Saturday, June 07, 2008

Sexism not a major factor in Clinton's loss

As the Democratic Presidential Nomination draws to a close, Barack Obama emerges as the bruised and battered nominee who must now face McCain and the Conservative establishment. The tough drawn-out battle between Hillary Clinton and Obama highlighted many factors that play significant roles in people's perception of political candidates and their willingness to generate enthusiasm and a genuine social movement. As the Democratic Party finds itself deeply divided, pundits, analysts, and apologists are tearing themselves apart trying to identify the reasons for Clinton's loss and Obama's success. Often, gender plays a pivotal role in people's perception as to what lead to Clinton's loss. Few are naive enough to believe that gender was an absent issue, but the leading perception is that it was a large determining factor for people's embrace of Obama. Apparently, because Clinton showed leadership and political savvy equal to any male running as a candidate, people viewed her in a negative light thanks to our gender biases. This idea, although perhaps partly true was not the cause of Clinton's ultimate downfall. Her failure was directly related to her disingenuous, manipulative, and politics-as-usual behavior. She pretended to represent the middle class by drinking beer, taking shots of hard liquor, claiming she was a gun-rights supporter, and other such antics. Sure, the "white collar worker" represents a large segment of the Democratic base, but similarly, others were easily able to see through her false image. It can also be argued that many women supported her cause, not for her ideological views, but for her gender. Many in fact admit to feeling sympathy for her as a victim of marital discord, and therefore engender a false sense of support. Conversely, although many African Americans support Obama, their support of him comes not only for his race, but for his message and issues. Initially, when the race for the Democratic Presidential Nominations was just beginning, many pundits actually assumed the African American vote would go to Clinton because of Bill Clinton's legacy. Yet, as the contest progressed, people came to realize just how manipulative Clinton was in achieving her goals. Her demeanor and perception went beyond a politician seeking Presidency, to an individual capable of doing or saying anything to justify their goals. Her gender therefore was not a major reason for her loss (after all, she had the support of women, Jews, and working class Caucasians).

It must be stated however that Obama does not automatically receive a passing grade because he was less manipulative and politically motivated then Clinton. He is still a politician, an individual willing to compromise his core values to achieve some sort of coalition. No politician is beyond compromising certain views to gather large political support. Our electoral and political system, as it stands, still leaves much to be desired. We are not a democracy until a better form of representation is allowed. Further, with only two political parties, all we receive are sterilized issues that choose to divide instead of unify. Ultimately, the poor will remain poor, the rich will continue to accumulate wealth, and the status quo will remain. A society is defined by its weakest link, and we should be ashamed that so many Americans are poor and uneducated. A fear of the elite is just a small part of the disease of ignorance that has crept up in our system. When Clinton tossed around the word "elite" as though it were a negative thing, her true nature became clear for many. She knew that she was courting the uneducated vote of a a segment of the American population that has yet to embrace the values of the 21st century. Much of their support for Clinton came with the undercurrent of racism and Clinton knowingly used this for her advantage. Thinking of states such as West Virginia, with the core representing the supposed "working class white" votes, their racial biases were not subtle when interviewed about their support for Clinton. Many not only showed racial biases, but as an uniformed populace, bought into the belief that Obama was a practicing Muslim, and therefore a threat to America. It's not as though Clinton's campaign went out of their way to dissuade such intolerant beliefs. For a person willing to do anything and everything necessary to gain a foothold in the highest position of power smells of desperation and selfishness. Yet, her role still remains crucial in helping mend the fallout from these battles. She can fight hard to repair the damage to her reputation, or allow the party to fall apart and thus help usher in four more years of idiocy.

No comments: