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Member since: Fri Mar 12, 2004, 11:06 PM
Number of posts: 24,068

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Perspective from a Jaded Old Democratic Feminist Person

I can see DU is all in a lather about the primaries, and I've seen it all before.

Philosophically, I am as "lefty" as left can get, but defined by "who you support" -- like a Tiger Beat FAN thing -- I can understand that you (especially if this is your first rodeo) might declare that I'm "third way" or "DINO" etc. I've heard it all before.

(For the record, I've also been called a Commie Pinko Feminizi Socialist Hippie Libtard, but enough bragging.)

The first vote I could make was for Jimmy Carter, but I wasn't great at picking winners. I was fierce about Mondale/Ferraro, I loved Michael Dukakis, and Paul Tsongas was my preference over Bill Clinton -- but I voted the straight Democratic ticket always, and doubt that will ever change.

I was dumbfounded that Reagan could win twice. I could not BELIEVE Bush II managed to get into office in 2000 over Al Gore, and 2004 is beyond explanation -- history will take a long look at that one.

That's the election that brought me to DU. I was a regular at MWO ("Media Whores Online" and a "Clarkie" who didn't dare join DU until he bowed out. We had a lot of primary candidates that year, and a big, nasty brouhaha happened here on DU arguing over the TRUE leftist liberal who'd take the fight to the rightwing vs. the pragmatic "electability" approach. Did I mention that it got nasty?

There was a lot to learn that year, and no way to unlearn it.

A few observations:

1. Democratic candidates, at least, are neither as perfect nor as horrible as they seem from any perspective.
2. The distance between policy positions of Democratic primary candidates are microscopic compared with their differences with Republicans.
3. It shouldn't be a game, but IT IS. The media is on the side of ratings, not truth. The RNC machinery feeds the media sensational "scandals" with tidbits that add up to "narratives," like "Al Gore is a serial liar" and "John Kerry faked his wounds."
4. In the primaries, you can count on the media to drum up drama for the same reason, happily echoing anything the rightwing drums up. The front runner is always AWFUL, and someone better is always right around the corner.
5. The front runner is the front runner for a variety of reasons, and will always be the target of the RNC as well as the other Democratic candidates. That can create bitter fights within the party, and I am so PROUD of Sanders and Clinton, as our front-runners, for staying focused on issues and not getting into the mud. This is the most civil primary season I can remember.
6. For the same reasons, the RNC will always attack the person they don't want to run against, and stay silent (or feign "Let's hope he/she doesn't get into the race!" in regard to anyone else. They propped up John Edwards to the bitter end, as an example.
7. We want to believe THIS candidate is really different; THIS one is starting a movement, a revolution, a grassroots campaign of the people that will change everything about politics as we know it!!! THIS one at last knows what has to be done, what we need to fight, how to win that fight, and how to get young people energized and engaged!!! I've seen it over and over again. Guess what. In Washington DC, where we have this messy mix of representatives with so many strings attached, it just doesn't happen. It can't, it won't, it's not where the battle is really fought. And I am as sorry as you are.
8. There is money in politics. Money and fear of death basically rule the world, and that won't change. All we have as a country, when you get right down to it, is a few people in black robes who are SUPPOSED to uphold basic principles above all else.
9. Pragmatism might seem like "compromise," which equals "going over to the dark side!" I understand that -- it feels really good to fight for your convictions with a strong commitment to what's right vs. what's wrong, imagining a clear line of battle. That's also the reason it's so easy to impugn the motives and characters of your fellow Democrats. Been there, done that. "THIS time" it's different, every time.
10. As I write this, it just seems I should have a "10." I will just share an opinion here about a dimension of this election nobody really wants to talk about -- after all, it's playing a "card," it's being a "victim," and it's very, VERY unfashionable. And that is the long history of Hillary Clinton as a woman.

I know, I know!! "The Clintons!!" I've heard it for so many years now, I'm too old to count them. (All together now: "The Clintons think there are different rules for them and everyone else." It has become fashionable and "smart" to echo rightwing memes and malign her, accuse her, paint her as a greedy, dishonest, corporate shill warmongering beast. To the extent life in politics makes anyone a beast, okay -- she's earned a strong shell. And yeah, she wouldn't make the best talk-show host in the world. (Who among them would?)

She's not been my favorite person on the political scene, but I do know that she is smart, strong, hardworking and pragmatic. I have seen her fight back against rightwing attacks since she first appeared on their radar in Arkansas. She is smarter, feistier and more liberal (oh gasp!) than her husband, and she has had to harden her shell as she's fought back against bogus attacks, one after another -- How dare she have a career and accomplishments of her own? What does she have against baking cookies, against women who stay home? What's with her hair and outfits? And her annoying habit of having a mind, and speaking it!!

The nature of human psychology makes it easy from there to gather together, point at her and decide, "We don't like her." "She is a warmonger." "She is all about money." "She lies." Hating her is the smart, fashionable, popular thing to feel. It's easy to overlook how deep the social prejudice goes, so soon after her arrival as the dreaded "liberated woman" target in DC, and not so long beyond the time we got the vote.

(I can hear it now -- "I'm a woman and I hate her." "You're playing the 'sexist' victim card." "It's all about the issues." "He's just better." "Warmonger!" "Goldman-Sachs!" Spare me. It is simply easier to hate -- and I mean HATE -- women, and this woman in particular, because she's pushed against it for decades, on her merits alone.

I LOVE Bernie Sanders and I always have. I have no big disagreement with anything he says. There is no conflict, in my mind, between cheering him and supporting her. She too is breaking ground -- it's just harder to see that, mired in this political culture.

If you skimmed this to see which flag I'm waving, mine is just DEMOCRATIC. (I also walked to school, uphill both ways... Someday you'll see.)
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