Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dr. Bill Roy: "The Only Way to Express Our Grief?"

The Only Way to Express Our Grief?
Dr. Bill Roy,
lawyer, physician, congressman (Ks. 2nd Dist. ’70 – ’74)

In recent primary exit polls as many as 45% of Hillary Clinton’s primary voters have indicated they will not vote for Barack Obama in November. About half of them said they would vote for John McCain and the remainder do not intend to cast a ballot for president.

Initially, I gave this about 10 seconds of thought and marked it down as a polling aberrancy, something that will not happen. Oh, yeah!

In less than a week, four such voters voluntarily identified themselves to me. Two I know well. They are exceptionally hard-working, loyal Democrats. The other two belong to the same demographic group, older white women, just as the pollsters said.

Judy Aitken, who first dropped the will not vote for Obama bomb, was my executive secretary during my four years in Congress. She was an Adlai Stevenson delegate at the 1952, 1956 and 1960 Democratic National Conventions, and today volunteers in the Durango, Colorado, office of Congressman John Salazar.

Judy, husband Bob, Jane and I have long conversations about once a month. So I was clued in that she was disappointed that Barack Obama nearly ignored his Kansas mother in his otherwise successful 1995 book, "Dreams of My Father." She mentioned it early and often, and even a special mention in later additions did not help enough.

Judy begins. "Bill, I have waited all my life for a deserving, qualified woman to head our ticket. We have one, and the Party is not supporting her."

Then she adds, "Hillary is the only one who can beat McCain, and I still believe the Party will realize this. I may call you after Indiana and Pennsylvania." She didn’t call, nor did I.

My next reference is Lee Kelly, who has given thousands of hours to Democratic candidates. I first met Lee when she was Ford County (Dodge City) Democratic Chair during my 1974 U.S. Senate race. A few decades later, her fervor for Democratic politics has not cooled--excepting for voting Obama in November. And she means it.

"Bill, you know as well as I do, ‘the good old boys’ have taken this nomination away from Hillary."

I tried to argue, but when I saw she was about to flame up or tear up--and caught my wife’s admonishing look--I belatedly shut up. Anything I could say would only confirm her opinion, and aggravate her loss of not being able to work relentlessly for Hillary in the fall.

Okay, that’s just two. But later, Washburn professor Bob Beatty addressed downtown Rotary and said Obama has a lot of work to do with older, white women. Bob used his mother as an example.

As we were leaving, a not-so-old fellow Rotarian stopped us, indicated her Democrat bona fides, and told us how difficult it will be for her to vote Obama. She related she too has lived for the day this country would elect a woman president, especially one of Hillary’s qualifications and stature.

Why are older white Democratic women not planning to vote for Obama?

I don‘t believe race is a factor--not with the women I know. But "white" is part of the designated demographic because black women, many of whom initially supported Hillary, can more easily switch to Obama, a fellow African American.

But every woman who has strived for goals at work or in her community, only to be denied when some young man stepped in front of her, feels more or less like Judy, Lee, Bob’s mother and my Rotary friend. And, there are millions of them, mostly Democrats.

Further, these alert, intelligent women likely know that 35 years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women are being paid an average of 77 cents on the dollar than men are paid in the same jobs. Electing Hillary could have changed this, at least for their granddaughters.

So, unless they ask, they don’t need your or my advice. They already know what they don’t like about today’s Supreme Court, and no, they don’t want a Bush third term. They may even know how Hillary lost the nomination, but for now they see only one way to express their grief.

Dr. Roy may be reached at

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