University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 1978 - It had started to snow and that winter we had already experienced two of the worst storms in New England history. I trundled myself into a white Volkswagen beetle with three women whom I did not know. I had signed up to travel in a carpool. We debated whether we should drive to Connecticut. The beetle was old, dented, had a throaty muffler and a tail pipe spewing smoke. I envisioned having to get out and push it south on the New England Thruway. We cursed under our breaths, said the “F” word, and then we drove forward.
Along the way the snow stopped and the old white bug proved to be a valiant vehicle. We made it to the University of Connecticut and attended a Women and the Law Conference. The keynote speaker was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who at that time, was a law professor at Columbia University.
I felt honored to be in the same room with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and knew instinctively women were making remarkable strides not only in law but in every profession—and that was heady news for me. I was 21 and had grown up in a working-class neighborhood in Yonkers where not one mother was a professional. Some women worked outside the home, but their jobs were menial, and these women were shamefully branded as having to work to make ends meet.
Fast “F” forward. Due to my education and career in communications, I developed the capacity to think critically about what I see, read and hear in the media. I learned if you consistently think critically that you are unable to accept silly slogans and simple solutions— Mindless Memes. I learned that critical thinking is a discipline and the more you hone this higher level of thinking, the more inclined you are to make better decisions about every aspect of your life.
This power to think critically means doing research by reading a variety of sources and checking references and fact patterns to discern the truth. Occasionally, I’ve made some bad decisions but they weren’t made because I was stupid. I made bad decisions based on my feelings, and usually due to my relationships with men. Did I mention the “F” word yet?
Women have indeed made bad decisions based on their feelings about men. I was 15 when the landmark supreme court case Roe v. Wade struck down a restrictive Texas law that made it illegal for a woman to have an abortion. As a working class kid growing up in Yonkers, I saw young women who endured unwanted pregnancies. Some married way too young, or went to remote convents where their babies were placed in Catholic orphanages; others had back street abortions. When it came to learning how to think on a higher level, they never stood a “F” chance.
All of which brings me to the 2016 Presidential election. Donald Trump has changed his position on abortion five times. To paraphrase a direct quote from an article in the July 24th New York Times, “She [Hillary Clinton] strongly denounced Donald J. Trump after he said abortions should be banned and women who had the procedure should be punished.”
Among my women friends and colleagues, there is scant discussion of Trump’s view on abortion because he is simply not perceived as either credible or intelligent. There is the recognition that Trump is a scary distraction from the large and complex issues facing our country that must be addressed.
Everyone woman I know agrees all roads inevitably lead to Hillary Clinton. Her long speeches examine extremely complicated issues in a fine rendition of the oral tradition. I’ve observed her acknowledge that there are no easy solutions. Technology has changed the world. The way we communicate has changed the way human beings think and the speed with which we can process information. America cannot live in a silo. We are the leaders of a new world order that is global. And the issues we face now are not nearly as complex as the ones we will be facing five years from now.
Clinton’s track record as a first lady, a U.S senator, Secretary of State and as a career public servant give her the unique breadth of experience to be most suited for the role of President of the United States. She is unequivocally, and without a doubt, the best person to do the job.
A few weeks ago, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg was interviewed in the New York Times. “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.” Ginsburg added that her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, a prominent tax lawyer who died in 2010, would have said, “Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand.” While Ginsburg went on later to apologize for commenting publicly on a Presidential candidate, she didn’t recant her comments. Her point was clearly made.
Back to the “F” Word. Our society is fragmented and full of fear. America has been damaged and divided by the vitriol of Donald “F” Trump. The litany of spurious news sources, fake websites and legions of trolls and flamers who have tarred and feathered Hillary Clinton and the Obamas is worthy of my penning a sequel to my book “American Spin.”
Today, my women friends are engineers, research scientists, medical doctors, bankers, wealth managers, philanthropists, attorneys, journalists & authors, artists, designers, business coaches, educators, professional ballerinas, marketing gurus, web developers and entrepreneurs. These women have made a lifelong habit of thinking on a high level. Aside from being accomplished professionally, they are wives, mothers and caretakers to their parents. Not one of these women would consider voting for Trump.
This is the message that I am sending to Trump: When you pillory Hillary Clinton, you’ve put all women in shackles.
Two years ago when I met Gloria Steinem at the Women’s Media Center Awards in New York City, she told me that the work of the women’s movement was a chain, and we were all links, one link leading to the next, and growing so strong that it could never be broken. In many ways, I’m still on the road in the little white bug. As surely as the little white bug made it to Connecticut in 1978, this Presidential race isn’t about rich or poor, populism or pragmatism. This race is about defining who is “F” stupid, and who is not.