Tag Archives: gender

On politics and gender

And why I am voting for Hilary Clinton.
In my African American Women class back in college, my professor told the story of a conversation between Frederick Douglas and Ida B. Wells. Frederick Douglass, you probably know was a well known advocate for African-American rights and social justice. Ida B. Wells had the same mission but also fought for women’s rights and women’s suffrage.

Although Douglass was always a staunch supporter of women’s rights, he is rumored to have once told Wells that they must fight for a man’s right to vote before a womans and that the higher cause was the rights of African American men over women of any race.

I don’t want to demonize this statement into something its not. There are a lot of valid reasons for him to have said this. I understand how hard it is to be an activist and want to see change in all areas and being able to only focus your energy on one.

But there are a few not-so-valid reasons for this sentiment too. And it is the sentiment that still prevails today. Sure, women can be equal as long as men go first.

Today, the world is changing. Rapidly. Benizir Bhutto is an example of that. Think of it–a FEMALE leader in a fundamentalist muslim world. That is an incredible triumph, even in the face of her tragic death.

And here we sit. America. Land of the free. Leader of the world. Where all freedom originates and radiates to the rest of the world. Yeah, not so much. America is being left behind because we refuse to face the fact that we too have become a fundamentalist nation. I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it solely religious fundamentalism. There are a lot of different ways in which America is an extremist.

And yet, here we sit as a first world, developed country to have never put forth a woman as a leader in our top two positions. That is, to put it nicely…embarrassing.

And then of course the questions come:

Don’t you want the right leader, regardless of gender?

Of course, I do. But show me anyone in our political system that is truly the ‘right’ leader. Show me a ratio of good to bad that comes out of the “good ole boy system.” Our system is corrupt and we know that. We need change. But just walking around the halls of Congress declaring that, isn’t going to make it happen. We need a leader who can play the game but has an established agenda of righting this country’s wrongs.

But you don’t want the wrong woman giving the country a bad impression of women as leaders do you?

Could a woman ever really live up to the expectations of this country? Haven’t you seen it already? Hilary is too hard/harsh, Hilary is playing the victim, Hilary isn’t strong enough to lead. There is no right way for a woman to act in this country without someone finding a way to criticize her womanhood. Can you imagine someone questioning Barak’s masculinity every time he opened his mouth? Doesn’t happen. As far as I’m concerned if we can show the world that a woman is capable of being elected, that is as much victory as I’m willing to hope for. I realize that the next four years with Hilary will be hell as she is scrutinized at every step because she is female. It won’t go well. But at least it’ll happen.

But she voted for the war!

Yes she did. She was wrong and I realize that she won’t admit it. She’s a politician, still, after all so why act surprised about that? But the bottom line was that Congress, the United Nations, America and the entire world was LIED to by Bush and his machine. That’s no litmus test to me.

Aren’t you tired of legacy presidencies? Do you really want to go Bush Clinton Bush Clinton? (this is my SO’s view)

This is a valid question. Legacy presidencies are dangerous, even if you agree with the overall ideology. But a legacy is something that is passed from parent to child, not from husband to wife. Clinton has come out against her husband on many issues and aside from basic liberal ideology, I’m not worried that she’s carrying anyone’s agenda but her own.

I actually like every single one of the Democratic candidates. Its a win win situation, really. But for once, I’m not choosing the idealistic candidate. And yes, the fact that a woman is running has helped me to come to that decision, when perhaps I wouldn’t otherwise.

But here’s the reality. Eight years ago, this country elected the most calculating stupid man on the planet. And they elected his calculating cronies who could suck up power like hungry hungry hippos while we were distracted by the idiot in the president suit.

Here’s the kicker though: Four years later, this country RE-elected all of that.

As sad as that makes me for our country, that’s what we’re dealing with here. People want change, yes. And I think a lot of people are going to vote democrat for the first time in their lives this November. But these are still the people who once saw any sense in voting Bush into office, not once but twice.

This is not an argument for electability. I think those people are going to be just as wary about voting in an unknown minority as they are a well-known woman. And I think in either case, most of them will get over it. I’m talking about getting things done once the election is over.

The people who supported and voted Bush into office are still the ones that our next president is going to have to deal with. As much as I would love for Barak to show up to work on his first day and kick out all the lobbyists, all the religious fanatics or change this country’s abject fear of socialized medicine, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.

I could be wrong. And if he wins New Hampshire, he may have the chance to prove me wrong. And I’ll be thrilled if I am.

But for me, the right person for this job at this time is Hilary Clinton. We’ve got to overhaul health care and education. We have to stop the shrinking of the middle class and the marginalization of the poor. We have to end racism in our justice system. We have to change Americans’ earth-destroying lifestyles while maintaining our economy.

And we have to do all this while cleaning up the foreign policy shitstorm that the previous administration has dumped on the world. We have to bring our troops home in a way that minimizes loss of Iraqi life and we have to rebuild relations in the middle-east while putting an end to our greedy, fanatical meddling. We have to rebuild our armed forces to take on the countries that actively threaten us. And we have to be leaders in building a coalition of countries dedicated to bringing the entire continent of Africa out of the vestiges of hunger, violence, disease and corruption.

That’s a tall order. I believe that all the democratic candidates agree that these are our challenges. But Hilary is the leader that I believe can take active steps towards convincing the rest of America that these are our priorities.


Filed under Feminism, Politics