Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hillary News and Views 7.14.16: Invoking Lincoln, Religious Voters, Female Governors, Achievement

Hillary Clinton with the cast of Hamilton , June 12, 2016

Guest post by aphra behn

Greetings to the Hillary-supporting community! It’s great to be with you.  Let’s get started!
On Wednesday, Clinton invoked the GOP’s greatest president against Trump. In Springfield, Illinois, she hearkened back to Abraham Lincoln’s “house divided” speech, in an address that centered Trump’s racial hatred as a grave threat to the country. Sam Frizell writes for Time:
“Despite our best efforts and highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished,” Clinton told her audience. “I believe that our future peace and prosperity depends on whether we meet this moment with honesty and courage.”
Standing in the Springfield, Illinois Old State Capitol Building where Abraham Lincoln stood on June 16, 1858, her speech was rich with carefully planned historical parallels. She spoke at an elaborate wood podium in the Capitol rotunda, encircled by Corinthian Greek columns and in front of a portrait of George Washington.
“This man is the nominee of the Party of Lincoln. We’re watching it become the Party of Trump,” Clinton said. “Donald Trump’s campaign adds up to an ugly, dangerous message to America.”
Clinton’s speech on Wednesday, however, framed the race as being fundamentally a referendum on inclusiveness in America. She went after Trump for denigrating Muslims, Mexicans, and women, for questioning the citizenship of the country’s first black president, and for circulating "an anti-Semitic image pushed by neo-Nazis."
She also sounded the alarm over Trump’s attacks on the "Mexican" heritage of the Indiana-born judge overseeing the Trump University case, saying they risk endangering the "bedrock principle enshrined in the 14th Amendment: that if you're born in America, you're a citizen of America."
"It was a cynical, calculated attempt to fan the flames of racial division," Clinton said of the attack. "Why would someone running for president want to do that?"
Here’s a snippet that the Clinton campaign Tweeted:

 A new poll from Morning consult has some good news. According to US News:
A massive new poll by Morning Consult finds Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would collect 320 Electoral College votes to Trump's 212, far more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
The poll, taken between April and early July, surveyed nearly 60,000 registered voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a large enough sample to make a complete estimate of Electoral College results as the presidential race stands now.
When eight toss-up states are removed, Clinton leads 225 electoral votes to Trump's 190.
Trump’s ugly racism and naked nativism may be what’s driving some religious voters away from the GOP, with Latino Catholics driving a huge shift in the overall Catholic vote. According to a  new Pew poll:
Currently, Clinton also holds a 17-point advantage among Catholic registered voters, driven largely by overwhelming support for Clinton among Latino Catholics. By contrast, at a similar point in the 2012 campaign, Catholics were closely divided between support for Obama (49%) and Romney (47%). Exit polls conducted on Election Day in 2012 found that Catholics ultimately split their votes between Obama (50%) and Romney (48%).
The survey finds a notable shift in the voting intentions of regular churchgoers. Currently, voters who say they attend religious services at least once a week are split almost evenly; 49% say they would vote for Trump and 45% say they would vote for Clinton. At a similar point in the 2012 campaign, Romney held a 15-point advantage among weekly churchgoers. And exit polls conducted on Election Day showed that Romney ultimately beat Obama by 20 points among voters who attend religious services weekly.
The shift in preferences among weekly churchgoers is driven largely by Catholics. Today, Clinton has a 19-point advantage among Catholic voters who say they attend Mass weekly, whereas Obama did not hold a lead at all among this group in June 2012.
The Reverend Mark Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, wrote a stirring piece on Clinton in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
We need a leader who will push us all to make our society more tolerant, inclusive, and fair. We need a leader who will lead us into the light of a hopeful future, not into the darkness of the past. We need a leader who will help us stand together and respect one another.
Instead of pitting one group of Americans against another, Hillary Clinton will bring us together. Instead of entrenching us further in the hate that divides us, she will unite us. She will continue talking about love and kindness - a simple but powerful principle.
It may seem impossible to bring healing in this volatile environment, but we must hold on to hope. This is why in the American spiritual, the slaves turned Jeremiah's question into a forceful declaration: There is a balm in Gilead!
We must believe and trust that love will ultimately trump hate.

And now some Thursday Herstory!
Today we’ll take a look at the first four women who were elected to the office of state governor. AS with male politicians, their terms are a mix of achievement and failure, of public service and corruption, of blatant racism but also of human kindness—and a lot of other stuff in between. What they have in common is breaking ground for later women to serve in executive office. What do they have in difference? Plenty.
Imagine being asked to run for the highest office in your state on the afternoon of your spouse’s funeral. That was the reality for Nellie Tayloe Ross in October of 1924. Her husband, the Democratic governor of Wyoming, William Bradford Ross, had passed away in office. His  Progressive agenda --working to tax coal, oil and mineral wealth in order to fund state projects to benefit the entire citizenry—had barely begun. Nellie had been a socially successfully First Lady—but was also her husband’s closest advisor. Could she carry out his agenda? She decided to try.

Nellie Tayloe Ross

Nellie Tayloe had been born in Missouri in 1876, as Reconstruction ended and the United States re-built itself after the Civil War. The daughter of a farm family, she learned hard work early, as her parents moved to Kansas and then Nebraska in search of a prosperous life that never quite came. As a young woman, she worked as a schoolteacher in Omaha, teaching in both Italian and Polish immigrant neighborhoods. The insights gained as a working woman would serve her well in her political career.
Nellie Tayloe Ross made history in 1925, winning the election by 8,000 votes out of 79,000—a larger margin than her husband’s victory. She went to work, continuing her husband’s agenda, but also adding items of her own. In the words of Tom Rea,writing for the Wyoming State Historical Association:
Nellie outlined three of William’s policies she wanted to continue—spending cuts, state loans for farmers and ranchers and strong enforcement of prohibition. She went on, however, to press for eight additional proposals: requiring cities, counties, and school districts to have budgets; stronger state laws regulating banks; exploration of better ways to sell Wyoming’s heavy crude oil; earmarking some state mineral royalties for school districts; obtaining more funds for the university; improving safety for coal miners; protecting women in industrial jobs; and supporting a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would cut back on child labor. These ideas all came from solid, Progressive thinking. But Nellie was the first governor to back them in Wyoming.
She was still a Democrat swimming in a sea of Republicans, however. In the end, the legislators supported five of her 11 proposals. With more experience, she might have focused on just three or four, and with more time, she might have made sure the people and their lawmakers understood her ideas before the session began. Equally important for future governors, she managed to beat back several legislative attempts at reducing her powers. Then it was over; the session ended Feb. 22, and with it ended all Nellie’s chances of getting new laws passed.
Nellie did not win her re-election bid in 1926, but that didn’t mean the end of her career in politics. She was now a national figure, who had addressed the national Democratic women’s organization, the Woman’s World Fair, the National Governor’s Association, and actually presided over the Western state governor’s  meeting. Heady stuff, especially considering women had been nationally enfranchised only in 1920! In 1928, she campaigned for Al Smith, and then served as director for the outreach to women for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign, FDR appointed her head of the min in 1933—the first woman to hold that office. She held it until 1953, when she retired from public service. You can watch a  short trailer for a documentary about her here.

Miriam “Ma” Ferguson as First Lady of Texas

The second woman to be inaugurated as a United States governor ran in 1924, just as Ross did. But Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson was pressed into running not because of her spouse’s death, but because he had been impeached, and was therefore forbidden from holding state office in Texas again. Her story is most certainly a colorful one.  Unlike Nellie Tayloe Ross, Miriam Ferguson was not free to expand on a dead spouse’s agenda. In fact, she promised, essentially, to follow her  husband’s advice—“two for the price of one.” Miriam Ferguson won  with an impressive majority:   422,563 votes (58.9 percent) to her Republican rival’s 294,920 (41.1 percent). She won again in 1932,  becoming the first female governor to win a second term.
 “Ma” and “Pa” (not to be confused with their political rival, “Pappy” O’Daniel) faced plenty of controversy. She was accused of favoritism, only promoting stage highway contracts to companies that advertised in her husband’s newspapers. She was also accused of pardoning too many convicts—as many as 100 a month—and it was widely believed that she and “Pa” took bribes in exchange for pardons. The accusations were enough to cost her the 1926 election, but her reputation apparently recovered  by 1932.
Ferguson was not a great success as governor, in terms of pushing her agenda. Perhaps her greatest significance was  ousting the Klan from political power in the state. As in many states, the Texas Klan engaged in many acts of violence against blacks and immigrants, but also presented itself as a moral force. The new, post-reconstruction Klan appeared in Texas in 1920. Historian L. Patrick Hughes writes:
Its campaign of systematic terrorism was aimed mostly at bootleggers, gamblers, wayward husbands and wives, wife beaters, and other "sinners." At Timpson, Texas, Klansman took a white man from his home and beat him because he had separated from his wife. Similar treatment befell a Brenham man who spoke German, a divorced man in Dallas, a black bellhop in the same city believed to be a pimp, a Houston lawyer accused of annoying girls, and many other moral errants. A woman was taken from a hotel in Tenaha, stripped, beaten with a wet rope, and tarred and feathered because there was some question whether her second marriage had been preceded by a divorce. The Klan in Dallas was credited with having flogged sixty-eight people in the spring of 1922, most of them at a special KKK whipping meadow along the Trinity River bottom
By 1922 the KKK had officeholders across the state and largely controlled the Democratic party. The Fergusons positioned themselves firmly against the Klan, attracting the support of anti-Klan Democrats, who helped Ma defeat the Klan’s chosen candidate, Judge Felix Robertson of Dallas. Many KKK members then turned to the Republican Party, but, as noted above, the Fergusons’ anti-Klan stance was so popular that Ma won handily. As Hughes puts it:
The gubernatorial campaign of 1924 signaled the passing of the Klan as a significant force in Texas politics. "After Robertson was beaten," a former Klansman recalled, "the prominent men left the Klan. The Klan's standing went with them." By the end of the year Texas was no longer the number one state in Klandom. The following year Mrs. Ferguson persuaded the legislature to pass a bill making it unlawful for any secret society to allow its members to be masked or otherwise disguised in public. This law was a serious blow to the KKK. Also, at long last, many of the so-called "best people" who had joined what they thought was an agency of reform, realized that it had become a cloak for outrages. Membership dropped from a high of 97,000 in the summer of 1924 to about 18,000 at the beginning of 1926. In the summer of 1927 Governor Dan Moody declared, "The Klan in Texas is as dead as the proverbial doornail." Though this was an exaggeration, the Klan had, by the end of the decade, dwindled to a negligible force in Texas politics and social life.
You can watch a 1986 blurb  about that  here. By the way, Miriam Ferguson is also sometimes saddled with a  quote  supposedly about the used of Spanish in Texas schools “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.” There is no good sourcing for this attribution, and it seems to be false.
Not until the 1960s did another woman govern a state. Lurleen Wallace ran for office in Alabama in 1966 largely as a way for her husband, segregationist George Wallace, to remain in power even though the state constitution forbade governors from serving two consecutive terms. She beat out nine men for the Democratic nomination. Although initially George gave the speeches, Lurleen gained confidence on the trail and began to speak for longer periods, shake hands, and otherwise grow as a political actor in her own right.

Lurleen Wallace

Once in office, she continued her husband’s heinous segregationist stances, resisting the integration of schools and pushed for legislation to amend the state constitution so as to allow governors to serve consecutive terms. More positively, she pushed for reforms in care for the elderly and, after touring Kentucky state parks, strongly advocated for improvements to Alabama’s outdoor parks and facilities.
Perhaps her most admirable stance was her strong advocacy for the mentally ill. After visiting Bryce Hospital for the mentally ill, Wallace was so shocked and upset at the condition of patients that she wept openly. She made a moving appeal to the state legislature to raise funds to improve conditions, and they voted in a $15 million dollar bond and a 2 cent tax on cigarettes to fund the plan.  The money was used not only to upgrade existing facilities, but also to build new facilities across the state for those with mental illness and disabilities.
Against that must be set this: on the same day Lurleen Wallace signed the funds into law, she also signed into law a measure that allowed schoolchildren to pick the race of their teacher. Lurleen Wallace was no  friend to the black citizens of Alabama:
In March 1967, a federal court ordered that Alabama's public schools must begin desegregation that fall. Lurleen responded with a televised speech to the state legislature on March 31. In that speech she asked the legislature for the power to seize all state schools and place them under police power. Although clearly a policy from George, the speech was delivered by Mrs. Wallace with "force and faultless execution." (Stewart, p. 206). Lurleen, Governor Lester Maddox of Georgia and Governor Paul Johnson of Mississippi called a meeting of twelve southern governors to draft a plan to fight the court order...The hand of her husband was again displayed in May when Lurleen recommended that state funds be withheld from Tuskegee Institute. Mrs. Wallace also opposed an Office of Economic Opportunity antipoverty grant to establish a farm cooperative for blacks in Lowndes County.
Lurleen Wallace’s time as governor, for better and for worse, was short. A doctor had noticed potentially cancerous growth on her uterus during a c-section in 1961, but had told her husband, not Lurleen. George Wallace, incredibly, insisted she not be told(although he told his campaign staff about it) so the cancer had never been treated. When a  doctor discovered uterine cancer in 1965, Lurleen had a hysterectomy and radiation treatments, but the cancer spread.  Treatments were ineffective; additionally, Alabama lacked cancer treatment facilities for Wallace had to travel out of state, adding to her physical stress. She died in May 1968; over 25,000 mourners came to pay their respects.  The Lurleen B. Wallace Tumor institute opened at the University of Alabama in 1975You can watch a  short film about Lurleen Wallace made by honors students at the University of Alabama here.
The first female governor who had not been married to a male governor? Ella Tambussi Grasso of Connecticut. Born to Italian immigrant parents of modest means in 1919 Ella Tambussi earned scholarships to private schools. Their educational rigor and social polish opened more doors; she attended Mount Holyoke, where she earned both a  bachelor’s and a master’s degree.  She married Thomas Grasso, a schoolteacher, and settled down to domestic life. But getting involved with the League of Women Voters led her to run for state legislative office in 1952. Slowly, she  worked her way up the ladder of politics:

Ella T. Grasso

 From 1958 to 1971, Grasso served three terms as Connecticut secretary of state—longer than any secretary of the state since 1835. In 1970, Grasso was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut’s 6th District. She served on the Education and Labor Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Frustrated with a system that left new legislators virtually powerless, Grasso chose to enter Connecticut’s 1974 gubernatorial race. After her historic election, she devoted much of her effort to open government, abolition of county government, and reform of the court systems.
As governor, Grasso pushed for a state sunshine law, strengthened Department of Public Utilities Control, and trimmed budgets. Her budgetary austerity was unpopular, especially when she laid off 500 state workers just before Christmas in 1975. Grasso won more favor by walking the walk of austerity, limiting her own use of state money by measures such as forgoing a governor’s limo in favor of a standard police cruiser, which was later traded in for a more fuel-efficient compact car. When traveling to New York on state business, she took a  Greyhound bus.
In her first two years as governor  260 new businesses opened in the state and the  treasury improved from a $70 million deficit to a $95 million surplus, improving her popularity. She was an advocate for the mentally disabled, establishing a state office of “mental retardation” (as it was known at the time) and pushing for modernized care facilities to be be built in the state. A devout Roman Catholic and fairly socially conservative, she opposed the expansion of  gambling and the use of state funds for abortion (although she accepted Roe v. Wade as the “law of the land.”
But perhaps her most memorable times came during major disasters. In February 1978, a terrible blizzard hit Connecticut. Grasso set up a  command center at the  State Armory in Hartford. She had to walk the last mile there after her car got stuck in the snow. She ordered the state be closed for three days and all residents to stay off the roads. This allowed snowplows to work unhindered. Meanwhile, she took to the air in a  helicopter, looking for those in need and  measuring progress. Her obituary in the New York Times notes:
On that occasion, and again when a tornado struck Windsor and Windsor Locks in October 1979, Mrs. Grasso appeared on television and appealed for cooperation to alleviate the hardship. The image of a compassionate Governor toiling long hours during the disaster did much to enhance her popularity.
Perhaps to remind herself of the importance of the snowstorm in defining her relationship with the people of the state, Mrs. Grasso framed and kept at her desk an aerial photograph taken at the time. It was of a message written in footprints in the virgin snow on an open field. It said ''Help - Ella.''
Tragically, Grasso’s life was cut short by ovarian cancer. Discovered in April 1980, surgeries were unsuccessful in preventing its spread. She resigned as governor in December 1980 and died in February. You can watch a short news segment about her here.
In total, there have been 37 female governors in 27 states. No women of color were elected to a state governorship until 2011, which saw Republican Nikki Haley  (who is of Indian descent) elected in South Carolina and Republican Susana Martinez (who is Hispanic) elected in New Mexico. Only one openly queer woman has ever served as a governor: Democrat Kate Brown of Oregon, who is bisexual. We’ve come a long way—but we’ve a long way to go.

And speaking of herstory, Amanda Marcotte at Salon has a great piece reminding us that it’s important to recognize Clinton’s political skill in beating a formidable male opponent:
Clinton’s win is an achievement. It is not a fluke.
This matters, not just for Clinton, but for all women. Women are constantly told that their achievements don’t count — that they are only there because of luck, sex appeal, affirmative action, the gender card, whatever. From whining about “fake geek girls” and claims that the women in “Ghostbusters” aren’t really funny to arguments that women make less because they are drawn to lower-paying jobs, the message is clear: Women don’t have what it takes to compete with men, and only succeed through subterfuge or deception.
No wonder so many women suffer from impostor syndrome. When the whole world is telling you women — including women like Hillary Clinton — only win by cheating, it’s hard not to suffer unnecessary doubts about yourself. But that’s why it’s so critical to start admitting that Clinton’s win counts. It’s not a fluke or because the system is rigged. Clinton won — and will win — because she is a skilled  politician who knows how to lead and rally people to her side.
Clinton is, to quote Sanders, “one of the most intelligent people that we have ever met”. You pretty much have to be, in order to overcome all the obstacles there to stop women from getting as far as she has.
Writing at Blue Nation Review, Melissa McEwan puts paid to the myth that Trump and Clinton have equivalent unfavorables, in a piece titled “Hillary’s Favorability Exceeds 50% with TEN demographic Groups, Donald’s With ZERO”:
Hillary, on the other hand, has spent her campaign talking about what she is going to do to help the marginalized people harmed by these resentments and the institutional systems of oppression that have been erected to safeguard privilege. “Breaking down barriers” is central to her message. Opportunities, access, justice for people who are denied these things.
I cannot put this any more plainly: Donald is polarizing because he traffics in bigotry. Hillary is polarizing because she advocates eradicating it.
And, of course, because she has herself been subjected to decades of public personal attacks on the basis of her identity. To conflate Hillary’s unpopularity with Donald’s while casually eliding her womanhood is deceptive in the extreme. We still live in a culture where being a woman matters. A lot. Even in spite of the absurd rhetorical pretzels into which people will twist themselves trying to argue their criticisms have nothing to do with her gender. What a ludicrous contention on its face that her being a woman has nothing to do with why she is “divisive,” when her candidacy is history-making because there’s never before been a woman in her position.
Finally, Hillary’s campaign Tweeted a nice “unity” themed video showcasing her with Bernie Sanders:

 Unity—let’s close with that. #StrongerTogether— in so many ways.

(originally posted at Daily Kos)


  1. The former UK may remind us that of all the female world leaders, none had to win over a majority of registered voters to head their party, with the others it's only other elected party members that select their leader.

  2. also, I find it sad that Lurleen Wallace stayed loyally on the phallic/racist side of her husband, without knowing he had so little regard for her.

    That he told others she was going to die of cancer (without treatment) but not her may have awakened her at the end of her life, at the 'moment of truth,' but far too late for her to have governed as a fellow human.

    To often women can be misled into thinking they are a special woman, a woman men accept as better, so are worthier than regular women, but if they live long enough, they will find out.