Confession, re: Primaries

It seems fairly clear to me that Obama is not the best candidate for women’s and LGBTIQ rights. He’s gaffed several times.

It seems fairly clear to me that Clinton is not the best anti-racist candidate. She’s gaffed several times.

Obama has employed misogyny against Clinton in the campaign.

Clinton has employed racism against Obama in the campaign.

…..so when I hear people say “I won’t vote for (candidate A) because s/he is (racist/sexist),” well… I feel a bit disheartened. Because it feels, to me, like one is saying “I’ll vote for Clinton even though she’s racist, but not Obama despite his sexism, because to me sexism is more important than racism.” Or vice versa.

I’ll note, though, that I don’t feel this way when I hear women of color declining to vote for one or the other candidate due to racist or sexist dogwhistles. To me, those comments don’t have the same undertone of “What’s important is that I get mine” since, obviously, women of color (particularly LGBTIQ women of color) will be screwed over by the beauty of intersectionality either way.

YMMV, of course, and I don’t mean to condemn anyone, and of course any given person may have motivations other than what I’ve described. It’s just — in total, as a trend — this is something that’s made me sad this primary cycle.

Shockingly: feminist/womanist, anti-racist commenters only.

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27 Responses to Confession, re: Primaries

  1. 1
    Kai Jones says:

    You can take that into account, and still decide that Mr. Obama is a worse risk to feminism than Ms. Clinton is to the fight against racism, or the reverse; the risks aren’t necessarily equal.

  2. 2
    Jim says:

    “this is something that’s made me sad this primary cycle.”

    YES. But…… it was bound to happen and this is the pain we have to go through to address these issues.

    There are other contrasts with these candidates that get ignored. One major such contrast that Obama supporters have mentioned and Clinton supporters seem very quiet on is that this is an inter-generational face-off. I can see why people who support Clinton because they identify with her might be sensistive to, might want to ignore, the issue of age. That’s a pity.

    The Boomer era in politics is coming to a close. The Boomer era Culture War issues are losing gas and the religious right is starting to fall apart. Most of the big issues are settled law or settled medical practice or are settled into the culture, and there is no going back, even if there are rearguard actions and reactionaries aplenty. When Roberts was going through his confirmation hearings, he was asked about his position on abortion, and he said it was settled law.

    Hillary Clinton is a woman, but her condidacy involved more. It involved the slime politics that Rove excels at, that we have had with us since the Reagan Revolution – mile wide inch deep “values issues”, slanders and cheap shots and sound bites instead of debate. Obama has made some effort to rise above this, and he does represent to lots of people the chance to move beyond this kind of thing. Yes, she got hit with some really inexcusable stuff, but from what I saw, a lot of the misogyny came from 1)women who were 2) not in his campaign or anywhere near it.

    It wasn’t Hillary who came out with the racist stuff, either. It came out of operatives in her campaign, and yes, of course she is ultimately responsible, but as I said, she was running with the old ways, and that kind of slime was the old way, so it was more matter of SOP than intent. Her POS husband on the other hand……..too bad she didn’t/couldn’t run as Hillary Rodham and have kept him safe at home in a cell in the basement. He did her no favors at all, and she has been WAAAAY too loyal to him all along. But I have a hard time condemning her for that.

  3. Pingback: What Mandolin Said | Blog of the Moderate Left

  4. 3
    Original Lee says:

    Yeah, it makes me frustrated, too. It’s sorta like being on a low-sodium, low-fat diet. Most prepared low-fat foods bump up the sodium to help them taste better, and most prepared low-sodium foods bump up either the sugar or the fat to help them taste better, so a lot of people pick whichever one is most important to them at the time and decide to ignore the other.

    We really deserve more than 2 viable political parties in this country.

  5. 4
    w says:

    Well, I won’t be voting for mccain, that’s for sure.

  6. 5
    Les says:

    While there has been quite a lot of sexism flung at Clinton, it’s my understanding that the source of it is not the Obama campaign. I could be wrong, since I’m not following this closely. But it’s really clear that people in the Clinton campaign have been directly linked to racist attacks.

    Also, let’s be clear on the queer thing. Clinton might be better on LGB issues, but certainly not on T. She’s done nothing for the trans community. Her gay friends tell her transphobia isn’t a problem. So we don’t need protection in ENDA. (My catholic friends tell me that anti-semitism isn’t a problem.) The HRC likes HRC, so meh to her.

    And I love my queer/het/cis allies, but it what really bugs me is when I see LGBT meaning: Lesbian, Gay Bi, Tacked-on.

    I think Obama has better feminist creds than Clinton has anti-racist creds, but I’m Green, so I voted for McKinney.

  7. 6
    Les says:

    Wait, what’s the I Q part? What exactly has clinton done for interesexed people? I’d love to know.

  8. 7
    Radfem says:

    I don’t know I agree that all the racism came from outside of her. I think some of what she did say was racist or racially offensive. In fact, some of the comments that disturbed me the most were made by her. Precisely because they were made by her.

    It seems fairly clear to me that Obama is not the best candidate for women’s and LGBTIQ rights. He’s gaffed several times.

    I guess it depends on how you define “women”. There’s a lot of issues in his platform that DO address issues impacting women. I don’t think it’s so cut and dry with who’s the best candidate (or referred to as not being the best, b/c I’m not sure Clinton is necessarily the best candidate for women either) for women because of the same intersections that you mentioned in your post.

    I’m not voting Democrat b/c I am not convinced that this party serves women best except when it’s not taking the women’s vote for granted.

  9. 8
    Mandolin says:

    “And I love my queer/het/cis allies, but it what really bugs me is when I see LGBT meaning: Lesbian, Gay Bi, Tacked-on.”

    I would have said queer to indicate all of the above, plus other non-comforming sexualities and gender identities, but I’m not sure whether or not that use is accpeted outside of the circle of people I went to college with.

    I would argue there is benefit to trans- and intersexed people from progress on gay rights, but your point on Clinton’s transphobia is taken.

  10. 9
    Jim says:

    “Clinton might be better on LGB issues, but certainly not on T.”

    Not until she repudiates DADT and DOMA, she isn’t better on LGB issues even. As for Obama, since he will always get attacked over Rev. Wright, let’s see where Wright stands on LGBT issues – he was preaching against homphobia in the Black community long ago, long before it became fashionable or even and issue to other people.

    “I guess it depends on how you define “women”.

    No lie. This one will not die. Just the other day Ellen Goodman had a piece on how Obama needed to make nice to “women”, as in all women, to make up for the hurts of the primary campaign, conveniently missing that plenty of women are plenty happy with him already – just not the kind of women Ellen Goodman – Ivy League, Boston Globe Ellen Goodman – sees as peers.

  11. 10
    brownstocking says:

    Original Lee Writes:
    May 20th, 2008 at 11:13 am


    We really deserve more than 2 viable political parties in this country.

    THANK YOU!! I’ve been saying this for almost a decade (admittedly in Poli Sci classes and family gatherings) and I’m glad I’m not alone. I even tried the Green Party for a minute. We need more parties to represent the diverse needs of our society!

    And, mandolin, I feel you, but neither candidate floated my boat. I actually made myself an independent rather than continue to tie into the Dems after the state convention I worked earlier. Nobody is truly speaking to me or my needs.

  12. 11
    Eliza says:

    No lie. This one will not die. Just the other day Ellen Goodman had a piece on how Obama needed to make nice to “women”, as in all women, to make up for the hurts of the primary campaign, conveniently missing that plenty of women are plenty happy with him already – just not the kind of women Ellen Goodman – Ivy League, Boston Globe Ellen Goodman – sees as peers.

    OK, I can understand this. But, how would you suggest this be phrased — should they be saying he needs to make nice to “white women?” Because my guess is that if they phrased it that way, all sorts of people would be pissed at the racism in that. Or, do the [white] women he has (and will) harmed not matter?

  13. 12
    Mandolin says:

    And, mandolin, I feel you, but neither candidate floated my boat.

    Eh, I don’t love either of them particularly either. I liked Edwards (continued grumble at the fact he’s not in the race).

    I just find it a bit chilling to read stuff like this from people who are supposed to be anti-racists, and who were cheerfully willing to support Clinton despite her racism, but not Obama because of his sexism.

    And yeah, in this particular post, my intent was to criticize the Clinton camp more heavily than the Obama camp,, although I tried to keep my language even. I’m sure that’s at least partially because Obama appears to have the advantage, so there’s more reason for Clinton supporters to be talking about what will be dealbreakers for them right now.

  14. 13
    Lis Riba says:

    I really, really, really want to come out of the convention with a unity ticket.

    They each have won about 50% of actual ballots cast, so why not recognize that with a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket?

  15. 14
    bean says:

    I just find it a bit chilling to read stuff like this from people who are supposed to be anti-racists, and who were cheerfully willing to support Clinton despite her racism, but not Obama because of his sexism.

    I actually fell off my seat laughing at that — and it was shown to me by an avid Obama supporter, who was, herself laughing too hard to even do anything more than point. Since that time, I’ve shown it to several Obama supporters, who all found it just as funny.

  16. 15
    angryyoungwoman says:

    While neither candidate is terrific in both areas, both are far better than McCain in either area. My fear is that bitterness in this race becomes too great, McCain wins by default and appoints judges to the supreme court who set us back a good 50-100 years.

    I will gladly support either candidate over John McCain. I prefer Obama because his plan deals with people with disabilities a lot more realistically than Hillary Clinton’s does (in that he actually acknowledges that we exist). I am entirely for gender and racial equality, but without some help for my disability, I die. So I’m going for the best plan for that.

  17. 16
    Mandolin says:

    Since that time, I’ve shown it to several Obama supporters, who all found it just as funny.

    The contexts I saw it in did not present it as a friendly parody.

  18. 17
    Kit Kendrick says:

    I had the advantage/disadvantage of voting in one of the primaries that came before this fight got quite as ugly as it is now. I voted for Obama (making one of my rare splits with my brother, who backed Clinton). All in all, I’m finding the ugliness of the two campaigns to be a wash, and I’d probably vote the same way today, although I am disappointed. When I voted we were still in “How cool is it to have two candidates we could feel good about” mode, and I really regret losing that. By and large, my unease with dynasties and my liking for Obama’s general energy still hold, though. I’ll still be backing whoever makes it through this primary in the general election, because less than perfect is still better than what the right is offering us.

    I do think a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket would be a bad idea. As much as I hate the ambient sexism and racism in America, it’s no good pretending it’s not there. We’ll need an older white male (preferably from the south with a military background) to get the public as a whole to swallow either pill. I wish it weren’t so — it’s the old dilemma between trying to create what should be or dealing with what is.

  19. 18
    Les says:

    A unity ticket combines all the weaknesses of clinton and obama and none of the strengths. It would be a really historic loss though. There’d be a footnote in history books and everything. I mean, in the private schools that would still be able to afford books.

    Middle america wasn’t willing to vote for a jew vp 8 years ago. Whoever gets the democratic nomination already has a mountain of crap to overcome. I agree with #18: a white, protestant, baby boomer, southerner with a military background.

  20. 19
    Jim says:

    “But, how would you suggest this be phrased — should they be saying he needs to make nice to “white women?” Because my guess is that if they phrased it that way, all sorts of people would be pissed at the racism in that. ”

    Eliza, “white women?” would be a good rephrasingbecause then people would get pissed at the racism in that, which is absoultely the same as the racism in what Ellen Goodman is saying, just stated a lot more clearly and honestly. Pissing people off is not a bad thing, is it, if it is something they should be pissed at.

  21. 20
    Eliza says:

    Eliza, “white women?” would be a good rephrasingbecause then people would get pissed at the racism in that, which is absoultely the same as the racism in what Ellen Goodman is saying, just stated a lot more clearly and honestly. Pissing people off is not a bad thing, is it, if it is something they should be pissed at.

    Could you please explain this more — I’d like to get clarification to make sure I’m not completely misunderstanding you.

  22. 21
    sylphhead says:

    A unity ticket will not work because the media will turn it into a three way farce. “Sen. Clinton, you’ve said that you think McCain is more qualified than Sen. Obama. Do you still hold this view? No? What made you change your mind?” “Sen. Obama, on what issues do you still disagree with Sen. Clinton?” “Sen. McCain, who do you prefer out of your two opponents?”

    I can’t see the Democrats coming out on top from something like that.

    But, how would you suggest this be phrased — should they be saying he needs to make nice to “white women?” Because my guess is that if they phrased it that way, all sorts of people would be pissed at the racism in that. Or, do the [white] women he has (and will) harmed not matter?

    Saying that he needs to make nice to “women” is even more inaccurate. Plenty of women support Obama just fine. Black women, young women, women in every state west of the Mississippi, activist women, netroots women. He also has very vocal women allies in the party and among the punditry, such as Sen. Mccaskill and Rachel Maddow.

    The most accurate phrasing is that he needs to make nice with older white women – but then again, he needs to make nice to older white voters in general, so I don’t see the need to bring gender into the mix.

  23. 22
    bean says:

    What a shock — yet more men dismissing feminist women and their concerns. They don’t exist and they don’t matter.

  24. 23
    sylphhead says:

    Could you be more specific?

  25. 24
    Mandolin says:

    Sylph,

    There are a number of women — not all of them white or straight or “old” — who disagree with your assertion that Obama needs not court them, or stop saying misogynist things, or stop saying obnoxious things about homosexuals. Including me, even though I would vote for Obama if my primary were today (it was Super Tuesday, and I voted for Edwards).

    If you want to see the arguments more specifically, I suggest you go to Shakesville (for example) and read the archives.

  26. 25
    sylphhead says:

    Not all of them, sure, but if surveys, exit polls, and past primaries are to be believed, most people who are the most reluctant to support Obama fit a certain mold. And most people who are most supportive of Obama fit another mold. Check out the latest round of SurveyUSA polls.

    If you don’t like the statistical compare and contrast of broad demographic groups, then I share much of your view, though I’d add that during election season, it’s simply very useful at times. I realize that the way demographic groups are divided, which is often somewhat arbitrary, can be subject to a form of gerrymandering to support whatever narrative people want, and that we’re all stupider for “security moms” having ever entered our lexicon. But even in the local elections I’ve worked in, it’s impossible to view every voter as an individual. Some broad strokes must be painted.

  27. 26
    Thene says:

    It seems fairly clear to me that Obama is not the best candidate for women’s and LGBTIQ rights. He’s gaffed several times.

    Can I just say that this really depends on what you regard as the most important women’s rights issues? Because imho Iraq is one of the most vital women’s rights issues in US politics, and that’s one of the reasons I support Obama rather than Clinton.