Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bitter: The New Brave

Whatever the circumstances, the people who hold power use name-calling to undermine any resistance movement or its members. This political season those voters who support Senator Clinton have repeatedly been called bitter. Of course Senator Clinton's supporters seem bitter in the literal sense of that word (harsh, unpleasant) to those who would like to hand Senator Obama the nomination on a platter. And naturally, Senator Clinton's supporters do not seem at all bitter to me, as I find their views quite congenial.

But calling Clinton supporters bitter has never been about the literal meaning of that word. The word is used by Senator Obama's supporters at least in part because of its sexist connotations (as in "bitter old woman"). Whether Senator Obama or his supporters use the word bitter as a deliberately sexist tactic is beside the point. In the context of describing Senator Clinton or her supporters, the word has the connotation regardless of the intention of the speaker.

Many Clinton supporters now use the word bitter to describe themselves, using a common strategy of resistance: those being attached adopt the word of their opponents and try to own it. Other examples include the adoption of the word "queer" by some lesbian/gay rights advocates or the now famous Tina Fey bit on SNL when she declared that bitches get things done.

To me though the word "bitter" will now forever have a personal meaning, a private connotation, if you will. When I hear bitter, I think brave. Brave because it is hard to speak truth to power, scary to attract nasty name-calling, risky to stick to your principles when friends, family, and co-workers (and sometimes bosses) pressure you to surrender them. It takes guts to stick to one's commitment to Senator Clinton or to an authentically democratic Democratic National Convention. I am absolutely impressed that so many of the people I know displaying the necessary fortitude are people who are not protected by personal privilege or position. I am appalled at the lack of fortitude displayed by some who have these safeguards to fall back upon.

One thing is for sure: this political season it is the bitter who are brave.


Anonymous Mirlo said...

I just bought me some bitter aroma (bitteralmond) to experiment with in my alchemist kitchen; i'll make brave use of it. I believe in symbolism.

July 9, 2008 at 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This particular fund-raiser was standard issue, if it’s Tuesday night aren’t we going to enjoy a $57,000 dinner with Barack affair? Your faithful scribes sat outside in an air-conditioned van whilst drinks were sipped. Then a staffer led us to an ante-room, graced by “The Reclining Bather” by Pablo Picasso. Just a wild thought, but I’d place a mid-two figure wager this was not a print. In time, waiters served appetizers, a summer tropics crab salad, and a tell-tale tinkling of glasses indicated that the hoi polloi (that would be us) might wander into the dining room to hear the candidate’s remarks.

Sharon and Jay Rockefeller extolled their candidate as one might a bottle of cherished and vintage Bordeaux; he was the best and the brightest, “profoundly intelligent” and intellectual, yet a man of action. Mrs. Rockefeller noted that her father, Charles H. Percy, once occupied the Senate seat now held by the candidate. Mr. Obama rose beneath an ornate crystal chandelier and gave a fairly low key speech touching on familiar themes. He thanked Howard Dean, who sat in the corner, for his leadership of the Democratic National Committee, noting that the former Vermont governor devised the 50-state strategy that Obama now hews to.

July 9, 2008 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Anna Belle said...

Good post. I want a bumper sticker that says, "If you're not bitter, you're not paying attention."

That said, I've watched with interest as you folks set up the Denver Group, and I have high hopes for your actions. I think it's just the thing this movement needs to focus on.

I'm not sure you're aware, but I've written a little document that has gone viral in our echo chamber, and I thought your group might be interested in using it, or parts of it. It is designed to petition the convention. It's called the Declaration of Objections, and can be found here:

If you need to contact me for any reason, there is a contact link at my site. The document is available for adaptation and use without attribution.

Thanks for all you do!

July 9, 2008 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't have expressed it better - the number of people "jumping on the bandwagon" in this political season bewilders me.

Thanks for letting us know we're not alone out here and for all you :)

July 9, 2008 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger HillBuzz said...

Heidi -

Any fundraising update for the debt? Have been reading on blogs today that HRC has cut her debt in half, and we have about $14 million or so left to raise.

How are we standing?

If we get a sense that we are really working it, I bet people would be re-energized to pay off the rest by the end of July.

If HRC has at least 2 million committed supporters who can give $5-10 each, we would wipe that out.

July 9, 2008 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...It takes guts to stick to one's commitment to Senator Clinton or to an authentically democratic Democratic National Convention...."

Thank you for the comment, Heidi. I could not agree more and I am proud to stand with others who are committed.

July 9, 2008 at 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've stumbled unto this blog quite literally as I was surfing the net, moving along the threads of the 'web'. I have read the posts with increasing interest. I never realized the depth of the.. ahem... bitterness. Also, it is bracing to see the intelligence, scholarship and yes, courage against the tide of insults, pressure and psychological games, to say nothing of the methodical play of discouragement and denigration and belittlement of those who dare to oppose the 'machine.'

I have bookmarked your blog, and I hope you do not mind my visits. I have made up my mind a long time ago that if Hillary is not the nominee, I will not vote Democrat. Period. There is a groundswell of indignation; I hope it ends in a palace coup, although I doubt it. "They' ignore 'bitterness' at their own peril.

July 10, 2008 at 2:36 AM  

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