Feminists must unite against McCain
I’m writing this on a Wednesday, and there’s a great sense of relief in this morning’s headline. Sen. Barack Obama, who I and most Americans first learned of at the Democratic convention four long years ago as he campaigned to be the junior senator of my birth state, is the first non-white nominee for president of the United States. More importantly, he is a nominee who represents the best aspects of my country – the diversity of a nation that was built by refugees and castouts and is stronger for it, moral values rooted in compassion and optimism, the belief that any man or woman can be anything.
If he wins this November, and as a supporter I have to assume he will until and unless Nov. 5 proves me wrong, it will represent one of the greatest turnarounds this nation has ever seen, both politically and culturally. The primary has already been something unprecedented in American history – a win will be the kind of event you never expect to see in your lifetime.
Still, a lot has to happen between today and November. The primary contest has sewn an unfortunate amount of anger within the Democratic party, and a lot of it is misplaced and unwarranted. I’m no longer interested in laying blame for that. It’s time to move on.
I want to talk now as both a feminist and someone who has supported Obama from the beginning. I’d like to address those who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, the ones who feel so negatively about the campaign thus far that they are threatening to either write her in or vote for Sen. John McCain.
First of all, I’ve been appalled by the misogynistic treatment Clinton received from some quarters throughout the campaign. Very little of that came from high-ranking Obama supporters, and when it did Obama denounced it. In fact, I doubt very much that the jackasses waving “cook my dinner” signs are any more likely to vote for Obama than Clinton.
I’m sure many of you have personal anecdotes about sexist Obama supporters. I believe you, because I’ve got personal anecdotes about racist Clinton supporters. Regardless, I believe both are about .000000000000001 percent of the whole. I’ve also heard and read 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, I don’t think either accusation is true, and the people making them are a tiny minority. A very tiny, very small-minded minority.
The truth is that for the greater majority of us, we supported our candidates for the exact same reasons. On policy Clinton and Obama are nearly indistinguishable. We voted for them in primaries and caucuses because we believe America can be a better nation, because we don’t believe in the endless occupation of Iraq, because we don’t agree with handouts for corporations and millionaires while our poor and middle-class suffer under increasing burdens, because we don’t agree with a bloated and unaffordable health care industry that leaves millions of Americans in the cold, because we don’t think our government should allow or encourage the kind of greed and opportunism that led to the housing crisis, because we don’t agree with a supreme court that would take away a woman’s right to choose or any person’s right to marry the person they love, because we believe in equality and good lives for all people be they black or white, female or male. We voted because we’re feminists, supporters of peace and advocates of human rights.
To argue now that we should vote for McCain instead of Obama out of anger that our first pick wasn’t chosen would be to abandon all that. It would be a vote in direct opposition to everything I just listed.
A write-in for Clinton would be little better; it wouldn’t help her win, and it would only aid McCain. I can sympathize with how you feel on this: I wasn’t thrilled with Kerry in 2004, and felt like my candidate (Howard Dean) got a raw deal. But even if you think this is a vote between “the lesser of two evils,” with which I disagree wholeheartedly, in presidential politics even a slight shift in policy can better the lives of millions of people. Is that really worth sacrificing in favor of making a statement?
It is my sincere hope that a woman is president of the United States in the near future. In fact, I hope a woman is president in exactly eight years (and a Democratic woman, make no mistake). But for now, we should all 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.