From A Hillary Superdelegate: An Open Letter To My Grandson And Other Respectful Bernie Supporters

Thank you for contacting me to express your honest feelings about this 2016 Democratic primary election. I appreciate your passion and concern about the future of not only the Democratic Party, but of America, our country.

I like Bernie. I like his style and his framing, blunt and to the point. Most Democrats trying to be precise use too many syllables sound wonky. Republicans have mastered the art of keep it simple, making words and phrases that are easy to remember and catch on with the public to whether or not they are based on fact or have real meaning. Now Democrats have a major player who is beating the Republicans at framing! Bernie is from Brooklyn, NY. I come from Jersey City. We grew up in the same era (I'm only a year younger than Bernie) and in a working class neighborhoods, I can relate personally to his style ... I like it and I get it!

I agree with some of Bernie's signature issues, for example, single payer, i.e. Medicare for all , as opposed to Obamacare which we have now. Yes, Obamacare is light years ahead of what we had under Bush and the Republicans then and is superior to what they would drag us back to if they could. Obama care is based on Romneycare and is the child of the reactionary Heritage Foundation, a "parent" that began trying to kill that "child" as soon as it was adopted by Obama and the Democrats!

The idea of a political revolution is seriously attractive! Seeing the intransigence in Washington and certainly here in New Jersey where we are saddled with a Governor who from the very beginning has allowed considerations for what is best for his own political future take precedence over best-practice governance with that principle solely guiding his actions and enforced by his seeming bi-polar style of being likable when he wants and a bullying despot when he felt that was advantageous. Nationally, we have the tea party funded by the Kochs and there are other billionaires who do not believe in government and want government to fail! No wonder we must have change.

I grew up with the Beatles, and although my favorite song was , Hey Jude!, it was the other side of that single, "Revolution" that is most appropriate here.

"You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait"


© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Yes, we need "CHANGE", that is simple and clear. To directly address income inequality, we must devolve from our current trajectory that is shrinking the middle class, making the rich richer and more powerful and leaving the poor and near poor with an ever smaller piece of the pie.
Greed is not good. In the sense that Glass-Steagall must come back, banks should be broken up and de-levered. But it is not that simple. Banks are not casinos should not be gambling as if they were in competition with the Casino industry. Our tax policy should not be rigged in favor of those most able to pay ... I think we are all in agreement!

We need a balance of rights and responsibility on all levels. Corporations that have limited liability and privacy through their corporate veil must not have more rights than human citizens, that is nuts! Right wing ideologues must not control the Supreme Court.

We all must be part of the solution to make that change and we cannot wait every 4 years to act, nor even every 2 years. Its more than just voting, it is working to get and keep a seat at the table and it is our responsibility to step up. Look what happened and continues to happen to the Republican party! How did it become a party of people who do not want government to work, who do not want women to have control over their own bodies, who are more concerned about what people do in their bedrooms, or what people have between their legs, rather than supporting people being honest and open about who they actually are or who they love.

When I first got involved politically it was out of fear for myself and my own survival. There was this societal stigma attached to LGBT people (and especially to transgender people) that shook me to my very core and drove me to fight to get a seat at the table to make positive change. It was more unnerving than my father's WWII story of a young soldier in his squad walking around his bunk and staring at him looking for his horns and tail because he had heard that my Dad was Jewish
This was about educated progressive lawmakers and attorneys who honestly wanted to help transgender people but believed that the societal stigma attached to the trans community was too much of a burden and as a result they would not give us the opportunity to take a giant step forward to help ourselves fearing that we would fail. We learned the rules, we worked the system and we won! We went back for more and more and kept winning until a Republican Chris Christie became Governor and progress essentially came to a halt.

In 2004 transgender people were not included in the Democratic Party's Convention (DNCC) platform and an organized attempt to include basic recognition for us was rebuffed. Gay and lesbian leaders would not even say the word, "transgender". It was very disappointing. By early 2005 after Kerry's loss, allies within the DNC gave us the opportunity to engage, to stick a foot in the door and we did. We engaged boldly, constructively and in a timely manner and because we "showed up" and engaged, we earned respect.

In 2007 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign reached out to transgender leaders for support. We asked for a positive statement of support for transgender rights, not just gay and lesbian rights, we wanted it on her web site for all to see and when she did that we signed on to her LGBT Steering Committee. Within a week both the Obama and Edwards campaigns put up comparable statements on their respective websites. The 2008 DNCC platform had fully inclusive LGBT nondiscrimination language and the Convention rules called for a fully inclusive equal opportunity clause for delegates.

In 2008 I was elected to the DNCC as a Hillary Delegate and although she lost a very close and bitter primary to Senator Obama, I recognized a couple of things... 1) Obama was aggressive in working the rules to win the most delegates and 2) As Obama and his people reached out to us it was obvious that we shared so many values it was clear that sooner or later it was in our best interest to come together. Besides the thought of Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the Presidency was a huuuge wakeup call!

Working together for victory brought us the fruits of victory. A great many changes happened relatively quickly. As sitting President, Obama became leader of the Democratic Party and named Governor Tim Kaine as DNC Chair. In late August of 2009 Chairman Kaine appointed me as the first openly transgender member of the DNC. Literally 5 minutes before that the DNC added "Gender Identity" to its Charter and By-Laws as a category of nondiscrimination and inclusion. When Hillary Clinton became Obama's Secretary of State she proactively reformed America's passport policy so that trans people were no longer forced to have sex-affirming surgery in order to change their gender marker! Proactively! Embassies and Consulates throughout the world began recognizing LGBT hate crimes and observing Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The culture within the Obama Administration, the culture within the Clinton State Dept and the Clinton campaign and within the DNC is trans inclusive and I think that it is reasonable to assume that because of the more overt trans inclusive rules of the 2016 Convention, the Sanders Campaign should reflect those rules. As of this writing Sanders had at least 9 trans identified delegates elected and Clinton 12 ... and counting

When I look back when I was a delegate in 2004 and reflect on my frustration with the Kerry campaign, and follow the opportunities that were given and sometimes aggressively yet respectfully and responsibly taken with the DNC under Howard Dean, Tim Kaine and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I realize how much progress has been made for transgender rights. In 2004 the Chair of the DNC Gay and Lesbian Caucus (and most everyone else) would not say the word "transgender". In 2011 I jumped at an opportunity to run for the DNC Executive Committee and won! Really inclusive and now in 2016 the DNC is actively fighting for our rights. When Hillary Clinton's Primary Victory video features a trans activist woman of color and uses the voice of a second trans woman ... When she boldly and confidently talks about having our back ... with her proactive record of not only talking the talk, but actually "walking the walk", how could I not support Hillary Clinton to be our next President?

Hillary will be the DNC nominee, she learned from Obama and followed the rules and won convincingly the most votes and the most delegates.

Bernie was welcomed into the DNC, he was made a superdelegate, and received a proportional percentage of people on the Platform Drafting Committee. His delegates will be welcomed, and will have an opportunity to unite and become a constructive part of the campaign and Party infrastructure if they choose to make the effort.

We all have different priorities, but as we do share basic values and are a big tent. I was impressed listening to an outgoing Democratic Chair talking about basic Democratic values and "shared responsibilities" and I got it. I used that philosophy to frame issue to make positive change, I also am very much aware that politics is a blood sport and can be messy, but as perfumers know, sometimes we have to work with bad smelling stuff to get the sweet final product.