Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hillary Clinton's American Quilt

There are two impressive scenes in the movie "How to Make an American Quilt." In one of these scenes, Winona Ryder first sets her eyes upon the wedding quilt her grandmother, grand-aunt, and their quilting circle have made for her, and it is a sight to behold.

The women have been meeting for weeks bringing scraps of fabric significant to them for various reasons and painstakingly repurposing the remnants into squares of individual significance to each member.

While the quilters have been industriously crafting this lovely product, Ryder's character, who does not know the quilt is for her, has been writing her master's thesis. She does this, inexplicably, on a typewriter (the movie is not a period piece), on single sheets of paper without benefit of carbon paper (google it if that compound noun is alien  to you), and without making a daily run to the local Office Max or wherever to make copies. One day, a strong gust of wind picks up the loose papers and blows them all over town. That is the second impressive scene. Months of toil gone with the wind. One character wonders aloud how anyone would be so stupid as not to have made copies.

Throughout the film, Ryder's character, Finn, pounds away at her thesis while treating the quilting bee group to recordings of tribal music all in a very single-minded, self-centered fashion while the bee ladies sit in their circle  and share their stories both past and current.  These reminiscences are as rich as the quilt they ultimately complete. We never know how rich Finn's thesis might have been. Minus binding or tacking, the winds have dispersed it.

In the wake of the head-spinning week we have experienced, I find a metaphor here for what is happening politically in this country.

The campaign Hillary Clinton has been running is the quilting bee.  She hears from Americans, sees the problems set before her, and devises practical solutions to put forth.  Her plans and issues overlap and intersect like patches on a quilt.  There is an artfulness to it. There is tacking holding the pieces together.  What is  good for workers, farmers, families, women, students, and children - those things are good for America.  That is Hillary's thread - what is good for America.

The Sanders campaign consists of single sheets of typed script with no cohesion within the text. No tacking. Each issue is addressed in isolation.  We do not know that Finn's thesis is incohesive, probably not, but once the papers fly the semblance fits.

Donald Trump's campaign  - well you could argue that it is represented by the random scraps of fabric, but it is more like Finn's research on 3x5 index cards (for those of you who remember putting your research on those) or better yet, a thesis written on post-its.

No campaign this cycle has the cohesion that Hillary's has. You may remember the Quilters for Hillary.


Hillary has been making an American quilt all along. Every part is tacked down, all the pieces fit together.

Two articles on Medium struck me hard today. I agree with both of them.