American History Y

10 09 2008

I was reading an article in Politico this morning and I was pleased to read what had already become apparent to many of us:

“Republican Rep. Candice S. Miller says Barack Obama had only one shot at Palin-proofing the Democratic ticket — and he missed it when he passed over Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.”

And immediately following that happy, happy – joy, joy moment came this speed bump on my happy highway:

“ ‘Every woman in America knows what Barack Obama did to Hillary Clinton: He looked at her and thought, ‘There’s no way I’m doing that,’ ‘ said Miller. ‘If Hillary was on the ticket, he’d be in a much better position to win women voters.’ ”

I really, REALLY don’t think that’s the best way to characterize the situation. Yes, Obama was a jackass. Yes, grudges are being held. Yes, even after he wins the race his presidency will live with that stigma. If Hillary was on the ticket then, yes, you would probably win voters who are women. But the reason you’d win them is not because they are women, it’s because they are FEMINISTS. 

What’s happening right now in the feminist community is interesting. Here you have a choice between putting a politician who is a woman in the whitehouse, and protecting feminst values. Well, shit.

The trick is, feminism is very broad and has many facets. Not all women politicians are going to be smart, likable, even tempered, attractive, inspirational or wise. Just like not all men politicians are any, let alone all, of those traits.

Some politicians are just… there. You know the kind. It’s your mayor, county administrator, or representative. It’s your congressman, city councilman, or state majority leader. You need someone to fill the spot, they come to work on time, they seem to really want it, the person isn’t a raving psycho – so, let’s see what happens. Hell, most people don’t even bother voting in their local elections, that’s how little it matters to them who is making decicsions about how to spend their taxes. 

So, in that way, no woman politician should have to be any more qualified / experienced / knowledgeable / accomplished than the least qualified man politician. Sound like a low bar? You bet. But women aren’t supposed to be better than men, they are supposed to be no less than men. You can’t say, “sure you can be on the team, if you can beat the best player we’ve got,” and expect to sucessfully recruit enough women to have equal representation on that team – it’s unreasonable.

Now, does that mean that Sarah Palin should get all the support of all the feminists out there? Hell no. For starters, she’s against some of the biggest issues that feminists stand for, and her runningmate is against the others. Equal pay and right to choice are the easiest to point out, and they are arguably the biggest issues in feminism right now in our country. I wouldn’t like the fact that she hunts moose and prays to a different invisible man in the sky than me even if she DID support choice, but I might consider voting for her.

Even more than that, though: just because we should be gender blind does not mean we need to be politically stupid. What does it matter who it is or what they look like if they strip your rights and set your cause back 30 years? Who cares about the family habits of the politician who believes that teenage girls, raped and pregnant with a criminal’s child, should not be allowed to undergo a medical procedure that would end that pregnancy?

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, feminism is about empowerment and equality. Would the Democrats have been Palin-proofed with Hillary on the ticket – hell yes. Was it a massive blunder to not have her on the ticket – hell yes. Will they ever fully recover if the Republicans put the first woman in the whitehouse – no they won’t. Will we remember this for a dozen elections – yes we will.

But this is not about being a woman – this is about being a feminist. You can be a feminist and be a man – you can be a woman and not be a feminist. Women who are not feminists are worse than the men who fight against feminism – those women perpetuate the lie every day at dinner. There are women who specifically liked Hillary and that was the reason they voted for her. There are men who have no interest in Palin (shocking, right? what guy doesn’t vote with his little head? – oh, wait, that puts a new spin on reasons for previous election results…).

Feminism can save the Obama ticket, but they’ve made too few efforts in too pale ways to claim that voter block. Remember in American History X when Ed Norton is in the prison yard and he decides that he’s gonna get a beat down no matter how neutral he tries to be? That’s when he decides to show his colors, in his characater’s case it was nazi tatoos, hoping that his fellow prison yard nazis would come to his rescue. And they did. Well, that’s what Obama needs to do – and yes, you’re allowed to mock the metaphor.

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2 responses

10 09 2008
jonolan

Choosing Clinton as his VP would have been the 2nd stupidest thing Obama could have done. It would have guaranteed his loss in November. Not only is the hate too deep in both Dem camps to support that ticket, but the Republicans would have turned out in droves to block Hillary.

Of course the 1st stupidest thing Obama could have done he did He let McCain and the GOP choose his VP for him. Does anyone think Biden was chosen for any other reason than to buffer Obama against the “not ready to lead” issue?

Personally, given backgrounds, political platforms, and sadly yes gender I think Obama should have chosen Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as his VP.

10 09 2008
mckensie

Yeah, but the R’s are gonna turn out in droves to support Palin anyway. At least having HRC on the ticket would have brought a majority of her voters.

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