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Pre-2008 Posts

Iowans say, “We Want Change”

I think Iowans spoke loud and clear at the Iowa Caucus, and I think what they said, among other things, was, “We’ve had it with the Old Guard and we’re ready for big changes.”  Obama and Huckabee are, above all, new faces, new blood.  There is a perception, I believe, that these candidates have and have demonstrated courage, have some integrity, and are comparatively untainted by the stagnation, overall inertia and good ol’ boys machinations of party politics.    I watched a young journalist interviewed on television after the caucus last night, a woman of color, and at the end of the interview, her voice broke, there were tears in  her eyes,  for a moment she couldn’t speak.  She had been talking about the very real possibility that Obama would become the Democratic candidate, might become President, and how thrilling that was to her.  I cried too, watching.   How refreshing and invigorating might it be for us as Americans to send Obama to summit meetings in the Middle East or with African or Asian nations instead of yet another rich white man?  I’d prefer to send Cynthia McKinney any day, but I have to acknowledge the appeal of Barak Obama in certain ways as well.  Huckabee is an atrocity, of course, in every conceivable way,  then again, he has no chance in hell of actually becoming president, so his popularity in Iowa is not of any real concern.  Worst case (or best case!) scenario, Huckabee will split the Republican Party right down the middle, meaning Republican warmongering and pro-big-business, anti-environmentalist policies and practices will no longer be any real threat to those of us who are sick and tired of what they have done in this country. 

But I couldn’t stop thinking, as I watched the reporting of the caucus, what it might be like to have Free Soil Party caucuses throughout this nation, on the precinct level, on the district level, moving towards a national Free Soil Party convention, where progressive people of good will, interested in a real and permanent end to the ugliness of sexism, racism, poverty, war, and violence, interested in a new beginning for this country, could come together with real revolution in mind– not violent revolution or military revolution, but truly revolutionary politics which center human rights, justice, the health of the planet, and the welfare and well-being of all benificent life.  What might it be like if we began to really hope, dream, plan, for a new day and then make it happen, beginning with ourselves, our friends, our family members, those around us who, just like us, are tired of the apathy, inertia, and above all, anti-human, inhuman practices and platforms of both of the major parties? 

We will have to dream big if we are ever to make real change.  We will have to take big risks, act with big courage, demonstrate every bit as much confidence, all the way to hubris, as the very tired old guard has demonstrated as it has brought all of us, and the earth itself, to the brink of destruction.

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25 thoughts on “Iowans say, “We Want Change”

  1. I really don’t think Barrack will do anything substantial. Then again, I think the same for Clinton — only I feel bad for her. Put up with crap for years and years, including being married to a rapist pig, only to lose out on what she wants in the end? That’s one hell of an object lesson.

    Granted, feeling bad for someone doesn’t mean you should vote for them. (Though I have voted for Clinton as a NY resident.)

    Equally, however, my father doesn’t have a book on his shelf, some thick thing written YEARS ago, called “Barak’s Scheme,” as he does for Hilary.

    I can’t see Obama ever conceding that his [likely eventual] victory has as much to do with that as him being the Hope-Dude TM. Of course, both points speak to male privilege, but that’s not really something the Democrats, even, want to talk about.

    Posted by Rich | January 5, 2008, 9:31 pm
  2. What is a “Hope Dude TM”?

    Posted by Jeyoani | January 6, 2008, 2:09 am
  3. Jeyoani, I think Rich is saying, people are tending to look at Obama as as sort of the Hope candidate, “TM” standing for “trademark,” hard to explain because it’s blogosphere/boards/internet speak, but something like, this is who someone is holding himself out to be, and some are buying it and together they are all sort of laying claim to it and owning it, “trademarking” it.

    There’s a lot I could say about Hillary Clinton, but you know, whatever her faults and failings, she has been relentlessly attacked and trashed for just about two decades now by people who were FAR worse, and far more dishonest, and far more dangerous than I think she ever has been. I don’t know that she could come back from that, even if she got really candid and gut level about things which, so far, she’s been pretty much opaque and unreadable about. I don’t know that she could come back from it, even if it were all proven to be lying propaganda designed to destroy her. And this does work in Obama’s favor. Compared with Hillary Clinton and others, for that matter, Obama is the clean slate, fresh blood.


    Posted by womensspace | January 6, 2008, 3:12 am
  4. It occurred to me that if Obama is the “hope candidate,” he needs to take great, great care for his own personal security. We all know what Americans do to candidates or elected officials who, for whatever reason, and whatever their failings, inspire great hope in people.


    Posted by womensspace | January 6, 2008, 1:10 pm
  5. Taking a look at Obama’s website, I see nothing about right to choice, domestic violence, gay rights, etc. Hillary Clinton does at least address women’s issues.

    Posted by Miranda | January 6, 2008, 4:32 pm
  6. Miranda,

    Just as an fyi, Obama has gone out of his way to talk about gay/lesbian rights. Supposedly, he is the most supportive candidate in this area, and (this was my favorite part) he says he listens to what people are saying about homosexuality, to try to understand.

    You can probably find this article on the Washington Blade website.

    Anyhow, I guess I personally would rather see Hilary be elected. I feel, from reading Obama’s website, that he is making a great emphasis on religion (i.e. saying abortion should be a decision between a woman, her family, and her clergy.) This worries me some.

    The only reason I don’t consider Hilary the ideal candidate is because of her hubby, but I think I’ll end up punching her choice-slot on the ballot.

    Posted by Laur | January 6, 2008, 8:30 pm
  7. “Just as an fyi, Obama has gone out of his way to talk about gay/lesbian rights.”

    I’m sorry, but this isn’t precisely true. He might be “friendly” seeming, but he’s repeatedly stood up on TV saying that marriage is and should be between a man and a woman and that’s final. Of course, that’s not where rights begin or end and one doesn’t have to be in favor of marriage (obviously many people would gladly abolish it for straights, too, on a governmental level). But he’s brazenly picked what side of the line he wants to stand on.

    Obama has regularly courted conservatives in order to make himself look more centrist, including hooking up with “ex gay ministry” propagandists. And, AFAIK, when he was called out for doing that, well, he went out and found himself a real gay minister to glom onto, although that minister was male, and white (Sidden), whcih some claim was a deliberate attempt to not remind his conservative black supporters that there’s gays and lesbians in their own communities.

    Posted by Rich | January 6, 2008, 11:32 pm
  8. I’m not at all impressed with Obama. He really is a light weight on foreign policy, and he hasn’t a clue about lesbian rights or women’s rights. Anyone who says a woman should talk to a christian pastor about whether to have an abortion or not really doesn’t get it. That’s just an indicator.

    I know that Hillary stands for a solid women’s rights agenda — mainly mainstream, but she is solid. She gets what sexism and womanhatred is all about, and she knows how to take on the radical patirachal right wing. She’s paid big time dues, and I respect and admire her. Again, she is a mainstream straight woman, but she is NOT conservative and she embodies the end of the glass ceiling for women in America.

    I don’t expect a radical lesbian feminist to get the White House, but at least straight women should get a clue about their own power. You should at least get behind a woman who has a very long track record for supporting issues of concern to women and children.

    Vote for Obama, and you’ve got another man in the White House — another rather vasillating man who will just cave to gain yet more power, and who will not support lesbian and gay rights when push comes to shove. Hillary was instrumental in appointing lesbians to top government posts, and has had lesbian friends since her college days. She gets lesbians and respects our intellectual and ideological agendas.

    I know I’ve said it here before women, but we have got to get our act together on this. Do you want men to appoint more Supreme Court justices? Do you want men in office who aren’t strong on women’s rights? Do you want men in office who “court” Exodus International types?

    I think even feminists are reluctant to get behind women and really go for it. Women need to break out of their own barrier to support solid and intelligent women, and stop thinking that men are going to give a damn about women at all. Men don’t care about women, period end of it, move on. Let’s us women care about ourselves for once, and support each other for once! Just for once!

    As for the reporting in Iowa, since when is 29% to 30% of the vote a big deal statistically? Where do people get the idea that Obama supports lesbian rights? Just where do these political fantasies come from anyway? No men support lesbian rights, let’s get real folks! On my soap box here, but hey, women can win, and we’re still vascillating while the boys win it for the gipper one more time! Enough enough of this!

    Posted by Satsuma | January 7, 2008, 1:03 am
  9. Do you want men to appoint more Supreme Court justices?

    Yeah, this is HUGE. Please, no men appointing Supreme Court justices if it can be avoided at all!

    Do you want men in office who aren’t strong on women’s rights? Do you want men in office who “court” Exodus International types?

    Also HUGE.

    Posted by womensspace | January 7, 2008, 1:12 am
  10. Obama impresses me as another charmer who can wow the crowds while saying absolutely nothing of substance. These perceptions people may have of his relatively untainted integrity have been carefully cultivated, and would not bear close scrutiny. He is, IMO, as mainstream, corporate-friendly, hawkish, slick, and disingenuous as any of these clowns. They are all calling for change. To me it seems like what they call change represents a minor tweak on business as usual. Women do not have to settle for such crumbs.

    Posted by Aletha | January 8, 2008, 7:17 am
  11. Aletha, yeah, I hear you. The one thing we would have with Obama that we’ve never had so far is lived, real consciousness as to racial issues. I’ve observed this as to Clarence Thomas (someone I despise and for whom, for reasons obvious to feminists, I have no respect). Although Thomas is arguably one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices we have ever had, that is not so, of course, as to racial issues. Though he rarely writes opinions, he did, and powerfully so, when the Supreme Court upheld the ban on corss-burnings and then, and really only then, he was not a conservative voice.

    But yeah, we don’t need to settle for these crumbs. We need a candidate that cares about women, creatures and the entire earth in real and meaningful ways. I need to get my platform up.

    Posted by womensspace | January 8, 2008, 3:15 pm
  12. Obama’s a lightweight who would cave under pressure. Before the 2004 election, he was cowed into silence in an interview with Don Imus.

    Posted by Branjor | January 8, 2008, 4:06 pm
  13. A “lightweight” who arguably got Imus fired.

    Posted by funnie | January 8, 2008, 8:45 pm
  14. Hi funnie,

    I’m Canadian: how did Obama get Imus fired?

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | January 8, 2008, 10:35 pm
  15. *Arguably* got him fired. Who knows.

    He did call for Imus to be fired over the Rutgers comments and was, as far as I know, the only frontrunning candidate to do so.

    His involvement in it despite his general preference to avoid being too overtly involved in/connected with “race issues” while campaigning added credibility and force to the calls for Imus to be fired.

    Posted by funnie | January 8, 2008, 11:03 pm
  16. Somehow the very drive to power changes people. The presidency doesn’t create much real change, but it does create atmopshere.

    How people get fooled by any of these people is beyond me, but they do.

    I guess I see mainstream politics as basically a keep the REAL creeps out, and get a candidate that at least personally knows people of all backgrounds. They have to have lesbians on staff, they have to have had close non-white friends if they are white and close white friends if they are black. I take this as far as ideology as well. Mary Daly once said that she didn’t personally know one single person who had voted for Bush. I was shocked at this social isolation.

    It is very important to really talk to all kinds of people. I talk to conservatives and challenge their opinions as real people. I ask real people questions, I bring my partner to corporate social events, even though we are the ONLY lesbian or gay couple there. It is not socially easy, because there are some big time homophobes in my office, but I do connect with people. I do make personal breakthroughs, and this is what causes long term change. Bite the bullet, go to the events that are hard to be at, and yet be who you really are.

    In this election, we can all do better than Bush and evangelicals! With Obama, we will get someone who really knows first hand what racism FEELS like. With Hillary we get someone who totally gets sexism — what it FEELS like. With Romney, we get a man who doesn’t feel anything, and has lost all touch with even middle class society. With McCaine, we get a guy who wouldn’t know sexism even if it blew down the front door.

    I like candidates that FEEL and GET the things that matter most to me. And so I hope that we really get this when the election is over with. Think of the man in the wheelchair who really got what it was like to be handicapped, and think of the New Deal he created from the socialist party plateform back in the 30s. Think of Eleanor Roosevelt and what she was able to do, and you get the idea of the type of president we really need now.

    We all know the people who don’t GET it! They can’t or won’t or don’t. They can’t FEEL it or SEE it for some strange reason. They seem completely uninterested in the questions.

    Ever wonder how these candidates get away with never talking to WOMEN directly as WOMEN? Even wonder where all the women are in these campaigns to begin with? Ever wonder why Hillary doesn’t speak out more passionately to women directly as women? Or ever Obama in his seeming avoidance of overt discussions of race. Odd isn’t it?

    They don’t even have the courage to stand up there and yell this from the rooftops, and this is what bothers me a lot I guess.

    Posted by Satsuma | January 8, 2008, 11:37 pm
  17. Yeoww I actually got this to work and avoided spamalina! 🙂
    Mary Sunshine, how wonderful to have you back. Guess I’m getting to be a “real” blogger — I’m missing my blog name feminists 🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | January 8, 2008, 11:39 pm
  18. Aletha you say here:

    “He is, IMO, as mainstream, corporate-friendly, hawkish, slick, and disingenuous as any of these clowns. They are all calling for change. To me it seems like what they call change represents a minor tweak on business as usual. Women do not have to settle for such crumbs.”

    I can’t entirely agree w/you here re Obama. (I do agree though that we women need more than crumbs, and I don’t think any of their candidates who can win can offer more than crumbs.)

    Obama is one of the only candidates to have worked and LIVED in a poor urban neighborhood. This speaks freaking volumes to me. Few bigwig politicians do anything like this. Most charitable work done by them is done from a distance if at all.

    This speaks to his character and to the fact he sees people who don’t have wealth as fully human, worthwhile, and valuable–he *sees* them. He *had* to b/c he lived in their neighborhood. Most politicians rarely go to poor and crime-ridden areas. They certainly don’t live in those areas, and never have.

    No one has a background in terms of connections to so many different kinds of people, as Obama does, and it does say something for me. A white and Southern mom, black African dad, Muslim Southeast Asian father and half-sibling, etc. He has a good affinity for all different kinds of people from differing races to differing nationalities. He went to school w/Muslim Indonesian children in his grade-school years. This exposure to all kinds of different people, especially from a young age, is meaningful. Love and hate firsthand from all different kinds of people affects a person.

    In contrast, most politicians are white and are only close to other white people. This limits a person, especially a person living in a melting pot, and even more so if they’re in a position of political power.

    I’ve always wondered if some of Bush’s (relative) leniency w/Hispanic immigrants has something to do w/the fact he has a few Hispanics in his family. Of course, maybe he just lets the issue slide as cooperations he courts would prefer this, but I can’t help but think the family component does play a part.

    It’s inspiring to me that Obama has gone through financial struggle, (his mom was on welfare a while) even if only as a child, and I’m sure that this struggle is what caused him to work and actually live in the poor neighborhood he did.

    Not only are most of those in power men but most of those in power are from privileged backgrounds, which is also the reason we are where we are.

    Aletha you say of Obama:

    “These perceptions people may have of his relatively untainted integrity have been carefully cultivated, and would not bear close scrutiny. ”

    If this were the case we definitely would have heard about something by now, and we haven’t. His background and his ability to inspire may not be enough to make me vote for him, but guaranteed if he had something worse than “he smokes” in his background (or present) it’d be out there by now.

    Posted by Jeyoani | January 11, 2008, 3:36 am
  19. Satsuma your above post I REALLY get and like. I totally hear you and agree. One thing about McCain? He was a POW and torture victim and so he is very against torture, of course! I just wish people weren’t so limited by their OWN experience! Like, great, w/McCain we wouldn’t have another Abu Ghraib–but the world is full of more than jsut one kind of tragedy. :(*

    Do we have to BE Korean Comfort women to care about them, BE gay to care about them, BE under-priveleged to care about their concerns? Be Jewish or Palestinian to care about their concerns and historic tragedies?? HAVE a disability to care for people w/them–to see them, to respect and value them, to treat them as we’d like to be treated ourselves?? :(**

    ARGH. This is all so depressing to me.

    Even when men DO get raped they remain indoctrinated w/rape culture misogyny.
    So depressing this subject. It’s not SO hard to step into another’s shoes. I agree w/you to the nth degree that presidential power changes a person. This type conversation just makes me want to go read all my anarchist lit. again.

    Back to Obama he’s no John Stoltenberg, obviously, but
    this issue of connections is what I was saying about Obama– his connections to many kinds of people. Being loved and known by, laughing with, crying with, joking with, getting into spats with — people who look different from you, or are different from you in significant ways– this is absolutely powerful.

    Posted by Jeyoani | January 11, 2008, 3:52 am
  20. Thanks for those GREAT and thoughtful comments, jeyoani.

    It’s not SO hard to step into another’s shoes.

    I totally agree with you, it isn’t. But I think it costs more than a whole lot of people are willing to pay. It is much easier to just blow people off, blow their situations off, either by blaming them (often called “holding them accountable”), immediately repairing to magical thinking (“it’s all for the best,” “everything happens for a reason,” “what goes around comes around– s/he or they must have done something to deserve it,” etc.), or especially (I think anyway) refusing to expend the energy necessary to actually *think*, *consider* situations which are different, unique, complicated, multilayered, as, in fact, MOST PEOPLE’S SITUATIONS ARE! It costs something to enter into another person’s reality, someone else’s life, and to feel what they feel. Because then you come face to face with how limited you are to do much of anything to alleviate anyone’s suffering, your own included. You feel yourself to be completely out of control– and you are. The horrific injustices another person is experiencing, their pain, abandonment, brutalization, torture, the humiliations, indignities, debasements they suffer make you feel so, so powerless and tiny and small and impotent.

    I have observed many, many times, sadly, and I know you have too, jeyoani, parents who are basically abusive who yell and scream at their children when they get hurt. There is a loud noise, the child cries out, and the parent starts screaming at her, “I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH THAT.” “I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM THERE — DIDN’T I?” Screaming at the child who is already in pain. I completely believe that this is the way the abuser handles his own feelings of powerlessness and impotence, his inability to control the situation. And I think that’s at the far end of a continuum that begins with moving quickly to dismiss from our consciousness the pain another person is feeling; in other words, when we squelch feelings of compassion and empathy. Asking a brutalized woman, “Why did you hook up with him in the first place?” is not so different from yelling at a hurt child, “I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH THAT.” In each case, the person yelling can maintain the moral high ground, a certain self-righteous distance which prevents the identification you are talking about, jeyoani.

    I wonder if we are in such a brutal, cold and heartless time in our history because we are all so overwhelmed in so many ways. When people are burned out, tired, exhausted, stressed, hungry, sick, troubled, they plain do not HAVE the energy or wherewithal to enter into another’s sufferings, they are too lost in their own.

    Posted by womensspace | January 11, 2008, 7:25 am
  21. Jeyoani, I was not trying to imply Obama is indistinguishable from rich white men. Neither is Hillary Clinton. Certainly his experiences are different, but his policies, not so much. If you are curious why I say that, this article from Harpers would give you some idea.

    Posted by Aletha | January 11, 2008, 8:22 am
  22. Thanks for those posts, Jeyoani.

    I tend to agree with both you and Aletha; I really hate the business-as-usual democrats and know that within the picture of the broader *global* politics there isn’t that much positional diversity within the party. On the other hand, I think there are substantive and important differences between the three front-running Dems – re: policies, character, and experience (both personal and political).

    I think they’re all strong on at least one of these prongs. For me, on paper, Edwards beats the other two handily. As a 3D representative of our country, that’s not so clear. I want little girls to see pictures of the Obama daughters playing in the White House, looking like kids they know, looking like themselves. And I want them to be raised hearing the term Madam President used normatively (if we can’t get something better than the “madam” going!) and I don’t think those things are unimportant.

    I think the future of the country is the most important thing – which is why, since I live in a state where neither the primary nor the general is at all in question, it’s easiest and best for me to simply vote for the most progressive candidate I can in each, hoping to remind whoever actually makes it (and especially the democratic party) that there are still *people* to their left, *policies* to their left, and that social justice is still politically relevant – people are still paying attention.

    But though I really doubt that a Clinton or Obama presidency would do me any good, or our politics any good, I have to say there is still a pull for me on this idea that symbols are important. I want them to be progressive political forces, role models, AND symbols.

    Overall, I think the symbolism is far less important than the PROGRESS allowing everyone in this country truly equal opportunity to become their OWN role models, for themselves and in their communities. But since we usually get none of the above, and haven’t a prayer of a progressive (Edwards notwithstanding), maybe a symbol wouldn’t be so bad. It’s more than we’ve had in my lifetime, for sure.

    Posted by funnie | January 11, 2008, 1:58 pm
  23. Sorry: when I say “symbol,” I’m not lowering the expectation bar on Clinton and Obama on affirmative action grounds, granting them some sort of “tokenism” status…I think they’re both very serious and qualified politicians. Moreso than most of the white guys they’ve been up against. And I think it’s racist and sexist to imply that either is “just a symbol.” They’re not; they’re real, committed, able politicians.

    So, I’m not calling them “symbols” in a dismissive way – only because I disagree with their politics/policies so strenuously (particularly Clinton, but also Obama) that it’s *the* appeal they have for me.

    Posted by funnie | January 11, 2008, 2:06 pm
  24. I am so conflicted. I think Funnie’s last post echoes my splintered feelings about the current race. I like Edwards’ relative populism, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get anywhere and he’s a rich white man; I HATE the sexist savaging that is going on in regards to Senator Clinton and could vote for her simply on the grounds of protesting it and having a woman in the White House–even though I’m afraid she’ll basically be like the “guys” once in; I like the idea of rocking racists’ world by putting a black man in office, but I’m not sure he’s not sexist! So this is why I’ve not posted previously on this topic. I am all over the place. But you know what? I read Hecate the other day, and she’s so furious about what’s being done to Senator Clinton that she outright said she’s voting for the candidate “with a vagina”! Hecate’s no dummy; she’s a lawyer and a resident of Washington, D.C., and knows the score politically. I admit I laughed out loud when I read her post and thought something to the effect of “right on, gal!”

    But I know one thing. Once it’s down to a Republican white man vs. a Democrat of any color or physical endowment, I’m voting for the Democrat. All the Repugnants are skeezy this time.

    Posted by Level Best | January 11, 2008, 6:01 pm

    Of course, maybe something really wild will happen and you can vote for me. Or Cynthia McKinney. 🙂 Or maybe both of us, one of us as the VP.

    I love me some Hecate! And you know, I laughed out loud too when I read that. Hell yeah, and what is anybody going to do about it? I like that: “Repugnants.”

    Posted by womensspace | January 11, 2008, 6:13 pm

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