Election Reaction

It’s been two weeks since the election and I still haven’t written about the outcome. Those of you who have been reading this blog for the last six months know that I was originally a Hillary supporter. When Obama won the candidacy, I was very disappointed, almost to the point where I considered voting for McCain. That, however, was just a fleeting moment of insanity and once McCain picked Palin to be his running mate, I didn’t have another moment like it. I was never officially a PUMA (see my post, “Rethinking the PUMA Position“), but I was certainly not sold on Obama. I came into his camp reluctantly.

Once I opened my mind to Obama, though, I found myself getting more comfortable with the idea of him as President. But I didn’t get over the rejection of Clinton for a long time. It wasn’t until I’d seen how Obama conducted himself in debates and on the campaign trail that I began to develop a measure of respect for him. By the time I voted, I was firmly in his camp, but that had more to do with my fear of another Republican presidency than because I was so certain that Obama was “the one.”

All that changed on the night of the election. I think I’d become so pessimistic about Democrats being able to win the Presidency that I didn’t dare hope that it would really happen. As the night progressed, though, I became more and more hopeful. When it was finally announced that Obama had won, it hit me: this was a historic moment. I was moved by the thought that this country with all its racism was able to look past that and elect a black man to be its next President.

I was impressed by McCain’s concession speech and actually felt sorry for him (a little bit), but I was far more relieved than anything. I felt like a disaster had just been averted. I’m not naive, I know that there are plenty of people who are upset, even angry, that Obama won. In fact, my greatest fear is that he will be assassinated by some crazy racist. I pray daily for his safety.

And now Hillary is possibly being reborn as Secretary of State. I can live with that.

Hockey Mom Turns Off Clinton Supporters

“Something has happened in recent weeks among the Clinton faithful. Fear of the right-wing Palin, coupled with the economic collapse, has caused them to quietly swallow their Obama misgivings…The new Washington Post-ABC poll finds the same thing. Fully 81 percent of Democrats and like-minded independents who favored Clinton said they now back Obama. If Obama gets the 90 percent of Democrats who tell the pollsters they support him, he will do better than any other Democratic candidate in nearly 40 years.” (Dana Milbank in his “Washington Sketch” on October 14, 2008).

I am one of the Clinton faithful who has swallowed my misgivings about Obama, not only because of Sarah Palin, but because of John McCain. I’m simply too concerned about a continuation of the last eight years. I don’t believe that McCain is the maverick he claims to be when it comes to Republican policy. He would have to make radical changes in his platform for me to vote for him, and that includes getting rid of the hockey mom. But we all know that he’s not going to do that–it would be political suicide, as well as unprecedented. It’s too late in the game for him to remake his image.

Obama may not have the political experience that McCain has, but I believe that he is a thoughtful and intelligent man who “gets it” about the American people (regardless of what Palin says about him). And I also feel that Biden would make a good president if, God forbid, something would happen to Obama. I can’t say the same for Palin. I don’t buy it that Palin has enough experience to run the country if circumstances would warrant it. And I don’t think that her being a Washington outsider is a good thing. I would rather have a President who has some idea about how things are accomplished in Washington, not one who has to get up to speed on the job.

I’m not discounting Palin’s potential, although God help us if she ever would become President. But she has to pay a lot more dues before she can take on the federal government. McCain may have a lot of experience, but to say that Palin’s approximates his is like saying that a childless man or woman could suddenly take on the mechanics of a large family without there being a learning curve. And contrary to what some may think, having a large family doesn’t mean that you’re qualified to govern, or help govern, a nation.

Obviously, there are some Clinton supporters who are staying in the McCain camp. But for the life of me, I can’t see how they can. Especially now that Palin is on the Republican ticket.

Yay Hillary!

I haven’t been watching all of the Democratic National Convention but I had to watch Hillary’s speech last night. She looked vibrant and dynamic. (And I loved the color of her pantsuit–I mention that because I was so afraid that she was going to wear red like so many of the other women speakers did earlier that evening. Hey, just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean that I think that those things don’t matter.) I think she’s a hell of a speaker and her speech last night was one of her best.

Afterward, some of the pundits were talking about how maybe she should have said something like “I know I said some harsh things about Obama before, but I’m over all that now. I’ve had a change of heart.” But I think she did the right thing to stand her ground. She still showed her complete support for Obama, but without groveling to beg his pardon. I think that would have been too much for her supporters to swallow.

As it is, she offered a gracious way for her supporters to lay down their Hillary signs and pick up the signs of unity. We simply can’t have another four to eight years of Republican leadership. I still don’t completely trust Obama, but I don’t trust any politician, not even Hillary. Not completely. What does trust in a politician look like anyway? I’m still afraid that Obama’s inexperience–and possibly his race–will be his down fall. But who else do we have?

Hillary was the strongest Democratic candidate we’ve had since her husband. I’m truly sorry that she didn’t make it. But then again, I haven’t written her off either. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hillary Clinton. But for now, we just need to get through this election and win the White House.

I can’t believe that we’re going to be voting in just a little over two months. It doesn’t seem like there’s been that much presidential politicking. Maybe that’s because so much attention and energy was focused on the Democratic campaign. I suppose we’ll be hit hard as soon as McCain announces his running mate and the Republican convention is over.

I’m worried that Obama can’t defeat McCain, not because he’s not good enough, but because wealthy white male supremacy has so much influence in this country. Hillary would have undoubtedly faced the same resistance, for different reasons, but I think she had experience on her side. She’s definitely one of the “insiders.” (I don’t know why that should be seen as a bad thing; I’d rather have a candidate who knows how things work and how to manipulate the system.) And she has paid her dues. Maybe it’s just not her time.

If Obama turns out to be a weak and ineffective president, there’s always Hillary waiting in the wings for 2012. At least I hope so.

Rethinking the PUMA Position

I’ve been trying on the idea of voting for Obama and I just can’t get into it. It’s not because he’s not a woman; I just don’t have confidence in him. OK, I’ll say it: I just don’t trust him.

Hillary supporters who have gone on record as saying that they will not vote for Obama now that Hillary is out of the running have been accused of hurting the Democratic Party. Their reply is, “Party Unity My Ass!” (hence the name PUMA). I question those who are going to switch parties and vote for McCain, just to keep Obama out of office. Voting against someone seems like such a negative way to use the right to vote.

And besides, I’m leery of John McCain, too, although I trust him more than I do Obama. I can’t quite swallow voting Republican. I don’t know anything about the Independent Party. And I’m morally and ethically opposed to not voting at all. One’s vote ought to make a statement.

Instead of excoriating PUMAs, critics ought to consider the dilemma in which they find themselves. Do they go with the devil they know, the lesser of two (or more) evils, the status quo or the party line? I think they’re frustrated because voting should be about making your voice heard, and when there are no good choices, what means of self-expression do they have?

Discussions about who is betraying the Party are counter-productive. Instead we ought to be asking ourselves if the Party has been loyal to us. Is it worthy of our allegiance or just a concept that we’d like to believe in? I know that I’ve often been uncomfortable with things the Democratic Party has done or not done, said or not said. But because I agree with most of its principles and far fewer of the Republican Party’s, I’ve felt more comfortable calling myself a Democrat. But aren’t I first and foremost an individual? Maybe I ought to be asking what my values are, not my party’s, and then acting accordingly.

Worst Prejudice: Gender or Race?

I’m still in mourning for Hillary. I feel like attaching a black ribbon to my Hillary campaign button, except that I don’t have one. I never bought a button, yard sign or bumper sticker. Partly because I’m cheap, but mostly because I was leery about announcing to the world that I was a Hillary fan. Let’s be frank: it was unpopular to be for Hillary. Especially where I work, which is on a college campus. To be aligned with her is to be tarred with the same brush. You must be a ball-breaking woman, or identify with one. If you’re a feminist, you have to be from the Second Wave, which translates to out-of-touch with the “New World. ” Or worse: you might be a racist, because why else would you prefer a white woman over a promising black man?

There has been surprisingly little written about the debate over which group suffers more discrimination: women or blacks. Most people would probably deny that Hillary’s loss had anything to do with gender discrimination–it just had to do with her. But if you reverse the equation, if a 47-year-old woman was running against a 60-year-old man, who do you think would be elected? There is no way that people would believe that a relatively young and inexperienced woman could have what it takes to be president, the way they’ve been willing to believe it of Obama.

I’m not saying that there’s no racial discrimination. There most certainly is and it may cost Obama the presidency. The Democrats may have waged a historic campaign, but as soon as it became clear that Obama and Clinton were the two contenders for the nomination, it must have made the powers-that-be groan, if not tear out their hair. Everyone has been so hyped up about Obama and Clinton fighting it out, that they’ve neglected to face reality about the effect that either type of discrimination would have on the national campaign. Democrats are put in a vulnerable position either way. There is no question that racial discrimination will play a major role in this election, but it would have been equally touch-and-go if Hillary had won the nomination. Either candidate would have had a handicap against a white “seasoned” male.

I’m fine with backing Obama, but I’m worried that he can’t beat McCain. I think Hillary at least had a shot at it, because of her age and experience, but I would have been just as worried about her. It’s hard to get most people to be honest about their prejudices. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with yourself. We don’t like to think that we would base our decisions on race or gender. And I’m not saying that we will be, totally. There is also the issue of age–another kind of discrimination. McCain might be seen as too old, Obama as too young.

I think it will boil down to who gives us more hope for the future. It won’t be about gay marriage or abortion, or whether someone was a war hero or not, and ultimately it won’t be about age or race. But those prejudices will be part of the mix, you can count on that.