Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time to Harness the Power of 51%

Watching the US political TV shows this morning, Hillary's name came up even more often than Joe Biden's. The question is why Obama didn't ask her to be VP - why he didn't even vet her - after she won half of the vote. The concern is that over 30% of Hillary supporters do not support Obama. The facile solution is that Hillary's convention speech will make the difference in bringing her supporters over to Obama.

Hillary can't do it. As one of the three in ten, I can tell you this: I don't support Obama now for the same reason that I didn't support him during the primary. I have been a fan of the man for years, but I don't think he's qualified - at this point in his career - to be president. Only Obama can convince us that he would make a better president than John McCain. Hillary can't do bupkis.

Proof of this is that she's been making strenuous efforts to support Obama and they're not registering. She made the most unifying concession speech in history. She has been actively stumping for Obama, appealing over and over to her supporters to support him. Not only are her supporters refusing to budge, but the media is asserting that she's not even trying. Witness an article in the Globe & Mail recently questioning her support for Obama (in complete opposition to the evidence); and a Diane Francis article that described Hilllary's concession speech as ungracious - which anyone who heard it would know is a bare-faced lie.

We might support our party just on partisan grounds, despite our qualms. But there is a huge rift in the party. Women were humiliated by the treatment of Hillary Clinton in the primaries. We haven't forgotten, when she was attacked in a debate for being unlikeable, Obama's condescending, snarky "You're likeable enough, Hillary." We haven't forgotten his half-hearted response to his pastor's vicious attack on her. Most of all, we are wounded by the vicious sexist attacks during the campaign. If Obama wants to bring us around, he needs to address our concerns.

Just as he made a moving speech about race, Obama needs to address gender issues in America. Women are incensed that the media and the Democratic party have all denied that there was sexism in the primaries. All of it has been denied: the comments about castration and ankles and cackle; the over-emphasis on the candidate's male spouse; the heckles and the insults. There was not only widespread refusal to take seriously a woman candidate, but the female candidate was ridiculed and demonized for being female. We're mad not on Hillary's behalf but on our own behalf.

So that's Obama's challenge. Convince us that you're better qualified than John McCain to meet the difficult, pragmatic challenges ahead; and address our concerns about the role of women in politics. So far Obama has been unsuccessful in the former and has shown no interest in the latter. If he doesn't change his approach - radically - then many women, myself included, may think about staying home on election day. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. It's time to send a message that we're a demographic that deserves some attention. In the short term we'd get stuck with another Republican president for four more years (it's unlikely McCain could seek a second term), but in the long run we might make great strides for women's equality. If Obama doesn't step up, I propose that women boycott the election. It's time to say enough is enough.



Anonymous said...

Have fun.

They said Bush would never be reelected as well. I'm glad you are so confident in your abilities to guide the future in wishful thinking.

I mean how much damage could be done in 4 more years, right? It's not like there will be any Supreme Court justices retiring in that time, for one example. Couldn't possibly happen.

People will feel what they want, but some of your examples are pretty damn flimsy. You could easily develop an alternative argument for Obama's not forgiving Hillary for similar slights. I mean, geez, not liking the intonation of a casual comment in a heated debate . . . oh my god, how could a party ever come together from something like that? Something so deep, so divisive, (so utterly petty) is surely grounds to sit out an election. Didn't Obama know when taking on the most powerful candidate, he was supposed to bow deeply in every exchange?

I"ve got a better idea, vote for McCain.

I have supported Clinton from day one, but this has gone on far enough.

You don't want reconciliation, you just want someone to validate your every whim (and it still won't be enough).

Obama has done as much as any nominee has done, and Clinton has done her part as well.

Can you entertain for just one moment that there might be some very valid reasons that Obama would NOT have wanted the Clinton shadow laying across his campaign - Hillary does come with Bill, who admire him I do has become his own loose cannon. An argument could easily be made that Bill sunk Hillary's campaign more than anyone else.

If Clinton's supporters refuse to see what is stake in this election, the US will get exactly what it deserves.

Glad you're doing your part.

I suppose I should make some grand gesture to try to convince you in some rational and empathetic way, but this charade has grown cold.

Do what you will, but please stop whining about it. People have gotten over much worse for party unity.

The engraved invitation will not be arriving. So guess you sitting on your hands will be your great act to ensure a better future for women.

Have fun.

Yappa said...

Hi Joseph,

Actually, my prediction that McCain won't run for a second term is based on his age and health. Of course he might - anything is possible, if not probable.

Your concerns about McCain appointing conservative justices is dead on. He has pledged to do so, and I'm very concerned about that too.

But I take issue with your comment that I'm being petty. This is not about Hillary losing - this is about how she lost. This is not about wanting Hillary to be the candidate; it's about how this campaign set back the cause of women getting better representation in politics. This is about a woman candidate losing because she's a woman. This is about women, who are vastly under-represented in the governments of both the US and Canada, being ridiculed for attempting to improve our representation. This is about finally using our power to do something about it.

I'm considering withholding my vote this year because I feel disenfranchized. I'm fed up at the blatant sexism in our society. I'm fed up with the tiny proportion of women who are MPs, senators and CEOs. I'm disgusted that the Democrats haven't addressed the issue of sexism in the primary. Liberals are always promising to get more women elected, but it never happens. Maybe they mean it, but they sure don't do enough to achieve it.

I respect your opinions and I can see that it's a pretty radical idea to suggest we throw the election in order to send a message that women deserve fairer representation in politics. But I don't see what else we can do.

Anonymous said...


I do appreciate your opinion . . . I really honestly do.

I could disagree with you on this one and whole-heartedly support your decisions on other matters.

Hint . . . let' talk about Harper ; ).

Seriously, though, you have a nice day. I respect your thoughts about this, though I wish you felt otherwise on this one topic. I don't think Obama deserves it all to be laid on his shoulders.

He married Michelle, which to me shows he has no issue with a woman having influence. At the end of the day, his election was against a very strong candidate and political force who happened to be a woman.

Campaigns can be brutal even among members of the same party. I think the Obama Clinton one was mild in comparison to many.

You may never believe his not asking her to be his running mate was about sexism, but I truly believe there were other valid reasons.

The McCain camp is already out with their Hillary ad recounting every demeaning and condescending thing she ever said about him. With her as VP, the supply would have lasted them until November.

And those who listen to them will dance right to Karl Rove's music. McCain, a man I once admired, brought him and other Bushies on his camp for a reason.

Please be smart, but of course you must also listen to your principles.