Through The Static

May 2, 2008

Oh, Politics! The Distraction of Race and G-Ender’s Game

Filed under: Culture,Elections,Gender,Politics,Race,Randomness,Uncategorized — bobbleheadedbob @ 5:07 am

Okay, so I’m only about 200 or so pages into Ender’s Game, but based off those first 200, Clinton is coming off more and more like Bonzo and Obama as Bean, neither Ender, not that we need or even want an Ender in this race/marketing campaign of personalities. Maybe an END, but not an Ender.

Dude! It’s already been established repeatedly that Clinton’s and Obama’s agendas as president aren’t all that different, so what are they selling us? Personality. So, that said, let’s take a look at the the texture of how the marketing of these two peoples have, unfortunately, fallen into two very separate binaries: race vs. gender — round 712, FIGHT! <– I know, I know, I’m getting tired of it, too.

TEAM HILLARY or TEAM BARACK? Can’t choose? Well, too freakin BAD!

So let’s take a look at this latest article, shall we?

Hillary Struggles Against Sexism But Regularly Plays Race Card – Alternet:

…Watching the brass ring of the presidency slip out of Clinton’s grasp as she is buffeted by this torrent of misogyny, women — white women, that is, and mainstream feminists especially — have rallied to her defense. On January 8, after Barack Obama beat Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, Gloria Steinem published a New York Times op-ed titled “Women Are Never Front-Runners.” “Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House,” Steinem wrote. Next came Clinton’s famous “misting-over moment” in New Hampshire in response to a question from a woman about the stress of modern campaigning. For that display of emotion, Clinton was derided, on the one hand, as calculating and chameleonlike… Thus, feminist opposition to the sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton has morphed into support for the candidate herself.

Good lord — the culture of buying into the cult of personalities, like we buy our weekly supplements of US Magazine and imbibe our ONTD and PITNB in between gchats in the office, has also bled into the way the presidential campaign has been funneled our way. Instead of focusing on the issues — which are boring at this point, because they are about exciting as they are revolutionary — we are focusing on these sensationalist narratives we construct around these characters real, live people. ACTIVISTS are focusing on these Splenda-spun narratives woven around each of these soap opera protagonists presidential candidates.

This whole barometer of who will make the better president is not only surreal, but disturbingly not dissimilar (i luvs me double negatives) to yet another snarky post of Who Wore It Better? <– yes, and thank you, New York Observer!

The thing that concerns me is that instead of having their diets, crying jags, fashion sense, and pedigree of the social mixers they attend determine which movie ticket we’ll buy at the theater or which celebrity-inspired fragrance to drop some cash on, we are having these very things determine WHO WE ARE VOTING FOR IN THIS ELECTION.

::waves arms in the air, a la UCSB’s Professor John Park::

Is this not MADNESS, people??? One thing’s for sure, it is very US of A, circa 2008.

The sexist attacks on Clinton are outrageous and deplorable, but there’s reason to be concerned about her becoming the vehicle for a feminist reawakening. For one thing, feminist sympathy for her has begotten an “oppression sweepstakes” in which a number of her prominent supporters, dismayed at her upstaging by Obama, have declared a contest between racial and gender bias and named sexism the greater scourge. This maneuver is not only unhelpful for coalition-building but obstructs understanding of how sexism and racism have played out in this election in different (and interrelated) ways.

Yes, speak on it, sister! BUT getting back to my original point…

Yet what is most troubling — and what has the most serious implications for the feminist movement — is that the Clinton campaign has used her rival’s race against him. In the name of demonstrating her superior “electability,” she and her surrogates have invoked the racist and sexist playbook of the right — in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country — seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security. This subtly but distinctly racialized political strategy did not create the media feeding frenzy around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that is now weighing Obama down, but it has positioned Clinton to take advantage of the opportunities the controversy has presented. And the Clinton campaign’s use of this strategy has many non-white and non-mainstream feminists crying foul.

It’s like the whole Lauren Conrad vs Heidi Montag debacle, that perpetually recycled Team Lindsay vs Team Hillary (Duff, that is) that blew up back in ’03. Why must they (LC and Heidi) be enemies?? They’re both blond, starring on the same reality show, and coming out with their own overpriced fashion lines peddled to MTV’s progeny. Why must they be marketed on separate teams when they both look similar enough in terms of the audience they cater to and almost identical in their career-related aspirations?

And aren’t we just as much to blame as those creating this marketing strategy for buying into it?

Granted, Hillary’s playing the Heidi Montag to Barack’s more low-key LC strategy, but it isn’t exactly politically strategic to create so much distance when they are so, so similar when we get to the meat of their politics. I suppose what I find so disappointing is that instead of engaging in a dialectical exchange of political ideals and “strategery” they are both ushered into and responding directly to this Team Hillary vs. Team Barack that’s being created just as much by US the people as THEM the media. But then again, this skeptical idealist might be dreaming a little too much.

Donkeys are, after all, are euphemisms for jackasses.


1 Comment »

  1. That’s really how the media seem to always frame presidential politics…it’s a personality contest, with minimal focus on issues. Who’s tough? Who’s life can Americans relate to? Stuff like that instead of the issues. And that goes a long way to explain how you get people of very modest means to vote for rich fucks who only care about other rich fucks.

    And on another note, it seems that Hillary plays her “gender card” (I don’t like the ‘card ‘term but I’ll use it here)way more than Barack invokes his race. Please, white women have been the most coddled group of people in this country since the beginning, and yet it’s Hillary who I’ve been hearing do far more identity/oppression pandering.

    I appreciate your teenybopper references. I’m gonna have to find a way to drag Jonathan Taylor Thomas into an upcoming post.

    Comment by disciplepete — May 2, 2008 @ 7:09 am | Reply

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