What is she’s drunk, crazy, or about to kick off a book tour?
Wednesday night, a group of us gathered for an update from Emily’s List about key Congressional races around the country. This was our fourth gathering in a year; normally, these meetings are fairly tame.
With one voicemail, however, Ginni Thomas lit a fire that most of us hadn’t felt burn quite so white-hot since 1991.
Some of us were in college then, just coming into our adult political identity. The ’92 Year of the Woman was my first presidential election. Fundamental rights that my mentors in the League of Women Voters had worked their whole lives to secure seemed under attack. We elected a man from Hope and a whole bunch of women—a mom in tennis shoes, 2 women from California at the same time, and an African-American woman.
Yes, four was a whole bunch.
So there we were on Wednesday. NPR had broadcast a story about the Ginni Thomas voicemail that almost everyone attending heard on the way to our meeting. Just when we’d hit a crescendo of disbelief and disgust, someone else would walk in the door and kick it up another notch.
Anita Hill apologize to Clarence Thomas? FAT FUCKING CHANCE & over our dead bodies seemed to be the general consensus. And BAT SHIT CRAZY and possibly drunk the consensus about Ginni Thomas.
We ran roughshod over the person who was supposed to be presenting the updates, and instead hooted and hollered, fussed and yelled, and worked out some frustration. Then, we made a list of action steps we could take to see if we could sway these midterm elections even at this late date, including but not limited to:
- Encouraging our women friends to vote.
- Not feeling guilty for voting without knowing about every single candidate. [Apparently, women often say they don't vote because they haven't had time to analyze all of the candidates. Well, it hasn't stopped anyone else from voting, so why let it stop you, especially when these races are so important.]
- Making GOTV calls to counteract the anticipated drop-off from 2008 voter levels – some people planned to make them for Bill White, others for Emily’s List candidates around the country.
- Whipping up a frenzy in our social media worlds just to reinforce how vital voting really is.
- Putting our money where our mouths are by giving cold, hard cash to candidates.
Last night, we played the which president would you have dinner with if you could pick from any president, living or dead, game. Someone picked Ulysses S. Grant (cigars! whiskey! running rampant across the city!), someone else picked Lincoln.
I picked Bill Clinton. I picked Clinton because he’s brilliant, and because I think he’d be a great conversationalist. Bill Clinton and I know people in common. We share an era.
But I mainly picked him because I do miss the spirit of 1992, a spirit whose fire was lit by Anita Hill. I miss the moment when we thought we were taking a huge step forward from which we’d never look back.
Right now, we’ve got 17 women in the Senate, an all-time high. But it’s about having practical, sensible, Democratic women there. Not lunatic fringe nutbags whose reading comprehension has not progressed to a point at which they can understand the plain language of the First Amendment (go to 2:38 if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, but you should really watch the whole thing):
We owe it to Anita Hill to fight back against the crazies who seem intent upon running our democracy into the ground.
What are you doing to do in the days leading up to election day on November 2nd? If you aren’t sure, I’m happy to give you an assignment or a pep talk.