Friday, May 09, 2008

Politics, Bigotry, and Other Stuff

I have two different things bouncing around my head today.

First, Hillary Clinton should not have explained her strength as a candidate in racial terms. I'm sure anyone reading this blog has also read Clinton's post-Indiana comments. I'm angry, I'm frustrated. Strength as a candidate has nothing to do with whether one particular group supports you (unless, I suppose, that group is "all Americans", but even that support shouldn't come at the expense of all the other human beings on the planet).

Even more importantly to me, strength as a Democratic candidate should never, ever be measured in broken demographics. We are not the party of just blacks, or just whites, or just women, or just gays, or just Christians, or just anything. That's the deal. We are the party of everyone. It's why I'm a Democrat. So the only folks worthy of exclusion -- and in fact warranting exclusion -- are those who seek to divide us along those lines. I've long said that I'd give anything for Obama to stand up and say, "If you're voting for me because you think a woman can't be president, I don't want you." Same goes for Clinton. She should reject any vote cast because her opponent is black.

This is what happens when we let racism and sexism fester. When we pretend like we're past all that. We're not. And when things get tight, we expose ourselves.

I won't try to justify what she said with things Obama's said or that his supporters say. That's not what this post is about. Nor would it matter if Obama were sexist every minute of every day, which he is decidedly not! Clinton should apologize for the implication -- intended or not, it doesn't matter -- that white Americans are better than black Americans. And she should fire her damn pollsters who have been setting this up as a strategy. The fact that her poll numbers are so racially polarized should trouble Clinton greatly, not be viewed as an advantage. No excuses. No pointing fingers. Apologize. Take it back. Regret it sincerely.

The only winner in the oppression sweepstakes is the oppressor. We lefties should keep that mantra, which I'm sure I've borrowed from someone else, on repeat. The only winner in the oppression sweepstakes is the oppressor. The only winner in the oppression sweepstakes is the oppressor. Let's get real.

Leadership means making people's lives better without cutting down others to do it. We are sorely lacking that kind of leadership in politics today. Politicians are too scared to take stands on issues that would make people's lives unquestionably better (ahem, reproductive justice, affirmative action). And the few that do take stands seem all too often to take them in an effort to demonize fellow citizens (ahem, the so-called "war" on Christianity). Americans need to start demanding more. Asking our leaders to be actual leaders is just the first step.

And because oppression is getting me down today, here's the second thing, something about the rising attacks on feminism and acceptance of those attacks. If it were my graduation, I would stand up and turn my back on Schlafly and Matthews. Schlafly is a veteran of anti-women hate speech. There is a world of difference between accepting her right to openly hate women and giving her public accolades for making a career out of that hatred. For shame, Washington U. For shame.


Anonymous said...

I missed what she said. What was it?

I am actually surprised that more of this campaign has not been about race and gender, I have to say. Maybe I just have low expectations of Americans.

Kat said...

She said she has support from important demographic groups and then said, "such as working, hard-working, white Americans." And while I don't believe she meant it in a racist way, the phrasing was reckless at best in terms of playing into racist stereotypes.