Hillary Clinton and Supporting Democrats; Pinning the Feminist Movement Against Itself and Holding Progressive Voters Hostage

14 08 2016

Full Article can be seen here at www.truthdig.com

 

This is a historic moment.  Hillary Clinton is the first woman ever to get the presidential nomination from a major political party in the history of the United States. On the surface, for many feminists, the nomination is a pretty straightforward victory for women.  The undeniable sexism, misogyny and double standards Clinton has faced fill many with a sense of gusto and pride to yell, “Yeah, go get it girl!”  However, for most others, it’s much more complicated than that.  If it was as easy as simply voting for a woman for president, then avid feminist support would have been seen for Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina.  It’s condescending in itself to think that women should support any female candidate because she’s a woman.  For feminist critics of Clinton, the problem lies in her track record and her policies and positions.  One extremely powerful woman’s success and the plight of upper, middle class white women is not far more important than the overwhelmingly poor and working class women who will be, and have been, negatively impacted by Clinton’s policies, which have left most women without liberation.

 

Clinton’s ascent shattered not only glass ceilings but also the sexist notion that female politicians are different from male politicians. A female politician can be just as smart, just as bold and just as visionary as a male politician.  With her Vice Presidential pick of Tim Kaine who opposes the use of federal funds to provide for abortions, it also shows that a female politician can be just as willing as their male colleagues to compromise women’s rights in favor of pandering to the more right-leaning electorate.  It also proves that women can be just as Machiavellian, just as ruthless, just as hawkish, just as corporate and just as neoliberal as male counterparts.  The sexist double standards that exist portray men who exhibit these latter traits as simply ‘aggressive’, ‘natural to their character’ or ‘politics as usual’ while when portrayed by women often are labeled as ‘bitch’ or ‘especially conniving’ as women are expected to be more dovish.  However, these sexist double standards don’t apply to Hillary as her past actions and policies are not just seen as hawkish but are actually hawkish (see Iraq, Libya).  She has cozied up with people, companies, and governments that exploit women and pay them poverty wages and engage in routine human rights abuses (see Tim Kaine, Wal-Mart, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Honduras).  Her positions on Trans-Pacific Partnership, fracking, immigration and welfare reform have also overwhelmingly promoted ruthless, hawkish policies that negatively affect people and ultimately hit hardest women and women of color as they are the most disenfranchised and impoverished groups.

 

The Democratic machine thinks it can hold progressive voters hostage forever.  During the primary season it was unfortunate and demoralizing to see how a lot of the media and political establishment hijacked feminism and trivialized genuine sexism as they sought to delegitimize valid criticism of Clinton. Much of what Bernie Sanders did, said or gestured was framed as a symptom of the entitlement and insensitivity endemic of straight, white men, at best, or overt misogyny, at worst.  The reality is that most of Clinton’s ideas are not at all feminist, and the mantle of feminism is shielding some of her most sexist policies.  The Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are using the symbol of feminism against most actual feminist causes and overall human rights causes.  The equality and celebration of feminism in Hillary Clinton is being over shadowed by a general fear of the future by that of her record.  The presidential choice is between an outspoken, narcissistic, bully and a calculating, corporatist, warmonger.  The lesser of two evils comes with drowning in debt policies, is a fracking saleswomen, believes corporations will save us, supports raging wars in the middle east, and campaigns with neoconservatives who are aiming for a war with Russia.  The people who say we should be celebrating the symbolic moment of a women presidency have already forgotten we had a symbolic moment with Obama and that symbolism was far from enough. Obama catered to corporate interests and his administration has not called upon diverse and strong voices of dissent to serve the people and has left African American populations worse off.

 

The last eight years have taught us some real lessons regarding the symbols of African Americans and feminist politicians coming to power in politics. We can now criticize bourgeois feminism and bourgeois African Americanism, neoliberal feminism and neoliberal African Americanism, imperial feminism and imperial African Americanism, militaristic or authoritative feminism and militaristic or authoritative African Americanism.  As we move forward and critically engage in these conversations it will be very clear what we are talking about.  We no longer have to be self-hating women or self-hating African Americans. We’re critical women, and critical African Americans and critical people who want socialist feminism, socialist black empowerment and authentic socialist empowerment for most people.  The silver lining has presented itself.

 

Excerpts from feminist voices and leaders below.

Liza Featherstone, The Nation contributor, editor of “False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton

I really don’t think it matters what she says or doesn’t say, because her actual record is much more important. I feel she is the lesser evil in this race, because Trump is a demagogic racist with a tendency to hold large scary rallies about it. Such a person should not be our president. But I wish Hillary would make that position a lot easier to maintain, instead of doing things like running to the right of Trump on foreign policy and picking a VP who is right wing on abortion. But Hillary’s gonna be Hillary.

 

Rania Khalek, journalist, associate editor at Electronic Intifada, co-host of “Unauthorized Disclosure

I hate this election so much. Any enthusiasm I might have felt for the first woman presidential nominee of a major party is totally overshadowed by genuine fear for the future. We’ve run out of time on climate change, and the lesser evil is a fracking saleswoman. Most people I know are drowning in debt, and the lesser evil is basically Goldman Sachs. Wars continue to rage across the Middle East, and the lesser evil is campaigning with neocons, who are so toxic and reactionary they’re aiming for a war with Russia.

 

We’re being told to choose between an unhinged demagogue and a calculating warmonger. This is not democracy. If Hillary Clinton as the first woman president is supposed to be empowering for women and girls, why do I feel so powerless?

 

Catherine Liu, writer, chair of film and media studies at University of California, Irvine, and contributor to “False Choices”

The Democratic machine thinks it can hold progressive voters hostage forever. It can’t. I think Trump’s candidacy is a disaster. Clinton is a poor candidate who can take advantage of the Republican Party’s disarray. People are really suffering—working-class, middle-class people—but having a woman become president will help real feminists define our project against hers.

 

I’m grateful to HRC for getting the nomination because her rise to power will put an end to any ideas that liberal identity-politics people might have had that women are “naturally” peace-loving. Her nomination has actually given voice to a lot of women on the left to differentiate their feminism from hers. We can now criticize a bourgeois feminism, a neoliberal feminism, an imperial feminism, a militaristic feminism or an authoritarian feminism, and it will be very clear what we are talking about. Phew. We’re not self-hating women. We’re critical women who want socialist feminism. I’ve found the silver lining. It took a few days, but it happened.

 

The people who say we should be celebrating the symbolic moment have already forgotten we had a symbolic moment with Obama and that symbolism is not enough. Obama hired a bunch of corporate shills and patsies, and his administration has not called upon diverse and strong voices of dissent to serve the people.

 

We have to deal with the nature of the Democratic Party—technocratic, cozy with finance, jealous of its privileges, divorced from the interests of ordinary workers of all colors and genders, but able to talk a good line about “diversity” and ‘”opportunity’” while feeding the greed of private equity and Silicon Valley types.

 

Yasmin Nair, writer, academic, activist, photographer, co-founder of Against Equality and contributor to “False Choices”

Clinton has amply demonstrated that she will be a terrible president, a leader for the wealthiest and a hawk who will seek to out-hawk even Barack Obama, the Bushes and, of course, her own husband.

 

Clinton’s choice of vice president tells us everything we need to know about her real position on women’s rights. It should come as no surprise that Hillary Clinton would choose someone with Tim Kaine’s position on the Hyde Amendment. It’s part of her desperate attempt to garner more votes among the more right-leaning parts of the electorate. It also signals the extent to which she is willing to compromise women’s rights, particularly the rights of poorer women and women of color, who are most vulnerable to a reduction in or denial of access to abortion (and child care). With this move, she has made it clear that she is only interested in the rights of women who, like her and her friends, already have access to medical resources and abortion.

 

There can be no reducing inequality without guaranteeing women’s rights to abortion. The right to either terminate a pregnancy or, for that matter, to have children with the guarantee of resources to support them is an absolute necessity for equal rights. Until women are granted such rights, there can be no eradicating of inequality because the lack of such rights means that women will never gain full access to everything they need.

 

A former state director in the Bernie Sanders campaign (she chose to remain anonymous)

When we talk about Hillary Clinton’s brand of feminism, we have to consider which women her brand of feminism represents and supports. She certainly does not represent all women. Her brand of feminism doesn’t represent poor and working-class women. If it did, she would not hedge on support of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

 

She would not have served on the board of Wal-Mart, the country’s largest employer, which pays poverty wages to the women who work there.

 

Hillary Clinton’s brand of feminism serves some of her fiercest supporters like Meryl Streep and Madeleine Albright, who are upper-class white women.

 

She frequently talks about women making 78 cents to every dollar a man makes. What about black women who make even less, at 63 cents to every dollar a man makes, or Latinas who make even less at 54 cents?

 

It was especially condescending how the campaign highlighted that Kaine speaks Spanish and goes to a predominantly black church. It felt like they were saying to black and Latino voters, “I know you thought we were going to select a black or Latino running mate. We decided to go with another white man, but look, he’s just like you.” It was an extremely insulting form of pandering. It reminded me of when Bill Clinton played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show.”

 

Of course, it is a great achievement that a woman is the Democratic nominee. But it’s never been important to me for any woman to be the nominee. If that were the case, I would have supported any number of women, such as Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin.

 

It’s condescending to think that women should support any female candidate because she’s a woman. I think “there is a special place in hell” for women who try to bully other women.

You don’t have to be a woman to be feminist. Bernie Sanders has always stood up for women even when he thought no one was watching. On the other hand, some women hide behind feminism to do things that aren’t necessarily beneficial to women. Clinton’s supposed feminism masks policies that don’t support women.

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