Pocochina’s Weblog

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post-primary thoughts

Posted by pocochina on June 11, 2008

Warning:  this post rambles, and will probably be updated and revised.  I’ve been writing it since very early last Wednesday morning, but it came out slowly, like cheap vodka that has started to freeze, and burns just as badly going down.  I’m hoping to be up and writing again soon, though.

I’m of the generation who came of age in the 1990s, and I’ve always been interested in politics. It’s been interesting, particularly over the last few months, to untangle how those years shaped my views of politics and ethics.  Those views on politics, that sense of ethics, has been violated to its very core, by those who I thought shared those views and ethics. I won’t deny that the disappointment is partially about Senator Clinton’s suspension, but the sense of betrayal goes far beyond that.  Y’all know I’m usually pretty anal about my sourcing and backup links, even in comments. However, I’m making an exception and not using this post to link to people who I think have made reprehensible comments, both because I generally respect them and am trying to let the wounds of this season heal, and because I don’t want to drive up traffic to those mean-spirited posts.

I am not an angry girl – but it seems like I’ve got everyone fooled…(Ani DiFranco)

I’m pissed at the classism of this campaign. It’s not even that the Democratic Party is taking the working class for granted any more – no, according to Donna Brazile, we don’t want the working class any more. Sending out Harry & Louise flyers, ignoring the rural poor, giving up on true universal health care. A party that turns its back on the sick and the poor is a party that does not deserve power. We’ve been saying that about Republicans for years. We have met that enemy, and it is now ourselves.

I’m pissed at the use and abuse of religion in this campaign. I care not at all as to what deity, if any, a politician prays. As a person with a Catholic background, of specific ethnicity, I am aware that I may respond to someone who speaks in my sub-cultural patterns and language – and yet, the only politician in my memory who has matched that experience was Mayor Giuliani, with whom I share little except a pronounced aversion to long-term monogamy. I hold the First Amendment dear, and believe there is no religious requirement for any role in public life. What I do find infuriating is religious exceptionalism. When within one month, the entire country knew about his religious conversion. And his pastor. And when he did and didn’t go to church. We were treated to photos of Obama standing in front of a cross of gold. His regard for his own faith is high. And yet, when looking for an excuse to lose the PA primary, he lumped in religion with deadly weapons, xenophobia, and bitterness – and these were all bad things, because they were things done by poor people. Respect for the freedom to worship (or not) is available only to those who support him.

No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex.” (Susan B. Anthony)

I’m pissed at the blatant misogyny of coverage of the campaign. I’m pissed at people who should know better – who acknowledge other people’s sexism, who can cast an accusing finger at the entire horrible media, but can then turn around, utterly free of irony, and utter, “but he just inspires me,” or some other sufficiently vague, comforting reason to not check one’s own sexism. You know, it feels a bit ridiculous now, with my highly partisan perspective on the campaign, but I did a lot of soul searching to make sure that I wasn’t just voting based on whiteness or femaleness, and I did it relatively frequently – though less so as the campaign went on and only one candidate acted as if she actually wanted my votes. The bottom line was that I trusted her views on government (we have it, so let’s use it, and do so in a way that helps as many people as possible, and then next time let’s do better) more than his (hope!(TM) change!(C)); that her health care plan was better; that while his reproductive rights record was more than satisfactory, hers showed nuance and leadership. And those, in the bottom line, are the reasons I went for Senator Clinton. I am deeply fortunate to have access to the pro-Obama voices of POC who forced me to take that look into myself.

I’m pissed at what Senator Obama has done to my party. I’m pissed that DNC officials couldn’t even be bothered to publicly acknowledge sexism; I am even angrier that they chose to buy into it.  Make no mistake, the DNC chose their candidate.   They had no commitment to the process of the primary.  They could have stormed every talking head show in the country talking up all the good things about this long and exciting primary.   People are interested in politics.  A record number of Democrats voted; far more than the Republicans – they were making money, they were raking in votes, they were building a new Democratic system.  Instead, they chose to mourn and moan about how every minute that passes, McCain voters have another hate-gasm because That Bitch was Killing the Party and Why Won’t She Just Quit.  To expect a woman who’s winning millions upon millions of votes to step aside so that Teh Menz can get to their serious business is blatantly sexist, and every time one of them got in front of a camera to moan WWTSBQ, they sanctioned it, and used it to their own advantage.  When the life of one of our own was threatened three times in one week, the DNC said nothing.  This is inexcusable.

I’m pissed at Barack Obama for his misogyny. I can understand – though I do not condone – why he did not apologize for his own fuckups on that score. But he had not one, not two, but three clear opportunities to distance himself from the hate speech of others, and he did not. He could have taken a moment – just a fraction of a breath – in his many condemnations of Rev. Wright – whom he could no more disown than the black community, until of course he did just that – to say “by the way, the personal attacks on my opponent are not worthy of my church, my party, or my country.” He did not. He could have said the same when distancing himself from Father Phlegler. He did not. He was careful to condemn so-called divisive rhetoric which did nothing but tell the truth about the drug war, allegedly un-American comments which would (and, of course, still will, for there is no escaping the Republican Attack Machine) make him look bad, and he could not be bothered to condemn hate speech against a colleague. He could have said the same when he issued his departure from his church and he did not.

Were an observer from Mars to judge the man by his public statements in these moments of crisis, that Martian observer would be quite rational to conclude that his need to see Senator Clinton abused means more to him than his God.  I expect that from Republicans. I expected better from Democrats. I no longer can.

Deny us three times, Senator.

And that isn’t even touching the dirt of his shoulder, tea parties, likeable enough, periodically feeling down…you get the idea.  Beyond even his upfront sexist statements, he has relied on the implacable and unjustified hatred of Senator Clinton and her charming husband, in both hard right and right leaning media outlets. When Drudge – transparently and baselessly – claimed that a Clinton staffer had spread an email photo of Senator Obama on a visit to sub-Saharan Africa – the Obama camp and its surrogates in the media on and offline jumped to repeat the rumor.  Then he went on TV and magnanimously said he believed her, and then he went to Mississippi and lied, and said she’d done it.  Everyone, after all, would believe it about that woman. That ruthless, ambitious, political woman.

I’m pissed at the netroots. For a brief, shining moment – like, 2 1/2 years or so – Left Blogistan was a place of high media skepticism, of proud partisanship, of committed progressivism. Now, anything goes, as long as it’s about That Bitch. HRC and her filthy husband are slobbering racists – everyone knows she sent out that photo, I saw it on Drudge – as long as we never have to question the source. And by the by, Atrios and LGM, your Solemn Pronouncements on race and ethnicity lose a lot of credibility when you snidely revel in the disenfranchisement of an island full of brown people, because they didn’t vote for your candidate.

I’m pissed at the next generation of political pundits. Whenever confronted with uncontrovertible evidence of sexism, they reacted uniformly – to grudgingly admit that sexism exists, and then jump to BUT ITS NOT THE ONLY REASON.  People who follow politics to any extent are well aware that there are many factors in political decision making, and most of them are subconscious.

I’m pissed at feminists who decided their feminism didn’t extend to That Bitch. I want to be clear, I’m not talking about feminists who, in good faith, decided that they wanted to support Obama, Edwards, Dodd, or whoever else. I am the first to state openly that reasonable people could have come to different decisions on that. I’m talking about feminists who, usually incisive and merciless in their rejection of expected gender roles, uncritically accept the Nasty Harpy narrative about Senator Clinton. I expect feminists to be able to step back and say, “well, knowing what I know about how I, and everyone around me, and in particular the chattering heads paid to tell me what to think about this campaign, have been conditioned in my expectations of female behavior, I am going to be critical of how I process this election.” For a lot of feminists (Edwards and Obama supporters as much as Clinton supporters) that happened; for a lot of them, it didn’t. I saw one feminist blogger say of Clinton’s suspension speech only, “Best speech of her political career.” The best speech of a thirty five year career of one of the most brilliant women in modern public life just so happens to be her concession?  We’d be unbelievably suspicious of such an assessment about any other woman’s career – but it was Hillary, so it’s okay.  It’s nauseating from a babbling jowl show – it is heartbreaking from a feminist.  And the wheel turns, and a woman’s career is at its apex when she submits to a man.

They have drawn race as black and white. This is patently ridiculous. I’m not linking to anyone who makes the claim that – essentially – white women are the only ones who liked HRC, we should just stop whining and suck it up, POC are thrilled about Obama and we are just entitled bitches. It is true that Black Americans overwhelmingly – though far from universally – preferred Obama. But this erases the huge numbers of brown women – Asian-American, Hispanic-American, in huge numbers, at least where the pollsters bothered – and men as well, who knew that they are not invisible to her. Those claims are out there, though. I’m thrilled for African-Americans who see themselves in Senator Obama. But I do not ever condone the erasure of anyone because they are inconvenient to a political agenda. I have been proud to call these women ally and sometimes, presumptively, friend. I’ve talked before about my frustration with this erasure, but with Clinton supporters – neither all white nor all male – so offended by this campaign they have decided the Democratic Party is no longer their home, the erasure has reached fever pitch. I do not begrudge Obama supporters their excitement. I do not understand the need to begrudge us our grief.

I think that non-feminist Obama supporters, and particularly male non-feminist Obama supporters, have this idea that we are just irrationally angry, our feelings are hurt and we should get over it or we’re just silly, don’t we know how bad McCain is, maybe they’ll just tell us one more time. The choice not to support Obama is a long-run rational choice.  Right now, there is a party that hates women all the time, and a party that used to humor us, but hates us when it is convenient.  It is our job to never, ever let it be convenient again, or there will be no one in government advocating for our rights.

We are not your sweeties, who just need candy and flowers to come around.

We are not your bitches, that is not a leash in your hand. Our bodily integrity is not a choke chain you may use to threaten us. If you think it is, you are no better than the Republicans.  And yes, the “But! But! But!” Roe stick is just that – a threat. Politically involved women know exactly where we stand on Roe, and we know the Democrats haven’t been all that bothered to even look like they’re trying to protect it, these last seven years. We know what an anti-choice Supreme Court looks like, because we read Gonzales v. Carhart and our hearts broke in fear for ourselves and our sisters and nieces and daughters.

When you tell us that we’d better get in line and vote for Obama, OR ELSE ROE, you are holding our own bodies hostage against us, as if they were yours to take. You are actively, proudly, literally threatening us with our lives. Is that the change we should believe in?

I’ve left versions of the following comment on a couple of journals/blogs over the last couple of days:

What hurts the most is that I really thought I might have a chance to vote for someone in whom I really believed, and now no matter what I do I will be compromising more than ever.  There is no choice that does not reward hatred of myself and those that I love.  A write-in for Clinton or McKinney will be held against Clinton; a vote for McCain sanctions the Republican war machine, and a vote for Obama sanctions the (new ?) Democratic misogyny machine.

I was thinking of myself, and my own disappointment, and while I still think that’s legitimate, I am willing to say that I missed the broader context.  The party’s eagerness to push her out, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY (particularly in the case of Representative Cohen) was in reaction to this very feeling.  They have come to rely on women not expecting any better.  They have grown dependent on the Bush Administration’s vile abuse of women, so that their burden of accountability to us is lighter.  They were terrified of rank-and-file Dems realizing that there is better out there.

If he really is such a unifier, surely we don’t need to be threatened. Surely he will come through, with his famous ability to reach out, and let us know that it’s our party too. Surely it will happen. At least, I hope – though I confess I am not holding my breath.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou - Still I Rise

++In the last week or so, I have read posts by the incomparable pixxelpuss, Kate, Liss, Violet Socks, RQ, Anglachel, Pizza D, and I am sure others. While they have prompted me to clarify my thinking, these are my thoughts, coalesced over the last couple of days.

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