It's not easy being a feminist in today's political atmosphere. The center-left have decided that after eight years of getting Bushed, Democrats must win this election at any cost. While not being fully on board with that view, I have long held some sympathy for it. Lately, I have less and less.
Like many, I was outraged by the media's openly sexist treatment of Senator Clinton. I wrote many articles demanding accountability. But I'm not a Clinton supporter, and I never was. Try telling that to self-described "progressives" today though. You are either with them (which means you support Senator Obama on everything), or you are with the others. The scorned ones. The whiners (as Maureen Dowd describes them in yet another of her "The NY Times pays her for this stuff?"columns this past Sunday morning). In other words -- the Hillary supporters--now demographed as white, second-wave feminists looking for revenge against men for...well, for everything. Being passed over for promotion. Being dumped for a younger woman. You know, the usual. Apparently, it has not occurred to these particular brand of "progressives" that Hillary supporters might have intellectually-based views.
The long bitter primary, did cause ruptures within various groups on the center-left. However, today, the primary over, much of the progressive community has rallied behind Senator Obama. But I am not a progressive.
I am a feminist. I am a liberal who has never been afraid of the word, or felt the need to hide behind another one. If you're not afraid to call yourself a feminist in today's America, trust me, you are not afraid of any word, or the meanings others ascribe to it. I run from no words, nor bend to other people's demonized definitions of them.
So, when word went out that Senator Obama was close to choosing anti-choice, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as his running mate, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I did what writers do - I wrote about it. I wrote to implore women to flood his offices with emails, faxes, and phone calls.Tim Kaine?To quote Amy Whinehouse, "I said no, no, no."
The good old boys in the Democratic establishment, are always ready to throw women under the bus. In fact, the only people they might throw under faster are gays. Which explains why Tim Kaine is also anti-gay rights, including being against civil unions.
My favorite example of this affection on the part of the Democratic establishment, is one Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania. Casey won the seat from Rick Santorum, a man whose extremist views Pennsylvanians had tired of. Santorum was going down to any Democrat opposing him in 2006. He would have gone down to former State Treasurer Barbara Hafer, a strong pro-choice candidate who had said she was going to run against Santorum.
Unfortunately, the boys had other ideas. Senator Chuck Schumer, and then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid were wooing anti-choice Casey to run instead. Hafer eventually dropped out when Casey agreed to run, after Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell asked her to so that Bob Casey could run unopposed. Casey won the seat, and so we have added yet another anti-choice male to the Senate's roster thanks to three men, Schumer, Rendell and Reid. All of whom must have known that pro-choice women and feminist organizations would not be happy. It's easy to conclude that they shrugged and said "where are they going to go?"
After writing to remind women of this, and to encourage them to speak out against putting Kaine on the national ticket now, my "progressive" editor and I had some words. Some of the words he used to describe me were "delusional" "whiny" (how MODO of him), and in need of immediate mental help. He also informed me that "if you are feminist, and you don't support the Democratic ticket, you are not a feminist."
These men, and surely many women as well, are so desperate to win back the White House, that they become apoplectic over any dissent. "Shhh," they want to tell us, "not now." Well, when then? After we have an anti-choice VP one heart-beat away from choosing the next, and the deciding Supreme Court Justice?
Most alarming about my experiences, is that they are not limited to either myself, or to the issue of choice.As an anti-war activist, I have noted with some alarm, that the anti-war movement has fallen into an insidious trap. In some ways it's understandable how it happened.
Yes, George W Bush really is that bad. So slowly and surely, the left has gotten baited into the trap of supporting Democrats, even nominally. The Nation magazine has done it. Moveon.org has done it. Most (though certainly not all) fellow peace activists of my acquaintance, are so terrified of what a McCain presidency would mean, that they are backing Senator Obama, however unenthusiastically.
And the Democratic party knows it. The left has willingly abdicated any power they have to move or sway the debate in this country.
I can openly and honestly tell you that my entire body shivers at the thought of John McCain. I truly feel as Kathleen Turner did in "War of the Roses" when she says:"Because when I watch you eat, when I see you asleep, when I look at you lately, I just wanna smash your face in."
I despise John McCain that much. Every time I hear his voice I feel like screaming. I cannot fathom that millions of Americans are saying they are going to vote for him. His eyes frighten me. (Of presidential candidates, Only Rudy "The Human Skull" Giuliani was more crazy-looking.) When he opens his mouth, lunacy comes out. His deranged and inappropriately timed smiles and laughs give me the creeps. I think there is something seriously wrong with him.
I don't want to look at him, and listen to him for the next four years. So I understand. I do.
But...the human spirit always struggles against restraints, and I am being held in restraint by the Democratic party who knows I will do anything to avoid four years of John McCain.
Except they are wrong. There's one thing I won't do. I won't sell out my deepest beliefs.
And so, I will tell you this Senator Obama. If you say "You have to take Tim Kaine." I will answer with:
“I said no, No, NO!”
And Senator, I won’t be alone. So just don’t do it.