House of Race and Gender Cards

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 ‘likeability’. 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 — ‘no taxation without representation’ still holds by me.

But both Clinton and Obama are strong candidates. I have to pick the one I think is best. (This time I’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. It’s not realistic to try to be race and gender neutral. That’s a state of denial. But ultimately we look toward a time when individuals will be judged by ‘the content of their character’, 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 ‘charisma’. 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 can’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. She’s probably a better person than he is, she’s smarter and more ethical, but the political organization was built by both of them. All’s fair in politics, of course, but I can’t look at Hillary Clinton without thinking that the former President is part of the deal. I don’t see us getting out of this mess with the same politicking that got us in.

We do need a change. I’ve often though that if George Bush had been born George Brush he’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? You’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.

7 thoughts on “House of Race and Gender Cards

  1. I think it is easy to claim that Hillary is going around in circles to explain statements and proposed policies, and Barack Obama is a straight talker who means what he says and never changes his mind. However, first of all Barack Obama has never been asked a tough question through out this entire election and second he has not been around long enough to have been forced to make a controversial decision. His opposition to the war doesn’t count because he wasn’t in the Senate to vote on it. Therefore, it is completely rediculous to reward a decision he made knowing it didn’t have any consequences. On the other hand, Hillary has had every single thing she has ever said and done put under a microscope. That is not to say that her actions shouldn’t be up for critique and debate, but I only ask that the same courtesy be extended to Obama. I agree with you that we should be having a conversation about issues and not someone’s “likeablity” factor.

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  3. Two strong candidates? I don’t think so. I think neither Hillary (a gender specific usage her campaign has encouraged) and Obama (who has made an issue of his race from day one) would be a plausible candidate without their race and gender associations. They are both playing a cynical subliminal game, pulling the wool over voters eyes – voters who realize that change is needed – by associating political change with the monumental firsts that electing a female or black president would be.

    But as we’ve seen so often before, such firsts don’t necessarily imply positive change.

    It’s so strange to hear someone criticize Clinton, in comparison to Obama, for playing both sides. The second leg that Obama’s campaign stands on is firmly planted in the GOP, as shown by his constant boasting that he can win Republican votes that no other Dem can win, or that Clinton can’t win. Case in point: he wants to pull out of Iraq, but he wants to stay there to protect US “interests” – ie, he wants to do exactly the same thing McCain wants to do.

    Both Obama and Clinton are preposterous as Dem party candidates. Any Dem with remotely populist positions (everyone seems to forget that populism has always been the essential position of the Dems IN THEORY) gets run off.

  4. Where is Pat Paulsen when we need a candidate who runs on a platform that stated: “If elected, I promise to do nothing. That way I won’t mess anything up.” If we must choose, let us choose wisely and look for new energy.

    In point of fact, Ms Clinton has done less in this real political world than Mr. Obama. His life experience includes real State elected office and responsibilities; Ms Clinto has none. His life experience includes real community service over years: Ms Clinton did her “community service” for 9 months and resigned. Mr. Obama has the highest Lieral rating of anyone in the Senate..just about perfect. MS Clinton used her husband’s state political connections to work for a corporate firm, serve on the Wal Mart board and help them export U.S. jobs. Of course her other experience seems to have been following Bill around and trying to minimize the impact of his “other” hobby interests. Mr. Obama has had a marvelous family life, amazingly healthy. In the White House, Ms Clinton, again involved in Bill’s personal “issues” had a political involvement that was a disaster from start to end.

    If confronting Mr. McCain, Ms Clinton will wither before the vine blooms against Mr. McCain’s “experience” as a hero and an expert in foreign policy, campaign reform, taxation and military matters. In a contest of who can confront terror, Ms Clinton fails. She is the candidate of choice for the Republican Party, not Mr. Obama. Her negatives will lose the election for the Democrat Party. A McCain-Obama confrontation does offer choice.

    Ms Clinton, like Mr Kerry, voted for the war before she voted against it and voted for it again before she voted against it again. Mr. Obam’s record is clear: he said no. Finally, why do we need more failed dynasty building. Enough of Bush and Clinton in politics. It is time for change and Mr. Obama is ready for the debates and the challenges.

  5. It is completely unfair to suggest that Senator Clinton has an unethical political and personal record. Hillary Clinton, just like Barack Obama has spent much her life trying to change the status quo that is run by the few and most importantly benefits the few. She has worked tirelessly for health care and passed a bill so that millions of children now receive health care. She has worked for women’s rights, trying equalize salary so that women are no longer paid less than men. Most of the policies she has proposed during this election, for example, green collar jobs, energy efficiency, economic stimulus, and health care reform were proposed before Obama. He says we want someone who can exhibit the right judgement, so why wasn’t he able to come up with his own policies instead of piggypacking on Clinton? Obama certainly inspires people and brings a great sense of idealism, and would be a much better president than McCain, but I find it confusing why so many are willing to write off Hillary Clinton as the same old politics, when she has been far more liberal than her husband and has shown herself as a real agent for change.

  6. As a woman, wife, mother, and quiet feminist I am so proud to be able to vote for Hillary Clinton. I am not just voting for her, simply because she is a woman, but because she shares my views for the direction of America. However, I am thrilled that finally a woman has been able break through, what has been a very high glass ceiling. I equally thrilled to see Obama do the same thing. However, Clinton has been making change, and taking the unpopular position in an attempt to get the right thing done on health care, women’s rights, and economic reform. I am happy that the democratic party has two great candidates to choose from, but in my mind it is a very clear choice that a vote for Clinton is a vote for positive change.

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