Friday Night at 8: Politics Du Jour

The scuttlebut is that the Obama supporters are trying to figure out how to capture the Clinton supporters into joining the Obama supporters.

Those who have supported Clinton have been characterized as (among many other things) a bunch of old ladies who are bitter because their accomplishments as feminists are being belittled, and in the heat of the moment there are claims they won’t vote for Obama if he is the nominee.

And of course there are Obama supporters who vow they would never vote for the racist Clinton who played the race card and race baited, etc., if somehow she manages to steal the nomination.

It’s really quite fascinating to watch the thought processes.  Seems to me that most of the folks blogging about this aren’t really interested in either race or gender but for the purposes of this carnival we call a Presidential campaign, they’re dusting off whatever they may have gleaned from our culture, from teevee shows and magazines and books and have become instant experts on both race and gender issues.  Really quite remarkable.

I wonder why those who wish Clinton supporters to switch over to Obama don’t talk more about how Obama should court them … talk about feminism with respect, give them a bone for heaven’s sake?

But I don’t read much about that suggestion anywhere.  Probably because it’s unrealistic.  But what do I care about being realistic?  I’m just writing an essay and pontificating.  I’m in the mood for that.

Me, I don’t have a dog in this hunt.  I voted for Obama in the primary because it seemed he was bringing in young voters and more voters into the system and I thought that was a good thing.

I’m of the minority opinion that the Democratic Party has fucked up so badly since 2006 that it is absurd to speak of who will be better for “the Party.”  It has to be entirely reformed, as far as I’m concerned, regardless of who gets the nomination.  There’s a lot of obsolete mechanisms in the party that are an embarrassment in the year 2008.

But I find it kind of amusing that when speaking of Obama and race or Clinton and feminism, there is so little real dialogue and so much off the cuff comments about single issues that infuriate those who care about those single issues more than if nothing had been said at all.

To me, that shows how backward our society is when it comes to understanding what many folks call “single issues” or “identity politics.”

I read Markos and Jerome’s book Crashing the Gate.  I thought it was a great book insofar as it pointed out the obsolete qualities of the Democratic party and its strategies.  Markos did have a chapter on single issues.  He thought it was stupid for single issue groups not to form coalitions and share resources.  He noted one instance where that happened and it strengthened both groups.

I was thinking about this the other day when the NOLA/Gulf Blogathon was going on over at Daily Kos.  One of the diarists wrote about how the Daily Kos community just doesn’t care about NOLA, and of course the usual snarky comments came out … but there was some interesting discussion as well.

I’m not pushing the Democratic Party, this isn’t about party.  This essay is about politics, tho.

Coalitions are unbelievably difficult to build and maintain.  You have people who may actually hate each other finding themselves having to work together.  That dislike and distrust won’t go away because there are some real ideological differences there, and only a very slim strand of commonality to cling to.

Imagine folks in the diversosphere getting together with the white feminist power structure to promote legislation they both feel passionate towards, some social justice issues they have in common, say abortion rights or discrimination on the job.  Now I have seen the vitriolic fights between these two groups in the blogosphere … and that vitriol isn’t going to go away.  So imagine that in the mix as well, lol.

Imagine environmentalists working with folks who are fanatic about restoring the constitution and habeas corpus and then both groups joining with supporters of the left who are working towards stopping the United States from its imperialist foreign policies.

Imagine these groups sharing resources and working to form coalitions while at the same time retaining the singular importance of their issues.

Well, I can barely imagine it, lol.

It may well be impossible.

I do think, however, that we have tools and technology now that would make that impossible notion more possible.  It’s not that we shouldn’t have single issues and respect those folks who dedicate themselves to single issues.  It’s the strategies that ought to change, not the issues or the emotions.

I think Obama will win the nomination.  And I think it would be wise if he really spoke about feminism and let those women who supported Hillary know they have a place at his table, too.  Make that little extra effort, as it were.

Just a political ramble for a Friday night.  It’s finally warm outside in the Big Apple, and the Fleet is in … Times Square is, shall we say, hopping.


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  1. (not so much Times Square since it Disneyfied–but that’s just me).

    But here on the ground, where, if you will, I am the only blogger I know in person: the sense I get from the Dems is that whichever candidate runs in the GE, we will vote for him/her.  There are some black Republicans who will probably only vote for Obama…and I don’t know the rural hicks who are so racist…nevertheless, this comes across as more a blogosphere thing than a reality…I suspect that most people who are aware will vote for any Dem over any chimp-clone.

    Just my two cents.

    • Robyn on May 24, 2008 at 02:16

  2. But I find it kind of amusing that when speaking of Obama and race or Clinton and feminism, there is so little real dialogue and so much off the cuff comments about single issues that infuriate those who care about those single issues more than if nothing had been said at all.

    I’ve been thinking about this alot lately. I feel people have been so locked into a candidate that their view of the identity issues on the other side get completely discounted or ignored.

    Because I trust Obama more than I do Clinton, I’ve been a bit blinded to the sexism of some of his supporters (and I think this is all about their supporters more than the candidates themselves). And that was a difficult thing for me to see in myself.  

  3. politics du jour, but close enough:

    • pico on May 24, 2008 at 02:42

    You have to wonder how Republicans did it for so long.  There isn’t an ounce of overlap between the religious right and the libertarians, apart from equal disdain for Democrats – and even then, their disdain is so different.  The libertarians think Democrats govern too big, the religious right loves the big government but wants it refocused.  They have nothing in common, but until this election they’d done a pretty good job of hiding the seams.  

    Our seams can be pretty stark, too – not just the single-issue stuff, but groups that are either hostile to or disdainful towards other members of the coalition.  The LGBT advocacy groups still approach queer America as if it were gay, middle class and white, and they’re shocked (shocked!) when they find themselves criticized by queer people of color, or the trans community, or other groups who don’t seem to fit into the agenda at HRC (the organization, not the candidate).  Meanwhile homophobia in communities of color – which is a genuine problem, but makes a convenient whipping-boy for people already prone to criticizing minority communities – results in restricted civil rights for people in the queer community.  What a mess our side is!

    One good thing about Obama is that he’s doing a decent job covering the seams, too – his coalition seems a lot more diverse than Clinton’s, although I don’t want to make too-sweeping statements, either.  It’s funny how much the policy end of this has been completely buried by idiotic punditry (both in the traditional media and on the blogs) to the point that the policy seems almost arbitrary to the discussion.  I guess that’s why you have people seriously vowing to vote McCain: they bought the sheen instead of the substance.

    Although, again, I don’t want to be too broad, given that we have our own (sole) McCain supporter hanging around here.  🙂


    • kj on May 24, 2008 at 02:59

    a lot of time during the last campaign attempting to nudge people into their own spot at the table.  used a lot of silly metaphors about family reunions and Great Uncle Mary’s potato salad with vinegar and the second-cousin twice-married to twin cousins’ potato salad with mayo, no vinegar up next to the vegan potato salad that had whatever vegans eat (i don’t know, raw potatoes?  i love raw potatoes! but that’s probably the raw food movement, not vegans, apologies to both groups.)

    spent huge amounts of energy on building a table of diversified unity. i won’t do it again. if progressives can’t be the change they want to see, i want no part of their dance. for me, it’s that simple. i don’t care if people of color don’t like queer middle america. i don’t care if feminists don’t like blacks, or vice versa. i don’t give a whit about the luxury of fighting over race and gender. we do this, or we watch this planet turn us into teeny tiny bits of carbon with no footprints. what a legacy.

    bottom line: i finally reached the end of tolerance for the intolerance of progressives.  the intolerance of wingers?  i expect it.

    • kj on May 24, 2008 at 03:31

    look at the picture of the little girl with blood on her, crying, sitting next to a dead or injured body… or the picture of the women and men in Burma, or crying soldiers, or the pictures coming out of NOLA or China and care about what Hillary Clinton did or did not say or Obama did or did not say about some meaningless drivel that our corporate owned media decided to make into an issue?

    i don’t know.

    i know that listening and watching and participating doesn’t stop it, it seems to have grown as an industry now with the internet joining in as echo chamber.

    i know that Kitty has given us choices, ie- response, not reaction, imagination v limitations- during these Friday night essays.  i know i find ideas of value to put into actual practice among an amazing number of essays here at docudharma. i know there is very little echo-chambering here and much original thought.

    that has to be worth something. just the space to think and engage and inform without rancor and screaming.  

    who knows? maybe it will catch on.  (she said, with a touch of wry)

  4. here of how a coalition is supposed to work.  We disagree and have different opinions about lots of things, but on fundamental issues we find common ground.  We try to be excellent to each other (in the past 3 months there have been only 20 +/- hidden comments).  On issues in which we have serious disagreements, we agree to disagree.

    If we can do this here, can we do it face to face?  I know that’s harder, but I’d like to think that we can.

    The question for me is why dd manages to sort the disagreements out but Orange doesn’t.  Is it size?  Or is it culture?  Or is it something else?  I don’t know.  Whatever we have here that keeps us moving forward is essential and out to be spread to others: it’d be nice to know what it is.  

    • Robyn on May 24, 2008 at 04:11

    …if the only conversation I can generate is about campaign crap.

    • Alma on May 24, 2008 at 04:48

    Everyone working together.  You would think with the internet it should be relatively simple.  Heck we’ve had quite a time even trying to get the peace groups to work together, much less with anybody else.  Is it the power hungry people at the top?  Worried about being one of many instead of the boss?

    Maybe we need to advertise for groups willing to work together for the good of all.

    My AH-FIL a life long Dem., told us he wouldn’t vote for Obama if he got the nom.  We repeatedly asked him why not, and he couldn’t give us a single answer.  You got it, he’s racist, and always seems jealous of blacks.  They get all the good jobs and don’t have to work. His thought, not mine of course.

    • jim p on May 24, 2008 at 06:03

    A prime example of the “honest, informed, adult of good intention” faction I hope grows to be the dominant mode in this land.

    Such a voice, presenting real thoughts, real questions, human perspective… all this verboten in tv/radio-land as it stands. I wonder if bloggers could buy 1-minute media ad spots?

    To me, a lot of left/right stuff has more to do with “divide and conquer” than it does with any meaningful thing. (Not to ignore the reality that people range from fixed to flexible in their natural temperaments.) That’s why there are tons of mock-debate shows, and no genuine participatory democracy discussions.

    I’d just as soon banish left/right rhetoric and replace it with the phrase from the first sentence above, versus “dishonest, uninformed, adult of masked intention” as a meaningful political distinction.

    Great essay! A lot to consider. Thanks.

  5. for two simple reasons:

    1) she is a hard core DLCer whose organization’s raison d’etre is to continue the coporatization of America (albeit in a somewhat more benign form than Bush)

    2) she has supported this obscene war 100% since the beginning and has never once shown the least bit of sincere regret about it.

    I voted for Obama because he was the best alternative at the time.

    Unfortunately, many people have real trouble believing that neither the gender nor race of either candidate had anything to do with my vote.

    But hey, that’s their problem, not mine.

  6. are harder for Democrats because our issues are not as black and white. The Republicans hard core loony fundamental part,  have no issues other then authoritarian rule be it governmental or religious. I don’t like identity politics because the important issues like sexism, wars, education, poverty all seem to get swallowed up by the political game.

    Hillary for instance repels me because she is a woman. She uses this to bind her supporters to her but what kind of feminist advocates ‘Obliterating’ a country. The ‘welfare reform’ the Clinton’s pushed through did not help poor single mothers.  It takes a village has a whole new meaning when you look at what NAFTA and China most favored has done to the women and children who live there. Running around chest thumping and bragging on how tough you are and how you have cajones just pisses me off as a woman. She is not my ‘girl’ nor are her opponents ‘boys’. Glass ceilings in the corporate world are the least of my issues.  

    Obama is way more appealing to my female, world veiw side even though he is a man. Coalitions are needed but they need some basic overriding principle that holds all of the identities we have together. For me this primary, the Clinton campaign part has just become in extension of the stupid and divisive culture wars cooked up and stirred up by the right. My humanity is more important then my gender or race. In order to identify the values and behavior of the person is more important then the fact she’s a she or a he. I see huge differences between these two and they have nothing to do with gender or race.        

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