This piece originally ran on Righteous Anger.
I walked by my bookcase today and picked up Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. It was written in the days of Bush the Father and Reagan. It was a big influence on me at the time. I remember how Bill Clinton was elected after that, and we were told it would be all better. You remember, “Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow…”
Then, we had Clinton signing into law “welfare reform” and making his wife look like a fool on the grand public stage. Go, Democrats, y’all.
I think I finally came to the realization that the Democrats would never be an answer to the problems faced by the poor, minorities or women when Clinton was in office. Before that, I had focused my hatred on the Republicans and Bush’s wars. But how was Clinton better? In fact, he had a more negative impact on my life than Bush ever did.
At the time Clinton climbed into bed with the right-wing to paint the poor as unworthy, I was enrolled fulltime at University of Arizona and my husband was working the same fulltime job he’s held since he was 15. Our daughter was about five, so childcare was very important. My education would be our way out of poverty, but Clinton and both political parties wouldn’t have it. As soon as Arizona had the excuse of “welfare reform”, they ended childcare subsidies for poor students. Apparently, the so-called Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 had this effect on many Americans, because it had never been allowed before. We were living on less than $12,000 a year. There was no way in hell we could afford childcare for me to go to school. So, I had to quit. It would be another ten years before I finally got my degree, and it came at great expense. U of A had penalized me for quitting in the middle of a semester, so I had to go to an over-priced technical school. That left huge, huge student loan debt that we’re still drowning under today. Thanks, Bill.