Owe | owed
Let’s not talk about the now infamous “Hillary Owes You Nothing” article. You know, the one where the exact people who disagree with its title argument — to whom the article was addressed — felt the need to immediately express their multi-syllabic disagreement in rapid-fire, successive Facebook comments.
I’m too exhausted to respond to an argument the article *was written expressly to address.*
Instead, let me burden you with the crux of the issue for me, live from the DC metro area. This “where’s Hillary?” thing feels directed at the democratic campaign workers, myself included, who invested our lifeblood in this campaign — and hoped to be able to pass the torch afterward.
Some people, who quite possibly participated in the 2016 election only by perusing social media on their phones from the comfort of their toilets, say we should stay and fight — others say we should STFU because Trump’s win is our fault. Either way, we are the worst. And they know Things.
When we’re getting paid, we’re the establishment. Now that we’re not, everyone’s all too happy to take our free work — watching us on TV protesting in front of the White House, connecting them to orgs that march for Black lives, standing outside Mitch McConnell’s house reading Coretta Scott King’s letter, protesting at the airport, offering up our free legal services to get refugee detainees and green card holders released, risking our jobs and anonymity to do so, giving free expert advice in the form of the Indivisible Guide — advice that we’ve been giving for decades, but was worthless before because we’re head-over-heart and establishment and elite.
People are willing to take our free, volunteer, expert labor — but not our life’s work, just eschewing the insane infrastructure we’ve built over decades and decades — because it’s ugly. Well, it grew ugly because its growth has been curbed from all sides for all time, despite the begging and reaching out, and directly asking for help, money, input. That help could’ve built something more beautiful, but they withheld it. They’re above party politics. And so we’re too ugly. Ew. And now those same people complaining about the Party are complaining that the resistance isn’t well organized…by us?
People who think DC is House of Cards are kidding themselves. You can look up congressional, government, and non-profit salaries on whatever device you’re using to read this hot mess. We’re not in it for the glamour. A campaign staffer right out of school might gross $3000–3500/month during a 5 month election cycle contract. A seasoned professional might gross $7000–10,000/mo for just 5 months, and then it’s back to job hunting and living off your savings. A family home (more than 1,000 sqft) costs a *minimum* of $700,000, and that’s tiny and may not be in a good school district. And, in DC proper, when I say “good school district,” I mean that the elementary school has air conditioning during the 100+ degree summers. Every day, we drive on crumbling landmark roads and bridges — because congress *which is elected by people who will never even visit DC* controls the city’s school and infrastructure budget — and yet DC has no vote in congress.
So we’ve worked. And it’s not *just* work — it’s the work we choose because we care so much, often with very little reward — it’s a 24/7 lifestyle for much of the year. And everyone “hates politics.” And “hates politicians.” And don’t forget “political operatives.” And Hillary lost because of our shittiness, even though we ran a kick-ass campaign and were assassinated by illegal weaponry.
But, every day, we have to take our lumps for not beating the racist, misogynist, nazi machine that hates us, too. Trumpers are moving into our neighborhoods, setting up nazi HQ within walking distance of our houses, changing the culture of our workplaces and neighborhoods.
And we also have to take our lumps from our own people — from the Women’s March, which was largely inspired by Hillary, which used her words, but wouldn’t even mention her name in the list of history-making women it was meant to honor, because Bernie. Ninety percent of the “she persisted” collage memes I’ve seen this week don’t even include her.
We are privileged, and we know it, but we are also EXHAUSTED. She must be EXHAUSTED. Jesus, some of us just wanted to get private sector jobs and make enough money to eat out more often and have 2 cars or take a vacation or pay off some credit card debt. And we can’t. Our brains and our hearts won’t let most of us.
So here we are, being asked to listen with open minds and hearts to people telling us that Hillary owes them something more — that we owe them something more — all while we are the ones out in the streets making national news to inspire the rest of the country to do the same.
And my question is — what do those people who demand more of Hillary owe? Why do they hate us/her and also depend on us/her so? Why are we disgusting when we’re running campaigns, but “doing what’s right” or even noble when we’re doing unpaid skilled work? Maybe this is the time for those who would depend on Hillary to take flight on their own. She’s 70 years old. Do we demand that she fight until she’s dead because she ran for president and we rejected her TWICE? Is she still somehow under contract to serve us because we voted for her? How many times can we expect a human being to offer themselves to us in service, tell them NO THANKS, and expect them to return? If a friend of mine came to me with this work scenario, I’d probably try to help her give herself permission to walk away.
We — and we — have to decide who owes whom what.
So that’s what I have to say about that. Not eloquently. But this is what catharsis looks like.