Secrets of the Blah-Blah Sisterhood
It is never a good sign in a democracy when people vote out of fear or coercion. That's the irony of the Hillary Clinton candidacy.
Some female supporters strongly believe that as a woman, you have to vote for THIS WOMAN. Behind all the testosterone-charged chatter on cable news is the murmur of our own "Va-Jay-Jay Monologue." If you've got one, you must vote for Hillary or else you'll betray your sex.
If you don't back THIS WOMAN, beware! The secret society of the sisterhood of the traveling rants is coming for you. Women in public office who gained the support of such political groups as NOW and EMILY's List have been unofficially forewarned. In so many words, pro-choice feminist Democrats have systematically been put on the Hillary Hit List.
Fortunately, there are some feminists who believe in free will and aren't moved by the feminine mystique that surrounds the wrong woman for president at pity parties in primary state after primary state.
D.C.'s nonvoting Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton explained her Obama support on cable TV's "The Colbert Report."
"As a strong feminist and a strong civil rights activist, I believe this is the right choice," she said. For Holmes Norton, an African-American, this isn't about gender or racial politics. It's about character, electability and freedom of choice. As a superdelegate, she said she intends to support the winner of the popular vote, which thus far means Obama.
Missouri's Sen. Claire McCaskill campaigned for Obama in many states and in a TV ad. She says she's gotten from women "some negative feedback," her euphemism, not mine.
Said McCaskill, "I'm not against Hillary; I'm for Obama." It's a sentiment many women are expressing, though other women don't want to hear it.
Fact is, there are women who would like to see a woman become president but not THIS WOMAN.
When Obama won Missouri among a dozen states on Super Tuesday, McCaskill said she was relieved but mostly proud of Democrats in her red state. Her mother had campaigned for Obama throughout rural Missouri.
The senator from Kansas City acknowledged that she might have traded her political future for his.
"I don't care if people decide they will never vote for me again after this," McCaskill told me.
She'll still get my vote.
C'mon, if a bunch of working-class white guys in Idaho and Iowa can help elect a black man president, isn't it possible another woman will follow in the footsteps of Shirley Chisholm, Pat Schroeder and, yes, Hillary Clinton? I'll bet my vintage "VIRGINIA SLADE FOR CONGRESS" button that she will. I'll toss in my green and white "ERA YES" and "Give 'Em Hell, Harriet" buttons, too. I'm not willing to give up on women just because some women are giving up on Hillary.
After losses by Sharpton and Jackson came someone smarter and with a better message: Obama.
A certain redheaded Pulitzer winner from New York recently observed that if THIS WOMAN loses, "It will be her failure; not ours." Amen, sister.
And as my hero, Molly Ivins, once said, if Democrats can do no better than Hillary Clinton for president, then shame on them. Vote your conscience, not your ovaries. In a 2006 column explaining why she wouldn't support a Hillary Clinton presidency, Ivins scolded Democrats for their reluctance to take on the Bushies with this: "If no one in conventional wisdom politics has the courage to say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do so."
In this case, a junior senator from Illinois may have to do.
You want to talk experience? What about the more experienced women THIS WOMAN climbed over to get to the top, starting with her New York seat in the Senate as a springboard? What of the women — and feminists such as Delaware's Sen. Joe Biden — who were expected to sit back and shut up just so she could reach the pinnacle of her political career?
What's happened with women in the Democratic Party is a form of genital mutilation, which fortunately, some women are too smart to undergo willingly. Some women are more than the sum of their reproductive parts.
When they enter the voting booths in November, they will take their brains, free will, sons and daughters with them.
Rhonda Chriss Lokeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a columnist for The Kansas City Star. To find out more about Rhonda Chriss Lokeman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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