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On the Hill with Hill’

August 31, 2016 5:00 am0 commentsViews: 41
Photo: Cherie Mittenthal

Photo: Cherie Mittenthal

by Steve Desroches

We’re stronger together and Donald Trump is a f**king idiot. Those are two things I’ve long believed that were reaffirmed when I went to the Hillary Clinton fundraiser at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum the Sunday after Carnival. I went for two reasons: I love Provincetown and its history, and I wanted to witness history in the making, and second, I want Hillary Clinton to be President. I swear I got my ticket before I heard Cher was coming, but that made the event all the more amazing. Seriously, I was about to levitate when Cher came out. Despite voting for Bernie Sanders in the Massachusetts primary, true to the values of the New Deal Democrats who raised me, I’m voting for Clinton because, well, I believe we are stronger together and because Donald Trump is a f**king idiot.

So what happened on the hill that day? I have a master’s degree in journalism and have been working in some form of the field or another for the past 15 years. So I understand and share the frustration the media has that, like a lot of politicians, the Clinton campaign does not allow press at fundraising events. Our democracy should be completely transparent. That being said it made me chuckle to read headlines and stories about a “closed-door” fundraiser written in a manner that made it sound like the event was held in the Bat Cave rather than on High Pole Hill. Nevertheless, secrecy breeds suspicion. But as I looked around the crowd that day, I saw some of the biggest mouths in town, myself included. Nothing about that event was going to stay a secret for very long, if it ever was one to begin with.

Peter Donnelly and Steve Desroches at The Pilgrim Monument.

Peter Donnelly and Steve Desroches at The Pilgrim Monument.

By now you’ve seen the coverage of Clinton’s (and Cher’s) visit to Provincetown. Most of that coverage focused on Cher’s comments, like calling Trump a “f**king idiot” and comparing him to Hitler, which is an overused analogy in American politics, but absolutely fits this time. I am absolutely thrilled that that is the news that broke globally out of this event. It means Provincetown still has its edge. Other events reveal Clinton’s economic plan or how she’ll deal with terrorism. But the world now knows that Cher came to Provincetown and said she basically thinks Trump is like bratty Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed. Just like the Key & Peele skit about Luther, Obama’s Anger Translator, Cher is Clinton’s. Of course, Clinton herself was presidential in a speech full of substance and plans, as well as an agreement to return in 2020 for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing. But the speech itself revealed nothing new. Rather, it addressed many of her priorities, like climate change, gun violence and the opiate addiction epidemic, free community college, and equal rights for all. She didn’t give a landmark speech like the one in Beijing in 1995 when she said, “women’s rights are human rights.” But the event itself was big to me for three reasons that have more to do with context than a specific statement.

Looking around the crowd of about 1,100 people that day, I saw a lot of familiar faces. I wasn’t sure I would. When Clinton visited last summer, the minimum donation to attend was $1,000. With some tickets this time priced at $45 (how I was able to go) and $500, the organizers of both events, Alix Ritchie and Bryan Rafanelli (whom I predict will be Clinton’s Social Secretary), made it more accessible. I do believe our democracy would be much stronger if we took money out of politics and said goodbye to fundraisers all together. And Clinton said in July she would introduce a constitutional amendment within her first 30 days in office, if she’s elected, to overturn Citizens United, as well as several other initiatives to remove the influence of money on our government and elections. That Sunday afternoon was much more economically diverse than I thought it was going to be. Provincetown has always been at the forefront of many big issues, and while the gentrification that is going on here is a local symptom of a national disease, it should be noted that the fundraisers Clinton attended that same weekend on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Osterville did not have affordable tickets at all. Provincetown did. We are stronger together in Provincetown when we make room for all, regardless of income.

Photo: Urvashi Vaid 

Photo: Urvashi Vaid

What I also took from that afternoon was what an amazing moment it was for women. Provincetown has a very long history of feminism and activism for the equality of women. So not only does Clinton, the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for President, come to town, but she does so with Cher, a woman who is in her sixth decade of soaring in a male-dominated industry, defining herself the whole way. On top of that one of our own, comedian Kate Clinton, was the emcee presenting a field of speakers that included sports legend Billie Jean King and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, with interim Democratic National Committee chairperson Donna Brazile in the audience. As was mentioned more than once, the current assault on the rights of women in this country is staggering. And there is always a backlash against any group when they achieve a milestone towards equality. Clinton’s success has already stirred the misogynist hornet’s nest. We are stronger together when women and men work as equals, and when we identify and defeat sexism.

Lastly, the personal symbolism of the day for LGBT people took my breath away. Think about it. The Democratic nominee for President came to Provincetown, known globally for its association with the gay community, and went to the highest point in town, with Cher, one of the biggest gay icons, and spoke out in favor of LGBT equality with folks like Barney Frank and Tony Kushner in the crowd. And they served pink lemonade! That wouldn’t have happened as recently as 2008, in my opinion. It’s a remarkable example of progress. And if my ears heard correctly, one of the biggest cheers of the day came when Cher mentioned her son Chaz. While Cher expressed concern for the LGBT community’s safety in the midst of the homophobic and transphobic backlash underway, it was a reminder that this issue is personal to her as a mother. There is no more powerful message than that. We are better together when we celebrate people for who they are and let love trump hate. We are better together, period.