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"Our President, Ourselves" email campaign for Hillary

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 11 2008

You know when something is spreading online when your friends ask you about it spontaneously. That's how I heard about feminist Robin Morgan's online rallying cry for Hillary Clinton, "Goodbye To All That (#2)," which has been circulating widely since she posted it on the Women's Media Center website on February 2nd. And then Chelsea Clinton started forwarding it around...

You know when something is spreading online when your friends ask you about it spontaneously. That's how I heard about feminist Robin Morgan's online rallying cry for Hillary Clinton, "Goodbye To All That (#2)," which has been circulating widely since she posted it on the Women's Media Center website on February 2nd. "Have you read Robin Morgan's essay?" a good friend of mine asked me after we bumped into each other and starting talking about how we voted in the New York primary. To my surprise and interest, this friend--who was an Edwards supporter until he dropped out, because he had the most progressive positions in her eyes--had been swayed by Morgan's passionate screed.

The essay needs to be read in full to understand its impact on women who grew up with the feminist movement, and today are probably somewhere around Hillary's age. Morgan rails against the double standards she sees being applied against Clinton by many in the media, defends Clinton as a real progressive, and ends with this rallying cry:

“Our President, Ourselves!”

Time is short and the contest tightening. We need to rise in furious energy—as we did when Anita Hill was so vilely treated in the U.S. Senate, as we did when Rosie Jiminez was butchered by an illegal abortion, as we did and do for women globally who are condemned for trying to break through. We need to win, this time. Goodbye to supporting HRC tepidly, with ambivalent caveats and apologetic smiles. Time to volunteer, make phone calls, send emails, donate money, argue, rally, march, shout, vote.

Me? I support Hillary Rodham because she’s the best qualified of all candidates running in both parties. I support her because her progressive politics are as strong as her proven ability to withstand what will be a massive right-wing assault in the general election. I support her because she knows how to get us out of Iraq. I support her because she’s refreshingly thoughtful, and I’m bloodied from eight years of a jolly “uniter” with ejaculatory politics. I needn’t agree with her on every point. I agree with the 97 percent of her positions that are identical with Obama’s—and the few where hers are both more practical and to the left of his (like health care). I support her because she’s already smashed the first-lady stereotype and made history as a fine senator, because I believe she will continue to make history not only as the first US woman president, but as a great US president.

As for the “woman thing”?

Me, I’m voting for Hillary not because she’s a woman—but because I am.

A glance at various tracking tools shows this piece is definitely spreading online. On Google Trends, searches for "Robin Morgan" have spiked out of nowhere in the last few days. On Technorati, other blogs are referencing "Robin Morgan" twenty to thirty times a day, again out of nowhere. Alexa shows a modest spike for the Women's Media Center domain.

Not only that, Slate's XX Factor blog reported last week that Chelsea Clinton appears to be forwarding the Morgan essay around by email, with the subject line "A must read...send to every woman you know." In the version received by their blogger, Emily Bazelon, it looks as if Chelsea added this note: "I echo Nickie [the originator of the email chain] though would also add to please forward this to all the men you know too--voting in the election tomorrow, voting next week, already voted. I don't agree with all the points Robin Morgan makes but I do believe her thesis is important for us all to confront--I confess that I didn't entirely get 'it' until not only guys stood up and shouted 'iron my shirts' but the media reacted with amusement, not outrage..."

There's definitely something happening here, and it probably has a strong connection to the fresh wave of online donations Clinton has tapped in the last few days. If the Clinton campaign were smart, it would tell us how many of these new donors are women--I bet they skew heavily female (compared to their large donor pool, which according to OpenSecrets.org has tilted 55% male up through the end of the year)...and the information would create its own positive feedback loop.