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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Campaign Misogyny?

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon in the midterm elections. There are a large number of women candidates running for high offices - Senate and US House of Representatives along with State Governorships. This normally would be a major cause for celebration. Right?


Many of these candidates have compared themselves or been compared to Hillary Clinton or alluded to her "eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling" as if they are the natural heirs to her legacy. I would submit that they are not. And it is not because they are mostly running on the Republican ticket.

First, let me qualify myself by saying that while I find much to admire about Hillary Clinton, I was not a political fan of hers, and did not vote for her in the primary. What I did and do admire about her was her willingness to go out and stand on her issues - and stand on them she did. She did not stand behind her husband, although that would have been very easy to do since he was not only a former President but a very charismatic campaigner. She did not cower behind her campaign staff and hide from reporters. She did not refuse to face her opponents, and although her supporters often called out sexist attacks on her she mostly did not and she especially did not when the opponent was attacking her policy positions.

And in this campaign season that is exactly what is wrong. Any attack on one of these women candidates is immediately decried as a sexist attack. Even if it is a criticism of a policy position. These candidates refuse to debate. Or they refuse to face reporters. They refuse interviews unless they can control everything - the questions, the timing, even who gets to ask questions. They hide behind their men - both significant others and staff. And in the end - what do we really know about any one of them? We don't know where they stand on most major issues. We have no idea what they propose to do about the big problems facing our country today. All we know are the "crazy" things. Or that they'll tell us everything after they get elected. What???

We need more women in politics. For a supposedly advanced Western democracy - we lag behind every single other country in representation by women in our legislatures both nationally and at the state and local levels. We have fewer women in our court systems, in our corporate governance and in any other systems of power and influence than any other country. We have yet to elect a woman as President. We need more women in positions of power and influence - I cannot say that often enough. But we also need women who are truly standing on their own two feet - as Hillary did and still does. Women who have ideas about how to do things and are not afraid to express and defend those ideas to their opponents and to the press and to the public they are asking to vote for them. Women who don't hide and run away. Women who earn and demand our respect.

I'm sorry, but all these Tea Party candidates are not those women. I don't know what their motivations are, but they are not good for other women with their anti-choice platforms, their anti-education, anti-child (abolish school lunches, WIC programs, Head Start etc rhetoric) and such, they are not good for families with their anti-unemployment, anti-Social Security, anti-Medicare/Medicaid and anti-VA Healthcare for veterans positions, they are not good for the country with their anti-EPA and anti-bank regulations. They are also not good for the country with their pro-corporate stances on trade, on regulations, on energy, and all the rest. They claim they are worried about the deficit - but they want to continue tax cuts for billionaires with no idea how to pay for it, and cut corporate taxes for corporations that already pay no taxes at all. They scream and yell about subsidies for wind and solar power but also don't want to get rid of subsidies to oil companies that have posted the biggest profits by any corporation in the history of the world ever in the past few years. They also claim they want smaller government. But at the same time they advocate for a government that spies on its own citizens in their bedrooms, in their doctors offices, reads their emails, listens to their phone calls, monitors their location on their cellphones and their car gps systems, pores over their library books, mines the databases of their credit card purchases and facebook postings and now wants the authority to force their internet providers to cough up every internet search page you have ever visited. That's smaller government?

I wonder if these women candidates are being used without their knowledge to trick the voters into thinking the Tea/Republican Party is somehow more "progressive" or if they are willingly going along for the ride. Either way - it is a dangerous proposition to fall for the trick.

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