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cougars and pumas

21 August, 2008

Cougars (gothic) PUMAS could give election to McCain?

I think many of you are aware about how I feel about the way the media has treated Hillary Clinton during this election cycle. It was sexist, plain and simple. And it was across the board sexist, in the sense that her opponents all bought into and used the same sort of rhetoric. (And by the way, if you are in any way thinking, “but what about the racism?????” Just stop. First, I’ll get there. Second, if you don’t know me well enough to know that I abhor both racism and sexism — and heterosexism, if you feel it needs to be separated — but can actually discuss them separately without falling into the trap of fighting about which is worse, a trap, by the way, that is hugely effective in keeping otherwise decent people from actually getting things changed, which is the point, then you just shouldn’t be reading this).

So yes, the treatment of Clinton has been sexist. But when she lost, I pretty much turned my sights toward supporting Obama, despite the fact that he is less experienced and seems much more conservative than I would like. So I didn’t know that there was an organised group of supporters still working for Clinton (except to pay her campaign debts)). I just figured that the machine was winding things down. Imagine, then, my surprise at reading this article by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate, which posits the rise of the “Hillary Harridans” — the Madwomen in the Attic of US politics. Lithwick is, I think, spot on in identifying the ways in which the media treats the holdouts, and the imagery that is being evoked — and why it hits the way it does. I think she’s also probably right in what could happen, should disgruntled Clinton supporters support McCain or stay away from the polls. I do think she may have missed another message, though. It’s interesting that the puma is also a cougar in real life. So is this a case of a bunch of would be cougars (y’all know what a “cougar” is, yes?) playing on words themselves? In which case, it’s kind of cool and feminist. But if this is a name imposed on the group, well, that’s a different thing.

So don’t get me wrong here — I think that the Clinton campaign failed us all miserably. I think the cards were stacked against Clinton, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that she and her people fell (or jumped willingly) into the easy strategy of playing against Obama’s race and using a good dose of xenophobia (and you can argue that that’s racist, too, but I think it’s much more complex than that) to try to win. I think the memos show that some people in the campaign were eager, but based on Clinton’s own political record, I would like to think that she got caught up in the campaign and did what we’ve seen before — reacted with anything she could grip, including things that non-panicked Clinton would not recognise. To me, that she was willing to grasp at any straw, no matter that it went against what she herself had fought for for years, made me not want her as a president. I don’t want someone who panics and sells out — especially on something this important. That it seemed panic-induced worried me even more than Bill Clinton’s backing off on gay rights angered me.

But back to these PUMAs. I really hope Lithwack is wrong. I hope that there are not 18 million (or more?) women out there who are so pissed off that they are willing to cut off their noses, etc. Because if you are worried about equal rights, health care, the poor, reproductive rights, the environment … pretty much any reason a person would have supported Clinton, there is no choice but Obama. And honestly, I think Obama is possibly a bit better on supporting the Constitution and on the war in Iraq — not too much, but a bit. Not as good on reproductive rights and health care, but Clinton is out of the race, so get over it! Not voting is at this point the same as voting for McCain. Voting for a third party is the same as voting for McCain. This isn’t about Clinton anymore, people. It’s about what’s on the table now. If you voted or caucused in the Democratic primaries, and really wanted a Democrat to win — or wanted this lot out enough that you were willing to vote for a Democrat — then Obama is the only realistic and sensible choice. You have to decide what message counts for more: the one that draws a line in the sand in a war we’ve been fighting since before they ratified the 19th Amendment? or the one that says that we are going to do what we can, now, to halt the regressions this government has led across the board in civil rights, human rights, environmental protection, health care …the list goes on. If you are a US citizen, you get to vote. It matters. Don’t waste it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 22 August, 2008 1:29 am

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  2. 22 August, 2008 10:08 am

    Separating racism and sexism is one thing – and refusing to do so is a very cunning way of causing radical opposition to eat its own tail – but if we could get people to separate racism and xenophobia as you do here we might actually get somewhere combatting what remains of either. Which is lots, but still progress from where we were, right? Just, from a UK perspective at least, a bit stalled.

  3. 22 August, 2008 3:37 pm

    And from a UK perspective, it’s much clearer, I think. One of the difficulties in the US is that most of us were raised — as were our parents and grandparents — with the idea that the US is, and is supposed to be, a nation of immigrants. But for most of that history, there was also an idea of “immigrants who assimilate and become ‘real’ Americans”. The problem as I see it is now that many in the US refuse to allow for any change, so xenophobia is on the increase — I think there is probably a lot more underlying sympathy for the stated aims (rather than the actual ones, which are both racist AND xenophobic at pretty much all costs, as far as I can tell) of the BNP over here than anybody with a clue would like.

  4. 23 August, 2008 6:01 pm

    More important than PUMAs are those who won’t vote for an African-American (or any brown candidate) no matter what.We are about to see how many such voters there are.

  5. 23 August, 2008 8:22 pm

    There are more than a few in my part of the world …

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