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February 5, 2008
Super Tuesday: Should a Woman Vote on
Race or Gender? I Know! Issues!
After first advocating for Al Gore this past summer and then for John
Edwards in the last couple months, I’m now forced to start anew yet
again and chose another candidate to support in the 2008 election.
Super Tuesday looms ahead of me today, I feel that by now I should pick
someone to advocate, even though the primary in my state, Ohio,
won’t come until the basically inconsequential date of March 4.
Apparently, Iowans, Floridians and others are better at deciding these
things than we Ohioans are, and thus end up with substantial pull in
picking a candidate, while we are merely aimless voices adding our two
cents long after the party is over. But, other states have it even
worse, and I digress.
According to much of the news media, as a white woman and a liberal, I should
statistically be leaning toward Hillary Clinton. But wait! According to
John Wiener of the Huffington Post, known feminist leaders such
as Katha Pollit of The Nation and Kate Michelman, president of
NARAL Pro-Choice America are voicing their support for Barack Obama.
What is a woman to do?
seems the best course of action for me, and any undecided woman or
African American, or female African American, should be to align myself
with a candidate who strives for what I hope to see in America. It seems
simple enough, but the media cannot seem to comprehend that women and/or
African Americans are capable of choosing a candidate based on his or
her merits and not skin color or number of chromosomes.
understand the passion of women and black Americans who choose to vote
for the candidate most like them – the one who will hopefully bring them
the full equality their grandparents hoped for but never saw happen,
especially not in the form of a woman or a member of a minority group
leading the country. It is moving to consider what it means that
racism and sexism have been surpassed by two viable presidential
candidates. However, if we’re going to dissect motivations and break
them down into gender and race categories, we should then assume that
every white male who votes for another white male is simply voicing
support for the candidate most like him.
White this certainly happens, it is not so thoroughly examined by the
media that it becomes common knowledge that white men will vote for
other white men. I appreciated Oprah’s comment this past Sunday at an
Obama rally in Des Moines, which she directed toward those who insist
she is supporting Obama because she’s black: “Don’t play me small. I’m
not that small. I would never vote for anyone based on gender or race.
I’m voting for Barack Obama not because he’s black. I’m voting for
Barack Obama because he is brilliant.” Accusing women and minorities of
voting their race or gender assumes that they can’t make decisions based
on anything else, which is thinly veiled racism and sexism at their
Also, I worry that eventually, it will be seen as traitorous to vote for
a white male if you are not a white male. I admit, in supporting John
Edwards until the end, I felt a twinge of guilt because I could have
been supporting a woman, and a woman who has faced vicious sexism
throughout her campaign at that. I recently read an article from
feminist organization NOW-NYC (a branch of the National Organization for
Women) that chided Ted Kennedy for his support of Barack Obama, calling
it “the ultimate betrayal” against women.
But guilt or no guilt, Hillary’s policies just don’t in all cases align
with mine. I don’t like the idea of dynasties in a democracy, and after
a Bush, a Clinton, and then a Bush again, I think it’s time for a fresh
perspective. I don’t like how she supported the Iraq War and then tried
to pretend she didn’t when supporting the war fell out of favor. I, as
much as any other feminist, would love to see a woman in the White
House, but until I can vote for one that I can 100 percent support, I’m
going to choose on the same basis that white men are believed to use.
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