Obama Owes Hillary Some “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”!

aretha-respect.gifby Rev. Irene Monroe —

The second night of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Obama’s toughest rival for the presidential nominee, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a knockout keynote address, bridging the chasm between her supporters and his.

Hillary waxed eloquently about what America can envision with an Obama presidency. Her no holds barred attacks were double jabs with humor at both McCain and Bush highlighting how McCain’s vision for Americans for the next four years will be indistinguishable from Bush’s unimpressive eight we have had.

“It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart. ”

She tied her message to Obama’s and the Democratic platform’s of “Renewing America’s Promise.”

“I ran for President to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month…Those are the reasons I ran for President. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.”

And Hillary thanked her supporters for their indefatigable support of her run for the White House.

“To my supporters, my champions — my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits – from the bottom of my heart: Thank you. You never gave in. You never gave up. And together we made history.”

But not everybody’s on board after Hillary’s speech to now united with Obama. And her sisterhood of traveling pantsuits, in particularly still might not cast their ballots entirely for Obama come November.

Many of these women saw Hillary’s speech as conciliatory, at best, for the unification of party at the expense of her historic achievement, and obligatory, at worst, in order for her to have a future life in the party. And although this schism between Hillary’s Democrats and Obama’s is not ideological in terms of the party’s direction this schism, nonetheless, can be catastrophic and, unfortunately, the deal breaker that sidelines Obama’s bid. Hillary supporters’ rallying cry is to the tune of the August 1965 hit and signature song ““Respect” by R&B singer Aretha Franklin that came to exemplify the feminist movement.

And the two groups of pro-Hillary supporters we hear from the loudest — the “Party Unity My Ass (PUMA)” and “18 Million Voices” — feel “dissed” not only by the Obama campaign for not vetting Hillary for the V.P. slot but also by the Democratic Party for not addressing the glaring gender obstacles Hillary confronted. These groups are now out on the streets of Denver and online protesting.

PUMA, seen as a radical group, advises Hillary supporters to dissociate from the party, stating “Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate for the party and the nation. Dissociate yourself from the party. The deep problem of Obama’s campaign is that they will not acknowledge that Hillary is a legitimate political actor and reduce her to an inhuman monster and enemy. They will not acknowledge that her supporters have sound, rational reasons for our support, and reduce us to mindless fools and spoils of war. “

“18 Million Voices” is a grassroots organization that advocates for Women’s Rights worldwide and doesn’t want Hillary’s historic achievement of being the first viable woman presidential candidate forgotten.

The race between Obama and Hillary for the White House highlighted the fault lines of both race and gender, and a nation still at the cross roads of how to overcome these social ills. And with a media that pandered to Obama’s charm and parsed Hillary’s words we saw not only unfair treatment of the candidates but also a race/gender divide among Democrats as a consequence of it.

The differences between the two candidates pundits argue are slight. Hillary supporters, however, are not buying it. And after Hillary’s address last night at the DNC these same pundits are now scratching their heads and questioning Obama’s choice of Joe Biden over Hillary Clinton for V.P. But Democrats won’t know what kind of president or V.P. Hillary would be because race in this instance did indeed trumped gender and the alchemy of the two in a male- dominated society I confront all the time as a black woman.

The Democratic Party has to now figure out a way to woo the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, referring to 18 million who voted for Hillary, and the DNC alone won’t do it. . And I believe Obama will get most of those voters, mine included.

But as Obama’s campaigners court Hillary voters, play Aretha before you knock on my door, especially this part:

“What you want (Obama) baby I got it.
What you need (Obama) you know I got it.
(Hooo) all I’m asking (Obama) is for a little respect.
Just a little bit.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T finds out what it means to me.”

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by the Reverend Irene Monroe

The Rev. Irene Monroe is a religion columnist, theologian, and public speaker. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. Reverend Monroe is the author of the soon-to-be-released Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers for Not-So-Everyday Moments. As an African American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Her website is irenemonroe.com.

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Comments

  1. Wiam says

    I can respect Hillary supporters for wanting her to win the nomination. I’m a middle aged woman and I’m proud of Hillary’s historic run. But when you say things like Hillary wasn’t vetted, when it was actually Bill Clinton who refused to be vetted, you’re simply reinforcing the meme that Obama picked on Hillary and her supporters and the rift between the camps should continue. That’s just wrong headed and counter productive.

    The sexism in the blogs and media during the primary was extreme, but it didn’t come from Obama or his campaign. Obama and Hillary both represent my issues. If Hillary supporters persist in derailing my party, our candidate and our Democratic issues, they don’t deserve our respect and we, the rest of the Democrats, will actively work against them. If losing the presidency is the price to pay for Hillary running for Prez, then don’t expect my support for your candidate in the future. Hillary’s also my Senator from NY. If she or her supporters continue to kneecap our party, I will actively work against her in her next Senate run.

    As Hillary herself noted, this is no time to sit by the sidelines. We need to get our candidate elected. The survival of our country may depend it.

  2. Thorne says

    No, he owes her the exact opposite. All the things she said about him, all the bad mouthing during the primaries hurt him more than any one speech can help. She has already convinced a large portion of her constituency to vote McCain. She firmly drove the wedge in the democratic party and nothing she does now can remove that. Her half hearted speech last night, that you can tell even she doesn’t believe, did not repair the vast amount of damage she has done. Unfortunately Obama is going to lose in November, and Hillary is going to be a large reason why.

    • Sharon Kyle says

      Thorne,

      While I understand your argument, I hope you are wrong. I hope everyone moves beyond what occurred during the primaries and focuses on winning this election. We have to let it go or else we’re doomed.

      I think Hillary knows she made a few missteps that may come back to haunt her in the future. But for now, let’s march on to November with Obama.

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