Tuesday, February 05, 2008

F*ck it, I Picked Flick

No one has really asked yet today, so I probably should just not volunteer such things, but then again, why not. If I'm going to cast a vote, I should be able and willing to back it up outside of the booth. Right?

I've had a lot of sleepless nights for a lot of different reasons lately. But one of the foremost reasons truly has been my inability to decide for whom I'd be voting today. As I said yesterday, I've been ABC - anybody but Clinon - since November 3, 2004. Decidedly so. Unequivocally so. Loudly so. But something changed. Maybe it was listening to my parents' views slowly evolve from pro-'bama to anti-'bama. Maybe it was a long hard think over whether, as a proponent (and beneficiary) of affirmative action, I should discount the "because she's a woman factor" as an inadequate reason to vote for Clinton. One family member mentioned today that she felt that voting for Clinton simply because she's a woman and it would be great to see a female president wasn't really enough of a reason to vote for her. To which I thought: isn't it?

Then I thought: shit, there goes years of denying identity voting and arguing against the effects of indirect ballot indicators on voting behavior. I may have to re-write my thesis. Or do I? After all, I certainly didn't vote AGAINST Obama. Not by a long shot. Not the way I voted AGAINST Bush last time, or, frankly, the way I thought I'd be voting AGAINST Clinton until about a month ago. I didn't look for the black man and choose his alternative. I chose the woman with whom I've had a tangled love-hate relationship for the past 16 years.

I hate that she voted for the war, but I have to acknowledge that Obama's insistance that he would have voted against it is completely hollow. Maybe he wouldn't have. Maybe he would have. I'm not completely sure she won't try something funny with Iran, but why would I be any more sure that Obama wouldn't. He's never been faced with such issues. Neither has she, really. Not in the executive.

And dammit, I don't have to justify myself to you. But I'll continue to.

I've disliked her for so long and worked so hard not to advantage her because she is the woman candidate that I swung to far over. And then came the debate. And then came the "she's faking the crying" charges. And the arguments over whether she could be emotional. Or whether she was TOO emotional. Enough, kids. Seriously, enough.

It's the coding, you see. We're hypervigilant about catching coded racism, but we accept the coded sexism without question. We engage it it daily. It's still alright. Hillary quotes MLK, Jr. at an appropriate time of the year and she's played the race card? WTF? That's crazy. And I got angry.

She's made choices I disagree with. If everyone who said they'd work for her has worked for her, then I don't feel better about her campaign. And yes, for years, I've been saying that the DNC needs to get it through their thick, New Dem loving heads that the public isn't mistaken, they actually DON'T want ANOTHER Northeastern liberal.

But all that fell away in the final hours and something primal emerged out of the final calculus.

Neither candidate is that great. Truly. They are both momentous, capable, and talented. She's more experienced, he's more moving and probably a bit more above board. But neither one captured me at the convention last year. No one gave me goosebumps or made me get teary-eyed. So they're good enough. And they're great for history.


Look at the pipeline. What's more likely to pop out sooner: another talented minority male or a female candidate? A male. There aren't any other sisters out there in the pipeline. It's empty. So saying Clinton isn't the "right woman" suddenly sounded so unbelievably sexist to me that I couldn't live with myself. With so much equal in this campaign, I cast the only vote I felt I could tell my daughter about, if I have one someday. Do I feel great about it all? Sort of. But I think I'd have had the same level of uncertainty if I'd voted for Obama in the end.

So I picked the girl. Blame Slate's perfect encapsulation of the race within the Election framework. Tracy Flick wasn't the bad guy. It was the narrator. She just worked very, very hard to build her resume and try to get the job.

So for all the teachers who told me I talked to much too loudly and with too strong opinions,

For all the comments over my professional life that remind me I'm still a woman and women are wives and sex objects,

For the girls with no reason to think it is okay to be in charge,

For my gender, for my country, for my sense of self, for history, for everything.

I picked Flick.

But a word of warning to the DNC - work on the pipeline. For all races, ethnicities, and for both genders. Because we're lacking inspirational and experienced leadership. We're still fighting very old battles with very old ideas and even older rhetoric. Pick up your game. Stop basing your victories on the other guys' fumbles.

1 comment:

Ms. Hazelstein said...

Wow, truly amazing post, which I hope gets picked up by other blogs. Even though I've pledged my HRC support loudly by working on the campaign, I still had the "come to gender" moment today. It occurred to me just today that, yes, the single most dominant reason I'm supporting Hillary is because she is a woman, and THAT IS OK. It would not be OK if she were some woman-hating woman like Phyllis Schlafly or Ann Coulter. It would not be OK if she were incompetent or unprepared or ill-focused. But this woman has her act together. Sure, she's not as affable as Obama, but I truly believe that's because of her gender. Like most accomplished women, she's spent her life working overtime to be ultra-prepared and prove herself on her merits, leaving little time to relax or joke around. She's never allowed herself to be as emotional as the great orator Obama is, because she and most women have been whipped into believing they can't get carried away by their emotions in public. I believe that many of her perceived faults are a result of her gender and the unequal rules placed upon her because of it. I think the reason I've always identified so strongly with the character of Flick is because I've felt all of these same gender-based constraints and noticed how they've contributed to the development of my persona. My guess is that millions of other women, who've acquitted themselves and yet never been truly respected because of a perceived "likability gap," also picked Flick today. It's time she won an election fair and square!