Random election thoughts for ponderin'

Well, Obama won, setting off more nationwide tears than that Yeah Yeah Yeahs song "Maps." I'll admit, I cried too (Barack, they don't love you like I love you).
An African-American president—it's pretty amazing, and it's a good thing, and we all have reason to be psyched. It's a huge step forward, in so many ways.


I hate to be politically Grinch-y here but, well, there was still a lot of stuff to be concerned about on election eve, both in the results of some state ballot measures and in some of the media's/pundits'/politicians' handling of various issues. In short, yes, I am officially over the moon that Obama won, but if you are queer, and/or a woman, and/or a person of color, and/or concerned at all about social justice, the battle has just begun. To wit:

1) Bans on gay marriage passed in Arizona, California and Florida. A ban on adoptions by gay couples passed in Arkansas. Measures to end affirmative action passed in Colorado and Nebraska.
There are so many things that are messed up about these results, but the one that twists my melon is the literal backward movement they indicate. Many same-sex California couples are already married, as you probably well know, and the marital bait-and-switch is a retroactive attempt to stop something that's already occurred, or at least that already started. Similarly, I fear that a troubling tangential result of Obama's victory is that people will use it as evidence that racism doesn't exist, or at least an indication that people of color and white people now exist on a "level playing field," or that we live now in some sort of magically post-race society, when you know that just ain't true.

2) Case in point
Lest you doubt that race played no part in this election, or that the playing field isn't still listing like a tipsy sailor, CNN had a very interesting point: Some time after the CNN-ers called the election for Obama, election map guru John King showed us something very telling: He pulled up county by county maps from the 1996, 2004, and 2008 elections. In the 1996 results, there were large swaths of blue—Democratic voters—branching through the South. In 2004, there was less blue, but still a noticeable amount. The 2008 map? Almost solid red. I'm just sayin'.

3)Now that Hillary Clinton has stepped into her "stateswoman" role, it looks like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is destined to be the Republicans new designated "shrew" target. Even before the end of the night, Tom Delay was already predicting to MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Pelosi is bound to bully Obama around during his presidency and "run circles around him," as if he were some weakling and she were some out-of-control harpy. Of course, a bright spot was when Rachel Maddow calmly but firmly dismissed Delay's comment as "nonsense." Of course, on the other hand, does anyone else feel really uncomfortable seeing how much eye shadow MSNBC slathers on Maddows' eyelids?

4) Uh, no shout-out to Hillary during your victory speech, Barack? Not cool.

by Jonanna Widner
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15 Comments Have Been Posted

Regarding #2 - Of course,

Regarding #2 - Of course, this could also force those people who voted nay based on race to finally face their racism. I mean, what are they going to do? Move out of the country? Face it, as of January 20, 2009 you will be living in a country led by an African-American. The position many say is the most powerful if not highest profile one in the world will be of a color some people have wasted so much energy hating. Racists, your time is past.

I just unsubscribed over this

This is a letter I just e-mailed to Bitch excluding personal information:

Dear Bitch Editors;

Respectfully I would like to end my subscription to Bitch Magazine in protest over Jonanna Widner's blog on November 5, 2008 entilted "Random election thoughts for ponderin." In it she wrote:

"2) Case in point
Lest you doubt that race played no part in this election, or that the playing field isn't still listing like a tipsy sailor, CNN had a very interesting point: Some time after the CNN-ers called the election for Obama, election map guru John King showed us something very telling: He pulled up county by county maps from the 1996, 2004, and 2008 elections. In the 1996 results, there were large swaths of blue—Democratic voters—branching through the South. In 2004, there was less blue, but still a noticeable amount. The 2008 map? Almost solid red. I'm just sayin'."

Yes race did play a part in this election. However equating voting for a certain political party to racism without any, any, reasoning is quite frankly bigotted (using the definition of utterly intolerant based on a political belief) in my opinion. In good conscious I cannot remain a party to a publication where such hate can be published.

thoughtless case "in point"

First, I think unsubscribing to a magazine over a blogpost, as problematic as that post may be, is a bit silly. It's just an opinion piece, get over it.

That said, I also had a major problem with this particular paragraph. The whole democrat vs. republican "us vs. them" dichotomy is one that should be perpetuated as much as the "women vs. men" one. There are loads of racist democrats (and homophobic ones as well); to think otherwise is silly and yes, a racist person can have a black friend (or vote for Obama). There are some decent, rational open-minded republicans. More importantly, this "red-blue" state thing is nonsense. A state could be "red" with a 51% republican vote or "blue" with a 51% democrat vote (or lesser percentages if 3rd parties get 1% or more), a shift from "blue" to "red" is not necessarily significant.

Otherwise, I think this post raised some interesting points (and I've already seen some "our president is black therefore race is a non-issue" type statements in the news).

Oh, I could be mistaken, but I don't think president-elects usually give shout-outs to their primary race competitors, do they?

Some good points...

<p>...by all commenters, for sure. Thanks to all who have voiced their opinions.

</p><p>Just to be clear, these were meant as points for ponderin', not as hard and fast, end all be all declarations. They were meant as opening points for discussions, not as &quot;proof&quot; of anything (though as you rightly point out, there's opinion in there for sure).

</p><p>Also, as data has been updated since election eve, more blue spots have cropped up in the heretofore mega-red zone I saw on CNN on Nov. 4. But, the difference between the Southern blueness of past elections and this one is still stunning. I'll post some links later to illustrate.

</p><p>That said, I think there's some validity to looking at race as a factor. For one thing, Obama's positions and policy aren't much different then Democratic candidates of the past. If you listen to his campaign speeches, you'll notice that behind much of the rhetoric lies a pretty basic Democratic platform. It would follow, then, that the same amount of folks in the deep South would vote for him or not vote for him as they have for other Dems in the past. So why didn't they?

</p><p>Secondly, my understanding is that John McCain has never been particularly popular among extremely conservative Republicans, of which there are many in the South. So again, you'd think fewer would have voted for him, opening more doors for an extra-blue post-election map. And yet the map there got redder. Why?

</p><p>Third, much of the country that was previously won by Bush in both of the last elections went blue this go-around. the only part of the country to trend the opposite way was the deep South. Why?

I don't ask these &quot;why's rhetorically; seriously, if you have thoughts on that, I'd love to hear them. I'm totally not saying that sarcastically—it's an interesting subject, among many that have come up this election.

My educated guess, based on social and political history, and actually being a Southerner myself (well, Texan—does that count?), is that race has a lot to do with it. I also see why folks could argue against that idea: It's circumstantial evidence, because racism is protean and is a really difficult thing to quantify. Which is why I said, &quot;I'm just sayin,'&quot; because it's something to consider. I probably should just have put, &quot;I'm just sayin', it looks like race is part of it—let's talk about that.&quot; Though perhaps in another blog post I can do some things to expand on the history and experience behind my thoughts and make the race theory clearer.

</p><p>There's lots more I'd like to talk about--the point about percentages of voting and how they determine if a state or county is &quot;red&quot; or &quot;blue&quot; being one of them, but this comment is already super long.

</p><p>Oh, but one more thing: Nope, I don't think president-elects (presidents-elect?) usually do that, but I think that in many (not all) ways, this was not a usual election.

You're intelligent no one can deny...

You are a new discovery for me. I found you through my University, at which one of your regular contributors recently spoke... very recently. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, was at a seminar in Oklahoma. I appreciate your observation on the county maps as indicated by John King. Clearly, we have work to do, and you make it that much more clear with this, and pointing out the legislation/referendums that have passed, but I think good work and time will heal this ignorance. Other initiatives have failed such as parental notification and definition of "life-conception." I don't recall the specific states as I write this, but the indications are accurate- the people are governing themselves in these regions. Much the same philosophy, "good work and time," could be used with our muslim brothers and sisters as well, including them rather than ostricizing them. If we look back just forty or so years, there were laws (poll taxes and others) that prevented Blacks from voting... I'm sure there were cynics then too, when the wheels first started turning for civil rights reform... but where are we now? How far have we come? How much has the electorate been mobilized, energized and electrified? I would argue more than ever in my lifetime. I am electrified. Not to worry, same sex marriages are taking place where they need to for now. Everything will come in its time. The families of same sex couples are where the work first needs to be accomplished. And, through love, it will. God bless you and God bless women all over the world. Salut.

Happy, yes, but this is the first step on a long road

In addition to all the things you've mentioned in this excellent post I find myself concerned by the tone and tenor of the coverage we've seen from the MSM in the past 30 hours:

1) CNN interviews "on the street" consisting of 98% black folks: Right, I get that Obama's election has a special significance in the African-American community but it is a historic moment for *all* Americans and to ignore the impact on the rest of the populace sets up...

2) The constant references to Obama as "the first black president": Yes, he is, but I'm sort of sensing that every single question about his coming administration is going to be prefaced with "How will the first black president handle [crisis du jour]?" which is just another way of saying "can he do it even though he's not white?" and all this concentration on race leads to...

3) Blatantly ignoring the fact that while many steps have been made on race in America with this election virtually nothing constructive has been said or done, nor have there been any plans proffered to say or do anything, about the fact that misogyny is not only alive and well but an inherent part of our culture ('Naylin Palin', really? Seriously? As ridiculous as the woman was on her own merits how no one on the left shouted about that is beyond me).

And yeah, are the make-up artists at MSNBC working from the Tammy Faye Bakker playbook or what?

what about reproductive rights?

Don't forget that this election was full of victories for reproductive rights. California overturned a parental notification proposition for the third time. South Dakota voted down an extreme abortion ban for the second time. And over 70% of Colorado said no to a proposition that would define life as beginning at conception. Yes, it was a terrible night for gay rights and affirmative action. I go to an all women's college in the San Francisco bay area, and now many of my friends have been denied to the right to marry. But the fight isn't over. California isn't going to give up, and we all have to work hard for what we want. As someone who is queer, I'm pissed, especially at Arkansas' ban on gay couples adopting. That hurts kids and well as gay couples. But we had three big victories for reproductive freedom, and we can not forget that.

I hate to break it to the Obama supporters ... but ...

It really is time to get to work. Remember Larry Summers and those AWFUL things he said regarding women and science that got him ousted from (I believe) Harvard not too many moons ago?? Well, he is being seriously considered to be TREASURY SECRETARY!!

If you are nauseating at the thought of this (and I really hope that many of you are), please take note of this bulletin that was posted to <a href="http://www.myspace.com/shockdoctrine"> Naomi Klein's myspace page</a> friends ...

Please sign this petition from Open Left: http://action.openleft.com/page/petition/nosummers

As Matt Stoller writes, "The Washington Note is reporting that former Clinton official Larry Summers is one of the leading nominees to become the Treasury Secretary for the Obama administration. In 1999, Summers was one of the key proponents of the banking deregulation that led to the rise of 'mega-banks' and the current financial crisis. At the time, Senators like Byron Dorgan and policy advocates like Public Campaign were warning the financial deregulation, but Summers did not listen. In addition to this remarkable lapse in judgment, Larry Summers has argued that women are innately less gifted in science than men, that 'Africa is Underpolluted', that child sweatshop work in Asia can be justified, and that energy used to oppose job destroying trade agreements was 'very, very badly misplaced.

Change comes from within and that within is ALL of us. Get on over to that petition and "bitch" on it!

Uh, no, no "shout-out" to

Uh, no, no "shout-out" to Hillary. And after what went down in the primary, good look Barack.

Knock,knock knocking on the White House door.

Hillary knocked from the Left, and Sarah knocked from the Right, but the door wouldn't open. The ceiling of the National Boy's Only Clubhouse in D.C. got lots of cracks, but it held. Then Michelle gave a little fistbump on that door. "Who is it?" "It's me, Michelle, and I'm with my husband, I'm not the candidate- may I come in?" Reply- "Well, only if you promise to be more like Laura Bush than Hillary, and spend your time touting motherhood and staying away from the issues." Michelle- "Oh, I will! But can I express my individuality with my clothes?" Reply- "Well, okay, as long as everything else stays faux-feminist- oops, I mean post-feminist, about you. .Come on in."

No, really, let's talk about race and gender.

For sure, the last two years of campaigning have raised a lot of questions about the way the country is thinking about race and gender. Remember that Obama trailed Clinton in the primary season for a long time. As a Pennsylvanian, the local rhetoric seemed to suggest a woman was a better choice than a black man. Clinton was the democratic primary winner in PA, and I'm sure everyone remembers the race, gender, class discourse that arose around the election. At that time, a man in a coffee shop explained to me how Clinton deserved it while Obama did not. This involved eye gestures toward black people in the coffee shop, and mumblings about "them" voting for Obama because...well...some combination of black people sticking together...and cheating the system...I'm not sure. Basically, I was to infer as a fellow white person the rest.
In PA it seemed like women, well white women, had arrived as such, while black people had yet to earn their place at the table. Why the state ultimately went to Obama may be simply from a political stand point, but complicated from a racial and gender standpoint.
I question why we don't seem to be able to talk about race and gender without feeling like one is getting the slight. Is it most important that women in the form of a woman gain power?...on a less thoughtful note, if I have to support Palin because I'm a woman, I'm getting a sex change.


Jordan, you wrote - "Is it most important that women in the form of a woman gain power?" After Nov. 4th, it seems apparent that it was monumentally important and historic that African-Americans, in the form of an African-American, gained the power of the presidency. Why do you think it is less important for women that a woman break the barrier to executive power in the White House?

For me, it's a question that

For me, it's a question that arose first when Clinton supporters seemed to accuse Obama supporters of stealing the nomination from her, and because of Sarah Palin. Does voting as a feminist mean one votes for the woman or does one vote for a certain set of issues? If a certain woman, let's say Sarah Palin were elected president, that would not be good for most women based her political positions. The discourse around these women during the election really became one about outstanding individuals rather than about women's, especially poor women's, issues.
While Obama's election was an inspiration, many African Americans are asking if it will change the status quo. Likewise, I see no reason not to ask, would a woman, simply by virtue of being a woman, change the status quo?

Hmmm/Regarding "For Me..."

I am gathering my thoughts- much to ponder. In the meantime, thank you for your thoughtful analysis, and please don't get a sex change- no one should have to vote for Sarah Palin out of gender loyalty.

Regarding proposed sex change...

...I probably won't. I was just gettin' carried away. I am just thinking about these question, ie, not convinced of anything yet.
And, yeah, if a woman were elected president and she were anything but completely retro grade on women's issues, I'd be pretty excited about that. It would be a great day, even if she were "too shrill," "too pretty," " a militant upper arm bearing wife of a secret muslim" or whatever flimsy person critiscm gets attached to her.

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