Commentators continue to observe this casually without any real evidence.  The likability factor is a very nebulous one that is hard to pin down. If someone doesn’t “like” a person running for public office, then all of the accomplishments, achievements, and solid policy experience and goals are somehow beside the point. Americans vote for someone they think they would want to sit down and have a beer with, right?

The Counterargument: Hillary Clinton has been voted the most admired woman in America 17 times in 18 years.   Plenty of Democrats—women, minorities in particular—presumably “like” her as she does particularly well with those groups.   She also has millions more votes in the primaries than her opponent, Bernie Sanders.

Rather than debating whether Hillary Clinton is in fact liked or not liked, let’s get to the crux of the issue: Why wouldn’t she be liked and why do we have to like a person for him or her to be our President in the first place? David Brooks recently surmised in a New York Times editorial that Hillary isn’t liked because we don’t know anything about what she likes to do with her free time.  In essence: does she have hobbies or does she just want to be the leader of the free world, dammit?   As if playing basketball like President Obama or golf like many professional men would make all the difference.

There is a throwaway line in Brooks’ editorial, about Clinton being a grandmother. Aha! There it is! It’s not that she doesn’t have other interests—she is very outspoken about how much she loves being a grandmother, how she enjoys spending quality time with her daughter and granddaughter, and enjoys reading to little Charlotte, etc.   So it’s not that she doesn’t have other interests outside of public life—clearly she does—it’s just not the right interests (Basketball? Golf? Drinking with the guys?). Believe me, if Hillary Clinton took up a hobby (and who’s to say she doesn’t have a hobby by the way—maybe she just doesn’t talk about it), this would not make anyone like her any better. People would then be saying—why doesn’t she care about her family more? Nobody ever asks that question of a male politician. Ever.

Could it be that no woman running for public office is ultimately “likable”? Put differently, is it possible for a woman politician to be both likeable and capable? That’s hard to say, although if likeability is in fact tied to how one spends their leisure time, it’s hard to imagine a woman who is doing an excellent job juggling a career and a family having the time to get her likeability badge. Sarah Palin seemed to have some interests outside of politics and family, but then again she famously failed the capability test during her run for vice presidency.  I personally would rather have a surgeon operate on me who I know is smart and capable, rather than one that I hear is an awesome basketball player. Hopefully I’m not the minority view on that one.

The Tired Old GOP Trope #2: Hillary Clinton is a liar. She is dishonest and can’t be trusted.

How It Continues to Arise: Donald Trump has taken to calling Clinton “Crooked Hillary,” as if that makes it true.   Bernie Sanders has repeatedly made reference to Clinton’s speaking engagements to Wall Street firms, and the large fees she received as a result.  The point he is trying to make—often indirectly—is that by accepting these fees, she is corrupt, beholden to Wall Street interests, and part of a bigger problem in the U.S.

The Counterargument: Hillary Clinton—unlike Donald Trump—came from a middle class upbringing.  She actually made the lion’s share of her “fortune” after she was First Lady for eight years. As recently as 2001, the Clintons were “dead broke.”   Donald Trump’s sole purpose in life until very recently was to make huge amounts of money. He has bragged that despite being a billionaire, he takes advantage of tax loopholes and looked forward to the real estate bubble bursting so that he could swoop in and get some bargains. He has filed for bankruptcy multiple times.  The common denominator here is that he clearly relishes taking advantage of the system in a way that enriches himself and hurts others.   Trump also refuses to release his tax returns despite it being the standard course of events for presidential candidates to do so, prompting speculation about what could be in those returns.

Finally, according to the political fact-checking website,, Hillary Clinton has made statements that are at least partially true 71% of the time.  By means of comparison, Bernie Sanders made statements that were at least partially true 69% of the time.  Her statements were completely true 23% of the time, while Bernie’s statements were completely true 14% of the time.  But the big story is Donald Trump.  Trump has made completely true statements only 3% of the time, and has received the aptly titled “pants on fire” designation a whopping 19% of the time, while Clinton received that designation a mere 1% of the time.

Crooked Hillary?! How about Crooked Donald?

Regarding speaking engagements, former presidents and other leaders command huge sums for speaking to groups who can afford to pay them.   That is even when there is no prospect for them to run for office again. Get it? Bill Clinton and George W. Bush don’t make a fortune every time they speak to a crowd because they are running for the White House or Congress and the audience hopes to influence them in some way.   Likewise, no one accuses Barack Obama of being in the pocket of Wall Street bankers despite his acceptance of large contributions from the banks when he was running for president in 2008.    This is another red herring issue—despite all that Wall Street money, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were both in favor of the landmark banking law—the Dodd-Frank Act—which gives the power to break up banks if they become too powerful.   Hillary has made clear during her campaign that she wants to enforce the law and give it teeth through additional regulations and rules.

Further, even saintly Bernie Sanders has taken advantage of support from special interest groups. The powerful gun lobby, National Rifle Association (NRA) helped him get elected to Congress, and then he turned around and voted in favor of their positions multiple times.  Donald Trump likewise recently climbed into bed with the NRA and cozied up. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton has met multiple times with the mothers of victims of shooting incidents.   She promises to make gun violence prevention a priority of a Clinton administration.  I know who I trust most on the issue of gun violence prevention and it isn’t Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Finally, I would submit that there are tinges of sexism lurking within this slanderous trope.  Is it possible that we hold women to a higher ethical standard than we do men?   That we expect a woman politician to be more or even far more honest than her male counterparts?  One study found this to be the case.

The Tired Old GOP Trope #3: Hillary Clinton is too ambitious. All she cares about is her own success.

How It Continues to Arise: She dares to—gasp—run for the presidency. Not once, but twice!   Even though a lot of people (especially a lot of white males) wanted a man to win the Democratic nomination, she is persisting in her goal of becoming the leader of the free world.

The Counterargument: This one is so obviously sexist, even the mainstream media can’t deny it.  For comic relief, check out the Onion’s spoof of this sexist trope.   But it’s become increasingly unfunny as time passes and it continues to be recycled. Interestingly, as early as March 2008 there were calls for Hillary to step aside when she was battling against Barack Obama for the nomination and she was doing better at that time in the race than Bernie Sanders is today—over two months further into the primary season.  Why is it ok to push the female candidate to withdraw but not the male candidate? Short answer: it’s not.

What person running for president isn’t ambitious? Doesn’t it go with the territory—almost like a prerequisite character trait? Yet, a woman running for president is overly ambitious and even selfish (say some Bernie Sanders’ supporters, as anyone who reads comments on social media well knows). Beyond that, let’s go back in time to when a young Hillary was setting forth her vision for America. She actually entered a life of public service because she cared about the downtrodden in our society—women, minorities, children, etc.    As a young law student in the early 1970s, she traveled to the Deep South to work on school desegregation.  She was for universal health care long before President Obama was – in fact she was ahead of her time on this issue and faced criticism from many corners — but nevertheless passionately pushed for it as head of a task force while First Lady.   Faced with defeat over universal health care, she turned her attention to enacting the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which today provides insurance to millions of children who otherwise would be ineligible.

So, it’s unfair to say Hillary only cares about her own success. First off, it’s not true. And secondly, it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect that anyone running for the highest office in the land—male or female—does not care at all about personal success. Ambition is not the sole domain of men and we need to get past that notion as a society.

The Tired Old GOP Trope #4: Hillary Clinton is inauthentic. She seems a bit too perfect, too packaged to be for real.

How It Continues to Arise: Progressive funnyman Jon Stewart came out of his post-Daily Show hibernation and declared her as much.  To be fair, she has been in the national spotlight for 25 years and who stays exactly the same over time?

The Counterargument: There is a genuinely sexist underpinning to this trope, which I will get to in a minute but first, read what Hillary Rodham had to say in the graduation commencement speech she gave at Wellesley College in 1969, the first student to be asked to make such a speech.   Sounds pretty thoughtful and genuine to me. What about when she said—infamously—that she wasn’t going to stand by her man like Tammy Wynette or stay home and bake cookies.  Was that not a genuine (and indignant) Hillary? Or when she spoke passionately as First Lady about this country needing more love and kindness?  Hillary has always had the same values, and underpinnings, and convictions but, for better or worse, became caught up in the realities of being a woman in politics in this country.

Following each of these moments there was a tremendous backlash against her. She was mocked as First Lady for preaching emotions such as “love and kindness” and viewed as harsh and cynical after explaining why she continued a professional life after marrying her husband.  Should she not have tried to package her views in a way that would be received better? Should she have just gone home after Bill’s second term, never to be heard from again? We as a country and as women are better off because she tried to package her views in a more “acceptable” way and continued her life of public service.

The irony is that by doing so, things got twisted around and now a sizable number of people—men and women—view her as “inauthentic.” This is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t double bind that all professional women face. Be too soft and you won’t be taken seriously; be too strong, and you’re cold and calculating.  Smile, and don’t shout, or be shrill, or be a “bitch.”

Men simply do not have to keep all these balls up in the air simultaneously. And even progressive men (such as Jon Stewart) and likely many young people have fallen into the trap of thinking Hillary is “inauthentic” and somehow lacks the courage of her convictions.  The history of her life and career just doesn’t bare out that conclusion, however.

The Tired Old GOP Trope #5: Hillary Clinton is an enabler. Her husband had multiple affairs during their marriage and yet she continues to stand by him.

How It Continues to Arise: The GOP likes to raise this as a reason why we should not trust Hillary on women’s issues. If she can’t even put her own husband in his place, the tired old argument goes, and even “went after” and “ruined” the women who accused him of wrongdoing, how can she be seen as good for women? Donald Trump recently resurrected this “argument,” though he didn’t provide any support.

The Counterargument: Let’s get one thing clear, straight off the bat: there is NO WAY that Donald Trump as president would be better for women than Hillary Clinton.   It’s just not the case.  Donald Trump objectifies women and always has—even his own baby daughter, Tiffany,  as well as his adult daughter, Ivanka. He has admitted that he does not respect women.   He doesn’t think twice about demeaning women and calling them horrific names, often zeroing in on irrelevant factors like appearance.  The examples go on and on.

In a contrast so stark it’s on another galaxy, Hillary Clinton has been fighting for women’s issues, such the right of a woman to choose when she bears children and thus have control over her own body, her entire adult life.  Watch this watershed moment in women’s rights where she traveled to Beijing in 1995 and announced to the entire world, “women’s rights are human rights.”  Clinton has been at the forefront of issues of importance to women and children such as universal health care, equal pay for equal work, paid family leave,  etc., etc., etc.

Beyond that, there’s Bill Clinton and his treatment of women. It turns out that Bill did have sex with an adult White House intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky and lied about it under oath. That is true. It is possible that he has had other affairs or sexual dalliances during their marriage. Blaming Hillary for the indiscretions of her husband, however, is akin to blaming the victim. She was the spouse he cheated on, people!  He lied to her like he lied to the rest of the country and in her own words, it couldn’t have been clearer how hurt and betrayed she felt when she learned the truth within days of the rest of us. Yes, she ultimately decided to stay with him. It was her personal decision, however, just like countless other women who have discovered marital infidelity and decided that the good in the marriage outweighed the bad.   The difference is that she had to make this decision under the glare of public scrutiny and the decision became politicized by her opponents and enemies. She enabled nothing—Bill was a big boy who made bad choices and was humiliated and even impeached for it, although he was ultimately acquitted. GOP leaders have nonetheless attempted to make hay out of decades old allegations that were never proven and have exaggerated the claims and number of women involved.

There is simply no evidence that Hillary Clinton “went after” anyone. And even if she had called anyone a “bimbo,” or similar names, let’s say, these women either knowingly engaged in sexual activity with a married man—her own husband—or did not but were lying about it to bring him down. Who wouldn’t be upset with them in either case?  In fact, it only demonstrates that she IS human, with human feelings—so why crucify her for it? In the end, despite his personal indiscretions, countless Democrats still view Bill Clinton as a great president who balanced the budget, created tons of jobs, raised the standard of living for all Americans, and unlike his successor, did not lead us into an unnecessary war in the Middle East, with a huge cost both in dollars and American lives. Indeed, even Donald Trump himself has spoken in glowing terms about the Clinton administration (at least when he wasn’t running for office against Hillary)!

The Tired Old GOP Trope #6: Hillary Clinton is a serial criminal.

How It Continues to Arise: This one is so clever and diabolical! The GOP has alleged claim after claim over the years against Hillary Clinton—from Whitewater, to Benghazi, to E-Mails. Much to Republicans’ chagrin, she has never been charged with a crime, but the unsupported allegations continue to be raised against her like a blood libel, as if they are true. They then accuse her of being a scandal magnet—when they are the ones who created the scandals out of whole cloth in the first place.  Donald Trump has recently picked up this line of attack.

The Counterargument: After all these years of GOP machinations attempting to get the Clintons generally and, more recently, Hillary Clinton, one would think that if there was anything there, they would have uncovered it by now, no? Yet Hillary has never been charged with a crime. Never.   President Obama pointed out that her e-mail fracas was evidence of carelessness but nothing more.  Another (male) secretary of state, Colin Powell,  did similar things like commingling personal and official e-mail accounts. Benghazi is an even better example of much ado about nothing. You would think she had personally and purposefully led Americans into harm’s way for no good reason. Oh wait, that was George W. Bush and Dick Chaney, and the Iraq War.   After 11 hours of questioning, and multiple GOP launched investigations, there has been nothing uncovered to suggest that Clinton was at fault for what very unfortunately happened at Benghazi.


So what to make of all of this? Politics is a dirty game and we are in unchartered waters with our first female candidate poised to win a major party nomination for President. It is important, therefore, for women (and moms) to be vigilant. When your child (or friend, or neighbor, or colleague, or relative) parrots one of these old and tired GOP tropes as if they are the gospel truth, don’t let them get away with it without challenging the basic assumptions. Make sure they see the sexist overtones, the hypocrisy from various GOP politicians who used to sing Clinton’s praises but now that she’s running for the presidency have changed their tune (Donald Trump is but one example. For others, see this article), the fallacies, and more. If they continue to press their case, perhaps it is a lost cause. Psychologists say that people believe what they want to believe and have a way of looking askance at evidence supporting the opposing view. Our children though have not yet hardened in their views and as parents it is our job to teach them that, while they should come to their own conclusions, they should at least be privy to all the facts.

With Love & Kindness,

The FeMOMist

The FeMOMist is a civil litigation attorney by background and training, middle-aged mother of two teenagers, stage III colorectal cancer survivor, blogger, runs a small business, and is a concerned American citizen.  She maintains a pseudonym due to the pervasive misogyny and hate directed at feminists on the Internet, and admits that as a Gen X’er she is not as open online as her Gen Z kids.