Race Appeal Vs. Sex Appeal

My heart goes out to the people living in Tennessee and Arkansas. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror some have had to endure over the last 24 hours. What was supposed to be a great day where politics was concerned ended up being a worse nightmare for many living down south.

TobyJoe and I have been watching the results come in since last night. We’ve been glued to a muted CNN. (Modest Mouse plays in the background. I have this idea that TV-watching only “counts” if it’s audible. Dumb? Entirely.) Of course, watching the numbers come in has me ignorantly hypothesizing.

Here are some of my fleeting, (stream of conscious) thoughts:

I can’t believe only about 500 registered Democrats voted in Alaska. Wait, how many people actually live in Alaska? The nation is split on who they want as their Democratic frontrunner. Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome if Clinton and Obama ran together? I know that won’t ever happen. Hillary can’t use “Clinton” on her signage. Is it that there are more people living in the Northeast and therefore there are more people voting? Or do the folks in the middle just not care to get out and vote? If Obama gets the nomination, I think many Hillary supporters will happily change their votes. If Hillary does, however, I am not sure Obama supporters will change theirs. Perhaps Obama is more electable. I prefer Hillary’s healthcare plan to Obama’s. Obama’s speeches are something to be savored. I wonder why Edwards hasn’t come out in support of anyone yet. I wonder who’s more likely to ask Edwards to be VP? I like Edwards. Why do the Latinos like Hillary so much? Which Dem can deal with all the swiftboating better? What is that smell? Oh, baby vomit!

(Edited to add: A LOT more than 500 people voted in Alaska. The stats on CNN that day were incorrect or the percentage of votes counted wasn’t actually at 98%. Sorry!)

Here is a more refined thought:

I want to mention a few things about the whole race/female thing as it’s impossible to ignore, especially when our newscasters and talking heads seem to want to differentiate between the two every chance they get. I was visiting another Web site yesterday and witnessed several people attack a woman who voted for Hillary Clinton. She had several reasons for backing Hillary Clinton and mentioned those reasons. At the very end, however, she mentioned something about her being female. That set several people off. “I think it’s SO wrong to vote for someone just because she’s female!” The comments kept coming, verbal attacks against the voter’s character just because she mentioned liking the fact that a female was contending for president of the United States.

I watched a lot of news yesterday. I think it was CNN (there’s a small chance it could have been MSNBC or CBS) who stood outside and interviewed people as they exited their polling stations. There was one black gentleman who, when asked, said that he voted for Obama. He was then asked why he supports Obama and his reasoning was (and I’m paraphrasing), “He represents hope. He stands for change. And, yes, his being a black man had something to do with it.” The guy didn’t seem to know anything about Obama’s stance, beliefs, etc.

I’m not sure what question I want to ask here and I’m admittedly wading into very unfamiliar and dangerous waters. But here goes nothing. Why has there been such a backlash for women voters mentioning voting for another woman? What’s the difference between the two decisions? Is it only racist if a person were to vote for the white guy solely to vote against a black guy? Is it not racist to vote for the black guy just because he is indeed black?

Here’s how Webster defines the word Racist:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

We all know that racism is more complex and varied than the cartoon version people always reference. The type of racism evident in this gentleman’s vote is interesting, to say the least. Thus far, the pundits and mainstream media have limited the discussion of racism in this election cycle to the act of avoiding particular candidates. There’s another site to racism in the discussion of electability, and it equally trivializes the important aspects of a potential President: voting record, views on the Constitution, respect for our FOUR-branch system of government, and general trajectory on issues major and minor.

I am happy with both of the Democrats running. I would cast my vote for either one of them in a heartbeat. But, I don’t know everything they stand for. So, my goal over the next several months is to learn as much as humanly possible about both Democratic contenders. I hope to move beyond getting information from bulleted lists, or deciding to vote for him because Oprah told me to or her because I liked Bill so much. (Not that either one of those are reasons I voted for whom I voted.) I want to feel like I made a very solid, informed decision and not just a good one.

Now all I have to do is find the time.


  1. I sent my mom to Wikipedia to look at Republican candidates since I knew nothing about them. They had a considerable amount of information on a couple of them including their voting records and their stances on issues. You might try there


  2. I overheard someone in the office saying that Obama opposes giving gay couples the same legal rights
    ala marraige as hetero couples.
    On the race/gender thing, I was thinking last night (and I am well aware that this is a GROSS oversimplification) that racism is somewhat limited by, well, race while sexism is much more far-reaching.


  3. What a topic! I love it.

    I agree that voting for a black person simply because he is black, or a woman simply because she is a woman, technically is just as small-minded as voting for a white male for the same reason. And I wouldn’t do it, and I’m not condoning it. I’m in your boat – I’m drawn to Barack simply because I prefer his debate answers to Hillary’s, but I need to know more. (Luckily my primary isn’t until the very useful and impactful date of May 5th. At which time it might be a moot point).

    However. I would say this. First, obviously, there are a lot more white males in power. Not just political power, I mean power in general. Where I work, for example, we have 7 management staff. 5 get yearly bonuses, 2 do not. There are 5 males and 2 females. Guess who gets the bonuses? And, of course, we have no minority managers at all.

    I don’t think that this or all instances like this are necessarily actively racist or misogynist. I think they are borne out of a society that used to condone white male supremacy, and now doesn’t, but it’s taking a bazillion years for the effects to trickle out of the system. Us women managers don’t get bonuses because financial and HR professionals are typically valued less than other manufacturing professionals – all salary surveys point to that. And that’s because those jobs are typically filled by women. We don’t have any minority managers because in my 2 years of working here, sifting through literally thousands of resumes, I have seen two resumes from a minority that had a four year degree. TWO. The big local non-white race here is black – black people, for economic and societal and myriad other reasons, tend to go to college way less. So there are less black people in management. That’s simplified logic, but this comment is a book already anyway. I hope you get me.

    So. For me. All things being equal. If I was looking at a white male versus a female, or a white male versus a minority candidate, and I liked them sort of equally otherwise, I’d pick the female or the minority. We need the help. We need the people to look up to. We need the white guys on our management team to have to answer to a girl president, or a black president. Maybe after a couple of generations, girls and minorities and all the rest of the downtrodden will start to fill in those management roles, start to get paid what the white men get paid. It helps the fight, I think.

    As long as the candidate is competent and worthy of the job, that is.


  4. Obama’s stances on many issues are designed to appeal to swing voters… i.e. he says his religion dictates marriage is between a man & woman, but that it is a religious belief on a state issue, not a federal one.

    Stances like that are half bs, but what makes him ultimately electable.

    CBS & NBC were doing some demographic segmentations yesterday. Overwhelmingly women went for Clinton. I seriously doubt this was a policy or campaign issue, it was a gender push. Obama had most black men ( i think it was 75%), and a significantly high number of white men ( 60%), and was 2:1 on the under 30 vote.

    In regards to ‘dream tickets’, I think Obama/Clinton would seriously derail any shot of Obama winning. Hillary on a ticket is toxic, especially against McCain. The reports show Obama/Edwards polling very well. If Clinton manages to get the nomination, the only shot she’s got of winning is pulling in Obama or Bill for VP.


  5. I am not doubting you at all, Jonathan, but do you have links to those stats? I was looking earlier and did not find any.


  6. It was live stats on one of those microsoft interactive tables. i couldn’t find any of them online either.

    if you do see them, please post!


  7. Awesome. That link holds a PLETHORA of statistical information for those who care.

    From it:

    _Clinton was favored by a majority of voters who thought the economy and health care to be most important, while Obama was the choice for voters most worried about the war in Iraq. _

    One might suggest that ending the war in Iraq might do a bit to help the economy, no?

    I do tend to lean toward Clinton when it comes to health care reform, but who says that even if she’s nominated she’ll actually get things done.

    I’m also VERY intrigued by the fact that she has such a latino backing. I love stats. I only wish I understood them more. :]


  8. The best way, IMO to see what a candidate is about is to check what corporate $$ they’ve accepted, and to look at their voting record, which will tell you A LOT.


  9. There’s a huge discussion about this on one of the message boards Mike and I frequent. I would never criticize someone else’s vote or their reasons for choosing candidate A over candidate B. People need to make their own decisions and while I would hope that those decisions would be informed ones, it is ultimately up to the individual to decide who to put their support behind.

    I definitely consider myself a feminist. I have gone to DC to march for reproductive rights. I also had my 20 year old ass grabbed in a stairwell by a senior partner. But with respect to the whole race vs. gender thing, when I look at my life and my experiences, I have had far more racism directed at me than I have sexism, and frankly, I don’t buy any argument that I’m somehow betraying womankind if I don’t back Hillary Clinton.

    My friend Kira said it best: “The mindless enforced my-feminism-is-better-than-your-feminism crap just says to me that those people are overly used to being oppressed. True parity is when you aren’t forced to think about a thing as part of your daily defense against the world.”


  10. Lillet:

    I totally know what you’re saying and I tend to agree. I have to wonder, then, does Obama come out on top following that guideline because he’s not been out there for as long as other “lifers”?

    Do people enter politics and become tainted over time? Or do the tainted become politicians? heh

    That’s a loaded question. Not even sure where I’m going with that.

    I also need to add that this is where I start to get into trouble where politics are concerned. When I start to spew off without much filtering, I tend to piss people off or stop making sense all together. I should probably stop.


  11. In the cases I have seen (not many, but still, some) it’s not that other women are saying to women that they aren’t feminists because they aren’t voting for a female it’s the exact opposite. Many people are angry that people may be choosing her because she’s female.

    The people who are saying you’re not a feminist are probably in the same camp of idiots who are calling Obama “not black enough.” Whatever THAT means.


  12. Actually, there have been a few attempts by the Clinton camp to use gender as an issue with lines like “If you don’t vote for Hillary, you’re betraying women”.

    One of the highlights was when the NY chapter of the National Organization of Women slammed Kennedy when he backed Obama, calling him a betrayer and basically saying that anyone supporting him was the enemy.

    Dateline did a feature on some mysterious push-polls before the caucuses last month, which suggested Edwards was didn’t support women, Obama was pro-life, and mysteriously omitted anything about Clinton….

    My point is that there has been a concerted effort by her campaign to make gender an issue. There’s a difference between targeting voters and preying on their sensitivities. From what I’ve seen, Obama has been targeting African americans, and Clinton has been preying on women.

    In any event, in response to:
    “Do people enter politics and become tainted over time? Or do the tainted become politicians”

    I think its 50/50…. and I think there’s a magic number of about 8 years that measures how long even the most virtuous can stay in politics before becoming a complete sellout.


  13. Really? Her campaign is doing that? I haven’t seen it firsthand at all. I would like to, however. I have only seen people get called for the opposite. Personally, of course. I’m not saying it’s end all be all, right, etc.

    But I think the word “preying” is a bit harsh. I know you loathe Hillary, you have said as much and your verbiage makes it VERY clear.


  14. I’m not bothered at all about people voting to their likeness (female voting Clinton, Black voting Obama). Isn’t that the most basic human trait? We support what we know. These people are picking between two qualified candidates. When it comes down to who will represent me (not my company or school or whatever, but who do I personally pick to represent me), it is only human to pick the candidate that is most similar to ourself. When recently running for a community board, an older gentleman recognized my last name and knew some of my older relatives. He didn’t know me at all, but I know he voted for me just because he knew where I was from. This is COMPLETELY different than NOT voting for someone based on where they are from. One is based in a positive link, the other a negative.


  15. Oh, and thanks for the great topic!


  16. this is turning into a very interesting election to say the least!


  17. I agree totally with Sarah. This is what representative government is all about. It’s about feeling like you’re interests are represented by the candidate, perhaps because they are more like you in terms of race, gender, class, life experience, etc. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to vote for a woman. Not a small part of why I support Hillary (I volunteered most of my weekends in Dec./Jan. for the NH primary) is because she is a woman. There is a LOT of latent sexism that continues to exist in our culture and it would make me proud, and not a little bit optimistic that women were finally being taken seriously and as EQUALS, if we elected a female president. The “glass ceiling” is still very, very real. Electing a female president would be a symbol of our collective advancement as women. Black men got the right to vote before women, so I’m not exactly holding my breath here. However, when you take a look at the numbers (in 2006, black people accounted for 12.8% of the population of our country, while women were at 50.7%) it seems that perhaps it’s time to give a woman a shot at leadership. That Hillary is SO very well qualified to lead our nation and possesses a clear, pragmatic approach to all that we have to tackle in the upcoming years makes her a clear winner. I like her, I like her personal style, and I am extremely confident in her leadership abilities and her plan for our country. Obama’s speeches really tend to irritate me. It sounds like he’s preaching. I just don’t think he’s ready and I think people are getting WAY too caught up in these ambiguous notions of “hope” and “change” that are the brainchild of his 26 year old speechwriter. I’m tired of the talk. I want action. And Hillary is so ready to go. Think of what she’s overlooked in her marriage and how patiently she’s developed her career. Think of how much she’s learned – the prior health care debacle being the perfect example. She’s not going to make those mistakes again. She is seasoned. I really get the sense that she feels like her time has come. And I’m not so sure she’s going to be all that interested in sharing the office with Bill, as so many people seem to fear. When it comes right down to it, I genuinely think she’s the more qualified candidate. That she’s a woman is just icing on the cake.


  18. Great post.

    I go back and forth. I am not a fan of Hillary and I don’t know why. Is it because she’s a strong female and females tend to resent strong, powerful females? (This is what a guy at work tells me.)

    I’m a Barack supporter. And it is only because I am from Chicago and he’s my senator. I voted for him yesterday. I will vote for whichever Democrat wins the nomination and I hope they bring some change to this county.

    I don’t know enough about either of them. I know that Barack is too wet behind the ears, etc., but how do we know that is a bad thing? Overall, I’m pleased with the choices and I’m hopeful that things will change soon. It beats the hell out of John Kerry.


  19. Gloria Steinem wrote an excellent op-ed on this topic in the New York Times, January 8, 2008. Below is the last part of the article:

    I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.

    But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

    What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

    What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

    What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

    What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

    This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”


  20. When Jonathan says “the Clinton camp,” I think he means Clinton supporters (e.g. the NY NOW response) rather than “the Clinton campaign.”

    In response to your original question, though, I think blogger Election-year Weltschmerz has an excellent point when she writes, “Many whites understand that black people are justified in a legitimate struggle against their own oppression (however problematically they might think about it); many men (and some women) do not think that women’s struggles against patriarchy are so justified.”

    We acknowledge that racism exists, and we feel good that it does not prevent us from voting for Obama. We deny that sexism exists (or at least is prohibitively important in women’s lives), and so we are uncomfortable being cast as Hillary supporters, particularly if we are women/feminists who will be pigeonholed.

    I find Obama’s speeches empty: last night’s was a good example—lots of “the time is now, the movement is real” and no substance at all. When I remarked upon this to a friend, he said, “Admit it! You just want to see a chick in the White House!”

    Coincidentally, my husband came home from the working-class, overwhelmingly white male-patronized bar where he works and reported that one of his patrons had made the comment “so are we gonna have a bitch as president?”

    When I mentioned this to my mother, she said, “Some men think it’s OK to talk like that.” And that’s just it. Racists have learned to couch their racism in code so they won’t get called out (even if the code, like Huckabee’s Confederate flag up the ass comment, is pretty transparent). Sexists don’t feel they have to. Bob Herbert wrote about this weeks ago in the times, and it’s something that, for me, has tainted this whole primary.


  21. I have to admit that I find Obama’s inexperience a little troubling. He’s had 4 years of experience, probably 1.5 if you take out the getting there part. It’s worrisome. I had said very early on before he declared that he was running that he’d make an awesome president someday. I was a wee bit shocked that that someday turned into now before he got any experience.

    I agree with what someone else said earlier, that could be a good thing. It could also be a very bad thing. Only time will tell when/if he gets the nomination and then elected.

    I also agree with what Greg said. I am very, very excited about this election. We could not have a more diverse group of men and women running for president this time around. That says a great deal about this great nation. It says a great deal about the people we live with/near. No matter who you are outraged with or who you choose to support, we have all walks of life and so it’s nice to see such a diverse playing field, in my opinion.

    Regarding Obama’s speeches. I think he knows how to speak very, very well. His cadence is superb and he rarely looks down at any notecards so it appears these thoughts just come from him so super easily. But the only person who has made me actually cry thus far was Edwards. His words got to me during one of his speeches recently. I’m not sure why that is.

    I guess one might say that I really do/did like Edwards. I miss him that’s not to say I’m not still very excited about the other two Dem candidates, but Edwards had a way with me. Plus, I agree with his anti-lobbying stance. Something I wish Hillary had more of but we all know (Jonathan the most! ;] ) that’s not the case for the Clintons.

    I personally am very, very wary of choosing someone because of what he or she looks like. That type of decision making makes me nervous. To base ones decision on a person’s appearance, whether it be positive or negative, is a prejudice act. We’re all guilty of it in some way or another, I guess (for lack of a better term although I hate this one) it’s human nature to attract to what you find to be familiar. But that doesn’t make it right. And I think it can lead to complacency and ignorance. I feel that the more people who practice prejudice even in a positive form (I pick you because you’re like me) help create the negative form of it.

    I’m not sure if that make any sense.


  22. Katie,
    Thanks so much for posting that Steinem excerpt. I’m going to find the article now.


  23. I have to ask, is it ONLY ok to vote for someone because they are like you if they are a minority? If I were a white male and I said I’m voting white male because he’s a white male and is most like me, wouldn’t you then call me racist or prejudice? Why is it not the same thing for a woman voting for another woman because they’re both women? Isn’t that prejudice too?

    If you feel that it’s OK for one group, it should be ok for every group, right? It doesn’t matter how many or how frequently it happens. Right?


  24. Mihow, with all due respect, are there any non-prejudiced acts? We live in a sexist and sexualized society. We live in a racist and racialized society. If 80% of the black voters in a given state choose Obama, I don’t think it’s because he intrinsically is THAT much more appealing to black voters (which would imply that black voters are intrinsically different from white ones, which is false; they are perhaps extrinsically different, and the issues – poverty, job security, taxes, healthcare – are better addressed by Edwards or Clinton). Voters do vote based on demographics, more so in these cases, and I don’t think that’s wrong, because the symbolic power of a black president to improve actual opportunity and quality of life for black Americans or a woman president to do same for female Americans – just by virtue of those factors – is enormous. The ‘70s ideal of “color-blind” has long been understood to be false; Malcolm Gladwell discusses in Blink how we all incorporate race judgments into our assessments of strangers, and many of them are negative even when we belong to the groups we’re judging.

    Personally, I’m excited about an Obama or Hillary presidency for exactly those reasons of moral, stereotype-busting, and symbolism. Unfortunately, that’s the only reason I’ve gotten excited about Obama. His Christian posturing is repugnant, his racist, antisemitic, homophobic church is scary, and his criticisms of health care mandates are Republican. Yuck. Hillary has her own drawbacks—her vote on authorizing force, obviously; her support of the degradation of freedom of expression (flag burning). But I do see her drawbacks as more the product of a career in politics and less the set-up FOR one.


  25. Oh, and sorry for the strikethroughs; I meant them to be dashes.

    In response to your last question: yes. It is ONLY OK then. The reason is that if you choose a black or female candidate’s identity as such as a motivating factor in voting, you are responding to the desire to right an historic wrong in a larger context of injustice. If you choose a white male candidate’s identity as such as a motivating factor in voting, you are voting to preserve that same context of injustice.

    This is the premise behind affirmative action (which also mandates that candidates must be similarly qualified).


  26. Ok, I’m really going to shut up now, but just an addendum: “because they are like you” isn’t necessarily a part of the equation. I am not a black man, but I would vote for Obama over an identical white male candidate for the reasons above. I am not a white woman, but ditto for Clinton. Likewise (and unfortunately), many people of color and women feel more comfortable with a white male candidate (i.e., preserving the existing power structure). It’s like Harriet Tubman said when commended on how she freed hundreds of slaves: “I could’ve saved thousands, if only I could have convinced them they were slaves.”


  27. I don’t want anyone to shut up. discussions are good.

    My biggest fear regarding this whole siding with who you share physical characteristics is that people stop there. They don’t learn a thing about a person’s views, etc. That’s worrisome to me.

    And so often lately, I wish that TV/Visuals didn’t play a role at all in elections. I would love to take it back to radio days. :] Sometimes, I ask myself if FDR would have been elected in this day and age. My guess is no. I bet that his being paralyzed from the waist down, and confined to a wheelchair would have kept people from voting for him and the media would have had a field day with it.

    It’s a shame how much weight we put into looks. I rather like FDR, although, I wasn’t around back then, but historically speaking, he seemed like a pretty A-OK president.


  28. Well then… :)

    I do think it’s important not to conflate “appearance” and “race or gender identity.” The latter has an historical and symbolic meaning that the former does not. Race/gender identity invoke consequences (in terms of how one is treated/assumptions made about one) that are far more consistent than the consequences of appearance.


  29. Perhaps it’s the idealist in me, but I am still very uneasy about people picking someone based on sex, race, sexual preference or size of their boobs for that matter. I don’t care if it’s a minority or not.

    I’d also like to go on the record for saying that I even find affirmative action to be a bit “racist”. (I’m probably going to be flogged for that one. Sadly, Emory isn’t giving me a lot of time today to go into a big ol’ rant/debate. But I shall try! If need be.)


  30. I don’t have time for a big debate either. But the realist in me would like to point out that people have been picking elected officials based on race (white), gender (male), and appearance for hundreds of years. It’s not new just because it’s a woman or a minority.


  31. I am not suggesting it’s new at all. My original question was why are women getting attacked for supporting a woman, but no one is calling out a black man for supporting a black man solely because he’s black. What’s the difference. Why does one seem OK and the other like the biggest most ignorant mistake one could make?

    The media is not calling out the black man for supporting the black candidate solely because he’s indeed black. The media IS calling out some women for supporting Hillary because she’s a woman.

    My question was originally, why is that? What is so safe about attacking sexual identity (male vs. female) yet off limits regarding a minority race?


  32. It’s ok to vote for the minority if you’re in the minority (or, I should say in a “disadvantaged class”) in order to right the power differential.

    It’s not ok for white males (or however you want to define it) to the same because the behavior seeks to exclude those that historically have not had an equal voice or equal power. It seeks to maintain the current power inequity. That’s why is legal for women and minorities to have certain exclusive social clubs and it’s not for white men (to continue the “old boys network”).

    Once equality of race, gender, etc. is actually achieved, then yes, I would agree that these superficial criteria for choosing who to vote for is wrong and a double standard. But we are NOT there (to a pt. of equality) yet. So yes, it’s more ok for a woman to vote for a woman just because she’s a woman, but not ok for a white dude to do the same.


  33. “The media is not calling out the black man for supporting the black candidate solely because he’s indeed black. The media IS calling out some women for supporting Hillary because she’s a woman.

    My question was originally, why is that? What is so safe about attacking sexual identity (male vs. female) yet off limits regarding a minority race?”

    This is a GREAT question and one that I’m not really prepared to even begin taking a stab at answering. I’d love to hear others’ take on it.


  34. Small and Mihow, I really thought I responded to that question originally (see post with quote from Election-year Weltschmerz, above)! And I think that Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye to All That (2)”, if you can get past the obvious Hillary love, provides good answers: http://www.womensmediacenter.com/ex/020108.html


  35. When I say “The Clinton Camp” I mean the campaign, not the supporters.

    Clinton works a lot with staged politics and tightly controls their messaging – the NY NOW chapter may have been ‘supporters’ – but that message was most definitely cleared and probably originated in her campaign.

    I’ve seen how she works from the inside – I won’t go into details publicly ( but Mihow you can ask offlist ) – but its everything that I oppose.

    Sure, you can say that she is ‘more capable’ and ‘more experienced’ – so what? George Bush is as-capable and experienced, so is McCain and Romney. Being the ‘most qualified’ doesn’t mean the best candidate. Bill Richardson was BY FAR the most qualified for the job – out of all the Dems and Reps. John Edwards was second – and notably the template that Obama and Clinton copied all of their policies off of. But when it comes to character, I think Hillary fails. Her campaigning is based on pageantry and treachery, and suggests a lack of morals. She might be ‘a woman’ – but she acts like and represents the ‘Good ‘ol Boys Club’ of rich white men and special interests.

    Let’s be honest – Hillary and Barack have made it this far because of their gender and race. The people who got forced out of the race were all more qualified and had better , smarter policies. If anything, we should be upset that gender & race preferences are leaving us with less qualified candidates.


  36. Jonathan, that last paragraph? Very well said. I’m still chewing on it a bit, but I think you touched upon something very, very interesting.

    starry, yes, you did answer the question. I forgot about that post. I do apologize. i was also trying to bring the conversation back to the original post. (Not that there’s anything wrong with getting onto a different track.)


  37. Jonathan, you may disagree with Hillary Clinton on policy points or on her voting record (and I respect your right to do so), and you may assert vociferously that her campaign controls NY NOW, though that’s news to me. But your claim that she is a “good ol’ boy” doesn’t hold up. Good ol’ boys don’t make speeches like this, especially not after their husband’s administration asked them not to <a href="make waves>

    “It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

    It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution.

    It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

    It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

    It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes.

    It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

    If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.

    Women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.

    It is indefensible that many women in nongovernmental organizations who wished to participate in this conference have not been able to attend—or have been prohibited from fully taking part.”

    (at the UN Conference in Beijing, 9.95)

    I’m not going to address Jonathan’s last paragraph except to say that 1)that cannot be known and 2)”let’s be honest,” a lot of people have entrenched, rigid, and unacknowledged misogynist and racist views that enable them to spew hate and vitriol and spin it as truth.


  38. For the record as I am writing with a 6 moth old on my lap, I like hillary clinton a lot and I think she is very qualified. I do think Jonathan had a point, whether or not I agree with him on it is one thing that I didn’t make clear above.

    I am writing quickly and flippantly, literally doing three things at once. Not the best way to conduct a conversation especially online.

    I do think Obama is new. And, like I said before, has a lot less experience than almost every other major Democratic candidate. I said before, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We just don’t know.


  39. I think the media (and others) don’t call a black person out for voting for another black person because they are afraid to do so. Its unfamiliar territory. I think they do call women out for it because they are no afraid of women. I think that some people are afraid of the power of minority groups.


  40. wow. it looks like someone has taken a couple of women’s studies classes.


  41. Starryrift is saying everything I want to say, except better.


  42. the reason i feel that no one is calling out the black man for the black vote is because (as stated above), there is slight fear. it’s easy to call conservatives or republicans racist against the black man, but when it’s within the democrat party, this is really new territory.

    but i have to agree with jonathan on two counts, hillary and richardson….i was really hoping for him versus fred thompson in the general election….that would have been an interesting election between two guys with strong ideas and stand-up characters to boot. now both sides are playing with wildcards ….McCain weak! obama unknow, and clinton too well know!


  43. Sorry starry, Hillary is ABSOLUTELY a good’ol’boy

    People change & so do times – being a ‘Good Ol Boy’ doesn’t mean opposing universal suffrage or fighting for human rights. Suggesting that she believes in equal opportunity and treatment – something that is EXPECTED of any morally decent person – is just silly.

    It came down to Hillary and Obama because the democrats always want to do something ‘new’… here’s the chance to make a ‘visual’ change by running a black man or a woman, and cashing in on the symbolism. But the candidates were fairly weak on the field. If Hillary were a man, she would have been the first one knocked out. Her votes came from women pushing for her , and name-recognition as an already ‘public’ figure. She got 50%+ in Michigan & Florida, where no one campaigned, because she was the only person on the ticket. Aside from initial votes/stance on the Iraq war, Edwards and Obama are fundamentally the same in stance/character- and Edwards was the far better policy maker. But Obama is black, and that’s ‘change’. If everyone were the same gender/race , Richardson and Edwards would have been far far ahead.

    Anyways.. Larry Lessig just did a 20 minute powerpoint on why he supports Obama , and disproves of Clinton. I mention this, because its for the exact same reasons I do, and a much better summation of all my points… ( though it is 20 minutes long )

    ( big version: http://s3.amazonaws.com/truth/4obama.mov )

    I strongly suggest everyone view it.

    ( btw, one of my 2 majors in undergrad was ‘the use/effects of mass media and communications in political science’—which is why i’m so adamant about this.)


  44. I just wanted to quickly post (like so many of you, doing about 50 million things at once).

    Firstly, thanks to Michele for again posting something so thought provoking. It is a question that I have been ruminating over for quite some time. I like both Obama and Clinton – and I am primarily looking at their stated policies, not the media stuff. I live overseas – I don’t see that stuff. I have a background in academic policy analysis. That is what I find interesting. So, I would honestly be happy if either candidate got the nom and will happily vote for either. Personally, I am supporting Clinton. Yes, some of it does have to do with her being a woman. I find it appalling that the US has not had a woman in the highest position of power. I still think there is an air of accepted sexism. I am sure there is also accepted racism, but I am not a racial minority, so I don’t personally experience that. But, that is not enough – I like some of Hilary’s policies. I am happy to support her – if Condi Rice were running, I wouldn’t be in her camp, woman or not.

    And, like someone else stated, Starry said things far better than I could. I am not voting for Clinton just because she is a woman but it helps. Is that bad? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, racism and sexism are still very much an issue, whether people want to admit it or not, and I think an important step is breaking down some of those barriers before we can even talk about equality. Because that sure as hell doesn’t exist right now.


  45. Hm, I just read your post, but not all the replies. Thought I’d just briefly comment, that there are many reasons I am backing Clinton over Obama, and yes, her being a woman is one of them. No, I don’t feel bad for saying that. :)


  46. I’m in Canada but I find it fascinating how the US election process happens. I found this article in a magazine and thought I would share.



  47. I’m not sure where this weird rumor of only 500 people voting in the Alaskan Democratic Caucus came from, but the total was actually about 8,600. In the 2004 Caucus, there were only 700, which is closer to the rumor, but it was WAY later, not on super tuesday, and a done deal by the time the Alaskans Voted.

    Talked to my mother today, and she said the dem. caucus in her town (Wasilla, AK, which Caucuses in Anchorage) was so packed they had to move it to another venue.


  48. Rick, I had a feeling that was way off. I got that number from CNN. (On the TV). They claimed 500 total votes for both candidates at 98% in. Which I thought was crazy.

    I am happy to know I am way wrong about that. Thanks for clearing that up for me/us. I will probably amend the post to reflect.


  49. I’ve read all these comments, and it seems like the issue of electability rarely comes up. While Hillary may be the more intellectual, experienced, and – as a woman – sympathetic candidate, the simple fact is that she could lose vs. McCain. There are plenty of people who hate her enough – yes, many of these are sexist men, probably – to simply vote for McCain because they hate Hillary. McCain’s more moderate stance on many issues only helps him with these voters.

    Conversely, Obama seems to be beating McCain in these same polls. People who are solidly in the center regarding their political views can be swayed to vote for Obama but not Hillary.

    What we can’t do (we meaning those who want a Democrat in power again) is ignore these facts. I was totally naive in 2004 thinking Kerry would surely win as the more intelligent candidate. Sad to say, we don’t live in an intellectual country. People want someone they like and in this sense Hillary is never going to win a major contest. How painful would it be to wake up in November and realize we were this close to gaining the presidency with a Democratic congress…

    Maybe the problem for some people, some men, isn’t that Hillary is a woman but that she is Hillary Clinton.


  50. This is my last comment on this thread, and on this topic ( as I’m sure Michele is getting sick of me! ).

    Barack Obama has run a POSITIVE campaign since day one – which is probably the #1 reason why I’m for him. He attacked other candidates on their ISSUES, not on their personality, and it hasn’t been routine for people on his campaign to get fired for spreading rumors or lies about his opponents when caught.

    Starryrift had this quote:

    “His Christian posturing is repugnant, his racist, antisemitic, homophobic church is scary, and his criticisms of health care mandates are Republican.”

    I can’t begin to speak my outrage at this quote. I can’t help but think that, barring some magical secret that only Starryrift knows, and no-one else does, that:

    a- Starryrift is ignorant of simple facts
    b- Starryrift is working for the Clinton campaign, and working on a smear campaign

    ( keep in mind, AGNOSTIC jonathan is talking here: )

    Barack Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ. They’re about as liberal of any church out there… any more left and they’d be unitarians. In fact they’re so liberal, they’re considered to be a member of the ‘religious left’… and the head of the Americans for the Separation of Church & State is not only a identified member, but they identify him as a member too.

    Don’t believe me? Take a look at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Church_of_Christ

    Note these lines:

    “The resolution “In support of equal marriage rights for all”, supported by an estimated 80% of the 884 General Synod Delegates, made the United Church of Christ General Synod the first major Christian deliberative body in the U.S. to make a statement of support for “equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of gender,” and is hitherto the largest Christian denominational entity in the U.S. supporting equal marriage rights (although other denominations have affirmed committed relationships for LGBT people in other forms).”

    Exactly what about that is homophobic, I’d like to know.

    In terms of anti-semitism, his Church opposed the barrier between Israel and the West Bank ( ie, the berlin wall ) and called “for the use of economic leverage to promote peace in the Middle East, which can include measures such as government lobbying, selective investment, shareholder lobbying, and selective divestment from companies which profit from the continuing Israel-Palestine conflict”.

    Last I heard, looking and treating Israelis and Palestinians with equality was called being objective and impartial, not anti-semitic. Though I guess that same reasoning would make someone who believes in equal rights for gays anti-gay, and provide for a somewhat holistic ( albeit completely reprehensible ) system of beliefs.

    But hey… this is politics… so who cares about a lie here and a lie there…

    Actually, I do.

    There has been SO MUCH dis-information and mis-information about Obama in this election ( and much has originated from the Clinton campaign ) with hopes of propagation through water-cooler talk, that his campaign actually has to run a ‘Fact Check’ site to dispel ridiculous myths.

    I suggest reading the ‘Barack has never been a Muslim’ article: http://www.barackobama.com/factcheck/2007/11/12/obama_has_never_been_a_muslim_1.php

    There’s one more thing that I’d like to add… in relation to Lowy’s comment “Maybe the problem for some people, some men, isn’t that Hillary is a woman but that she is Hillary Clinton.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Commentators have been quick to say “men are voting against Hillary”. How do we know that this is a gender issue in that format? Instead of being biased against a women, perhaps men are voting unbiased and woman are the ones who are biased, voting for Ms. Clinton on no rationale other then gender. I’m not saying that either are happening – I’m just pointing out the bias in analysis.


  51. Jonathan, while I don’t always agree with you, i am very, very pleased that you continued to write and argue your point. the more I thought about this post and some of the comments that were left (ie, the direction it was taken) the more annoyed i became.

    I feel a rant coming on but Emory needs me so I will tend to him. I only hope that Starry and others come back to read your retort.

    Thanks, everyone for writing. I have a lot to chew on.


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