I’m Clinton Conflicted

A woman friend emailed me and asked me what my problem is with Hillary Clinton.
I spent almost 20 years trying to be a change agent in a government agency. What I learned was that, unless you learn the game, you can’t win. And once you learn the game, it’s hard not to get sucked into playing it the way it’s set up, the way the big money players set it up. Not your way. Their way.
Hillary Clinton knows how the politics game is played, and she has learned when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em in order to get some wins. There’s an advantage in that experience. And I would love to have a woman president of this country.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton can manage the machinations that underlie how this country is run. I believe that she can do a fine job as president. She knows how to work hard and make things work.
I also think that what this country needs is an inspirational leader. Barack Obama is a much better inspirational leader than Clinton. But I believe that he has not yet had enough experience with the Washington game, with knowing how and where to work hard to make things work.
That’s why I support John Edwards. I think that he is capable of inspirationally leading this country, and he is he has the experience to effectively manage the tough duties of the presidency.
Nevertheless, Gloria Steinem’s piece in the New York Times prompts me to think a little more about Clinton’s candidacy. Steinem says:
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…So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.

But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

It would be great to have a woman president. It would be great to have an African American president.
But I still think that John Edwards would make a greater president than either of the other two.

4 thoughts on “I’m Clinton Conflicted

  1. My problem with Clinton is that I don’t believe her. I don’t think she’s sincere, and I think she’s too far to the right. I’d love to see a woman as president. I’d love to see an African American as president. Better yet I’d like to see an African American woman as president. But voting for anyone on those premises is simply wrong and is surely racism and sexism in its own way. The only person who should be voted for is the person who can do the best job regardless of gender or race, period. I do not see Hillary as that person. Like you I think Edwards could do the best job, as in the job that needs doing – putting the brakes on corporate power and restoring confidence in the country – but I’d like to see Obama as his VP or vice versa – because Obama is the most inspirational of all of them.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Obama is my second choice. As a feminist I would like to see a woman as president. Not Hillary. It seems to me she is too much a part of the corporate establishment.

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