Feminists must unite against McCain

by Chris Lowrance

I’m writing this ona Wednesday, and there’s a great sense of relief in this morning’sheadline. Sen. Barack Obama, who I and most Americans first learned ofat the Democratic convention four long years ago as he campaigned to bethe junior senator of my birth state, is the first non-white nomineefor president of the United States. More importantly, he is a nomineewho represents the best aspects of my country – the diversity of anation that was built by refugees and castouts and is stronger for it,moral values rooted in compassion and optimism, the belief that any manor woman can be anything. If he wins this November, and as asupporter I have to assume he will until and unless Nov. 5 proves mewrong, it will represent one of the greatest turnarounds this nationhas ever seen, both politically and culturally. The primary has alreadybeen something unprecedented in American history – a win will be thekind of event you never expect to see in your lifetime. Still, alot has to happen between today and November. The primary contest hassewn an unfortunate amount of anger within the Democratic party, and alot of it is misplaced and unwarranted. I’m no longer interested inlaying blame for that. It’s time to move on. I want to talk nowas both a feminist and someone who has supported Obama from thebeginning. I’d like to address those who supported Sen. HillaryClinton, the ones who feel so negatively about the campaign thus farthat they are threatening to either write her in or vote for Sen. JohnMcCain. First of all, I’ve been appalled by the misogynistictreatment Clinton received from some quarters throughout the campaign.Very little of that came from high-ranking Obama supporters, and whenit did Obama denounced it. In fact, I doubt very much that thejackasses waving "cook my dinner" signs are any more likely to vote forObama than Clinton. I’m sure many of you have personal anecdotesabout sexist Obama supporters. I believe you, because I’ve got personalanecdotes about racist Clinton supporters. Regardless, I believe bothare about .000000000000001 percent of the whole. I’ve also heard andread accounts of being called a racist merely for not supporting Obama.I’m really sorry for that, and I know how infuriating and unfair it is,because I’ve been called a sexist for not supporting Clinton. Again, Idon’t think either accusation is true, and the people making them are atiny minority. A very tiny, very small-minded minority. Thetruth is that for the greater majority of us, we supported ourcandidates for the exact same reasons. On policy Clinton and Obama arenearly indistinguishable. We voted for them in primaries and caucusesbecause we believe America can be a better nation, because we don’tbelieve in the endless occupation of Iraq, because we don’t agree withhandouts for corporations and millionaires while our poor andmiddle-class suffer under increasing burdens, because we don’t agreewith a bloated and unaffordable health care industry that leavesmillions of Americans in the cold, because we don’t think ourgovernment should allow or encourage the kind of greed and opportunismthat led to the housing crisis, because we don’t agree with a supremecourt that would take away a woman’s right to choose or any person’sright to marry the person they love, because we believe in equality andgood lives for all people be they black or white, female or male. Wevoted because we’re feminists, supporters of peace and advocates ofhuman rights. To argue now that we should vote for McCaininstead of Obama out of anger that our first pick wasn’t chosen wouldbe to abandon all that. It would be a vote in direct opposition toeverything I just listed. A write-in for Clinton would be littlebetter; it wouldn’t help her win, and it would only aid McCain. I cansympathize with how you feel on this: I wasn’t thrilled with Kerry in2004, and felt like my candidate (Howard Dean) got a raw deal. But evenif you think this is a vote between "the lesser of two evils," withwhich I disagree wholeheartedly, in presidential politics even a slightshift in policy can better the lives of millions of people. Is thatreally worth sacrificing in favor of making a statement? It ismy sincere hope that a woman is president of the United States in thenear future. In fact, I hope a woman is president in exactly eightyears (and a Democratic woman, make no mistake). But for now, we shouldall celebrate this momentous sign of how far our nation has advanced,even as we look forward to the milestones still to come. To comment on this column, email Chris at