Until recently, I was a firm Hillary supporter. I still support her candidacy fully, and I am horrified to observe the sexist reactions to her in the media and in popular culture. The TV show "Commander in Chief" with Geena Davis often brought me to tears to imagine a strong, intelligent woman leading our nation, and to think of how we would be such a different country if that were so. I also think about all the young women out there who would be inspired to go into politics, in the same way that our Lutheran female pastor has inspired young women in our Catholic-Lutheran community to think about their futures as unlimited.
Recently, the negative politics have been getting me down. My mom tells me that she read some assessment that said that this is good practice for the Democrats, because the vitriol the Republicans are going to level at the Democratic candidate will be far worse.
I read Hillary Clinton's autobiography and was inspired to read about all she did to help women and children. I would be proud to call her my president. I did not agree with her votes on the war, but I believe she would do more to help women and children than any other candidate.
But I've gone back to the question of whether she can really be elected? I find the Hillary hatred and sexist scorn on the internet and around the water coolers to be truly depressing. I would imagine that she's alienating more African-American voters by the day with her attacks on Obama. And I can't help but wonder how I would feel if I were African-American, to hear that Maya Angelou coined Bill Clinton as the "first Black president." Yes, he seemed to resonate with the disadvantaged in our society, but how can we ever escape the fact that he is a privileged white man...he knows nothing about what it is like to be African-American or a woman.
I follow a blog called "How Dare She," which overwhelmingly supports Hillary Clinton on the basis of her experience and intelligence. I just finished a historical assessment of the story of Jezebel written by an eminent historian who was a visiting professor at my university. Essentially, Jezebel was framed. Her story was written 300 years after she died, and it was written by her enemies. Elijah, her nemesis, comes out of it as the hero, and Jezebel is cast into the role of a "harlot." I can't help but think of Jezebel when I see what is happening to Hillary Clinton. She is not being judged on the basis of her qualifications--she is being condemned on the basis of her gender, her ambitiousness, and her intelligence. (Even the New York Times, in its recent endorsement of her candidacy, called her "brilliant if at times harsh sounding"--was that really necessary?) Sadly, too many Americans are in the dark ages and not only would not vote for a woman, but could actively campaign and rally against her because of what she stands for. Some will say that people are tired of the Clinton political machine, but I say bullshit. Most of the anti-Hillary mania (especially from the right-wingers) is because she is a strong woman, pure and simple.
Clearly, Clinton is the most experienced candidate of the three major contenders. However, will she be the unifying force this country needs? I haven't seen much to inspire me to believe in that in recent weeks. Will she inspire our young people to get out and vote and to get politically engaged? I'm afraid Barack Obama has her cornered there.
Caroline Kennedy has endorsed Barack Obama because she says she has never been inspired by an American president in her lifetime, and she thinks that Obama could inspire Americans to get involved and engaged like her father did. I can't argue with that. Just think of how many young African-American kids would get charged up by seeing someone with a similar color of skin in the Oval Office...or on the other hand, how young girls would really feel that they might have a chance to become president someday.
I am thrilled at the fact that we are able to choose between the first potential woman president or the first potential African-American president. However, I'm also distressed...because I don't honestly know who to vote for. All I know is that a Democrat damn well better be elected in November, and that is the most important thing in my mind. I hate to cast my vote based on who has the best chance to win, but that's reality.
I took this online political campaign quiz, Match-o-Matic, which was a bit frustrating (especially the last stupid question, when it asks which type of political experience is best for a candidate), but it told me that my first choice should be Christopher Dodd! (#2 for me was Hillary.) Hey wait! I just took it again, and it says that my #1 choice should be Joe Biden, #2 is Mike Gravel (who the heck is he?), and #3 is Sam Brownback!!! Something is seriously wrong with that web site!!! (Although it doesn't ask about abortion...but I can hardly imagine that Brownback supports gay marriage!) I just looked up Mike Gravel--he bills himself as the reproduction rights candidate...so the web site must be playing with my brain to list Sam Brownbag. Must be a virus installed by right-wing Republican computer hacks!! Will have to retest tomorrow to see what comes up next!!
Anyway, back to Hillary vs. Barack...(isn't it interesting how all the men are usually called by their last names, although I realize Hillary is billing herself as such)...it is hard to imagine voting against the first serious female candidate or the first serious African-American candidate. (By serious, I mean ones who actually have a fighting chance at winning the primary.) Hence my ambivalent relief that Oregon's primary doesn't occur until May, when the candidacy is often already decided...what a cop-out I am.