Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hillary/Obama: Threatened by their own community?

Today, we live in a fascinating period of time. In just a few months the primaries will be upon us yet again, and we will be deciding who will represent the great parties of our nation. And those choices are most interesting for the Democratic Party.

The two front runners are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and present some very interesting choices. However, of especial note is that they are being attacked most often by those that you would think that would have supported them the most: Hillary by women, and Obama by African-Americans. Although I have no problem with anyone being able to have their own opinion, it scares me when people are finding reasons to not vote for someone based on gender or race, and it especially scares when it has the feeling of running from their own gender or race in order to demonstrate their solidarity with the opposing side.

Obama has been slammed as not being “black”, and that, while he may be African-American, he is not black. Because his family hails from Kenya, and because he is a second-generation immigrant, it has been said that he has not had an “authentic” black experience, and even at the Youtube Town Conference, one of the questioners wanted to know if Obama considered himself “authentic” enough to be considered black. Obama is being judged twice: Once by his race, and once again by his background.

Because his father comes from Eastern Africa, and not Western Africa as most slaves did, and because he comes from the wealthy rather than the inner cities, a number of black columnists have debated his ability to represent the black cause. Rather than looking at his record, and using that as the means of judging him, they are looking at his race, and his background. I find the semantics issue amusing; you would have thought that the black community would have used Obama as a rallying point, but the black community has decided to tear him down, as he lacks what they wish in an “appropriate background”. And the viciousness of those attacks is beginning to foster a new generation of racist sentiment, as racists are now able to show that the blacks are just as concerned about race as they are, and that it's thus acceptable.

Hillary represents a weirder issue. Even feminists that supported her first as First Lady and then Senator, are not supporting her for president. Although some are doing it because of Hillary's voting record, and other because she would effectively be another “dynasty” president. It's interesting that Hillary is being held to a higher standard, not by men, but by women, and she falls short of that standard. Some are against her, in fact, because she is a woman, and feel that they shouldn't be forced to vote for someone based solely on the person's gender.

The thing that truly shocks me is that feminists dislike that she is playing by the same rules that the guys are, and winning with them. Rather than winning using some sort of imagined feminist ideals, she is kicking butt and taking names just as the guys do. And that's offensive to a lot of them; personally, politics is a game, and you win by playing the rules of a game rather than making new rules. And if the only way you can win is through house rules, then you may as well stay home. Hillary has not only played the game by the rules, but has kicked butt in them. And for this, she has been derided.

This is not to say that blacks should vote only for blacks, or women solely for women, but it feels somewhat incredible that they should feel forced to tear someone down because of a shared race or gender. And that's probably the scariest aspect of the next primary...

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