Where My Loyalties Lie

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My husband asked me early on in the primaries if I would vote for Obama if Clinton wasn’t chosen to be the Democratic candidate. I admit I hesitated–but then I came to my senses. We haven’t heard all there is to hear from McCain about his platform, but from what we have heard, I think he would deliver more of the same–a continuation of the last eight years. Our country just can’t afford that. It’s hard to tell, though. McCain used to impress me, years ago. Maybe not to the point where I would have switched parties to vote for him, but he seemed to be more “democratic” than any other Republicans. Maybe he’s just saying what he has to say to appease the Republicans until he gets their nomination. He just may surprise even them when he starts campaigning in earnest for the presidency.

I’m concerned by a recent poll that showed that more than a third of Democrats said that they might not support their party’s nominee in the fall if he or she is not their first choice. In my view, Obama is still better than McCain, mainly because I don’t agree with Republican policy. I’m not going to turn spiteful and vote for McCain just because I didn’t get the Democratic nominee I wanted. I still think it’s more important to remain loyal to your party–as long as the reasons you vote Democrat in the first place are still intact. If you’ve truly gone over to the Republican side in terms of your beliefs then by all means vote Republican. But if you’re still a Democrat in your heart, then don’t switch parties out of spite.

I do think that Obama is the young people’s candidate. I’m not young anymore, so it’s harder for me to get caught up in the enthusiasm that I felt in the 60’s, the feeling that the young were going to change the world, that we had the answers, that the old were stuck in their misbegotten ways. Did we accomplish that in the 60’s? Well, we did change a lot of things, but that has proven to be more a function of who we were–and have continued to be–than that we had superior wisdom. The Baby Boomers were, and have remained, a force to be reckoned with. But we’ve all gone our separate ways, even though there are a lot of concerns that unite us. Some of us have joined the Establishment big-time, some of us dropped out and stayed dropped out, the majority of us have just been trying to get by any way we can. Yet we all have an increasing investment in things like retirement, Social Security, elder care, and the legacies we leave our children and grandchildren (and in some cases, great grandchildren), whether economic, ecological, spiritual or political.

So what am I first? It hit me as I wrote the word “spiritual” that my first loyalty lies with God. That’s why it’s hard for me to be an ardent anything. I do have definite opinions, but I find it difficult to condemn anyone because they don’t see things exactly the way I do. For one thing, I may be able to learn something from them. I have to remind myself that they might be able to learn something from me, and therefore I shouldn’t be reluctant to express my opinions–in love. That’s not always easy to do when you think your neighbor is an idiot because he votes Republican.

I would have to say that my second loyalty lies with being a woman, but I need to qualify that: I’m a woman who is also a Baby Boomer. That gives me a different perspective sometimes than younger women have. So I also have a loyalty to my age group, to people who are in the same boat I’m in. And when I say I have a loyalty to my identity as a woman, I also mean as a wife, companion, mother and citizen. My womanhood both proscribes and informs the differing roles in my life.

So, as far as my being a Democrat, I think that also grows out of my womanhood. I just don’t think that the Republicans are as woman-friendly as the Democrats. At least not friendly to all kinds of women in all kinds of situations. They are stuck in the past, longing for a world that will never exist again. Democrats aren’t all feminists, but at least they’re trying to see the world that could and probably will be.

It could be that some women aren’t feminists because their womanhood isn’t all that important to them. It’s not something they think about and respect and cherish, it’s just something that is, that they do. They may even have contempt for women, or envy men. I think a feminist is a woman who likes who she is, respects herself and all women and who wants to make things better for other women. That seems like as good a definition as any.

So my loyalties lie first with God, and then with who He created me to be. Some feminists may think that the point of feminism is to erase the differences between men and women, but I feel that I was made a woman for a reason. I am not a man wanna-be. I want to educate people about why being a woman is important, both for women themselves and for the world around them.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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