10 May 2008

My thoughts on the Democratic primary; let me show you them

Way back in elementary school, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up:

President of the United States.

That, of course, was before I discovered that I liked girls and boys, and that I was kinky, and that I had serious problems with Christianity--plus the whole anger control problem, being well to the left of most of the country, and, you know, being crazy. What didn't stop me, though, was the idea that I couldn't be President because I'm black and female. I just figured I'd be the first.

(Dude, I even memorized the oath of office. Just in case.)

Ironically, when the primary campaign started, I was planning to vote for a white guy: Dennis Kucinich. Not only was he against the war and had always been against the war, but he and Mike Gravel were the only candidates on record as supporting full marriage equality. I was annoyed by the presumption that I should vote for Clinton because she's female or that I should vote for Obama because he's black--though I will note that it was the Clinton supporters like Gloria Steinem and the head of NY NOW who rendered me invisible as a black woman--and frankly, I thought they were both way too centrist for my tastes.

Kucinich dropped out before Super Tuesday, and I had to decide between voting for him anyway (as I did in 2004 when I voted for Dean a month after he'd dropped out of the race), voting for Clinton, and voting for Obama. In the end, I voted for Obama because I believed that the number of people who won't vote for the black guy will ultimately be smaller than the number of people who won't vote for a Clinton, and especially Hillary, who the right spent eight years demonizing.

It wasn't until Obama's speech on race that I turned to and said, "You know, maybe there is something to this 'hope' stuff." The two things that struck me most were the fact that he wrote that speech himself, and the fact that, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, he talked to the American people as if we were adults--on the topic that has been called the "third rail" of American political discourse.

At that point, while I really did want Obama to get the nomination, I would still have felt okay with voting for Clinton. It would have been another "vote against the Republican" election, but I'm used to that; it's not like I was all that enthused about Dukakis, Clinton, Gore or Kerry. I was even making a concerted effort not to hold comments by campaign surrogates like Carville and Ferraro against the candidate herself, since I certainly didn't want Obama to be held responsible for every dumbshit thing someone said on Daily Kos.

Then Clinton did three things that pissed me off:

1. She talked about "obliterating" Iran.

2. She proposed her pandering, pointless gas tax holiday, and when even economists like Paul Krugman, who supported her, detailed how this was a bad idea, she dismissed criticisms from "experts".

3. She said in an interview with USA Today that she would be the better nominee because a recent poll showed that "Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again...There's a pattern emerging here."

The first two are excellent illustrations of why the country is in the mess we're in right now. We have a leadership who thinks nothing of attacking a nation that hasn't attacked us and killing hundreds of thousands (we think--there's no official count of Iraqi dead) of civilians. We also have a leader who personifies smug ignorance, and doesn't need "experts" to tell him he's wrong. If I wanted more of that, I'd vote for McCain.

The third statement, in addition to being flat-out wrong--Obama got a greater share of the white vote in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina than he did in Ohio; Clinton's information was based on old poll data--is using a particularly nasty racial dog whistle no matter how you slice it. Either she's saying that she should be the nominee because white people are still too racist to vote for the black guy, or she's saying that the only hard-working Americans are white. I don't actually think Clinton herself is racist, which in a way makes it worse, because it's another instance of her saying and doing anything to get elected.

Right now, if Clinton was the Democratic nominee, I'd have to think long and hard about whether or not to vote for her. Not because she's a woman or because she's white. Not because she cries or doesn't cry, or how "likeable" she is. Not because of her surrogates or the bloggers or anything other than the way she herself has conducted this campaign and the things that she has said that make me believe she would be a poor choice for President.

2 comments:

Faith said...

This is a moot point now (and I'm so glad). But whatever issues you have with Hill (and I agree with you on almost all of them), voting for "100-years-in-Iraq/tax-credit-for-health-coverage-that's-at-least-$3K-too-short/pandering-to-the-religious-right/ANTI-CHOICE" John McCain is not an option for us. So I write this to all of the disappointed Clinton supporter who are considering the same thing...WAKE UP!!

And hi, BTW. Call me!

Illuminancer said...

If I'd done that, I certainly wasn't voting for McCain--I was going to write in Gore. California is going to go blue regardless. But what I probably would have done would have been to close my eyes, hold my nose, and say, "John Paul Stevens is 88."