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'You cannot—simply cannot—represent progressive ideals while holding hands with the corporate interests that have so enriched you even as those same interests crush working class women like me,' says Smith. (Photo: AP)

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from One Progressive Woman

Donna Smith

I am a progressive.  I work with and serve thousands of progressive women.  And you, Sec. Clinton, are no progressive woman.

Hillary, I must challenge your assertion on some occasions that you are a progressive.  I am a progressive woman.  You are not.  Progressive women believe in women's reproductive rights and certainly reach to have a woman in the White House.  We stand together on these issues, so that subject needs little debate here or elsewhere on the campaign trail.  You and I are part of the same generation, and we also reached for much, much more beyond these critical issues for women and for every American.  My sisters, and brothers, who are part of Planned Parenthood and NARAL know they can trust Sen. Sanders as much as they do you to protect reproductive rights.  But progressive women want more.

As a progressive woman, I believe we must stand for progressive change and progressive governance.   I have no ties to corporate America.  How about you?  Come on.  Pursuing real progressive change requires not lip service to the possible but decisive, courageous commitment to what is necessary to overcome the corporate stranglehold on our democracy.

As a progressive, I believe in Healthcare NOT Warfare! (a major campaign for Progressive Democrats of America) and in improved, expanded Medicare for all healthcare.  You certainly have disparaged improved, expanded Medicare for all even after you and Bill have previously stated your support.  Medicare for all remains the best and only way to end the grip corporate health interests have on all of us—women, their children, their families. 

As a progressive, I believe in peace.  Sometimes when I listen to you, I think you want us to understand you can order us to war as decisively as any man.  That's not why I want a woman to lead.  I had hoped a woman would take more seriously the idea that we need not send drones with bombs to kill other parents' children to prove our strength as a nation.  Showing the ability to go to war or bomb and kill is not what I see as a sign of power. I am a progressive for peace.  You are not.

As a progressive, I believe in clean, sustainable energy and a world focused on stemming the tide of climate change.  Progressives know we must stand up to corporate interests and demand real action.  This means much of our own nation must move more quickly on this issue before the planet faces the point of no return.  We owe our children that.

As a progressive, I believe in true equality for women, and that comes with the responsibility to lift all women from the economic and social conditions that you have allowed to foment and that you will be hard-pressed to address while Wall Street whispers in your ear.  You cannot—simply cannot—represent progressive ideals while holding hands with the corporate interests that have so enriched you even as those same interests crush working class women like me.

Progressives believe in progressive change and progressive policies.  So please remove that self-descriptor from your tool box.  I've heard you claim that progressives are often idealists who seek to achieve perfect solutions in an imperfect political environment.  Odd words spoken by the woman who seeks to be the first woman president of these United States.  Your dream, our dream, wasn't achievable in previous elections and that was no reason to give up on the pursuit. I see so many wonderful women I know and respect putting the issue of getting a woman in the White House above achieving the progressive changes that all women must have to live lives full of opportunity and rich in possibility.  That seems self-defeating to me in terms of the longer term outlook for all of us.

I am a progressive.  You are not.  Sometimes you acknowledge that as you have done on the campaign trail. "You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty," you said while speaking at an event for women in Ohio.  That isn't even close to what I want to hear.  We've had quite enough of centrist politics and not enough progressive change.  The art of doing only that which is deemed politically possible by a few powerful people who pontificate from the center is far less valuable than the commitment to doing what is difficult but ultimately better for many, many more people who lack political power.  As a progressive, I am ready to come into my power -- our power.  It is time. 

So, as I assess this Democratic primary, my support is firmly with Bernie Sanders.  As a progressive woman, I cannot do otherwise.


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Donna Smith

Donna Smith

Donna Smith is the former executive director of Progressive Democrats of America and currently a Medicare for All campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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