There seems to be a lot of victim mind out there in the blogosphere these days directed at Barack Obama. For example, Reclusive Leftist's post, "Fuck off, Obama":
Actually, what women everywhere now know is that this country still isn’t ready for a woman President. That if a woman runs for President, she doesn’t stand a fucking chance. No matter how brilliant and capable she is, no matter how many people vote for her, the media will crucify her and some shady half-ass snake oil MAN will be handed the nomination instead.
Fuck off, Obama. Just fuck off.
Soviet-style one-candidate election results have now become a rallying cry for a perception of injustice that their candidate did not win. And if she did not win, well, then, it must be because she's a woman, right?
Are feminists really divided so clearly along the lines she describes: age, race and class? Are the waves of feminism really so different in their understanding of what constitutes feminism?
I want to leave this post full of questions for you to think about. But I'm already feverishly thinking about some of these issues in terms of my own feminist definitions, about horizontal and vertical equity, about the onion layers of feminism and about which layers we want to work on, about how someone who wasn't part of any of the waves in person might see them and so on. I think we need to go deeper in the onion, to strip off the layers one by one, not to discard them, but to investigate each of them on our way to the core. That probably doesn't make any sense right now, but I think that the way I write about feminism is more in the world of concepts and theories and less in the world of how they ultimately crop up and interact with other phenomena. Is that bad or good or indifferent? Or even true?
Then there's the whole problem of the class "women" being part of so many other classes, defined by race, income, class, religion, ethnicity, so many ties of solidarity of shared experience, of shared oppressions in some cases, too. How does that all play out in defining feminism?
Is it really the case that the nation cannot accept the idea of a woman president? Or is the unthinkable, unacceptable fact is that we as a nation are ready to elect a woman, but Hillary isn't the one, not now?
Some see it as a tragedy that Hillary Clinton did not win the nomination. But I see the real tragedy that so many women (and some men) are stepping into victim mind and seeing a women president as an impossibility. And I do not feel that this is at all the case.
Let's remember that, when she announced, Hillary Clinton was regarded as the front-runner. She had the name recognition. She had the campaign infrastructure. She had the establishment ties with the DLC. She was generally respected in Washington.
But let's not forget that Hillary Clinton was also problematic from the get-go. She had a ton of Clinton baggage. She had the war vote. She had her image problems, leading to a lot of questions of just who she is. She had a disastrous campaign that ignored caucuses and did not imagine having to go on past Super Tuesday. She had her big-money lobbyist ties, and a general lack of grassroots support financially, compared with Barack Obama. And she had Bill popping up, mouthing off, reminding everybody that when you buy Hillary, you get Bill, too.
And her falling into the racist realpolitik analysis on tape and on camera didn't help. It added a real ugliness to her persistent attacks on Barack Obama.
This was during a campaign when Obama couldn't get his message out, thanks to mainstream media obsession with Reverend Wright, flag pins, stealing phrases from his own campaign adviser, and on and on. Clinton was getting plenty of coverage of her own attacks on Obama, while he was buried in a media agenda of trivialities and distractions. Did one reporter ask Clinton why she wasn't wearing a flag pin? (Or McCain for that matter?)
No, it seems Obama has been the whipping boy in the campaign coverage.
What's the narrative we have this week? Rachel S. writes on Alas, a Blog:
One thing that struck me about Clinton and Obama is that I didn’t notice either one of them make note of the historic significance of having the first black nominee for President on a major party ticket. In contrast, both of them noted the groundbreaking campaign by Hillary Clinton, arguing that she was blazing a path for women, but I didn’t hear the same for Obama. Isn’t that an interesting distinction between racial politics and gender politics? The colorblind ideology silences almost any public discussion of racism by black candidates, who are vying for white votes. In contrast, we don’t have as much silence on the gender front (from the candidates). That has been a fairly consistent pattern in this Presidential election over the past few months.
Let's look at Barack Obama then. John on Liberal Rapture writes:
The problem is Obama. Clinton supporters came to her initially because of her experience. We liked her. We did not - in large part - become fervently committed to her until the media and Obama's campaign began to trash her. Obamites, quit pretending this trashing did not happen. It did. Anyone who spent 32 seconds on Kos-co or watching MSNBC knows you were ugly and relentless in your vilification. Stop lying about it. It is insulting. Our passion for Hillary arose out of her response to this hatchet job. She went from being the best person for the job - to the fierce leader of a huge part of the Democratic Party.
Policy is not the issue. Cue: Obamites going nuts. "How can you say this??? Supreme Court etc etc" This is an ironic response to say the least. You guys have not voted, rallied, and donated to Obama based on policy - ever.
Oh really? Talk about the strawman/straw-woman! What about the major policy difference between Clinton and Obama: the war on Iraq? I'd say there's a very large contingent of voters who would not vote for Clinton because of her vote authorizing the war, and her failure to really own up to it. (Sorry, but just saying "I've taken responsibility for my vote" doesn't cut it.)
Almost to a person the commitment to Obama has been put in terms of personality.
Personality counts, though, doesn't it? We elect a person, not a platform. This isn't parliament. You can't just dismiss personality when it comes to leadership -- true leadership.
Putting what we know about his past aside for a moment - why don't you appeal to Clinton voters based on what you find so suitable in this man? I am not kidding. I am filling in a gap I see in the play for Clinton voters. Honestly - in over a year I have yet to hear WHY HIM?
- Because one of the most broken things in DC is the fact that lobbyists are not only dominating the Congressional agenda, they are actually writing the bills, and Obama is running against that idea, while Clinton embraces it.
- Because Clinton is part of the DLC, which has been a huge sell-out to lobbyists.
- Because Obama's voting record is progressive.
- Because Obama paints a vision of the future, while Clinton was running on the past, on her resume.
- Because Obama is a very smart guy who doesn't insult our intelligence when discussing the issues.
- Because I can sense Obama's authenticity, while every time I've seen Clinton over the past 8 years, I've been left wondering who she is, what she really believes.
- Because of the Iraq War, his opposition of it.
- Because I'm seeing a lot of Republicans fascinated and interested in Obama.
- Because Obama speaks centrist but votes progressive.
- Because Obama's financial support comes from 1.5 million individual donations from ordinary people, not from a few thousand elites and lobbyists.
- Because he worked his way up from humble beginnings.
- Because of his background as a community leader.
Them's just a few off the top of my head. But I wonder if the real question here is whether an older generation of people, who tend to have, let's face it, more hang-ups about race than younger Americans, are willing to vote for a black man.