Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yes, it's been terrible

Chet links to Amanda Fortini in New York Magazine, who writes that the slanders and abuses that Sen. Clinton has suffered this primary season -- and will undoubtedly suffer more of if she wins the nomination -- have awakened younger (30-40 year old) women to the reality that yes, you still live in a sexist world. To which I can only say, glory hallelujah. False consciousness -- whether among gender, race, or class -- is always and everwhere a bad thing. (Sorry to drop some Marx on you like that.)

I think Kevin Drum gets it wrong when he sets up opposing camps whose loyalties are in question, though. According to sources cited by Drum, if the Democrats select Sen. Obama they'll write off a large chunk of the women's vote, and if they select Sen. Clinton they'll write off the youth vote.

My question -- and as a white dude, it's a question I'd invite women to answer because I clearly haven't a clue -- is that if Obama is selected as the candidate, would Clinton voters be angry at the Democratic party itself, at Obama, or at the atmosphere of misoginy that has permeated the campaign? These obviously range from amorphous to specific angers, and I'm curious how they manifest. I think (totally subjectively) that there's a more credible reason for Obama supporters to feel betrayed in the current circumstances if Sen. Clinton is selected. He is, as we've heard ad nauseam, leading in the popular vote, the delegate count, and the states won. To have a party's leadership overturn that would, I think, be a more obvious form of betrayal than ackowledging what I think is clear at this point -- that Sen. Clinton has not succeed under the rules of the primary system.

But that's me, and I concede that it's totally subjective. For what it's worth, I certainly haven't raised my voice in defence of Sen. Clinton from the misogynists at large in this campaign as often as I should. But people already know that I think Republican operativess and Chris Matthews are assholes, and so is any Democrat who repeats what they say. Randi Rhodes (allegedly progressive radio host) was fired, as is proper, for calling Sen. Clinton a whore, and I said nothing on either the slur or the firing because it unfolded quickly and exactly as I expected it to. So if any of my handful of readers think I've trespassed by not speaking up for Sen. Clinton, all I can say is you're probably right, and I'll work harder at that.

That said, from a purely calculating point of view, if the choice is (grossly) between alienating women over 30 or alienating young voters of both genders under 30, demography would seem to make that an easy choice -- especially if, as one of Drum's sources argues, young voters tend to keep their party IDs for life. The 30-year triumph of the Democrats in the US has as much to do with the lifespan of the generation who started voting under FDR as anything else. A huge cohort of voters became Democrats early in their lives during the depression, and stayed that way for a long, long time. That cohort gave the Democrats the White House for 28 out of 36 years between 1933-1969, and kept control of Congress in Democratic hands for almost all of that time as well. (Actually, the Democratic lock on Congress persisted long after the White House slipped from their grasp, only dissolving in the 1990s. Up until 1995, the Dems had controlled the House for 40 years.)

All of which is just to say that I think Obama continues to be the best choice for the Democratic nomination. But hey, I'm a white male young voter with a university education, so I'm playing in to the stereotype as much as everyone else.

1 comment:

Steve Muhlberger said...

It doesn't make sense to blame HRC-directed misogyny at Obama. Those who originate and benefit from this are white guys of my age who have been voting GOP since Reagan or even Nixon.

Who has McCain voted for the last 35 years?