Maureen Dowd has written an excellent editorial in the Times, talking about why Hillary Clinton is a poor litmus test for the feminist community. You really ought to just go read it, because it’s good and pretty short, but the gist is this, in Dowd’s words:
If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours.
In the piece, Dowd talks about all of the other issues bound up with Clinton, including the reasons I don’t want to vote for her. Dowd points out that Clinton is tainted with, well, Clinton, and some people don’t want four more years of a Clinton administration, no matter what the gender of the Clinton is. It is also pointed out that Clinton hasn’t exactly showed herself to be capable of offering skilled, competent judgments, despite the “experience” she touts, and perhaps most damning:
As a senator, she was not a leading voice on important issues, and her Iraq vote was about her political viability.
This statement pretty much sums up the reason I could never vote for Clinton, and I’m not saying that Obama’s any better (because I don’t think that he is), but I do think that I am sick and tired of this endless debate about gender, race, and the election. I hate that when a woman decides to vote for Hillary Clinton, it’s called a “vagina vote,” instead of a calculated decision (although I might disagree with it). I hate it that as a woman, I am expected to vote for Hillary Clinton, or, wait, maybe I’m expected not to vote for her, thus showcasing my forward thinking feminism. Are you getting confused yet? Because I am.
My father once told me about an audition for an orchestra he attended, where all the candidates waited in a room and were called on by one to play for the judges. When he walked into the room, he expected to meet the judges, give them a smile, shake their hands. Instead, he found himself facing a screen, and the judges asked him to play a piece, and he did, and then he left. He later discovered that this is pretty common practice for orchestras: they do blind auditions so that they can consider people on their merits, without clouding the issue with race and gender.
I’m beginning to think we need to hold blind elections. Because I don’t like to read about people who don’t want to vote for Obama because he’s black, or who will vote for Hillary because she’s a women. Obviously race and gender are an important part of one’s identity, and by extension personality and potential behavior as President, but for Pete’s sake, who bases their vote on one aspect of someone’s being. Did people vote for Bush because he’s a Texan? Well, sure, some people did, but most people voted for him for other reasons.
Should people vote for Hillary because she’s a woman? No. Should they not vote for her because she’s a woman? No. I’m with Dowd here. I think that people need to make up their minds on the basis of more useful information, like voting records, and if Hillary loses (or wins), I don’t see how that impacts me as a feminist. I mean, sure, I would be stoked to see a woman President, and I think it would send a powerful message to the rest of the world, but I don’t see how a Clinton loss would undermine the feminist community.
Maybe I’m oversimplifying the issue. There certainly are a lot of feminists who disagree with me pretty strongly. But I think this illustrates one of the many things about this election which is making me infuriated, which is that we as a collective nation are unable to really think about issues, focusing instead on facets of a person which may not be all that important in the long term.
I’m supporting Obama in this election because I think he’s the less crappy candidate. I don’t give a shit about his skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or religious values, and I don’t think you should either.