Monday, September 08, 2008

Feminists and McCain

One of the big questions in this election is what was going to be the combined effect of Senator Barack Obama's snub of Hillary Clinton (18 million plus votes, remember?) and Senator John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be on female voters who, incidentally, make up a majority of registered voters. Based on this article by Tammy Bruce, it appears that there may be a huge swing of voters that previously would have voted for the Democratic ticket to the Republican ticket:

In the shadow of the blatant and truly stunning sexism launched against the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign, and as a pro-choice feminist, I wasn't the only one thrilled to hear Republican John McCain announce Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. For the GOP, she bridges for conservatives and independents what I term "the enthusiasm gap" for the ticket. For Democrats, she offers something even more compelling - a chance to vote for a someone who is her own woman, and who represents a party that, while we don't agree on all the issues, at least respects women enough to take them seriously.

Whether we have a D, R or an "i for independent" after our names, women share a different life experience from men, and we bring that difference to the choices we make and the decisions we come to. Having a woman in the White House, and not as The Spouse, is a change whose time has come, despite the fact that some Democratic Party leaders have decided otherwise. But with the Palin nomination, maybe they'll realize it's not up to them any longer.

So, in other words, gender matters more than party among female voters. By rejecting Hillary Clinton, Democrats were not just rejecting her and her candidacy but women in general.

Ms. Bruce has some more harsh words for Democrats:

Clinton voters, in particular, have received a political wake-up call they never expected. Having watched their candidate and their principles betrayed by the very people who are supposed to be the flame-holders for equal rights and fairness, they now look across the aisle and see a woman who represents everything the feminist movement claimed it stood for. Women can have a family and a career. We can be whatever we choose, on our own terms. For some, that might mean shooting a moose. For others, perhaps it's about shooting a movie or shooting for a career as a teacher. However diverse our passions, we will vote for a system that allows us to make the choices that best suit us. It's that simple.

The rank bullying of the Clinton candidacy during the primary season has the distinction of simply being the first revelation of how misogynistic the party has become. The media led the assault, then the Obama campaign continued it. Trailblazer Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first Democratic vice presidential candidate, was so taken aback by the attacks that she publicly decried nominee Barack Obama as "terribly sexist" and openly criticized party chairman Howard Dean for his remarkable silence on the obvious sexism.

And for all the "appearances" of unity at the Democratic National Convention, Ms. Bruce was not fooled.

The campaign's chauvinistic attitude was reflected in the even more condescending Democratic National Convention. There, the Obama camp made it clear it thought a Super Special Women's Night would be enough to quell the fervent support of the woman who had virtually tied him with votes and was on his heels with pledged delegates.

There was a lot of pandering and lip service to women's rights, and evenings filled with anecdotes of how so many have been kept from achieving their dreams, or failed to be promoted, simply because they were women. Clinton's "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" were mentioned a heck of a lot. More people began to wonder, though, how many cracks does it take to break the thing?

Ironically, all this at an event that was negotiated and twisted at every turn in an astounding effort not to promote a woman. (Emphasis original)

Democrats were saying at the end of their convention how unified they were. Senator Hillary Clinton's voters were going to fall in line and vote for Senator Obama. If Ms. Bruce's article is any indication, Senator Obama has his work cut out for him trying to heal the wounds he has inflicted upon the women of his party.

As William Congreve famously wrote in his play The Mourning Bride, "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

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