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Clinton or Obama? Feminist Angst and Single-Issue Politics

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Committed feminists nationwide seem to be agonizing over the choice between Clinton and Obama. On the one hand, Senator Clinton represents everything they've struggled for, so long with such limited success, such endless frustration. Her election would make a statement like a flag planted on the moon. On the other hand Obama is likely to get the nomination; and between the gender-equality positions of McCain and Obama, the feminist choice is pretty inescapable.

Herewith, an observation from a lifelong feminist – a timid and tentative suggestion because, lacking the appropriate chromosomes and elastic fixtures, I should probably speak no more for the female experience than for the black. Taking my virtual life in my hands, then....

Feminism is a single issue, an issue like religion, the environment, or ethnic justice. Affecting more than half our citizens, it is second only to environment in its universal importance. Nevertheless, feminism is still a single issue, and single-issue politics has, over the past 50 years, changed our republic from a group of communities into to a battlefield dotted with armed and fortified camps. Historically, those communities cooperated imperfectly and some were excluded completely from influence and even simple justice; but the concept was there (remember the quaint phrase "melting pot?") and we carried out our civic business, foreign and domestic, with unquestionable success overall, even admitting glaring areas of failure.

But now, single-issue advocacy is, at best, impeding our social processes, and, at worst, justifying criminal behavior (the right-to-life extremists) or shooting our nation in the foot (the Green derailment of the 2000 Gore election).

Whatever else his policies, Senator Obama's fundamental message is that we cannot pull out of this national mess unless we rise above single issues. No matter how pressing they are, no matter how long they've been fought for, no matter how right their values, single issues have divided us almost fatally. Obama does not want us to ignore these issues or demote their civic importance, but he does want us to focus on the critical problems that all of us face alike, problems that we must solve together and solve now, or else watch our beloved country fall to pieces.

In doing this, we can reassert the goals of our Founding Persons: to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. And, I would add, to revive the broad collaboration essential to reaching those goals. To succeed, we cannot think first as feminists (or greens or Christians or...). We must start thinking as Americans.



A career writer and media maven, Jim Stinson is the author of four mystery novels and a college textbook, Video: Digital Communication and Production. His newest novel, Tassy Morgan's Bluff, will be out from Penguin Books in June 2011. He lives with (more...)
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I am a commited feminist, and I don't agonize ... by francine on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 5:28:01 AM
I'm glad your construing of feminism doesn'... by Jim Stinson on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 3:22:54 PM
  I am a father who had his children kid... by Levin Sheridan on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 8:24:18 AM
From your comment, it's difficult to distingui... by Jim Stinson on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 3:39:17 PM
You are one of the few! I could never say som... by Levin Sheridan on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 11:20:37 PM
...the political wind shift into an ugly direction... by hlg on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 11:42:07 PM
K.G. You should have used your head in time , you ... by hlg on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 11:10:26 PM
 hlg, it sounds like to me you don't thin... by Levin Sheridan on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 5:38:54 AM
A feminist wrote this statement above:"Conver... by Levin Sheridan on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 5:51:54 AM
Folks, you have every right to your own judgments ... by Jim Stinson on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 2:03:15 PM