March 5, 2020
A Not-So-Super Tuesday
Last week, I sat on a stage in front of more than 200 women in Columbus, Ohio, and tried to answer a simple question.
I don’t remember exactly how interviewer Angela Pace asked it, but I heard it this way: What do you want your granddaughters to remember about you?
To my embarrassment, my eyes teared up and my voice began to quiver.
It’s been such a long three years.
We have seven grandchildren: four boys and three girls. I love them equally, as I made clear that day from the stage. But we were talking less than a week before Super Tuesday, when most political punditry had already congealed around two presumed front-runners, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Elizabeth Warren, the smart, talented, compassionate senator from Massachusetts, was already invisible, right before their eyes. Like millions of other women, I still see her and the hope she always brings with her. It’s as bright and crystalline as hydrangeas in the dusk’s light, glistening after a soft summer rain.
What do I want my granddaughters to remember about me?
My love for my grandchildren keeps my heart on the brink of combustion, but when I think of Jackie, Carolyn and Ela, ages 5, 4 and 2, something else kicks in; I can’t deny it. I’m old enough to know which dreams died but young enough to remember when I thought they defined who I — who we — would be.
I try never to lead with my injuries, but it’s one thing to work hard to get over a disloyal love. A heart can heal, after all. It’s something quite different when the betrayal never comes to an end.
Once again, it seems, we will have to wait at least another four years to see a woman sworn in as president of the United States.
“It’s not because she’s a woman,” people tell me.
“It’s because she’s that woman,” people tell me.
“It’s because of Hillary’s loss that it feels like a woman couldn’t win,” people tell me.
You can tell me and you can tell me and you can tell me — but let me tell you: There’s not a lie I haven’t heard about what a woman can and cannot do. At my age, every act of sexism and misogyny is an encore production.
Jessica Valenti, a brilliant feminist writer two decades younger than me, wrote this after Super Tuesday, for Medium:
“Even just supporting Warren has come with an unbearable amount of misogynist condescension. I’m tired of being told that I’m a single-issue voter because I care about a candidate’s gender, even if it’s not the only thing I care about. I’m over being made to feel as if representation for half the population isn’t a necessary and radical political position. I don’t appreciate being told that I’m either anti-revolution because I didn’t support Bernie Sanders or unrealistic because I won’t vote for Joe Biden. I especially resent the theory being bandied about that Warren somehow ‘stole’ votes from Sanders; it’s nonsense.”
If you had told me 20 years ago that we’d still be having this conversation about the limitations of women, the only thing I would have allowed you was a running start to get out of my way. Our daughters aren’t much younger than Valenti, which might be why these words of hers took my breath away:
“Whoever the nominee is, their campaign is going to have to come to terms with the intense misogyny so many female voters have dealt with — and understand that it’s an issue we care deeply about. And their supporters are going to have to let us be sad — depressed, even — that once again we’re going to watch a race to leadership between old white men.”
Will we vote for that nominee? Of course, we will, in droves. We love our country.
What do I want my granddaughters to remember about me?
All those little, big things. How much I loved them. How I kept a book of the smart and funny things they said. How I lined our walls with their photos, year after year.
Still, why did I cry?
Maybe it’s because I don’t take for granted that I will live long enough for them to have many memories of me.
Maybe it’s because I hope that, in their toughest moments, long after I’m gone, my persistent opposition to this president’s racism and misogyny will remind them that this is who we are, we women in this family.
Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe I cried because I, too, needed a moment to be sad, after all these years.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. Her novel, “The Daughters of Erietown,” will be published by Random House in Spring 2020. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
“DREAM BIG. FIGHT HARD.”
I’m going to start with the news. I wanted you to hear it straight from me: today, I’m suspending our campaign for president.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have poured into this campaign.
I know that when we set out, this was not the news you ever wanted to hear. It is not the news I ever wanted to share. But I refuse to let disappointment blind me — or you — to what we’ve accomplished. We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together — what you have done — has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters — and the changes will have ripples for years to come.
What we have done — and the ideas we have launched into the world, the way we have fought this fight, the relationships we have built — will carry through for the rest of this election, and the one after that, and the one after that.
So think about it:
We have shown that it is possible to build a grassroots movement that is accountable to supporters and activists and not to wealthy donors — and to do it fast enough for a first-time candidate to build a viable campaign. Never again can anyone say that the only way that a newcomer can get a chance to be a plausible candidate is to take money from corporate executives and billionaires. That’s done.
We have shown that it is possible to inspire people with big ideas, possible to call out what’s wrong and to lay out a path to make this country live up to its promise.
We have shown that race and justice — economic justice, social justice, environmental justice, criminal justice — are not an afterthought, but are at the heart of everything that we do.
We have shown that a woman can stand up, hold her ground, and stay true to herself — no matter what.
We have shown that we can build plans in collaboration with the people who are most affected.
This campaign became something special, and it wasn’t because of me. It was because of you. I am so proud of how you fought this fight alongside me: you fought it with empathy and kindness and generosity — and of course, with enormous passion and grit.
Some of you may remember that long before I got into electoral politics, I was asked if I would accept a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was weak and toothless. And I replied that my first choice was a consumer agency that could get real stuff done, and my second choice was no agency and lots of blood and teeth left on the floor. In this campaign, we have been willing to fight, and, when necessary, we left plenty of blood and teeth on the floor. I can think of one billionaire who has been denied the chance to buy this election.
And we did all of this without selling access for money. Together, you and 1,250,000 people gave more than $112 million dollars to support this campaign. And we did it without selling one minute of my time to the highest bidder. People said that would be impossible. But you did that.
Together, we built a grassroots campaign that had some of the most ambitious organizing targets ever — and then we turned around and surpassed them.
Our staff and volunteers on the ground knocked on over 22 million doors across the country. We made 20 million phone calls and sent more than 42 million texts to voters. That’s truly astonishing. It is.
We also advocated for fixing our rigged system in a way that will make it work better for everyone.
A year ago, people weren’t talking about a two-cent wealth tax, Universal Child Care, cancelling student loan debt for 43 million Americans while reducing the racial wealth gap, breaking up big tech, or expanding Social Security. And now they are. And because we did the work of building broad support for all of those ideas across this country, these changes could actually be implemented by the next president.
A year ago, people weren’t talking about corruption, and they still aren’t talking about it enough — but we’ve moved the needle, and a hunk of our anti-corruption plan is already embedded in a House bill that is ready to go when we get a Democratic Senate.
And we also did it by having fun and by staying true to ourselves. We ran from the heart. We ran on our values. We ran on treating everyone with respect and dignity. But it was so much more. Four-hour selfie lines and pinky promises with little girls. A wedding at one of our town halls. And we were joyful and positive through all of it. We ran a campaign not to put people down, but to lift them up — and I loved pretty much every minute of it.
I may not be in the race for president in 2020, but this fight — our fight — is not over. And our place in this fight has not ended.
Because for every young person who is drowning in student debt, for every family struggling to pay the bills on two incomes, for every mom worried about paying for prescriptions or putting food on the table, this fight goes on.
For every immigrant and African American and Muslim and Jewish person and Latinx and transwoman who sees the rise in attacks on people who look or sound or worship like them, this fight goes on.
For every person alarmed by the speed with which climate change is bearing down upon us, this fight goes on.
And for every American who desperately wants to see our nation healed and some decency and honor restored to our government, this fight goes on.
When I voted on Tuesday at the elementary school down the street, a mom came up to me. She said she has two small children, and they have a nightly ritual. After the kids have brushed teeth and read books and gotten that last sip of water and done all the other bedtime routines, they do one last thing before the two little ones go to sleep: Mama leans over them and whispers, “Dream big.” And the children together reply, “Fight hard.”
So if you leave with only one thing, it must be this: Choose to fight only righteous fights, because then when things get tough — and they will — you will know that there is only option ahead of you: nevertheless, you must persist.
You should be so proud of what we’ve done together — what you have done over this past year.
Our work continues, the fight goes on, and big dreams never die.
Thanks for being a part of this,
Ezra Levin, co-founder and co-executive director of Indivisible Team
“For the record, Warren was the top scoring candidate on Indivisible’s scorecard and would have been an incredible President.”
Elizabeth Warren’s tenured photo in the halls of Harvard University. Supporters and students left their comments for her on the day she suspended her campaign.