What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why I Did What I Did in 2008--A Look Back

Cynthia Ruccia



As we embark on a new presidential campaign season, and as all of the calls for Hillary Clinton to run again grow louder with each passing day, I find myself reflecting back to the unbelievable life-changing experience I and so many others had in 2008. I thought it might not be a bad idea to revisit the path that brought us where we are today to better understand how to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead in the days and months to come. And enough time has passed to put some perspective on how the events of 2008 turned so many diehard Democrats into Independents, Republicans, etc. I still look back in wonder how the unbelievable happened to me, a person married "til death do us part" to the Democrats, a person who wasn't just a supporter but an activist, a candidate, a paid political consultant, an elected central and executive committee member, a prolific fundraiser, a supporter of all things Democrat, a person who wouldn't even allow my children to buy non-UAW made cars, who ended up leaving the party in disgust. I know many of you will see yourselves in my story.

If there is anyone reading this story who chooses to resort to knee jerk name-calling, you are missing an important opportunity to expand your thinking a little bit. If you want to start in with the "racist," "bitter old woman," "get over it you lost," kinds of labels, we've been called all of that and more in an effort to shut us up. It didn't work then and it won't work now. And if you are someone who assumes that if I don't sound the platitudes and mantras of the left than I am a creature of the right, you have a rigid mind that might benefit from taking a deep breath and trying to hear what is actually being said. It is a cautionary tale with important lessons that we can all learn.

I have had all kinds of experiences being a Democrat for 40 years, and none of them were being in the background as a follower (or so I thought). My first awakening was in 1960 as an 8-year old. My mother supported Kennedy for president and my father supported Nixon, and I decided even then that Kennedy was my guy and my 10 year old brother and I ganged up on our father mercilessly to convince him to change his support. As a 16 year old, I was horrified about the Viet Nam war, and I started and ran the McCarthy for President effort in my hometown and joined up with our current Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, another 16 year old wanting to fight for the same things. He and I and a few others put together an anti-Viet Nam war float for the annual 4th of July parade Democratic contingent. By the time I got to college in New York City in 1970, I got bitten by the women's equality bug and decided in my 18 year old idealism to devote the rest of my life to helping women get ahead. And I married myself to the Democratic Party for good as I believed it was the only party that had women's advancement as its cause.

 And while I continued on with my life, I continued on with that activism whenever I could. I even found a profession where I could make a great living helping women to lift themselves up by their bootstraps and find a way to make an excellent living while staying at home with their children (we've yet to figure that out in our country) and helping build their self-esteem, a self esteem that had been battered by a sexist society. I'm a Sales Director with Mary Kay and 27 years later I still have the great honor and pleasure to do that every single day.

But that wasn't enough for me. I finally decided to run for office to do my part to help get more women elected. I was naive, yes, but I brought to the experience some interesting skills honed by my profession, and while I ran for Congress twice and the Ohio House once and lost all three, I developed a reputation as a formidable fundraiser. And since money talks in politics, although I ran in districts where Democrats hadn't won, I was considered a force to be reckoned with. From my campaign experiences, I became a political consultant helping candidates raise money, helping the party raise money and I eventually wrote a book about my unique approach to fundraising and went on the road hired by state Democratic Party chairs all over the country to teach their candidates and their activists how to become fundraising machines. I was elected to be on both the party executive committees and central committee and became a go-to person locally to grow the party and the party coffers.

And this is where I was when the 2008 presidential race came to town. Being an Ohioan, we play a big role in the life of anyone who wants to be elected president. We're one of the handful of swing states that are the ultimate prize on the road to the White House. As a result, all of the candidates pass through our state over and over and over again. We get to have close encounters with them, and anyone who wants to be the Democratic nominee has spoken at our state dinners, our county dinners, and attended numerous events courting our votes. So I was familiar with all of them.  By the time things really started heating up around the end of 2007, I still hadn't made up my mind about who I wanted to support. It seems incredible as I look back that I was still weighing all of the candidates, because I became such a rockhard Hillary supporter. But I hadn't arrived there yet.

However, I started finding myself becoming so angry with the treatment of Hillary. I was in denial for a short time about what was happening, but it didn't take long for me to realize that we had a serious emergency on our hands and that we women needed to circle the wagons around Hillary to deflect the incoming sexist attacks. For those of you reading this who didn't see it or didn't understand that the sexist attacks were happening, I encourage you to watch this video by Judy Silver documenting these attacks and more.



It was and still is so unbelievable to me that my party that I had devoted myself so thoroughly to was condoning by their silence these attacks coming from their own flanks. I mean, I was aligned with them BECAUSE they were the party of women. WTF???? Surely my party of women wasn't going to let such heinous things pass without saying SOMETHING!!! So I waited. Like many of you I waited for the people I counted on to take a public stand against this garbage. Nothing. Dead silence. Nada---niente---not one word or condemnation. And day after day I did a slow boil as the insults piled up, the extreme sexist comments and attitudes coming from the leftist TV commentators (I didn't hear ANY INSULTS  from the right-----another amazing thing. In fact, the TV commentators from the right were actually giving Hillary a fair shake without any sexism), the Obama supporters, the Obama surrogates, and even from Obama himself.

I was driving my friends and my wonderful husband of 35 years totally bonkers by talking about my rage concerning the extreme sexism that was going largely unnoticed and uncommented upon. And then the primary campaign came to Ohio. I was in----all in. Hillary HAD to win my state. I housed the Clinton campaign Ohio field director and the tech director for several months as we all worked ourselves silly making sure Hillary would win. It was an amazing few months. And it was a divisive several months. I had Obama supporters threaten me physically for being racist and a dried up old woman. I so laugh at that now. Who cares really about my age? My vote counts the same as yours!! LOL!! And people who had been my friends had slammed doors in my face for my Hillary support. It was ugly----uglier than anything I'd ever seen. But it was topped off by a double win on primary night, one in Ohio and one in Texas. I will never forget that night-----ever. A room full of people crammed to its limit to cheer on Senator Clinton. And she showed up in a fabulous red suit and gave one of her best speeches. What a night!!!!

But the sexist slurs and the sexist disrespect kept right on coming. I had met enough people upset about the same thing so at least I wasn't suffering alone. As it turned out, there were tons of us around the country, we just didn't know it yet. We were all still waiting for SOMEONE to speak up against it. The lone voice was Geraldine Ferraro and she was slammed to the ground for daring to speak the truth. Finally, things had just gone far enough and it dawned on me that no one was going to speak up. No one. I thought long and hard and finally decided that if no one was going to speak up, I guess I was going to have to do it. I was really scared about it because I knew it wasn't going to be pretty and that I would stand to lose some important things and some important people. But I figured that if I didn't say anything, how could I live with myself? If you don't stand up for what you believe in in a country where you are guaranteed free speech, what does that say about your own character? So my eight year old who rebelled against her father's Nixon support, my 16-year old who stood up against the Viet Nam war, my 18-year old who decided to devote her life to women's progress, and my adult  who was the candidate, party activist, etc.,all joined hands to do the right thing.

As an Ohioan, I had some leverage. As a party insider, my statement would be noted. How was I going to make my move and have it count? Well, I had a group of people  who were willing to stand with me and make a statement. So how would we make that statement?

One of the funny little stories of that moment in time was how we came to be on the Bill O'Reilly show. I had decided that we were going to make a public statement that if the Democrats didn't acknowledge and stop this disgusting display of sexism, that we were going to leave the party and vote for McCain. And we were going to make it a national statement. I still had press contacts from my candidate days, and as I compiled my press list, I had to decide who to give the first "scoop" to. After thinking about it, I decided that my first choice was going to be Fox since they had been dealing Hillary a fair hand. I also decided why not give the scoop to our local guy, John Kasich, since he had his own weekly show and filled in for O'Reilly pretty regularly. The things is, I had run against Kasich twice, and I wasn't too sure what kind of reception I'd get from him. I had had enough money to make him miserable and he was pretty thin skinned back then. But, hey, he's a political guy, and a story this juicy being handed to him would probably outweigh whatever had happened between the two of us in the past.

So, I called his office and the minute I identified myself, the young guy on the phone says to me, "Cynthia Ruccia? You will NEVER EVER get to speak to John Kasich. EVER!!!!" And then he hung up on me. Well, good thing that I'm not a shrinking violet. I called him back, and I said to him, "Listen here----don't you hang up on me because you want to hear what I have to say. Then make up your mind." He sullenly listened to me, heard me out, and then hung up on me again. Ten minutes later I was on the phone with O'Reilly!!! What a hoot!!

So the pieces fell into place. We picked our time and place for our press conference, and then immediately afterwards I was whisked away to the studio with another lady from Pittsburgh, and we were on the air with Bill O'Reilly. I had held up an email address to contact us. By the time I gave that interview and arrived home 20 minutes later, I'd heard from over 2000 people. Something was up-----the floodgates burst, and we all found each other from all over the country.

Since then we have been through alot. Those of us who put ourselves out front received many death threats. The rest of us lost friends and family members for standing up for what we believed in. Only now are we starting to look wise and prescient. But it was a painful experience, and even though I am a proud Independent FOREVER, I am still saddened over my divorce from the Democratic Party. It's just that the party I loved is no more. The party I loved would NEVER EVER have condoned the sexism that still emits from it. I've written about it. We've all spoken about it. But the experience of 2008 has sharpened our focus on the true status of women in the United States. We realized we had been lulled into thinking things were better than they were. 2008 was a wakeup call of monumental proportion to women. Those of us who saw it unfolding were the canaries in the mine. We just need to keep talking about it. I was taught by all of the political consultants that just when you are sickest of talking about it, your message might be starting to be heard. Keep speaking up!!! As I've written, it's the first big step in changing a culture of sexism in this country that the political parties have completely failed to do.  I've also written about it from this angle.

So that's my story. What's your story? If you're up to it, please leave a comment with your experience. It would be interesting to hear about it these three/four years later!! And don't stop calling out sexism wherever and whenver you find it!!




40 comments:

  1. Great story and efforts you've made. Like the waaaacism card, are people now more aware of the sexist comments in politics?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have always been an Independent but I usually voted Democrat. I live in Washington state and we held a primary election in 2008 which the Democrat party refused to honor so they could hold corrupt Obamarama caucuses. My observation is The People of America are not sexist however the Corporate Media and The Powers That Be in both political parties are profoundly and venomously sexist. Yes we have been called old, bitter, irrelevant and racist by Democrats. Considering this why would I even consider voting for the Dems. I guess they plan to threaten me with loss of my reproductive rights again, alas, I am post menopausal and reproductive rights are not my top issue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ClearSky-----they'll never understand the sexist comments unless we pointedly point it out to them. Somewhere inside of people they know better. We need to prick their consciences.We all need to keep speaking up whenever we hear anything that sounds sexist.

    Bes---I agree. Most people don't want to be sexist. It's just that so far it has been a very effective strategy to keep women in their place and that place is near the glass ceilings but not breaking them

    ReplyDelete
  4. It amazed me that no one from the party spoke up. And i watched you and the others on TV and people acted like it wasn't happening. Like you said a wake-up call. Lots of work to be done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great article!

    The bad news I see is that the Democratic party is still the party that is better for women, despite the betrayal, RELATIVE to the Republicans. The problem is they are both awful for women - a case of the kettle and the pot.

    What is most distressing to me is that women, since they are not a minority - particularly among Democrats, could easily have elected Hillary Clinton. But they didn't. So one can't blame the party, or men. One really has to blame women.

    How do we make women care that they are unequal? Many of them apparently don't. I think its because they can not imagine equality. They have never seen it. We don't even know what it would look like.

    You wisely chose a career that was compatible with motherhood. But suppose you had wanted a career that wasn't? Then what? How is it that we can even be TALKING about such a thing - careers that aren't compatible with being a parent??? Women who are drawn to those careers have to make a choice that almost no man ever has to make, to my knowledge - to have a career or children. Until everyone has an equal opportunity to do every job (other then give birth!), neither men nor women will be equals.

    Until there are women in the White House we will never be equals. But how do we get women to care about this??? How DO we make a party that is responsive to women? I for one do not know how. Lots of people have been trying for a long time. They have totally failed to date. The fact that there has never been a woman in the White House is a total embarrassment to the US. Where are the young women who should be up in arms over this? I do not know a single one! Not one! So how can we change this? Nicholas Kristof is perhaps the most visible feminist I can think of today - a man, for heavens sakes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Obama was installed as the Democrat Nominee in 2008. Any time Hillary took a lead over him rules were ignored or changed so that he could be the winner. Hillary did win the votes of The People. Obama prevailed in corrupt caucuses. Women and many men did vote for Hillary and their votes were tossed out. Democrats not only don't care about women they don't care about democracy, in their minds they are elite people who know what is best for us peons and they have some God given right to impose their vision on the rest of us. I believe that Republicans are the best party for women because they run women candidates and their policies are meant to give women the freedom to achieve success. Democrats believe in a paternal government and their policies tend to infantilize women.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree with you in one way about the Republican philosophy being more woman friendly, but I think that the men in that party are pretty sexist. I also think that they're going to do their darnedest to make sure neither Palin nor Bachmann leads the ticket.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I went to Roanoke, VA to see Hillary in the fall, on a Sunday. Fires along 81
    kept her from getting to Roanoke. Bill came the next night, instead, so I went
    back the 50+ (each way) miles, on a school night! My son was with me, and we
    helped with takedown on Sunday, setup on Monday in the school gym. So we got to
    sit close, and of course were mesmerized by Bill and his excitement for Hillary.
    I shouted out when he mentioned the NCLB problem, said, "Get rid of it!" He
    answered me, telling me that Hillary wanted to return to demonstration projects
    that were showing success. It was an exciting night.
    I voted for Hillary in VA's primary, and she had lots of votes from VA.
    I was shocked, appalled, when my vote was thrown out at the convention.
    I became a PUMA independent as a result. Then I joined the Tea Party.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just to let you know I do read here and enjoy your posts.
    The painful journey of awakening was just that- painful.
    The DNC and the rules committee took our PA votes and threw them off the top of the Rocky Mountains and laughed all the way to DC.
    I will NEVER forget!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous #1---you have really made me think!! I think not just women but our whole country is ignorant about where the progress of women's equality is in this country. that's point #1. The second thing is in this ignorance, it's not that women don't care, they don't know. We have a generation of mothers (my generation) who have been so in love with the idea of all of the freedoms we have enjoyed relative to our mothers that we passed along a strong but erroneous message to our daughters and sons that women can have everything and can do it all!! So, there is even a learning curve in that generation as they wake up to the facts on the ground. Those facts will tell them that if they want everything that we have promised them, they will have to fight for it. That generation isn't there yet.
    I don't think that they don't care. Again, they just don't know. It seems ridiculous this state of ignorance, but it is of our own doing, inadvertently. We didn't elect a woman because the thinking goes that if women can do anything they want, then we'll have a woman president when we as a country get around to it.
    That also seems amazingly ridiculous when you think about it, but that is what hjas happened.
    And honestly, even if most women want this equality, few have the courage to just stick their necks out to move things along. Those of us who do stick iour necks out need to keep getting the word out about the true state of our inequality. Those stats that I continue to press and publish need to be part of our everyday conversation. People need to work up a head of steam about what these stats represent. A period of education is in order and we should start right now. Every day. Enough men and women want women to have parity. There jjust aren't enough of them who understand that we aren't there and we need to be outraged at our hypocrisy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I will never forget the night you came out- and those signs and how brave you were. Your sidekick was frozen but you were brave and I have held you up as an American shero ever since.

    I never knew your whole story - thanks for sharing it.

    My only regret has been that you and I did not join forces. We are kindred spirits and I am more convinced than ever that your goal is as unselfish as mine- all for one and one for all.

    My very best wishes in all you do and I will never stop trying to partner with you to Unite the Majority. We have the same dreams! You are a force to be reckoned with and I know it, respect it and would highly value it!

    America's women need you nationwide- you are a leader! Brava

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was at Myrtle Beach SC, watching the DNC/RBC travesty unfold instead of being on the beach. I have never been so mad and sad in my life. That is the day I realized the Democrats were as corrupt and the Republicans. Taking votes away from a candidate and giving them to someone that was not even on the ballot was appalling and Un-American if not the very opposite of Democratic. On Monday 6-2-2008 I changed my party affiliation, after being a Democrat for 35 years, to independent. I had already quit DKOS, TPM, Americablog, Atrios, FDL, and the other Obot blogs and had found "The Confluence" and was on the blog when PUMA was born and immediately became a PUMA. I was and still am, mad as hell. 2% less evil is not good enough to make me vote for either party.

    The bright spot is that some of the kool-ade drinkers have woken up. I guess it is to hard to defend the indefensible.

    ncpuma

    ReplyDelete
  13. Reading all of this, the travesties of 2008 just wash over me again, and I still have that "flash" of disbelief come over me. It also coincided with some other personal crises, as most likely it did with many of you.

    I too was a Dem., fiscally conservative, socially liberal, but now I am an Indy. I have to register GOP in order to vote in primaries in my state. So be it. As for the Dems. being the best party for women, I cannot agree with that one. Just declaring it doesn't make it so. The Dim. party left me. I didn't leave it. There is no return for me. Evah.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I remember seeing all this unfold from the other side (I'm a righty) and just being stunned. I kept thinking - all right any minute now those hairy-legged bra-burning feminists (sorry) are going to be marching in the streets with pitchforks! But nothing happened. It didn't take me long to start saying "I'm no great fan of Hillary Clinton but this is getting ridiculous. This is blatant sexism!" I had many conversations with friends and family, who were righties and no fans of the Clintons by any stretch of the imagination, and we started really feeling badly for her. It just wasn't a fair fight. They could all heap sexism on Hillary but if she, Bill, or anyone even remotely connected to them even burped - it was called racism. For years we felt the left had used sexism, racism, (think about the things openly said about Condi Rice) and then dropping all the cards and accusations against the right -usually unfairly as a political hammer - but this was the first time we had ever seen them completely eat one of their own. That's when I slowly started to think of Hillary as one of MY own. I'll never agree with her politics - but she, like me, is part of the "women trying to climb the ladder and getting a fecal storm dropped on them club." Then I started getting angry, writing letters and emails, and trying to help her get a fair shake.

    So I was already good and PO'd by the time Palin was announced as VP candidate. I knew a little about her because Bill Kristol mentioned her months before as a good VP choice and I looked her up then. I remember hearing it officially announced on the news, being over the moon elated for about two minutes, and then realizing with great dread what was about to hit the fan. After what they'd done to Hillary, one of their own by any measure, I didn't even want to think about what was in store for Palin.

    In the end they exceeded even my imagination. I still can't watch Judy's video without bawling. It just makes me so angry, frustrated, and sad - whenever I watch it I feel just like I felt back when I was watching it all unfold - pissed off and helpless.

    ReplyDelete
  15. @ Bes
    "Democrats believe in a paternal government and their policies tend to infantilize women."
    That's how I've always felt about it too. Why take control of women's lives out of the hands of their husbands and fathers only to hand it over to someone else's husbands and fathers? (in other words the government) Let's see how we can do with the power in OUR hands for once.

    ReplyDelete
  16. freemenow----you are too kind, and thanks for saying all of those wonderful things!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I get sick still just thinking about 2008---I feel like we just got run over by a bad element that took over the Democratic Party. I felt helpless and was so glad when people started speaking out about it. It was really scary speaking out and I lost some good friends over the 2008 election. But I gained all kinds of new friends too. It's been fun reading these experiences on the comments, especially Thia. I had heard that there were Republican women supporting Hillary, but I haven't actually seen one up close. Thia, thanks for writing your story down.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'll have to admit I didn't read the entire article nor all of the comments but thought I'd share my story if it will help.

    I began volunteering for the democrats while I was in 8th grade - a very long time ago. I worked on Bobby Kennedy's campaign while in high school and was totally horrified that he was murdered on my graduation night.

    Over the years I have worked on dozens and dozens of democratic candidate campaigns and issues campaigns. I have licked stamps and have been on the steering committee, been a precinct committee person and attended central committee meetings as well as state meetings.

    As president of my local NOW chapter I, along with the NARAL rep in my area, organized the only speak out on abortion rights in my community. As a state NOW officer I organized the first gay rights rally in my community. I did clinic escorting during the scary Reagan years when Operation Rescue was in full force. Lots of threats, lots of name calling, lots of risk taking.

    None of it compares to what happened in 2008 as a Hillary supporter. I had been the state NOW President and President of its PAC for years, in fact I revitalized the organization as it hadn't done anything for over a decade. I had stepped down after several years leading so I was not the leader in the organization when Hillary ran for president.

    Nonetheless I tried to get the new state president to do something, which she wouldn't do as she didn't like controversy. I contacted Kim Gandy since I had known her for years and wanted to know what National NOW was doing. Lots of equivocation.

    I had expected a blitz of support like what happened during the ERA campaign but nothing was further from the truth. I called the other national NOW officers as I knew them and finally got in touch with the executive VP Olga Vives, who was fighting with the help of some of the board members and some of the state presidents to come to Hillary's defense. Olga and these state presidents became Hillary volunteers and went to several different states on their own dime and time, to phone bank, to canvass, to GOTV. The organization was totally split and the in-fighting was horrendous.

    When Hillary was forced to suspend her campaign I became a PUMA and went to Henderson, Nevada to speak out in support of Sarah Palin. Shortly thereafter I became president of my state NOW organization again. I became part of the planning group to get rid of Kim Gandy's influence in NOW and make sure that her hand-chosen candidate did not win.

    I was attacked by democrats and horribly attacked by NOW members. At the national convention and in my home state. Gandy organized a grievance to be filed against me and the attacks became even more virulent. Please Understand That I wasn't The Only One this happened to.

    I dissolved my state NOW organization rather than let it be used as a mouthpiece for Obama admidst much opposition from the new National NOW President Terry O'Neill, who had also voted and campaigned for Obama. Blech. She didn't lift a finger to help those of us who were under fire and who had helped her win her bid for the presidency of NOW.

    I have spent the last three years grieving the Party I no longer belong to being a proud Independent. The feminist organization to which I gave over three decades of my life. The loss of friends. The loss of close relationships with some family members. I have come out the other side frankly uninterested in fighting for women's rights ever again.

    Our country is in decline with an uninspiring, disconnected liar, fraud, crooked selection in the WH. I am now spending my time taking care of my own needs and those of my friends.

    Donna Brazile told us she didn't need us. Fine by me now. The Party told us we were all racists, bitter clingers, stupid low information voters who probably shop at Walmart. Alrighty then. I'm doing my own thing now.

    Sorry this post is so long but wanted to cover what happened to me during that time period.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Okay, just read the post. Thanks Cynthia for doing what you do!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Cynthia, not too kind - every word is true! Believe it.

    I only wish I could movers and shakers like you working in TMU since I started it. As you know I LOST 3 CHILDREN and MY DAD- then MY HUSBAND had a damned heart attack and two strokes since founding TMU women’s group and it has been hard for me to carry it without great partners or concentrate on recruiting.

    Sooooo great ideas that are much like yours and all we are on hiatus for the last few months. In addition, we are short of help for our kindred movement. TMU once had 5000 women but it was like herding cats and they soon started pulling each other’s hair and next thing you know – they wanted it to be about … You guessed it – same old same old.

    Your bloggers are fantastic—you gals are doing a great job – maybe you should carry TMU forward? There is a coalition of 20 groups under our umbrella! Yours sound like they are willing to do the work it takes to grow.

    Perhaps I am out of my element, maybe I should stick to the bruised women -- trying to talk to the unbattered gals is not working for me, I don’t get responses here - maybe I sound too bitter.

    As for talking to your gals about politics, I’m selling third party politics – your readers don’t seem to respond to my passion for leaving party politics for the sake of womankind.

    Hats off to Thia who captured it perfectly writing "but this was the first time we had ever seen them completely eat one of their own. That's when I slowly started to think of Hillary as one of MY own. I'll never agree with her politics - but she, like me, is part of the "women trying to climb the ladder and getting a fecal storm dropped on them club." Then I started getting angry, writing letters and emails, and trying to help her get a fair shake.

    ReplyDelete
  21. form

    A short synopsis of my story. I am an INDY. I worked for Ross Perot, and like you Cynthia- I also ran for office and lost. I ran twice as a third party candidate in NJ.

    I am a co-founder of the American Reform Party. Over the last nearly 20 years I have served as the National Secretary and currently hold the position National Vice Chair and I Chair New Jersey. We are right leaning, fiscally conservative but refuse to get into religious and personal ideology, which we believe are the very divisive issues that divide Americans.

    In 1992 – I wrote “ Voter Imposed Term Limits: Vote em out, Vote em all out.” We the ARP are the original Tea Party- My platform mirrored what many tea partiers say today.

    I have spent most of my life fighting for issues involving violence against women and children. Having been a victim since childhood – I knew firsthand about child molestation, child abuse, teen rape, domestic violence, stalking, spousal abuse, family court abuse etc. etc. and I knew we needed a movement to change things for the females in our society.

    After 30 years studying media bias, and how women are portrayed in media my thesis was on what I coined “The Sexualization of America” believing much of the problem had to do with the lack of respect for the female species.

    In 2007, founding The Majority United, I was intent on getting women involved again in the ERA movement and in forming a majority force to empower women to fight against all inequality and all injustice and for equal representation in all levels of government.

    I got behind Hillary Clinton believing she was the very best of all the candidates running. Sure she was our very best hope for a female POTUS- not only a woman but also a highly qualified one. She promised to lead the way toward lifting all women. Remember her China speech “Women’s rights are human rights”?

    I am not going to recount what happened to Hillary- we all saw it, and we also saw how they abrogated our voter rights to do it. That election cycle should have taught us three things:
    First women don’t count in this country. Second, DC is corrupt. Third they get away with it because we tolerate it!

    Call me bitter, but the two party system has no intention of changing or of allowing a woman to run this country. If you want real change or more women and we do need many more women – turn to the TEA PARTY. We knew it 20 years ago and we know it now. Women run 70% of the TEA PARTY and 55% of the membership nationwide are comprised of women. They are RIDs (Republicans Indy and Dems) and don't believe for one minute that they are all radicals nuts or religious nuts- we are just sick and tired of politics as usual. Most Tea Partiers are sick to death of social issues!

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/35094.html
    Many of the tea party’s most influential grass-roots and national leaders are women, and a new poll released this week by Quinnipiac University suggests that women might make up a majority of the movement as well.

    Toby Marie Walker, co-founder of the 5,000-member Waco (Texas) Tea Party, said women have proved themselves more adept at handling disagreements within the movement and are “better communicators.”

    “Most of the women I deal with in the movement are a lot like me,” she said. "Even if I don't like them, or disagree with them, I recognize we're all on the same highway, we are just on different buses and can agree to disagree.”

    Walker said it is women in particular who have pushed back against efforts to build a more centralized leadership structure for the tea party movement, which some organizers suggest could help the movement translate its energy into electoral success.

    “Most of the women do not want a large, top-down movement,” Walker said. “We like the local flavor and independence of the tea parties. We don't need anyone to tell us what to do from D.C. or a large organization to lead us. We're capable of handling most of it on our own.”

    ReplyDelete
  22. Freemenow: I agree that neither of the political parties are going to address women's issues. Here is the only "women's issue" I care about now....PARITY in political representation for women, 52% of the population. So I don't want them to talk to me about all sorts of BS like reproductive rights fearmongering. Tell me what you have done and plan to do to get more women into government. I am also not interested in the 100 year plan I want parity and I want it yesterday. The Tea Party is a good choice although they seem to have been taken over by the Corporatists but hopefully that will fade. Also take a look at a group called Americans Elect, they are running an on line convention and will put their candidate for President and VP on the ballot in every state in the Union for the 2012 election. That would also be a good protest vote for women who will no longer vote for Democrats or even just won't vote for Obama.

    http://www.americanselect.org/

    ReplyDelete
  23. Bes,
    What do we want? - PARITY
    When do we want it? NOW

    Thanks for your reply, I agree we need parity in governemnt but a protest vote in 2012 will only get us 4 more years of OBAMA.

    If we are going to vote outside the two party system it can't be just a protest vote. It must be a vote FOR a viable third party candidate or a viable alternative to the current occupant.

    I am sure some folks in the TP like some in any group are lame but most are sincere. There are always going to be nuts in any group.

    The media and the Dems are doing their best to disparage the TP and the Rep's are doing their best to usurp them. That ought to clue us in that they are a threat and our only hope.

    It is grass roots and therefore still malleable. We need to get in it and help shape it rather than let others do it for us. What better time and what better movement to join at this time and place? It's open to us- why not take advantage of it instead of buying the media BS? Why pass up the movement which offers us the medium and the power? 70% women run it - why not us?

    I have been in this movement for 20 years and women do not come more ERA than I am.


    Only believe half of what you see and none of what you hear especially when it comes from the media.

    I will certainly have a look at that the link you sent as well.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Jen the MichiganderAugust 25, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Before 2008, I was one of those Independents who usually voted for the Democrats. I'd been participating in some antiwar rallies and I had an interest in a number of issues (women's rights, LGBT rights, school/children's issues), but I wasn't what anyone would consider an activist. We Generation Xers tend to think of political activism as a Baby Boomer thing.

    I felt I gave each of the 2008 presidential candidates from both parties a fair chance to win me over. Barack Obama, whom I knew only from the speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, struck me as a charismatic speaker but I didn't think he was ready for the Oval Office. Ron Paul's antiwar message resonated with me, but he was too far "out there" on too many of the other issues. Other candidates had their strengths and weaknesses, but it was Hillary Clinton who eventually won me over. She knew all the issues backwards, forwards, upside down and inside out. She just didn't chant meaningless campaign slogans; her plans had details. She knew what was wrong with this country and how to fix it.

    We all know what happened to my primary vote. On a personal level, it felt like I was engaged in a lengthy tug-of-war with someone bigger and stronger who was trying to steal my vote from me. No one else here in Michigan seemed to care. The local media ignored the Michigan primary completely. I was so touched when I joined up with fellow Hillary supporters online and found that they DID care about whether or not my vote counted.

    As the primary season progressed, I spent more time online engaging with other Hillary supporters. I kept hearing disturbing stories. Caucus cheating, sexist epithets, race baiting, vandalism, acts of physical aggression, death threats-- every day, it was all of this and more. It was coming from Obama's campaign, higher-ups in the Democratic Party, and from the media. The Obama personality cult looked like something you'd see in Castro's Cuba or Saddam Hussein's Iraq or in the former Soviet Union. It wasn't supposed to happen in the United States-- I found myself saying that over and over again.

    By the time the general election rolled around, I lost whatever respect for Barack Obama that I might have once had. It would have been different if he had spoken out against the sexism, race baiting, or questionable campaign tactics. But not once did he speak out. Like Cynthia wrote in her essay, nobody spoke out.

    And so, dear reader, I voted for John McCain. We were far apart on a number of issues, but I figured I could live with that. McCain was not Hillary, but he would be a better President than Bush. I was afraid of what would happen to this country if Obama were elected. Time has proven that I was right.

    Because I was an Independent and not a committed Democrat, I didn't experience the "divorce" and the accompanying sense of loss that Cynthia described. I think of myself as politically homeless, occasionally camping out on the Republicans' or Democrats' park benches, but not really belonging anywhere.

    I see only one way to right the wrongs of 2008, and that's Hillary 2012. The country has been beat up so badly, and I don't see anyone else out there who can fix it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi women. I was a regular on the big cheeto sight and was behind the idea of Gore getting in the race. He clearly did not want any part of that again. So I was adrift without a candidate. Then the Obots started showing up and they were so obnoxious and so stupid that I found myself defending Hillary supporters just because I hated the way they were being treated. Then I started finding out more about her and defending her. I didn't mind that people didn't support her, I minded at the sheer viciousness of it all.
    I became aware that Edwards campaign manager Joe Trippi was most likely really working for Obama. I also became convinced that blog owners were being bought off and at the very least, chased Clinton supporters away for access to oh so important conference calls with Obama and/or his henchmen.
    And the sexism was so obvious, the hate so mindless. Even Michele Obama and Elizabeth Edwards got in on the act.
    Then of course the rules were rigged, ignored and applied selectively and blatant fraud in TX was ignored.
    Now I vote for women. That's it and only when there is no woman in the race will I vote for a male democrat.
    Women, we have so much to gain from banding together and refusing to be divided by men who want our votes but do not want to share power. Oh yeah and I am supposed to care about a uterus that I haven't even had since the mid 80s. Nope, not going to work anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  26. ps, I am long done with explaining sexism to people who don't get it. It is 2011, if you don't get it now, you don't want to.
    I had many republican women friends tell me they were waiting to vote for Hillary in the general election.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I want to thanks all of you so far who have sent in these amazing stories!!! We all came from such different places!! Please encourage your friends to tell their story here too. From the perspective we have of three years later, it makes our position that much more extraordinary. I am thrilled to know all of you!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. WE have not forgotten! We will never forget but let's never let them forget either!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Jen the MichiganderAugust 26, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    I'm with you, Freemenow. Never forget!!!

    Now that I've written my story, I realize that not enough time has passed to allow me a different perspective. I'm still living through this. It doesn't take much for all those emotions to come back and they're as strong as they were in 2008. I wouldn't go as far as to call it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but my wounds have definitely not healed.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm glad I was a Clinton delegate. I have been politically active all my adult life. I could never have imagined what happened in Denver and the shenanigans leading up to it. I worked for 18 months, living Hillary Clinton, losing friends, turning my life upside down. Would I do it again? No. The democratic party is broken beyond repair. It was displayed repeatedly in Denver and I cannot imagine Hillary running as anything other than a (D).

    Lastly, one thing I am infinitely grateful for is the rich friendships I have developed as a result of the work in 2007-2008. They are much richer than the one's I lost. My political ideas have broadened extensively.

    What's the use of living if you're not learning? Sitting on the sidelines, surrounded by people I agree with doesn't help me learn much. I prefer to be challenged in my ideology as often as possible.

    Cynthia, it's been wonderful seeing this blog grow and expand its sphere of influence. I appreciate the mutual respect regardless of candidate/position. Thank you for being courageous and taking the lead in this great effort.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I can honestly say that 2008 has been the single most life changing
    experience of my life other than having children. In one way, I'm
    happy to be enlightened and have a better grasp on what is really
    happening in our country and to be free from my illusion that the Dem
    party is the party of women as well as free to vote independently
    rather than by a misinformed loyalty. In other ways, it was very
    frustrating and scary to realize the level of sexism and hatred of
    women that exists in our country, not to mention my wasted activism
    for all of my life. In 2008, I was living overseas and had a very
    young baby to care for during the early part of the primary season of
    2008. So I wasn't able to pay much attention which sheltered me, I
    suppose. I had just assumed Hillary would win since she had, by far,
    the most experience and name recognition. So I figured my main focus
    would be in the general election. Suddenly I started noticing what I
    thought were down right insane things being said by friends of mine.
    Bill and Hillary were racist. Experience in Washington was a bad
    thing. Inexperience was a good thing. What?! I could tell some
    serious manipulation was happening to hear people who I thought of as
    educated and thinker-types to be saying things like this. I started
    reading and paying attention to the election and was shocked by what I
    was reading. One thing that struck me as bizarre was all the media
    attention devoted to Hillary's tears. Hello! Our country is facing
    serious problems and the media and people are focusing on freaking
    watery eyes! I also read about the "iron my shirt" incident. My
    husband pointed out that there would have been a completely different
    response by the media and voters if someone had shouted "shine my
    shoes" to Obama. I visited the states March 2008. I immediately
    noticed that there was a Cult of Personality surrounding Obama.
    People who supported him didn't seem like voters, they seemed like
    followers. It made me really uncomfortable. I was actually grossed
    out by it. One of my open-minded, thinking, liberal friends showed me
    her Hillary nutcracker asking me "isn't this so funny?" I was shocked
    and asked her to put it away. My husband again made the comparison
    "Can you imagine if someone was selling an obama doll that spit out
    watermelon seeds?" Yet there was no outrage or upset from anyone!
    Certainly not the media and not even NOW or other women's groups. The
    Dem party was silent, yet they were all up in arms about Bill
    Clinton's factual statement about Jesse Jackson SC statement. They
    even managed to manipulate people into thinking Bill's use of the
    words "fair tale" were racists. While I was visiting the states, the
    Dem party leaders started publicly making statements and putting
    pressure on Hillary to get out of the race "for the good of the
    party". They were doing this even before TX and OH!!! It became
    clear to me that the Dem Party was on a mission to make sure Obama was
    the nominee. This is something I will NEVER understand. It didn't
    make sense to put in a candidate and president who had zero
    experience, and it didn't make sense politically to risk losing women
    voters by such an obvious pushing out of "our" candidate, not to
    mention the 18 million people who actually casted a vote for Hillary.
    I was shocked by the Rules Committee literally giving Obama half of
    Hillary's votes. Talk about making it obvious to the American people,
    not to mention anyone in other countries paying attention, that the
    Dem party decides who is nominated, NOT the voters. The trick the DNC
    pulled at the convention was also horrifying and shocking to see. I
    would like to believe that the DNC wouldn't have gotten away with this
    if the media hadn't been in Obama's pocket.

    ReplyDelete
  32. But then again, one thing
    the 2008 election showed me is that Americans are VERY easily
    manipulated, education is no protection. After the convention, people
    wondered if Hillary supporters, especially women, would vote for
    Obama. It was a big news obsession. Many people thought Obama would
    ask Hillary to be his VP just to be safe. The media was reporting on
    Obama/Hillary as "the dream ticket". Sure to win, no risks. Yet
    Obama didn't ask Hillary to be his VP. This was the day that I logged
    onto the Dem party website and asked to be removed from the database,
    the day I emailed my Democrats Abroad group to remove me, and the day
    I changed my registration to Independent. Why? The actions of the
    Dem party and Obama made it very clear, on no uncertain terms: "We do
    not want your vote!" The Dem party knew they would risk losing women
    voters by installing Obama as the nominee. Obama and the Dem Party
    knew the best way to secure those women voters was to have Hillary on
    the ticket as VP. But they didn't do it because they did not mind
    taking the risk. This was a presidential election, the stakes were
    high and they risked offending half the voters. You can deduce this
    one of two ways. Either they thought they did not need women votes.
    Or they knew they would get the women votes anyway. The Dem Party and
    Obama took women votes for granted. Period. This is a fact. And the
    grotesque fact is: They were right. After all the Dem party and
    Obama did, they got the women vote anyway. When women gave their
    votes to Obama anyway, I realized that Democratic women votes had zero
    value. Zero! Why should the Dem Party do anything for voters with
    zero value? Seriously, it makes sense. If the Dem party knows they
    will get women votes every time, why should they do anything for us?
    It is kind of hard to blame them. Once I realized this, I figured:
    Why should I vote for a party that has absolutely no reason to do
    anything to advance women? Answer: I won't. So I became an
    independent. I should mention that I have two young daughters and am
    very keen on advancing women ASAP. 2008 helped me realize that we
    have NOT come a long way baby and that we better take some action fast
    to get as far as possible before my little girls become women. My
    personal goal is to work to make it so that by the time my little
    girls are women, our country will be in a place where Americans will
    look back and read news articles and watch videos from the 2008
    election and be horrified that such sexism and misogyny was considered
    legitimate media coverage.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great comments. I also agree that I will never forget what happened in 2008. I keep thinking I may be over it and then wham, something gets triggered and I'm furious again.

    But 2008 was a great learning experience for me. I started reading blogs and posting comments, event wrote a few posts and am now much better informed than I ever was before.

    And I second that, I have made some really rich friendships because of this fiasco.

    Really great comments.

    ReplyDelete
  34. It's true Senneth----we've really made alot of amazing friends that have enriched my life immeasurably!!!

    Greta----what an interesting story experiencing the 2008 debacle from abroad. I can't imagine!! I was in Italy during the Bush v. Gore election and found it almost impossible to explain the concept of the electoral college. I suspect trying to explain the fever that overtook the American electorate was difficult to do. Your account of that aspect is fascinating!!!

    I hope people will continue to encourage their friends to write in their stories to add to our list. It's a wonderful accounting of the inexcusable!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. TANIA.
    I neverwas a political person and wasn't aware that Hillary was running for the Dem nomination because I was studying in 2008 like crazy to get my Arch license, but I turned the TV on, on the day that Hillary won Ohio and I was shocked when I watched her giving that great speech..."for all those who never give up...this one is for you", I just felt on Hillary's camp from that very moment, because she was talking exactly how I see things in life!She was like me, I felt the same way, and right after that I went to hillaryclinton.com and became a supporter and fan forever!I found the most extraordinary woman ever in every sense: smart,real,funny, nice, warm, expert in every area,experienced, etc, etc, etc.I witnessed the fraud of the Dems and I became Independent and voted for McCain.Now I'm a proud Indep who will vote for the best candidate to replace Obama (the only one I wouln'd vote is Palin because she's just the opposite than Hillary, so air headed and ignorant and always looking the cameras to steal the show).I hope Obamacontinues sinking in the polls and the DEMS lose if \hillary is not the nominee.TODAY i sent back a letter I received from the Dem comitee asking for my support for BO AND i proudly wrote that if he's the one, I WON'T VOTE FOR HIM!and they could erase my name from their list if Hillary in not the nominee.I pray HILLARY 2012! I'll be here for her on everything she does!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you Cynthia for so clearly stating what happened in 2008. We all "changed for ever"!!
    One thing that is better this time. That is there are many people (not just us PUMAS)whose "eyes are wide open"!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey Toni T-- Nice to see you here - I hope that means you were not flooded out on the island.

    Greta- fantastic comments! I find it amazing that there are millions of us with the same memories and experiences. O and his minions will not be able to erase this from his HISTORIC presidency! We will see to that!

    I am especially proud that WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN and I am EQUALLY pleased about those who voted for him anyway but who have since lived to regret it and will be joining us against him on the next go round.

    No matter what- Obama must go- Again - no matter what! WE have to get rid of him AND the DNC must learn that we will not be used again. We are not battered wives- WE are gone from that party for good - our own good!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Where I come from most people do not get involved with Politics. Politicians do not come and campaign here and most of the people never vote. With a black man running for President that all changed in 2008. We had a campaign who moved in for most people in the hood these strangers were annoying to Hillary supporters like myself these folks were terrorists.
    I had my house attacked and one insane woman first had the NERVE to go on my porch and remove my Hillary sign and was planning to put an Obama sign up. I was then told that MY neighborhood where I lived for my entire life was NOT my neighborhood but Obama's neighborhood. I told that woman straight out that if she did NOT remove that offensive sign that she would get that sign shoved in places she never knew she had. She and the rest of the folks were middle class African Americans. Because some black folks think ALL black people must think, act, and vote as one. I was called either a racist or an Uncle Tom simply because I supported Hillary.
    Once the Primary was over and Hillary signs were replaced with McCain signs because I am PUMA the attacks on myself, my children, and my property increased. Death threats began when it became clear that I would NOT follow the chosen one. One day these nut jobs called me and the caller said "This is what happens when you disagree with Obama" My son came in a few minutes later to tell me my tree was on fire.
    These folks lost because what they did was create someone who took on their one that continues to this day. They want me to shut up and stop telling Obama to stop ignoring the problems of the inner city I was dangerous because to these middle class/upper class African Americans I just might make people think and then demand that Obama pay attention to our problems.
    I felt like I was under attack when I watched in horror the media attacks on HRC and then Sarah Palin. No media would dare take on a black man but they didn't have any problem taking on the women because after all they were just a bunch of white women.
    The entire election year opened my eyes to sexism and of course I am NOT one to just sit down and shut up. I was awake and continue to remain awake.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I enjoyed reading your story. Here's mine.
    I'm not from the US. I grew up in Canada, as liberal and feminist as you get. We moved here just before the 2006 election, and I was promptly disillusioned. I went about my business for a few years, focusing on the politics back home, because as an immigrant I wasn't eligible to really get involved in American politics. Eventually I got involved with some political blogs just as the 2008 primaries were about to start.

    I was riveted. I watched every single Dem debate, and a few of the Republican ones, too. I was sold on Hillary from the very start. And the attacks started almost that early. At first they weren't so bad. First she was the presumptive nominee and they were the underdogs, casting her as a corrupt insider. Then she was presumptuous for running, inexperienced as she was, and only getting by on her husband's name. Then she was controversial, too divisive to be electable. Then she was too emotional, then unlikable, then too hawkish, too dangerous, then castrating, then a zombie who wouldn't die, and racist racist racist, and meanwhile we had to discuss her clothes and her hair and her ankles and her laugh. There were the critics who were fair (I don't like her policies), the sexist trolls (using blatantly sexist and violent imagery), and the stealth trolls (so concerned about how she was ever going to succeed, or who hauled out all the codewords and double standards they could find). I was totally appalled.

    And in the middle of all this, Hillary was winning. The campaign had its ups and downs, but she was making clear progress, keeping it a close race. But that obviously couldn't stand. So first the media, which had always been horrifically biased (declaring Obama the winner of debates wherein he did little but stammer and repeat Hillary's answers), began selling some phony story about how 2+2=7, and the electoral math showed how Hillary couldn't possibly win. This was the most blatantantly disingenuous bullshit I have ever seen. It was patently and Obviously false. If anyone had stopped to verify it or think independently for even a second they would have seen through it.

    It didn't stop Hillary. So the Rules Committee stepped in to finish her off with a farcical set of decisions clearly calculated to hand the nomination to Obama. That was too damn much.

    I had been volunteering for Hillary, and telling everyone who would listen why she'd be the best candidate and the best President. I lost a lot of good friends for calling them out on the bullshit they were spouting for Obama. I was still not eligible to vote in the country, so what else was I supposed to do? I was on the Confluence the day that PUMA was coined. I was with them right from the start, and I'm still there. Independent, and disaffected.

    This was my Welcome to America. Corruption, sexism, vicious lies. But Hillary lets me believe in this country. She rose above, she kept fighting, she works for what is right. That is the reason I haven't just taken my visa and gone back home. I believe in Hillary and the Americans like her, and I believe they are worth fighting for. it's a fight worth joining, even if I wasn't born here.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks for continuing to write these important stories and for convincing your friends to write theirs too. I know that I'm being repetitious, but I am truly astounded at how DIFFERENT our stories are. How we came together anyways.

    ReplyDelete