Now, I don’t pretend to know a huge deal about American politics. I know as far as we Brits are concerned, we’re supposed to think the Democrats are the goodies and the Republicans the baddies, and thus, as far as I can tell, the democrats are left, republicans right. I also know that they both have stupid names that don’t help you tell the difference, because, after all, isn’t America a democratic republic? (Although you could argue that the name ‘Labour’ is fairly meaningless – some would say much like the party, ba-dum-tish)
But what no-one can have failed to notice is that it’s a case of ‘will the States get its first black president, or its first female one’? (Or as may well be the case, neither).
Now, I don’t fully buy into the idea of tokenism for tokenism’s sake. But nor can I completely disregard it. It WOULD be good for the USA to have a black president, or a female one (or both, which is why in some ways Michael Moore’s campaign for Oprah to run had some merit), as it would for one of the major British parties to have a non-white leader, or a female one. Yes, there is a case of ‘best person for the job’, but if a white, male, candidate was up against a balck, female one, and they were equally qualified, I’d want the black woman to win. Which in some ways goes against some of my principles of equality, but in other ways doesn’t – the white, male hegemony needs to be challenged in much of the West, and certainly in the US. Obviously you shouldn’t elect someone who isn’t up to the job, but if they are, and they represent a different demographic than what came before – well surely that’s to the good?
But anyway, over here at least, the debate is all about Obama vs Clinton. And it disturbs me what I have been reading, even (or especially) in the so called left/liberal press. I have read several articles (mainly by men) that say they are backing Obama over Clinton – and the reasons seem not to stem from his policies, but from his gender.
I read an article today that said Clinton was the more experienced, would probably do a better job, but Obama should win because he is ‘softer’ and ‘more likeable’. Were Hillary Clinton a man, this just would not be considered a credible argument as to ‘his’ suitability to be President. But somehow for a woman to be determined and talented and experienced and not as ‘soft’ as her counterpart is a bad thing. Ironically, I suspect that WERE Clinton the ‘nice’ one and Obama the ‘tough’ one, he’d still be favoured and she’d be seen as ‘weak’. I also read another article basically saying Clinton would be another Thatcher and her government would be a bunch of ‘wets’, whereas Obama’s government wouldn’t be. There was no evidence given for this argument, so I can only presume this again was an issue of gender. Woman in politics! My goodness, she’ll be a harridan! She will just have a bunch of yes men around her! (Now this may or may not be true of Clinton – it may also be true about Obama, though we’d never get told that – but I would like to see the evidence please).
Now, I don’t know enough about America, about the candidates themselves, or their policies to fully comment. But it seems to me that there is a heck of a lot of hypocrisy about – a sense of we should vote for the best qualified candidate… unless she’s a woman.
Maybe I’m reading too much into all of this, but I suspect not. I do not neccessarily think Clinton (or even Obama) should be the next President – nor do I think she shouldn’t. As I said, I don’t know enough about it. But the undercurrent of sexism in our press about Clinton is leaving a very nasty taste in my mouth.