I’m starting to become a little unnerved by the situation with the Democratic party. I’d like to lay out a couple of questions and arguments for discussion. I’m hoping very much that certain people will chime in on this. You know who you are (like, when you get my email asking you to chime in).
i-4051261ac7ec655656fd125b62b4973a-Clinton_Obama.jpg


From the beginning, this primary involved gender and race. Obviously. A democrat could actually win this year. So, the giddiness over having a viable female candidate and giddiness over having a viable African American candidate is palpable. But we can see that this giddiness has given way to a very different set of feelings … depending on one’s perspective …. based on the same exact conditions.

Let me tell you that I was originally behind Clinton. I switched half-heartedly to Obama when it came time to vote (caucus) in Minnesota, because I judged (correctly, it turned out, for once) that there was a momentum thing happening that could be good for The Party, and that would, as it happened, push Obama into the national race, hitting the ground running. As it turned out, that did happen, but Clinton stayed strong and did not fade away or step aside.

At some point in time, several weeks back, it became numerically Obama’s race, barring highly unlikely events. But Clinton stayed in. I and many other Obama supporters saw this as reasonable. Hillary’s positions could continue to be represented, she was still a player, and even though she could not be the nominee, it was reasonable for her to stick it out a bit longer.

I remember Kennedy’s race against Carter in which he did the same thing. In fact, I worked for Ted Kennedy’s campaign, much to the annoyance of my father, who was being offered a position in the Carter White House. You will remember what happened at the end: The Dream Endures. And the Dream will Endure this year as well, I’m sure.

i-a29feb3e1521bc2149a682b65c5d611d-ObamaCartoon.jpgThe unsettling part of this is really two fold. First was the appearance and steady increase of racist rhetoric coming from Hillary Clinton and some of her supporters. Now, this rhetoric could be defended as simple reality, but that argument is one I would expect to hear from a Republican, or a Conservative Libertarian, or maybe even a Homeschooler. There is a proper, or at least a better, way to recognize the racist undercurrent. We recognize it when we have it circumscribed and are busy criticizing it or even impaling it on a stake. We don’t, however, recognize it as “just part of the way things are.” That simply allows race to feel comfortable and normal. It invites race to the table. We don’t want race at the table.

Following the race card being played by the Clinton campaign, we then saw a sexism (or anti-feminist) card also being played by Clinton spokespeople. And, more disturbingly, I have also seen implications that asking Clinton to leave the race now (or a couple weeks ago, say) is just another example of pushing a woman aside, like we have always pushed women aside. I see and hear these implications from political commenters (of course) and from people I happen to know and care for, and most recently, from a Republican senator, jumping on the bandwagon, who threw in, “Obama’s campaign people are well known for referring to the women in the press corps as ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’….” (Smirk smirk.)

The reason that this is disturbing is partly because there is truth here. Previously, women on the presidential (or vice presidential) trail have gotten a kind of special treatment which was not good and always resulted in their being brushed aside. So that is a reasonable concern. And there probably are people brushing Clinton aside because she is a woman.

The problem is that there is a large percentage of people like me. People who wanted Clinton, who thought Clinton would have the best chance of winning and would make a great president. People who thought this when her husband was President. People who did not thing those anti-Hillary jokes were funny. Well, maybe they were technically funny, but we found it hard to laugh at them.

But we then saw a change in orientation among the electorate that was new, unexpected, and good (as good as a swell of support for Clinton, just in a different way). And then, a few weeks back, seeing Clinton scoring points in her campaign that were harmful to the party’s medium term goal (of not fucking up again and putting a Republican in the White House). And then, on top of that, seeing these tactics go racial.

We (or at least I) are/am not interested in pushing Hillary Clinton aside. We just don’t want the Democratic Party to fuck up. Again. As usual.

If many of the undeclared super delegates declared for Clinton, and a couple of hundred super delegates previously pledging to Obama switched to Clinton tomorrow, Obama conceded, and, maybe, Clinton asked Obama to run as Veep, I’d be happy. So would a lot of other people. If, instead, Clinton announced next Monday that she was pulling out, and Obama asked her to be on the ticket and she agreed, I’d be happy . So would a lot of other people.

Concerns that the ticket would be mismatched or not credible because of what was said during the campaign would go away just as such concerns have always gone away every other time something like this has happened, which is roughly every four years.

I do believe that something like this is going to happen very soon, by the way. Frankly, I’m thinking the latter. I am certain Obama will ask a woman to be on the ticket, most likely Clinton. And Clinton will accept. If not, Kathleen Sebelius.

One more thing: Despite whatever I have said above regarding the issue of race and racism, there is one thing that needs to be made very clear. It is not the case that working class white people don’t like the idea of voting for a black man for president. No. What is the case is that working class white people in Appalachia are by and large racists slobs. Other working class white people, not so much. Or at least, not in this way. The messing around with the demographics (of race, mainly) by the politicians and their handlers pales in comparison to this sad and shameful reality. Which I am exaggerating only a tiny bit.

OK, so I said I was going to ask questions. Instead, I just said what I thought. So, tell me where I’m wrong?

Comments

  1. #2 Analiese
    May 22, 2008

    Well, since I’ve been tossing you emails on this subject, I should comment, but first I need some clarification:

    First, could you tell me more about the “racist rhetoric” and the “race card” that you see Clinton et. al. as having played? Examples and references, please. And then, how this has damaged the “party’s midterm goals”, if that’s not too much.

    Second, I’m not sure what you mean by “we don’t want race at the table.” I understand this statement in 1800, but not in this context. Like how Colbert doesn’t see color? Or what?

    Last, for now, “technically funny” HOW? I did not get the sense that you found anything of this quality in the Obama/chimp tee you posted earlier.

    Thanks!

  2. #3 Becca
    May 22, 2008

    My my, aren’t we snarky (Republican or Libertarian or maybe even a Homeschooler indeed!).

    That aside, I don’t think the working class white people of Appalacia are racist slobs. If you want to see racist slobs, take a look at Indiana ;-) (note that this is contractually required snark as a former Illinois resident). It’s just that Pa and Il are entirely different worlds. Like, almost unimaginably so, given how subtle it can be. You wander around, and people are a bit suprisingly monochromatic unless you’re in a city… but that’s kinda true in downstate Illinois too. You talk to people, they seem perfectly normal and intelligent. Maybe they have PhDs. And then all of a sudden you’re talking to them, and they *won’t go into Harrisburg, because it is “dangerous”*… yet, they see nothing risky about *having a gun in their house*, and see shooting stuff as a game. It can produce massive cognitive dissonance. The one benefit I can see to Obama’s “cling to their guns” foul-up was that it provided a lot of comfort to me personally. If he (as a pretty good judge of people, if nothing else, I think) had such problems understanding it, no wonder I feel so weird here.

    One of the labs I rotated through here, a guy who’s lived in central Pa all his life taught me cell culture. He was a very good bench-side mentor. But the first day I showed up, he wasn’t there. Why? He had taken his kids to go see Bush. He *said* he would have if it had been a democrat president, but I’m not so sure. He said he’d never voted democratic, never would vote democratic, and had no use for democrats… the reason? Only one. “Because they’ll take away our guns”.
    I was totally – WTFOMGBBQ?!1!!eleventy!!111!!!
    Now *that* made my head explode. Way, way more than your snark about homeschooling ever could.

    Anyway, on topic. The best possible spin I can put on the rhetoric out of the Clinton campaign is that it’s all warm up for John McCain (I’m still not convinced if they’re trying to prepare Obama or if they still think she’s going to go up against McCain). McCain can be an A*hole of epic proportions- the man has temper tantrums like a millitant atheist in a Christian homeschooling science fair. It’s kinda messed up. I will not be suprised to see racist or sexist nasty tactics from him.
    The worst possible spin is that Clinton is a closet racist. Ya gotta watch out for those Northside (Cubs fan) preppies sometimes. I rate this as unlikely, but extremely disconcerting.

  3. #4 greg laden
    May 22, 2008

    Full disclosure: JL is my working class brother who lives in Kentuckee. I think he’s still with the coal mine, isn’t that right, bro?

  4. #5 pelican
    May 22, 2008

    I think Hillary’s primary goal is to be The (First Woman) President, rather than to deal with the many, many serious problems faced by our country. This is a major reason why I voted for Obama … I think it’s more important to him to get the country back on track than for him to be the one who’s in charge while it happens. I think he’d stand down and graciously accept the VP nomination if the roles were reversed. But, as a woman, this whole idea that “asking Hillary to stand down” is sexist really irritates me. We will have a woman president in my lifetime, I am quite sure, but I don’t think it will be Hillary- Barack’s got the momentum, and he’s just making it roll. He is the first national politician who I’ve seen in my lifetime (or at least since I’ve grown fully myelinated frontal lobes) who has leadership ability and also a willingness to put the practical needs of the country ahead of both his own ambition and the party’s desires.

    There’s chat in the blogosphere about Barack cutting a deal with Hillary for her to be the justice who replaces Stevens, if Barack gets elected. I think that’s a better role for her than VP- god knows, she’s brilliant and one hell of a lawyer. I think she’d be able to do a great deal of good in that role, for a very long time … much more so than if she was his VP. I suspect at this point there’s enough bad blood between Barack and Hillary she wouldn’t make a great VP for him anyway. I’ve got plenty of respect for her as a politician, but I hope at this point she’s just stringing this along to get her $6mil back.

  5. #6 greg laden
    May 22, 2008

    Ana:

    Lots of questions. (OH, by the way, I posted your video, etc.) The high water mark of the “race rhetoric” was the assertion (in a much replayed statement by Clinton) that “hard working people … white people… ” (implying that non whites were not part of this hard working group) would not vote for Obama, in reference to West Virginia. This was preceded by less clear statements about the rural Pennsylvanians mostly by Clinton supporters, etc. during that race.

    Anything that places on a candidate a negative (in reference to a particular demographic) can damage the party’s goals if a) that candidate goes forward and b) the accusation or assertion sticks.

    Please note that I refer to Kennedy. What I did not mention is that Kennedy’s refusal to step aside when he was numerically out of it probably contributed to Ronald Regan getting elected. Most people claim it was the Iran Hostage Crisis, but that is a bit of selective memory.

    I dis not make myself clear on the “race at the table” issue.

    Racism needs to be at the table, and race is a demographic factor. What I don’t like is the kind of conversation in which we say “well, white people won’t vote for a black guy” as a casual part of the discourse without also noting that those white people are racists. Or, for that matter, “working class men will not vote for a woman” without noting that “and that’s sexist” is not OK.

    I don’t want race or gender to be an equal player at the table. I want race and gender to be ON the table with us dissecting it. And eventually discarding it when it is of no potency. That’s what I meant.

    By “technically funny” I was referring to the typical anti-Hillary jokes of the time, which I never personally found funny because I found them insulting at several levels. The only one that comes to mind was something about how the connection between marrying Bill Clinton and him becoming president. Crap, I don’t actually remember it. Maybe someone else will.

  6. #7 greg laden
    May 22, 2008

    I just wanted to point out that my snark about homeshooling was nothing other than a cheap shot. Some of us think its funny. Some don’t. (I’m getting emails.) So laugh it up, folks….

  7. #8 Stephanie Z
    May 22, 2008

    Hmm. Some of the shiny wore off Clinton with the march to nationalism in the last few years. I want to want her as president more than I do, but I find it hard to fight the impression that the policies she supports are less important to her than the fact that she’s supporting them.

    The audio clip Greg is quoting from is more damning than the words themselves convey. It sounds like someone trying very hard to say something without taking ownership of her own words. It sounds small and ugly.

    Ironically (for her), I would be happier with her if she did step down. I don’t want her to do it because it’s the diplomatic thing to do. I certainly don’t want her to do it because she’s female. I want her to do it because it would be the personally hard choice, and it would restore a bit of my faith in her if she showed herself capable of doing it. I want my shiny back.

  8. #9 Stephanie Z
    May 22, 2008

    And Becca, speaking as someone who suffers from the same affliction, the snark can be really, really hard to fight once it’s got a hold of you.

  9. #10 greg laden
    May 22, 2008

    I guess there is a point that should be underscored. Typically, when there is one candidate that is numerically the winner other, other candidates drop out and at some point fall in line with the party’s goals. A candidate staying in after they are numerically out of it is the exception, and when it has happened, it has often been bad for the party in which this happens. A common version of this is the candidate going third party.

    As of a couple/few weeks ago, there was not a single credible source outside of the Clinton campaign itself that had an argument that Clinton could win without someone shooting Obama in the head. At the same time, it is more typical for the “numerical winner” to be fully past the required number for nomination (which no one is past now).

  10. #11 Ana
    May 22, 2008

    Just on that last point of yours, Greg (sorry – doing much at once otherwise) – whatever may be typical – Clinton supporters in the remaining states want the chance to vote for her. And Obama doesn’t need them feeling resentful, toward party or toward him personally, come November. I’m sure he’s given that some thought. I’m sure she has too. And I’m hopeful that we’ll all be all right in the end.

  11. #12 Greg Laden
    May 22, 2008

    Ana,

    Normally, (or should I say “normally”) half the country does not get to vote, for real, in the Primaries. So this is a nice change.

    I mean, look at all those poor republicans not getting to really vote.

    My cousin was telling us last winter (she’s in Boulder) “Minnesota … you guys will not get to vote for real. It will be decided by then” (She’s working for Clinton, and that was back when it was assumed things would develop more quickly and all the later primaries would be irrelevant).

    Indeed, if I may be allowed a bit of snark (not that I ever do that, of course) if the Clinton campaign had gone as planed, there would be no real primaries in any state probably beginning at or before the Potomac Primaries.

    Slightly desnarking: It is true that they are only hundreds of delegates apart. But still, it is perfectly legitimate to take note of what actually does happen in four out of five years.

  12. #13 AnnieT
    May 22, 2008

    “The audio clip Greg is quoting from is more damning than the words themselves convey. It sounds like someone trying very hard to say something without taking ownership of her own words. It sounds small and ugly.”

    I cringed. And I voted for Hillary.

  13. #14 Wellington
    May 22, 2008

    //He said he’d never voted democratic, never would vote democratic, and had no use for democrats… the reason? Only one. “Because they’ll take away our guns”.//

    Well, there is some truth to that.

  14. #15 Spiderman
    May 22, 2008

    As I recall Jesse Jackson had a similar experience, sitting on the fence for some time about staying in vs. stepping out of the race. I think he stayed in longer than the numbers justified but by only about two weeks/primaries.

  15. #16 Joel_m
    May 22, 2008

    Stephaniez: Here is the clip:

  16. #17 Joel_m
    May 22, 2008

    As I recall Jesse Jackson had a similar experience, sitting on the fence for some time about staying in vs. stepping out of the race. I think he stayed in longer than the numbers justified but by only about two weeks/primaries.

    Like, the entire time he was in?

  17. #18 Elizabeth
    May 22, 2008

    That clip is disturbing but it is not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

  18. #19 Bob
    May 23, 2008

    I nattered on about this yesterday. If the personalities were different, say Hillary was leading and Obama or Edwards were still in the race, spouting the Republican talking points, making dog-whistle sexist remarks about Hillary, trying to get the rules changed to seat delegates from states that broke the DNC’s rules by not getting a waiver to move their primaries up, having big-money donors threaten to withhold contributions to the DNC unless the rules were bent for their (losing) candidate, complaining that under the RNC’s rules they’d be in the lead – would we be having this discussion?

    If Obama was behind in elected and overall delegates and had no chance of winning without his opponent being eaten by a bear and/or the superdelegates overruling the electorate, and polling showed him leading only among 50yr+ black men, would we praise him as a great fighter and sing “We Shall Overcome” if he ripped the party asunder by fighting until the bitter end?

    I don’t normally follow party politics, but these are not normal times. My favored candidate was Edwards, not because of race or gender but because he was more experienced than Obama, more charismatic and less divisive than Hillary, and more sensibly progressive than any of the other candidates. The media hated him so he was out. I pledged my support to the eventual Democratic nominee and switched my support to Obama because of his charisma and momentum and because I feel he’s less of an authoritarian than Hillary, plus he’s not tainted by close association with Joe “short ride” Lieberman (see also, John McCain.)

    Obama has pleasantly surprised me with his candor, his restraint in responding to Hillary, and his ability and willingness to address race without pandering or using it as a bludgeon. He has more charisma than the sum of all the Democratic presidential nominees since Kennedy. He’s electable.

    Likewise I have been appalled by the tactics of the Clinton campaign, the aforementioned “hard working people … white people” comment, and her using McCain’s arguments against Obama. Most of all, it seems clear that she’d prefer to risk a Democratic loss in November in order to become nominee. The math says she can’t win, she’s out of money, and she’s burned an awful lot of goodwill.

    I don’t see any need for a juvenile ad hominem attack, but if it makes people comfortable disregarding everything I’ve written so far, I can write the word “bitch.” It won’t mean anything but it’ll prop up a convenient stereotype of white male voters who don’t support Hillary as the Democratic nominee.

    While that’s sinking in, I’ll drop another anecdote on you: My lovely and talented wife attended her 10 year college reunion in western Massachusetts last weekend. She went to one of those idyllic Ivy League women’s colleges where they have Friday afternoon tea and a gorgeous pond. Beautiful buildings with slate roofs and lead flashing. Literally ‘old school’. We were out drinking with about ten of her housemates and the topic came round to politics. Most of the women supported Obama, a few had supported Hillary early on but had switched. Nobody fessed up to being a Republican. The ex-rugby player/schoolteacher/happily living with her girlfriend/divinity student let on that the notion that women need to support Hillary simply because she’s a woman was – in her words – bullshit. “The whole point of [going to a women's college] is so you can make your own decisions.”

    In the end, it doesn’t matter what I say; I learned long ago during my time at a very large, capital-L Left-leaning college in the Midwest that I can’t win in these sorts of arguments due to circumstances outside my control (namely my genetics.) If I don’t vote for Obama, I’m a racist, if I don’t vote for Hillary, I’m a sexist, and if I don’t vote for McCain I’m discriminating against the mentally ill.

    I still pledge to support whoever is less bad than, and more likely to defeat McCain and the next generation of Republican apparatchiks, most likely the Democratic nominee for president. If the party rules are followed and the superdelegates don’t overrule the elected delegates, that person will be Barack Obama.

  19. #20 Alan Kellogg
    May 23, 2008

    A couple of points to address here.

    First, about Appalachian Whites:

    Greg, I realize you were exaggerating for comedic effect. However, I don’t see their attitude as racism, but as resentment. If the MSM weren’t so twitterpated over having their own pet darkie to play with, I suspect more white voters would support Obama. But with the media leaning over backward to push the guy, folks are saying they don’t like being told what they should do. Note that there are blacks who oppose Barack Obama, and not all are conservative or libertarian.

    On Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama

    It’s ego. Both are convinced they’re the better choice than the other. And both are politicians, and that is a nasty breed. Especially Clinton, who can get down and dirty when she sees the need.

    Obama is campaigning smart. Focus on hope and optimism. Who knows, he may even pull it off. But, his youth and inexperience will be a problem for him should he gain the White House.

    Clinton has experience, just being married to Bill provided lots of that. But, being on the bleeding edge of the American Progressive Movement has surely colored in perceptions and impacted her behavior.

    Yes, her focus on the negative aspects of Obama as a black man has been nasty. However, were Obama emphasizing his white side, she’d be going after that. Politics, especially at the highest levels, is cruel. Hilary Clinton wants the Presidency bad, and that leads to truly atrocious behavior. Would be nice if candidates would concentrate on their qualities, but emphasizing the opponents negatives pays off real good.

    Finally, let me point out that at the moment Barack and Hilary are keeping pace. Some are voting for Obama, some are voting against Clinton. Some are voting for Hilary, some are voting against Barack. The result is more people are coming out for Clinton than had been before, because they either think she’s the better choice, or they hate being told what they must do by others.

    The way things are going, you’re going to see the primary season end with neither holding enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the national convention. Between the last primary and the convention itself expect a lot of campaigning for superdelegates. But, don’t be surprised when some announce for Hillary, and a few even switch from Barack. The Clintons do schmoozing real well.

    And if the first ballot doesn’t produce a winner? Then it’s katy-bare-the-door. It will be loud, it will be raucous, we could see someone utterly unexpected get the nomination. That’s a nominating convention.

    Things don’t always go as you think they should. As James Thurber once said, “Don’t count your boobies until they’re hatched.”

  20. #21 Magpie
    May 23, 2008

    Almost off topic, but a lot of the angst here is due to the US’s very old, very stupid electoral system. If, instead of voting for the person you want most, you find yourself trying to work out how others will vote so you can merely hope to defeat the person you want LEAST, then you are in a pissweak democracy.

    With preferential voting, you wouldn’t have all this crap. You’d put 20 people on the presidential ticket, if they wanted. Democrats could vote:

    1. Clinton
    2. Obama

    …and if Hillary didn’t get the most votes, it’d still go to Obama. Easy. No savage primaries, no second guessing the rest of the electorate, no wasted votes.

    What if everyone – every last person – secretly wanted to vote for Nader? He still wouldn’t get in because no-one THINKS he will, so people don’t vote for him for fear of wasting their vote. With preferential voting you can make the first half of your ticket unlikely outsiders, then put a “mainstream” candidate at the end. If others didn’t vote for hose outsiders, the vote goes to that last guy.

    I could vote:

    1. Nader
    2. Jackson
    3. Kung-fu Space Monkey
    4. Clinton
    5. Obama

    …and (if everyone hated Nader, Jackson and KSM) my vote would have the exact same effect as that democrat earlier. Isn’t that great? Freedom in voting! It works. It’s democratic.

    This feller summed it up perfectly for me (perhaps it’s because we’re both Australians): http://anonymouslefty.blogspot.com/2008/05/whats-everyone-else-likely-to-do.html

    So, begin the revolution, biatches. You know it makes sense.

  21. #22 Phil
    May 23, 2008

    I actually donated a few bucks to Hillary a few years ago, but her behavior has turned a lot of Dems off. None of which are related to race or sex, more like blatant hypocrisy.
    Clinton signed off on the agreement : “the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee will strip states of 100% of their delegates and super delegates to the DNC National Convention if they violate the nomination calendar.” http://www.jedreport.com/2008/05/hillary-clint-5.html

    Clinton, Obama and Edwards Join Pledge to Avoid Defiant States

    PORTSMOUTH, N.H., Sept. 1 2007 Three of the major Democratic presidential candidates on Saturday pledged not to campaign in Florida, Michigan and other states trying to leapfrog the 2008 primary calendar, a move that solidified the importance of the opening contests of Iowa and New Hampshire.

    … �We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process,� Patti Solis Doyle, the Clinton campaign manager, said in a statement.

    Now when a politician breaks her word, what has that got to do with sexism? If Obama had done the same thing, I would laugh at him.

  22. #23 Greg Laden
    May 23, 2008

    And if the first ballot doesn’t produce a winner? Then it’s katy-bare-the-door. It will be loud, it will be raucous, we could see someone utterly unexpected get the nomination. That’s a nominating convention.

    By the way I’ve always thought conventions should decide after a primary, and not be little more than glorified party parties. But, people are afraid of conventions because there have been a couple of “bad ones” … but really, the conventions simply reflected, accentuated, and to some extent, dealt with the prevailing reality.

    Magpie: For the election, maybe, but the primary system actually works better for parties to put forward candidates. Personally, I think the best way to improve it is to do it much faster … 15 or so states caucus at once (all caucuses) every two weeks so the entire thing is done once, then do it again with primaries with whoever gets through (or emerges during) the caucus system.

    (He, but don’t count ANY votes until all 50 states plus territories are done!)

  23. #24 Magpie
    May 23, 2008

    Yeah, the short primaries are worth having, true. SHORT, though. There’s no way you can fill an election period this long without resorting to idiocy.

  24. #25 Larry Moran
    May 23, 2008

    Greg Laden says,

    Racism needs to be at the table, and race is a demographic factor. What I don’t like is the kind of conversation in which we say “well, white people won’t vote for a black guy” as a casual part of the discourse without also noting that those white people are racists.

    There’s something even more important that intrigues me.

    The results of many primaries show that the overwhelming majority of black voters won’t vote for the white woman when they have a black candidate. Greg, what do you conclude from that observation? Do you reach the same conclusion you reach about white voters?

  25. #26 Carlie
    May 23, 2008

    we then saw a sexism (or anti-feminist) card also being played by Clinton spokespeople.

    How is is playing a card when it’s noting what’s actually happening? Shakesville has been keeping a sexism watch for the campaign, using only the most egregious examples, and they’re currently at 100.

  26. #27 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    May 23, 2008

    Sometimes I’m all for dumping the whole separation of powers thing and going parliamentary.

    Actually, I don’t suspect that Clinton is racist nor that Obama is sexist. As Alan Kellogg pointed it, the political process is nasty. I don’t like it, but the campaigns know what works.

    I actually miss the days when the candidates were finally chosen at the convention. The 1968 and 1972 conventions and the balloting were the things that got me interested in politics at a young age. No, they didn’t work out well for the Dems in the general; but this year with the Republicans running scared anyway, it would attract more people to the concenton. It would get them to focus a bit more on the candidates. Maybe.

    Whether Obama or Clinton is the nominee, the attacks coming from the Republican “soft money” campaigns will be the ones who carry the racism and sexism torches. I would think that the RNC is smarter than that. (Does not ocmpute?)

    I agree with Greg on having racism and sexism on the table. Except for flare-ups like 1992 LA, the large part of America has not examined the racism in our culture, nor the sexism. We really need to get the message out that racism was not resolved with the Voting Rights and the Civil Rights Acts. Having blatant racism/sexism out there will open some people’s eyes to all of the work that needs to be done.

  27. #28 Greg Laden
    May 23, 2008

    The results of many primaries show that the overwhelming majority of black voters won’t vote for the white woman when they have a black candidate. Greg, what do you conclude from that observation? Do you reach the same conclusion you reach about white voters?

    Yea, very good question.

    This is an asymmetry that makes this difficult. Most Democrats are aligned with anti-sexism and anti-racism philosophy. The Democratic party process is literally dripping in these approaches, so you can’t be a party activist (even as simply as attending a caucus) and be a racist or a sexist without getting disgusted with it, in most states. I can only assume that in the Appalachian zone, the party operates differently.

    Having said that, it is reasonable for a woman to prefer to vote for the first viable female candidate ever, and an African American to vote for the first viable African American candidate ever.

    That explains both blacks voting for Obama (and thus not for the woman) and most women voting for Clinton.

    Black women are conflicted according to this somewhat simplified model, and white men can choose more freely.

    I myself chose Clinton for a number of reasons, but my preference was not so strong that I was happy to switch to Obama based on the momentum factor. Ana (commenter above) is probably willing to make that switch if Obama is the nominee, but is not willing to make it as soon as I did.

    What I am struggling with is this: Is the difference between Ana and me a difference in how we actuate our feminism vs. anti-racism, or is it a simple difference in strategy?

    But back to your question, Larry … (sorry, I just made a small positive step in my analysis there … and needed to say it out loud)… the problem is this asymmetry. If this was an experiment it would be one with crappy methodology.

    Understanding will advance after there is a nominee, of course.

    And, I do think that the Appalachian effect (and right, as some have said, it is not just the Appalachian zone specifically. .. but in some patchy pattern across the country) there is this added effect of seemingly out of step (unless you know the history) white democratic male racism.

    Let me put it another way. Blacks who are voting for Obama are voting for the first viable African American, and they will vote for Clinton if she is the nominee. White males in Virginia voted for Clinton because she, as a woman, was the lesser of two evils.

  28. #29 Greg Laden
    May 23, 2008

    I’ve added a cartoon above (from my brother, the Coal Miner in Kentucky) from the local paper in Louisville.

  29. #30 Joel
    May 23, 2008

    Let me tell you that I was originally behind Clinton. I switched half-heartedly to Obama when it came time to vote (caucus) in Minnesota, because I judged (correctly, it turned out, for once) that there was a momentum thing happening that could be good for The Party

    Does this mean you prefer voting for whoever you think is most likely to win?

  30. #31 Joel
    May 23, 2008

    Let me put it another way. Blacks who are voting for Obama are voting for the first viable African American, and they will vote for Clinton if she is the nominee. White males in Virginia voted for Clinton because she, as a woman, was the lesser of two evils.

    How do you know this? Do you have anything to back this up, or is it just your personal feelings about the white males of Virginia?

  31. #32 Greg Laden
    May 23, 2008

    Joel,

    This is how the system works: There are two parties of note. Each puts up a candidate. The people involved in each party try to put forth a candidate who represents them on positions, can do the job, and can get elected. These are all taken into consideration by those involved in the party (including those who caucus or vote in the primaries).

    So yes, I am really not interested in putting fort a candidate who is likely to lose. I prefer one that is likely to win.

  32. #33 Greg Laden
    May 23, 2008

    Joel: First, let me quickly say that I meant West Virgina, not Virginia. The two states are like night and day.

    There is evidence for this in the exit polling. Such as the question: Would you vote for a black man? With the answer being “no, of course not” in something like 20% of the respondents. This is almost always near zero in other areas of the country, and we know from experience that the number of people who actually admit this in exit polls is a small percentage of those who actually feel (and vote or otherwise act) this way.

    In addition, I am not utterly unfamiliar with the region from personal experience.

  33. #34 AnnieT
    May 23, 2008

    Joel: “Does this mean you prefer voting for whoever you think is most likely to win?”

    Sometimes things are more complicated than thinking of a single variable.

  34. #35 Jim Lippard
    May 23, 2008

    “Almost off topic, but a lot of the angst here is due to the US’s very old, very stupid electoral system. If, instead of voting for the person you want most, you find yourself trying to work out how others will vote so you can merely hope to defeat the person you want LEAST, then you are in a pissweak democracy.”

    The methods the political parties use to choose their nominees are up to them–it’s not imposed by “the US’s very old, very stupid electoral system.”

    And all voting systems have flaws (cf. The Arrow Paradox).

  35. #36 Jon H
    May 23, 2008

    “The results of many primaries show that the overwhelming majority of black voters won’t vote for the white woman when they have a black candidate. Greg, what do you conclude from that observation? Do you reach the same conclusion you reach about white voters?”

    Actually, before Obama started doing well in primaries, Clinton had a significant lead over him in polls of African-Americans. Obama didn’t win their confidence until he showed that he could get the votes of white people, as in Iowa and elsewhere.

    Note that Al Sharpton never earned the share of the black vote that Obama is getting. It has nothing to do with blacks voting against a white woman, it has everything to do with blacks voting for a viable black candidate.

    And at this point, with Hillary talking about “hard working white Americans”, I can’t see why any non-white person would vote for her.

  36. #37 Matt Penfold
    May 23, 2008

    I have always thought that in an uncontested election there should still be a ballot, but instead of having a list of the candidates there is a choice of either accepting the only candidate to represent you, or not having any representation at all. There are some politicians who I would not want to represent me, even if that means not having any representation.

  37. #38 Coriolis
    May 23, 2008

    Let’s face it, it’s just different when a minority (blacks in this case) is acting in a racist way, when compared to a majority (if they are actually acting racist, the fact that initially they were pretty evenly split, and other factors throws some doubt on that).

    The fact is that even if all black people would suddenly stop hiring white people or snubbing them in various social occasions and generally being racist… that would have a bad impact on very few white people, infact it would end up hurting blacks far more then whites, in the not-so-long run. Since of course, our society is dominated by the majority.

    As it relates to this election, are the extra black people who would vote for Obama out of racist reasons really even going to make up those who won’t vote for him out of racist reasons? Who can really blame them if they want to give a guy from their tribe an extra edge to make up for his skin color being otherwise be a disadvantage?

    Sure, we’d like to move past this whole racist bent, and have black people voting like white people, with no racism on either side. Which is why Obama should never (and has never to my knowledge), said anything along the lines of “Good hard working black people support me”, or implied that if you’re not voting for him you’re a racist, or that anyone was bashing him because he’s black (again, unlike Hillary with her “the boys are shoving me aside/ganging up on me” attitude).

    But let’s get real here, if 40% of black people are going to vote for him because he’s black, that would be only about breaking even with 10% of white people not voting for him because he’s black. Both groups should stop doing that, but let’s not go off and whine about counter-racism.

    It’s just as silly as when I see people in physics whining about women having some type of advantage in getting a job in physics because of diversity requirements – with the societal bias they have to overcome it’s a small thing to throw them a bone by having some official advantage when getting a job.

  38. #39 Coriolis
    May 23, 2008

    Let’s face it, it’s just different when a minority (blacks in this case) is acting in a racist way, when compared to a majority (if they are actually acting racist, the fact that initially they were pretty evenly split, and other factors throws some doubt on that).

    The fact is that even if all black people would suddenly stop hiring white people or snubbing them in various social occasions and generally being racist… that would have a bad impact on very few white people, infact it would end up hurting blacks far more then whites, in the not-so-long run. Since of course, our society is dominated by the majority.

    As it relates to this election, are the extra black people who would vote for Obama out of racist reasons really even going to make up those who won’t vote for him out of racist reasons? Who can really blame them if they want to give a guy from their tribe an extra edge to make up for his skin color being otherwise be a disadvantage?

    Sure, we’d like to move past this whole racist bent, and have black people voting like white people, with no racism on either side. Which is why Obama should never (and has never to my knowledge), said anything along the lines of “Good hard working black people support me”, or implied that if you’re not voting for him you’re a racist, or that anyone was bashing him because he’s black (again, unlike Hillary with her “the boys are shoving me aside/ganging up on me” attitude).

    But let’s get real here, if 40% of black people are going to vote for him because he’s black, that would be only about breaking even with 10% of white people not voting for him because he’s black. Both groups should stop doing that, but let’s not go off and whine about counter-racism.

    It’s just as silly as when I see people in physics whining about women having some type of advantage in getting a job in physics because of diversity requirements – with the societal bias they have to overcome it’s a small thing to throw them a bone by having some official advantage when getting a job.

  39. #40 Joel
    May 23, 2008

    So yes, I am really not interested in putting fort a candidate who is likely to lose. I prefer one that is likely to win.

    I remember in grade school when we started talking about elections our teacher mentioned the tendency of people to do as much. His thought was it is better to vote for the person who most matches your ideals.

    I tend to agree. To each there own.

  40. #41 Ana
    May 23, 2008

    Greg – good discussion here! I’m glad you decided to put this stuff “on the table”. One more thought from me:

    When Clinton clarified her statement about “hard-working people” to say hard-working “white” people (and she clearly was not quite sure how to say it), I don’t think she was “implying”, Greg, that non-white people are not hard-working. Elizabeth was on to something there with her impression; the commenting on her comments was far more outrageous than the comments were themselves. Come on. And, call me what you will, it was an important point for someone to make. Of course, not all hard-working white people are racist. Many of them in West Virginia were eager to give Obama a chance, but he did little more there than touch-down and take-off. His campaign decided he wouldn’t win there and that he didn’t need to bother. But he will need them in November.
    As for other instances of “race-card”ing, you didn’t mention any, other than some nebulous supporter-talk about rural Pennsylvania, and I guess I’d just point out that Obama didn’t venture north to introduce himself or to talk with them either.

    I was also surprised, Greg, to read in the original post here that you’d be “happy” with Clinton’s fulfilling other major roles, even as head of the ticket, given that a few days ago you wanted to see her resign from the Democratic Party. I do hope that means those feelings have passed.

    And Phil, start laughing:
    http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/01/obama_campaign_responds_to_cli.html
    His ads ran on CNN during the primary coverage.

  41. #42 Phil
    May 23, 2008

    “From NBC/NJs Mike Memoli
    On a conference call this morning, Clinton senior adviser Harold Ickes argued not only that Michigans and Floridas delegations should receive full votes at the convention, but that the Michigan’s 55 uncommitted delegates should be seated as such, not given to the Obama camp. ”

    So now Clinton thinks Obama should get zero delegates from Michigan, a state where, in the best tradition of Stalin, only one name was on the ballot, and where Clinton had signed in writing not to campaign or accept delegates.

  42. #43 Ana
    May 23, 2008

    Phil – there was no directive for candidates to take their names off ballots in Michigan. Obama decided to do that on his own, probably to not upset those in New Hampshire who so want to be firstish. Clinton did not campaign in Michigan, but there was a “grass-roots” effort, totally independent from the Obama campaign (they say), to encourage his supporters to vote “uncommitted”.

  43. #44 Larry Moran
    May 23, 2008

    The real question is what would have happened if Obama were a white man.

    Do most people believe that he would have clinched the nomination months ago? And the reason he hasn’t is because he’s black?

    I don’t think that hypothesis stands up to close scrutiny. Maybe Clinton would have won the nomination if her opponent had been some white senator from Illinois. In that case, Obama might win because he’s black and not in spite of his race.

    What do you think?

    Here’s an interesting fact from the CNN website. It concerns the primary in Misssissippi.

    As has been the case in many primary states, Obama won overwhelming support from African-American voters. They went for him over Clinton 91-9 percent.

    The state has a larger proportion of African-Americans (36 percent, according to the 2000 census) than any other state in the country. And black voters make up nearly 70 percent of registered Democrats.

    But Mississippi white voters overwhelmingly backed the New York senator, supporting her over Obama 72 percent to 21 percent.

    According to The Associated Press, only two other primary states were as racially polarized — neighboring Alabama, and Clinton’s former home state of Arkansas.

    The exit polls also indicated roughly 40 percent of Mississippi Democratic voters said race was an important factor in their vote, and 90 percent of those voters supported Obama.

    Hmmm … 90% of those voters who say that race was an important factor ended up voting for Obama.

    Greg, do you conclude that most black voters are racist or do you have some sort of rationalization that allows you to maintain a double standard when it comes to comparing Kentucky and Mississippi?

  44. #45 Phil
    May 23, 2008

    “THEREFORE, I (Hillary Clinton), Democratic Candidate for President, pledge
    I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential
    election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa,
    Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as ‘campaigning’ is defined by
    rules and regulations of the DNC. ”

    “participate
    v. to invest and then receive a part or share, as in business profits, payments on a promissory note, title to land, or as one of the beneficiaries of the estate of a person who has died.”

    “participate Show phonetics
    verb [I]
    to take part in or become involved in an activity”

    “1. to take or have a part or share, as with others; partake; share (usually fol. by in): to participate in profits; to participate in a play.
    -verb (used with object)
    2. Archaic. to take or have a part or share in; partake in; share.”

    Listen to Hilary Clinton say, on the radio, that any votes before the DNC approved date- “will not count for anything”.

  45. #46 Anne Gilbert
    May 23, 2008

    Nobody e-mailed me about this! (sniff!) But anyway, What has been happening with this whole campaign is just plain weird! Last year at this time, I couldn’t decide who would be a good Democratic nominee. I kinda liked Edwards, as a matter of fact. But I’d heard Obama a few times, and thought he was very “inspiring” in certain ways. I never was “for” Hillary Clinton, because, quite frankly, I thought she was too closely tied to “same old, same old” politics, e.g. outfits like the Democratic Leadership Council, and her vote to authorize war in Iraq). And given her choice of a husband, she just has too much “baggage”. But I would have supported her as the Democratic nominee if there had been no other choice.

    Fortunately for me, there was, and I liked more and more of what I saw of Obama. So I have become his supporter, despite being in a “demographic” that is supposed to support Hillary.

    But, like Greg, I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the sexism and the racism employed in parts of the campaign. Because there’s plenty of both to go around already. Sure, I’d like to see a woman president some day. And overall, I think this campaign is historic, in many, many ways. Because I can still hear my mother saying, years ago, that this country was not ready for either a black or a woman president. I wish she could have lived to see this time and day. But the one big difference I see between Obama and Clinton, and why I won’t vote for her, is, that Obama is sticking to his theme of uniting the diverse elements in this country under the Democratic Party. And he continues to be extremely gracious — publicly, at least — to Hillary Clinton’s efforts to stay in the race, despite the fact it is very unlikely she will catch up to Obama’s delegate lead.

    Mrs. Clinton, OTOH, has stooped to “coded” racist attacks on Obama, like the “hardworking people” remarks she recently made, implying that blacks don’t work hard at their jobs, too. And of course there are others, though this is the most recent. I also have a distinct impression that many Hillary supporters Just Have To Have A Woman President, Or Else(some of them have suggested they would switch to McCain if Hillary is not nominated).

    While Obama himself has not stooped to sexism, some of his followers have. And of those who are not overt sexists, I get the impression from some of them, especially on certain blogs, just can’t stand the idea of a woman president, in their heart of hearts. They are all of the male persuasion, just as many of the “diehard Hillary supporters” are female. Don’t worry, Greg, this is nothing against you; it’s obvious that you understand these things pretty well yourself.

    To me, it’s all very sad. From the POV of what Obama expresses, though, he comes through as someone who wants to meld the races and the sexes and the various political “sides” into a unified whole that is willing to work to better this country. Hillary Clinton comes off, more and more as something of a “politics as usual, get elected by any means” kind of person. For these reasons, I think that Obama would make a better president, but at the same time, to give Mrs. Clinton her due, I think she has, at least up until recently, acted very courageously to put herself up there as the first serious female candidate for the presidency. And whoever wins the nomination, I hope they all calm down and unite behind the nominee. We don’t need four more years of someone like McCain.
    Anne G

  46. #47 JanieBelle
    May 25, 2008

    Sadly, there are voters who are voting for Senator Obama for no other reason than he happens to be black.

    Equally sadly, there are voters who are voting for Senator Clinton for no other reason than she happens to be female.

    And yes. From personal experience, Appalachian folks tend to be both racist and sexist. It sucks. It’s the way it is. I doubt however, that this shame is limited to Appalachia.

    Personally, I did my very damnedest to look at issues and only issues. What is each candidate saying about the issues that matter most to me?

    At the beginning of this primary season, I was tickled. There were actually three wonderful candidates from whom to choose. I would have been ecstatic with any of them, especially after having the Republic and the world deliberately run into the ground full steam ahead by the current administration.

    After a while, former Senator Edwards dropped out, and although it saddened me greatly, it narrowed and simplified the selection process for me.

    Senator Clinton told me she wanted to get religion out of science. Senator Obama waffled and gave great speeches that were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Neither candidate addressed civil equality for all Americans in the way the Constitution demands. To hear each of them, especially Senator Obama, support “separate but equal” stances on sexual orientation was depressing.

    Hearing Senator Obama move closer to ‘in Iraq forever and ever’, and hearing him pull his Jesus out of his pocket more and more, and then hearing Senator Clinton follow his lead, has really sucked my enthusiasm right out of this race.

    Listening to Senator Obama’s rabid supporters scream for Senator Clinton to drop out of the race, with all the vicious nastiness of a dyed-in-the-wool Rethuglican has further diminished my once shiny excitement. Ours is supposed to be the party that values every vote. Were we not the ones who bitched so loudly when the 2000 election was stolen by back-door shenanigans that disenfranchised millions of voters? Screaming for Michigan and Florida voters to be raped of their empowerment for the advantage of one candidate or the other is disgustingly hypocritical. It’s nothing less than the weakling becoming the bully when the bigger bully moves on.

    I would like to see a fair do-over in both states, but Senator Obama’s supporters have seen to it that it won’t happen. I’m thoroughly disgusted with the Obama campaign. It wasn’t the voters who gave the DNC the finger, it was a bunch of party hacks with no concern whatever for the common person. To hear the Obama supporters tell it, you’d think there had been a referendum.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong. Since Senator Obama is the predestined appointee of the DNC, he’ll get my vote, but only to prevent another four years of Bush-Cheney Inc. damaging the Republic and the world even more than they already have.

    –But make no mistake, I’m not voting for Senator Obama, I’m voting against theocracy in favor of slightly less delusion. At best, an Obama administration will hold the line; but judging by what has transpired so far, it will not take a damned thing back or slide the Overton Window one single iota back toward sanity.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  47. #48 greg laden
    May 25, 2008

    Anne and Janie, thanks for joining in.

    Janie, there may be voters voting for Obama or Clinton beausae of their black/femaleness ONLY, but I do think that that is really rare. You and I have gone through similar though processes this election, with me maybe being a bit less interested in Edwards.

    I also agree that Michigan and Florida should have a couple weeks of campaigning and a do-over (maybe campaign .. vote then campaign … vote).

    Anne, I think you have a good point with Obama’s Message of Melding.

    I have taken the issues raised by my friend Ana and my colleague Larry on to the next post, to which I invite you’all: HERE