Yes #ImWithHer

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It likely comes as no surprise to anyone that I support Hillary Clinton for President. I can still be a little perplexed by certain assumptions about my endorsement of her candidacy. For the record, I am a “Nebraska Nice” homegrown feminist who found myself battling gender stereotypes throughout most of my adult life. I never had much success in these strategic engagements, but I am proud of my persistence and courage. I never gave up my personal political and social agenda or willingness to fight for others and causes I support. I accept that I have walked a fine line between activist leader and dilettante. I hope I have demonstrated some commitment, knowledge and intelligence avoiding the latter category. I cannot deny that I ran for 3 political offices mostly because I had a social agenda. I knew I had virtually no chance of winning these races. It was a daunting challenge. The “Year of the Woman” in politics had been declared in 1992. Not seeing much action in Nebraska by 2002 – 2003, I was willing to step up. Whether I even accomplished my personal goals is yet to be determined. For the record, my agenda was to encourage more Nebraska women to run for political office and help them win.

My personal “Herstory” reflects why I admire Secretary Clinton so much. She doesn’t give up. She fights for underdogs like me and causes I believe in. Most importantly, she is so much better at it then I ever was or could be. She truly is the champion I aspired to be. She was identified as a woman leader for my generation at her college graduation – before she even met the former American President who shares her journey!


Hillary Clinton chose to work and learn from a giant in a field I advocated for and followed for decades. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, is a accomplished women I greatly admire. Her association with Hillary spoke volumes to me when I first decided to even like the aspiring First Lady. 

One of the bedrock principles I have figured out is that you cannot cherish children by disparaging or dismissing the women bearing so much responsibility for their lives. Hillary Clinton gets that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and she has spoken to this reality forcefully and tirelessly throughout the years.

For a lot of reasons, our American political landscape is depicted to emphasize differences over shared values. Hearing “Women’s Rights” unfairly translates and is reduced to a narrow reproductive focus in some circles. This was the dark alley detour of the 20th Century feminism I lived.  It was unavoidable because women do have certain rights that society failed to recognize. Rights that apparently still need to be defended. The U.S. Supreme Court is often the decider of the competing interests. This process can be generational. Along the way, wedge issues erect roadblocks on the path to equality and fairness.

I see “Women’s Rights” as central to the social work and juvenile law cases I pursued. I still want to advocate against domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. These social plagues arise in family and societal settings. Hillary Clinton is my candidate because she prioritizes this policy. She doesn’t just orate on it, she has made the welfare of women and children a central focus of her life’s work. She clearly has vast knowledge and experience in other areas; i.e., foreign policy. Importantly, her policy agenda includes the global struggle for women’s rights. Now that is a revolution I can believe in.

In politics, I perceive a laundry list of unconscious motivations I project onto others. I feel guilty about this, but continue the exercise because it helps identify problems and solutions. For now, I will just remark it has been my experience that successful women are held to a higher standard of achievement. It’s unfair and totally unnecessary; discouraging and sometimes very hurtful. It takes a champion to face setback or defeat and move on. Hillary is the gold standard of resilience and fortitude. She will do everything in her power to get the work done and make our lives better.

If you seek more information or persuasion, and you probably should, I encourage you to visit this website:

There is also a film series MAKERS: Women Who Make America (PBS 2013.) Watching any part of Season One will give you a superpower to see the political world through my eyes: 


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2 Wrongs

I adored my father. He died somewhat unexpectedly and suddenly 33 years ago. I was blessed to share a restaurant meal with him in College Park, Maryland, earlier in the evening on the night he left us. Harold Robert Stewart reached the age of 64 years looking forward to retirement once the Social Security he paid for over 40 years kicked in. One of the first political instructions “Daddy” shared with me was that Social Security was the salvation of a working poor man like himself. He said that was why he was and would always be a Democrat. Harold had been a child in the Great Depression, losing his mother at age 3 to childbirth. As a young child, he was sent to live with his father’s sister until his “Dad” remarried. Happy to reconnect with his father, he faced some normal challenges in his adolescence adjusting to a new step family. His parental reunion was then tragically cut short. Fred C. Stewart died suddenly at work one day when his oldest son was 15 years old.

Fred & Bertha Stewart 001   Fred C. Stewart and Bertha Tams Stewart

Dad and Janny Harold and “Janny” Stewart

Losing his parents early in life left an indelible imprint on Harold who became a soft hearted and devoted family man. He worked very hard and enjoyed a “few” beers at home in the evening. He wanted and needed to be at home with his family, particularly when his children were young. He was always the parent whose unconditional love I never doubted even when my behavior or life direction disappointed him. He was a man of few words, and this may be why I remember every moral lesson he ever gave to me. His guiding life principle, which he shared with me throughout my life was: “2 wrongs do not make a right!” In my specific case, “Janny, 2 wrongs do not make a right.” Later I heard, “Jan, remember 2 wrongs don’t make a right.”

This simple and profound parental guidance has helped me resolve many moral questions I have faced or pondered on my life’s journey. It has joined some other wise teachings discovered in adulthood.”Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama.


Society poses some difficult questions needing policy resolution. This is always an opportunity to find consensus or discover a compromise that divergent interests can agree to accept. In such matters leadership really matters. In our politically polarized and special interest funded nation, we struggle with this.

The Death Penalty is one issue that comes to our government policy makers on a regular basis. The Nebraska Unicameral is considering legislation now. A lot of reasons to abandon the Death Penalty naturally present themselves; moral, practical, economic, legal, etc. Our state, however, still appears to be very divided on the issue. Anyone who is interested, and I do think we all could try to be, can find countless sources of information, analysis and discussion. My own ruminations certainly consider if rationality and logic alone point humanity towards a “tipping point”abolishing this form of punishment.

As always, I reflect on the personal journey that brings me to this crossroads. The Protestant denomination of my upbringing has advocated for abolishing the Death Penalty for over 50 years. Not surprisingly if you have been reading this blog, I only discovered this fact 2 years ago. One of the practices I really admire in the Episcopal church is the content and tone of the sermons. The sermons I experienced have not been at all preachy. They did not focus or lecture on politically divisive moral issues. It seems to me that the congregation is free to study and reflect as individuals. We can read The Bible and Book of Common Prayer, and clergy is available to counsel parishioners who struggle with spiritual choices.


My first introduction to the Death Penalty arose on June 25, 1959. Charles Starkweather, age 20 years, was executed by electric chair in Lincoln, Nebraska. He had been convicted of First Degree Murder having killed eleven people during a road trip/killing spree with a teenage girlfriend. The couple were arrested on January 29, 1958. Until the very day he was executed, the story of his violent crimes, trial, appeals, etc., had not really registered on my childhood radar screen. (My parents were pretty careful not to discuss disturbing information in the presence of their 2 daughters.) When the news of the execution came over the radio, I was surprised to hear some cheers in a home where I was visiting. My surprise is likely explained by feelings of cognitive dissonance. I had learned of The Ten Commandments; most likely through a synergy between Charlton Heston and Vacation Bible School. Celebrating the death of another human being just seemed in conflict with my almost10 year old understanding of morality.

I have previously explained, in some detail, how my values are closely connected to movies and T.V. entertainment watched in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. My parents both worked in a small town movie theater in Fairfield, Iowa, where our family lived for 2 years. My younger sister and I watched a lot of movies while Mom and Dad were working. One specific memory connects to the Death Penalty.

Actress Susan Hayward won an Academy Award for a 1958 movie “I want to Live!”  This film was based upon a true story of Barbara Graham who was executed in the California gas chamber in 1955. Coincidentally, this film was shown on cable this past week. I also noted a documentary airing on Nebraska public television. I have these recorded on DVR to watch later. It’s intriguing how these “coincidences” occur. When I was younger I suspected I was clairvoyant. Now, I more maturely understand that when I am reflecting on issues of the day, other entities are doing the same. Anyway, I vividly remember that the Hayward movie trailer left troubling impressions before I even experienced the film sometime in the 1960s. A few things caught my attention. I was shocked to see a woman behaving in the indecent, unscrupulous and aggressive manner portrayed. The possibility that a woman could be executed for a crime honestly stunned me! Socialized gender roles of the day sort of assumed that a “lady” would not commit the various crimes depicted. Furthermore, I clearly understood that “gentlemen” should never strike a woman, much less execute her. Men were seen fighting and punishing others in movies and T.V. all the time. Apparently this was expected. Needless to say, I have since learned otherwise in many respects.


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