Thursday, January 17, 2008

Progressives aren't Progressive unless they are Progressive

I came home tonight to frozen pipes. I had planned on getting to this right away because I am really concerned about the topic on which I will write below, but I needed to take care of my water problems first. As it stands now, we still have no water, but we have called the city water department, and set up a blow dryer to spew its pitiful output on what I hope is the inlet pipe behind a vent in my crawl space.

But this is what I wanted to talk about:

I think we have some marvelous Democratic candidates currently running for the United States Presidency. I have this for one and this against another, and in my heart of hearts I would love to think of Dennis Kucinich the next time I hear Hail to the Chief played, but all in all, each of the remaining five candidates is real catch. Especially when compared to anyone running on the God's Old Party ticket.

The way I think about my decision in selecting our next Executive is based on their character, their stand on issues that matter (as opposed to those created by Karl Rove merely for the purpose of division and contention), and maybe lastly, on the way in which they break the mold. Of the three media-anointed "front runners," John Edwards most piques my interest based on these criteria. He is old-guard in that he is a white male. And my interest in him over Obama and Clinton is entirely divorced from that fact. If I felt all three were wholly equal, I would only then take into consideration race and sex.

However that is not to say that race and/or sex are not important barriers to break, especially when we have such an unprecedented opportunity. But let me clarify my thinking: I would not choose a candidate based on race or sex over a candidate I felt more qualified. I would, however, not exclude a candidate from my choice due to the impression that they were unelectable based on their race or sex.

This has to be couched in terms of "all else being equal." Qualifications should be paramount. But even qualifications are nuanced and open to discussion and interpretation. What I am getting at though, is the crap I continue to hear such as, "Well I have lots of respect for Senator Obama, but let's face it, America is not ready to vote for a black." And I listen to progressive talk radio and that is where I keep hearing this absolutely reprehensible line spoken by caller after caller. I am appalled by the number of racists in denial in our own ranks!

I haven't heard this argument so much in regard to Clinton and her sex, but the same goes for that. To say we shouldn't nominate a candidate based on electability, if the credentials in question are in regard to their qualifications, is a good argument and one to be considered. But to say we shouldn't nominate a candidate based on electability if the credentials are their race or sex is just simply wrong. And worst of all, I have heard this argument made by progressives.

Let's face it people; this is akin to the argument that bi-racial marriages are bad because of the way in which the children will be persecuted. To say that taking affirmative action against regressive social standards is wrong because the status quo will fight back hard is itself no better than being in lock-step with the bigots themselves.

I do not care if Barak Obama is electable based on his race or if Hillary Clinton is electable based on her sex. If we as progressives call for discouraging their candidacy simply because of the facts of their respective race and sex, then we are regressive, and not the progressives we claim to be. I call on my fellow progressives to disavow this kind of talk. How dare we call ourselves free thinkers and then turn on others who aren't in line with the status quo?


Beth said...

How many progressives have made the same argument about Kucinich..."Oh I really love Kucinich but he's not electable." A self fulfilling prophecy. I am so beyond identification politics that race/gender isn't even a part of my radar. The bottom line is that Hillary and Obama's voting records are almost the same. This fear that Hillary is not electable has nothing to do with her sex but the fear that she's been demonized so much by the right that she won't be electable because she won't be able to overcome the negatives. I think it's crap and as long as democrats keep cowering in the corner rather than standing tall and making a case for our side then - she won't be electable. Just like we let the other side demonize the "L" word to the point of us now using the more acceptable word "progressive" - we stand by and let them demonize our candidates and our beliefs. That's just crap as is the notiong that "America is not ready to elect a black president." I don't agree. America is ready. There's a big swath of the country who is not ready to admit their own racisim and therefore THEY can't vote for a black candidate out of some irrational fear - but America is ready and those who are going to hang on to this kind of craziness need to get out of the way.

As the white half of an interracial couple - I must say that it never once entered our minds not to have kids because the children would be presecuted. I don't know anyone who thinks like that. I feel sorry for anyone who does - it means they live their life in fear. Any thoughts of persecution of my children is not because they are biracial but rather because they are considered black by our society and blacks are persecuted to this day in America. So blacks shouldn't have children because they might be presecuted? I don't think anyone would ever suggest that. Obama is the product of an interracial union himself.

My husband and I divorced over the same things white couples divorce over - not because of race.

Beth said...

P.S. Hope you resolved your water issues.