So, yesterday I got into a fairly heated debate with a co-worker about Hilary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders. At one point I said that there were plenty of women I would happily vote for as our next president. (In 2014 I voted for two women running for President/Vice President: Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala). Clinton just wasn’t on my list.
My list, off the top of my head, included Maria Cantwell, Christine Gregoire, Patti Murry, Jill Stein, Elizabeth Warren and Nina Turner. Turner has never been to Washington, but she is a political force. I met her briefly at a Cleveland State event a few years back and I’ve always been impressed with her. Because my attention is too often drawn to the national and international scenes (I depend upon Roldo to keep me grounded locally), I totally missed Turner’s support of Bernie Sanders. My bad.
This morning, while reading about Erica Gardner I followed a thread to Every Bernie Sanders Supporter Should Read This Today where Terrell Jermaine Starr writes:
Without Black women like former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, I wouldn’t be giving Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders the time of day. If you don’t know who Turner is, you should. Turner served in the Ohio State Senate from 2008 to 2014. She made national news in 2012 when she introduced a men’s reproductive health bill that would have required men to undergo psychological counseling before getting prescriptions for medications like Viagra.
“Even the FDA recommends that doctors make sure that assessments are taken that target the nature of the symptoms, whether it’s physical or psychological,” Turner said at the time. “I certainly want to stand up for men’s health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman’s womb.”
Since November, Turner has been volunteering her time doing Black voter outreach for Sanders’ campaign, a crucial base of supporters he must win if he is to have a real shot at beating former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Though the Senator continues to trail her in crucial primary states where Black people make up huge voting blocs, Turner said during an hour-long phone conversation last week that once more Black people, like her, Tezlyn Figaro of Sanders’ African-American outreach team, and others get out and stump for Bernie just as Clinton’s supporters are going hard for her, we will see a shift in Black support.
As I read through Starr’s interview with Turner, this was the response that made me sit up:
STARR: When you decided to support Sen. Sanders, did you catch any heat?
TURNER: “Oh, my god yes. I’ve had white Hillary supporters saying to me that I betrayed the Clintons and saying I’m not going to have a future in politics. I mean, they marked me for life, and I’m sitting back thinking: The Clintons never helped me to do a thing in my life, and all of a sudden they control my destiny? [Emphasis in original, JH], That was very condescending to me.
“I had a white woman here in Ohio who supported my Secretary of State run in 2014. I’ll never forget this. I was at a Planned Parenthood lecture a couple of months ago and she came up to me and said how disappointed she was in me. Very condescending. And I let her know that I really didn’t care about her disappointment and I’m not on the plantation. That’s exactly what I told her.
“Then she said, ‘After all we’ve done for you.’ Now, see. That was it for me. I interpreted that as, ‘After all we’ve done for you, Black girl, you owe us.’ They would never say that to anyone else, but the fact you feel you can say that to a Black woman? I thought she was supporting me because I was the best candidate to be Secretary of State, because I was trying to protect access to the ballot box for all people — not because you own me or I owe you.”
That is the kind of fire we need in the White House. I won’t presume to guide Bernie, but I think Nina Turner would make an excellent vice presidential candidate.