Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sexist Tacgics of Some Hillary Supporters

[Note: A slightly different version of this is cross-posted at]

Yesterday I receive a forwarded email from a good friend. The email carried words suggesting that women not supporting Hillary should "challenge themselves" to think and do otherwise. What did I think of it, my friend asked:

Part I: Text of My First Response

Dear XXX
I don't know the writer of the original email. However, she seriously underestimates you by sending this to you. I believe you "challenge yourself" all the time. And anyone who knows you would never have written that. Also, I think that it is sexist in the extreme to suggest that thinking women, including feminists such as you and me, must think in lock-step--or else we must be self-hating women.

As for myself, I do not support Hillary for the primary and, as a blogger for Barack Obama, I have given it much more thought than I imagine the email writer has. I spend at least four hours a day reading and writing. I don't need her to "challenge me." And there is absolutely no chance I will change my mind.

And so, my suggestion is to make up your own mind, free and clear of such manipulation. In the long run, we should trust each other to vote for the one whom we think will lead us to the best place.

Sincerely, and in friendship (and respect),


[End of First Reply.]

Then I thought the better of of it. The original note needed a better response. This email contained a link. When you follow the link it is to a commentary by Robyn Morgan, who says she's not voting for Hillary because Hillary's a woman, but because, she, Robyn Morgan, is(a woman). Instead of sending it out, I decided to blog it (while protecting the names of the individuals doing the emailing).

Second (Unsent) Reply

I do not need to justify my preference to the if-your-a-woman-you-should-vote-in-lock-step voters. I have my reasons. And to me they are extremely important. Indeed because they are important, I cannot vote otherwise. Moreover, if we were to buy into that bigoted line of thinking, I believe, we perpetuate the same kind of sexism which we feminists have fought all these years. We have the vote to vote our highest ideals, the one whom, we think will best transform us to the nation we wish to be. We should not vote because of a candidate's gender (or our own, as Robin Morgan suggests). But there are many, more really important reasons too. Nor should we, obviously use race. There are some other variables we shouldn't use too: Familiarity, "liking," the most like me effect, restoration of a bygone era, nostalgia, or any other superficial and/or irrational criteria.

It is not about who lived in the White House as spouse. That doesn't count, or surely Laura Bush would have to be deemed qualified. And if pillow-talk qualifies as "experience," then I should be allowed to do my hubby's job (it's in a field I don't have a doctorate in). But suggesting I am so qualified is absurd. So too are claims that Hillary has more experience because she lived in the White House. I think it rather disingenuous that feminists are actually making this claim, after we fought for for women to be taken as their own selves. If, however there is a package deal, I do not want it. Nor is Hillary more experienced in job-relevant experience just because she is older. That would be ageism. Indeed in job-relevant experience, Barack Obama has more experience in lawmaking bodies than Hillary. One could also argue that Hillary's judgment in handing blank checks to George W. Bush (Iraq authorization, the un-Patriot Act and more) shows she has shown really poor judgment.

It is not that Obama is perfect. Indeed as both he and Hillary tack rightward in their appeal to independents and "Reagan Democrats," there was one week where I opined out loud about Obama. When will they stop using Democratic primaries to appeal to Republicans, I asked myself? And so I undertook an issue, by issue, reexamination of what mattered to me. And then it was clear, I must personally vote for Barack Obama. Here's just a sampling of why I will vote for Barack Obama.

Peace and War

* Barack clearly and strongly opposed the war before it started.

* He courageously attended and spoke at peace rallies before the Iraq war started.

* He supported Howard Dean, who opposed the war from the beginning, for president

* Obama risked his then-upcoming US Senate race to stand with courage at that time.
* No matter what Hillary says in hindsight, if I knew for a fact that the case. for the war was fake, she knew. But she lacked the courage and integrity to vote otherwise (wanted the presidency too much, just as Hubert Humphrey did in 1968).
*She will not admit she was wrong. At least Edwards did that much.
* Obama was asked if he would consider nuclear weapons against Pakistan if it was found that Osama Bin Laden were hiding there. He said he would be willing to send in a tactical force to get him, but that, NO, he would not use nuclear weapons against an ally. To this Hillary railed that Barack showed he wasn't experienced to run (paraphrase), that he should NOT have taken nukes off the table! By that she showed herself to be less qualified, by reason of her poor judgment. That's the second big stike against her judgment, just on war-related issues alone. But there's more.
* Barack Obama supports a nuclear freeze. Hillary does not. The US already has the capability to unleash a massive nuclear arsenal. We do not need more dangerous weapons. (Both of them are too open to the nuclear energy industry, though, BTW.)
*I believe Obama would be better diplomatically because his style is more conciliatory than Clinton's.

On Other Issues
I will vote for Barack Obama proudly and with confidence. I will do this primarily, but far from exclusively for the above reasons. He has the judgment to run, to be president, with judgment exceeding his adversaries from either party. I do not agree with him on everything. But, for me, on every single issue I care most about, his positions are superior to hers.

Health Care
Hillary had her chance. She cost Americans many years of a better approach to health care. Following the collapse of her proposal, she should have tried again, she had a term and a half to do so. But she did not. Now all these years later, when she has more health care industry donors than any other candidate (she was second when the movie "Sick" was filmed), we are led to believe she learned enough to get it right. Tell that to the nearly 50 million uninsured and to those who have gone bankrupt due to health care costs (one of the main three reasons why people go bankrupt).

I especially don't like her individual mandate for health care. It's an individual mandate like Mitt Romney's in MA. That program (already in place) in MA requires penalties to be assessed against individuals. Without price controls or any other supports, the plan alone (without the penalties) amounts to a takings from the pockets of individuals and transferring it into the pockets of insurance companies.

NAFTA promotes outsourcing, offshoring, and ratcheting down of wages in developing countries where jobs are shipped. The US manufacturing base has been hammered. But most of all workers have been harmed by exuberation over supposedly "free trade," (which isn't "free"). I believe in fair trade. Both Obama and CLinton are freemarketers, but I believe that, becaause of his record working for the poor, Obama will be more sensitive to the effects on the poor than Clinton.

Obama is the closest to the populist policies of Edwards.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch (Newscorp --FOX--Media Mogul). No good can come of this. For one thing Bill Clinton helped in the roll-back of media regulation that continues to cause more and more consolidation. It isn't entirely Michael Powell and Bush's fault.

Securities and Banking
* Robert Rubin under B. Clinton got the conflict-of-interest rules changed. The relaxation of the rules made easier for Pols (like Rubin) to move back and forth from government to securities and banking firms. Rubin, for example moved from treas to Citi Bank after only a short wait. This has not been good for the country over all, but very good for a small number of fat cats. We see the results of Citibank's reckless consumption of bad debt under risky home loans, for example. Citi has taken massive losses.

Social Security
Hillary's opposition to Social Security privatization is not nearly as emphatic as Obamas. She "opposes it." He not only opposes privatization, but has emphatically stated he would not even consider it. "It's off the table," he said. Bill Clinton actually considered privatizing Social Security and then decided not to (See the book Raw Deal by Joe Conason, who actually likes the Clintons). That it was even on the table is really concerning.

Mark Penn
Read The Nation article a few months ago concerning her chief strategist and pollster, Mark Penn.

These are just a few reasons. There are many more. Barack Obama is not a perfect candidate. Indeed I myself have posted one article chiding his campaign. I think he is too conciliatory to Republicans right now. There can't be "kumbaya" with them for the Democratic primary. The GOP has sold our country out. My point in writing the critical article was that both candidates will likely tack rightward after the primaries. So, the primary is as good as it gets for progressives. The rest will be downhill. I was pretty furious with him at that time. But looking dispassionately (to the extent that that is possible in an human being) across all the issues I care most about, he is the candidate for me personally.

It all boils down to whom I most trust on the issues most dear to me. The above are just some of the 100 or so reasons I will support Barack Obama. I also believe that we cannot reconstruct the 1990s, nor should we. That kind of nostalgia isn't useful and it clouds our vision from the real inequities arising from that time period. Sure they were made worse by Bush, but many of the policies ("Welfare Reform") were put in place under Clinton and with his signature. The 1990s look good contrasted to the worst president in US history. However, we can do a whole lot better than better than besting the worst in history. We can do that by moving forward with new leadership.

As I have said before, I defended Bill and Hillary Clinton on discussion boards (pre-blogs) for years in the 1990s. And I know full well the whole history and defenses of them back then. I was a very active defender. That was then. No dynasty's for me. If we get one, well then, we are no better than the Republicans who seek the same old names over and over. Useless nostalgia will sink us. Looking forward with courage is our only hope. Voting because of gender, race, liking, and/or familiarity effect demeans us, our candidates, and our country.

All the best,