Last week I was driving with NPR on the radio, and the topic was the role of anti-feminism in the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Being a feminist from my earliest days, I pondered my non-support of Senator Clinton. Some callers were claiming betrayal and the triumph of misogyny. I felt torn as I listened to them.
Misogyny is not past, and certainly not absent in this election. Hilary Clinton, as a powerful woman, has been fending off gender slurs since before her husband even ran for president. Now the slime machine is in overdrive. Journalists who should be asking informed questions waste time driveling on about â€˜likeabilityâ€™. I saw Sen. Clinton speak in Rhode Island, and she is not lacking charisma. Some of the offensive nonsense coming at her in this campaign makes me want to vote for her just to spite her detractors. And the old revolutionary saying — â€˜no taxation without representationâ€™ still holds by me.
But both Clinton and Obama are strong candidates. I have to pick the one I think is best. (This time Iâ€™d rather be a Democrat, with two real choices, than a Republican trying to decide which one I dislike the least.)
Recognizing race and gender has a paradoxical aspect. Itâ€™s not realistic to try to be race and gender neutral. Thatâ€™s a state of denial. But ultimately we look toward a time when individuals will be judged by â€˜the content of their characterâ€™, as Dr. King said.
One turning point for me was when Sen. Obama said that he would talk with nations we are in conflict with and Sen. Clinton tried to make him look soft and naive. Well, to me he was just making sense. When he said he would not use nuclear weapons in Pakistan and Afghanistan I though he sounded like a leader, not just a politician. When I heard Sen. Clinton on the radio go around in circles for over a minute before declaring that, yes, waterboarding is torture — well, this is about more than â€˜charismaâ€™. Sen. Clinton cannot continue the pattern of trying to play all sides as her husband did. Not if she wants my vote. Because I am not all that nostalgic for the good old days of Bill Clinton and his compromises. He handed over power to the worst elements of the Republican party. He tossed loyal supporters overboard at the first sign of opposition (more on that soon).
And as a feminist I canâ€™t fail to see that Sen. Clinton came into political power in the shadow of her husband, as he owes a great deal of his political success to her. Sheâ€™s probably a better person than he is, sheâ€™s smarter and more ethical, but the political organization was built by both of them. Allâ€™s fair in politics, of course, but I canâ€™t look at Hillary Clinton without thinking that the former President is part of the deal. I donâ€™t see us getting out of this mess with the same politicking that got us in.
We do need a change. Iâ€™ve often though that if George Bush had been born George Brush heâ€™d be selling used cars somewhere. If Hillary Clinton had gone back to being Hilary Rodham would she have the political machine behind her that is raising the bucks and the delegates? Youâ€™d have to visit an alternate universe to find out, but in this one Barack Obama is inspiring the popular vote. If the people want him and politics shuts him out we will all pay.