That these candidates stand before us – and against one another at the same moment, is both breathtakingly sweet and extremely frustrating. If either of them were up against the usual white man, we’d know exactly what to do.
But as fate would have it, we must make a choice and so we have chosen to support Barack Obama.
Our choice was not made lightly. Nor is it based upon our allegiance or betrayal to our “gender.” We are not secretly suffering from internalized misogyny.
We are intelligent and thoughtful, 50+ year old lesbian feminists who choose Obama over Clinton because we believe he is the best candidate for America right now.
We know this choice sets us apart from our other lesbian feminist friends who have already told us why they support Hillary. One of our dearest friends reasons that as women, we ought to support the woman candidate and let the Blacks support the African American candidate. Period.
Another lesbian feminist friend sent an email where she reasoned:
“She [Hillary] is the first woman to be a viable candidate for the presidency since Eleanor Roosevelt, and for the same reason: Their husbands were presidents. No, I’m not happy about that, but the bottom line remains: She has a shot at it, and I don’t believe, in my lifetime, I will see another woman candidate who has that shot.”To which another lesbian feminist friend responded “I couldn't agree more!”
So, we want to explain to all of you – especially our lesbian feminist friends – our rationale for supporting Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.
- First, as feminists, we do not take our civic duty to choose a President lightly. A candidate’s gender is but one factor we consider. More important than gender is whether or not a candidate shares our feminist world view. Does he or she work for peace? Do they place the rights of people over profits and power? And just because a Condi Rice is a woman, we wouldn't vote for her -- even if she were only running for dog catcher.
- Second, as feminists, we believe that the patriarchal system not only oppresses women but also minorities – including gay men, lesbians, bi-sexual, transgendered and transsexual persons. Thus, if a minority person is elected President of the United States, many of the boundaries and obstacles to power created by patriarchy will crumble, thereby opening the floodgates of opportunity for women and minorities to run for the highest political office -- in the near future and beyond.
- Third, our primary criticism of Hillary Clinton has to do with her stance on the Iraq war. Rather than questioning the wisdom of using military force in Iraq, Clinton went along with the war-mongers without ever challenging them. Hillary’s vote for the Iraq war resolution and her convoluted explanation for why she did so, may foretell how, as President, she would continue to prop up a male-dominated, patriarchal mindset rather than try to transform it.
- Fourth, we agree that Hillary has/had a right to ride Bill’s coat-tails to power. It is one of the few ways women have of getting there. But now that she is a Senator and a viable candidate for President, we are discouraged to see her continue to rely on her connection to Bill rather than claiming her own power.
Bill used his time as President to re-create the progressive Democratic Party into something that resembles Republican-lite. Free trade, welfare reform, DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell all happened under Clinton. Since leaving office, Bill has spent the last 8 years cozying up to Bush and his family. Why should we believe that all of this will disappear when and if Hillary wins the White House?
Unfortunately, in this campaign, we have seen and been reminded that the Clinton team will do whatever it takes to win -- not for the good of the country – not even for the good of the Democratic party – but merely for the good of the Clintons.
- Fifth, we are not for Barack because we are against Hillary. We are seriously impressed with Obama’s promise to change the nature of politics and inspire hope -- even in the most cynical among us. Unlike Clinton, we believe Obama has the temperament and ability to unite the warring political factions that stall real progress.
Unfortunately for Clinton, relying on her stint as First Lady (in Arkansas and Washington), makes her the candidate with both the baggage and the advantage of her “35 years of experience.
Other than the war, on most issues and policies, there is not much difference between Obama and Clinton. What is different is their leadership style. Rather than telling people how its gonna be, Obama asks us to get involved in the process of making change happen.
Whether we like it or not, Hillary is the prime target of rabid right-wing Republicans who love nothing more than to bash both of the Clintons. If she is our candidate, they and lots of other Hillary-haters will come out, en masse, to vote against her on election-day.
And many of those newly energized-by-Obama folks may feel so defeated by the partisan bickering, they will simply stay home.
Don’t take our word for it -- if you want to understand the depth of Hillary hating in America, just spend a few hours each week listening to Washington Journal, a call-in show that airs each morning on C-Span.
- And our last and most important reason for supporting Obama is the war in Iraq. He doesn’t just want to end the war, he wants to “end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.”
For us, this issue trumps all of the others. Barack Obama is the only Presidential candidate from either side that even suggested that a mindset for war is – in and of itself -- a problem.