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Why don’t more women ask the Democrats “What’s in it for us?”

Melissa McKewn at Shakesville wrote a brilliant post four years ago that is even more relevant today.  At the time, the Clintonistas and other deeply concerned feminists were troubled by the use of misogyny by both political parties but particularly the Democrats and even more particularly, the Obama campaign.  Oh, you thought it was only the PUMAs that got poo flung at them?  No, indeedy.  It was any woman that had the temerity to speak up.  Anyone who threatened to harsh Obama’s mellow was accused of being traitors, whiners, insignificant, stupid, and bringing catastrophe on the whole country.

We’re going through the same thing again this year.  The past four years have been a disaster for women.  It hasn’t been Christmas and Easter and New Years for women under this version of Democrats.  It’s been more like Halloween.  If you weren’t paying attention last time to the myriad ways that Obama bowed and scraped at the feet of evangelicals to get their votes, then the Bart Stupak amendment might have been your wake up call.  Or maybe it was the retention of the Bush Administration’s conscience rule.  Or maybe Rick Warren’s sexist, homophobic version of prosperity based Christianity pissed you off during the inauguration.  Whatever it was, you figured out you had been screwed after it was too late to do anything about it.

But now that you know, what are your options going forward?  Well, read Melissa’s post from four years ago that she republished a couple of days ago.  It’s basically the same thing I’ve been saying for four years.  You have the option to walk away.  Also, Roe is dead, ladies.  We didn’t fight for equality first and now, we’re back to the pre-Roe days where states could make their own rules.  Pretty soon, abortions will only be available in a handful of coastal states, just like it was in the years immediately preceding Roe.  And there are already 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe.  Kennedy will vote to eliminate it when the time comes.  So, there is really no compelling reason to pay any attention to the Democrats’ argument about Roe and the court.  They might get more traction if they focused on the rights of workers or inequality in general or voting rights but, you know, that’s just not this version of the Democratic party’s thing.

One thing is for sure: if you don’t wring some concessions and explicit promises and sincere preliminary steps from the Democrats, and Obama in particular, BEFORE the election, you’re sure as hell going to get the shaft afterwards because the Democrats’ concern with your welfare extends only as far as getting your vote.  Once they have that and get the power they want, you’re history to them.  Don’t make it so easy.

Oh, sure, the party will start to incite panic.  “What are you dooooooing?!?  Don’t you know that there is an election this year?  Why are you bringing up your rights now?  You’re being selfish, stupid, old, unpleasant, unattractive.  You’re collaborating with the Republicans, you’re a Tea Partier, you like that dunce Sarah Palin.  If we don’t win it will be all your fault.”  That is a guilt trip, my friends.  That’s the sound of people who suddenly realize that the urgency on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours.  Oh my god! You might actually *believe* in that stuff about bodily autonomy and agency and complete equality under the law.  It will be very inconvenient for them to stop what they are doing to either pacify you or cater to you.  I recommend that you make the Democrats kiss your asses.  Forget about Republicans.  They’re a lost cause.

Here’s how Melissa puts it (but go read the whole thing):

Forward movement for women can happen even in dictatorships, and can be reversed even in democracies—because women’s equality is inextricably linked to so many other cultural variables, like religiosity. To presume that greater democracy will de facto mean increased equality for women is to tacitly buy into Bush’s line about freedom magically emanating from any country deemed a functional democracy. It just doesn’t work that way. A democratically-elected conservative American theocracy would, for example, be anathema to feminism/womanism.

I have many good and important and personal reasons for not wanting the US to become any less democratic than it is now—not least of which is because those agitating for increased authoritarian control of government are simultaneously agitating for increased control of women’s bodies. I also have many good and important and personal reasons for fighting for my equality. Some of those good and important and personal reasons overlap. Some of them don’t. 

The important point here is that, while most USian FWs are undoubtedly interested in voting for the most democratic candidate, it is wrong to reflexively conflate “more democratic” with “more feminist” (even though that’s historically a safe bet). FWs may, in fact, for reasons outlines above, have to votecounter to feminist/womanist principles to vote for the most democratic candidate of the two major parties. That is not a small thing, and it should not be treated as though it is.

I would remind Democrats that what happened to Jon Corzine in NJ could very well happen to Obama.  Corzine as a governor was meh.  He did nothing to reform the highly regressive property tax system here.  He conducted a study and basically threw up his hands and said, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”  Then he gave away our delegate votes to Obama at the convention.  Um, Obama didn’t win NJ.  Not even close.  Hillary won it by 10 points.  In general, Corzine looked like a Wall Street banker and governed pretty much the same way.  Democrats here are still smarting from his loss to Chris Christie.  It really shouldn’t come as a surprise though.  NJ has a history of electing Republican governors.  But that election should have been Corzine’s because, let’s face it, Christie isn’t a moderate Republican that would suit New Jersey’s tastes otherwise.  He’s  kind of crude, loud, a bully, a sexist asshole and definitely out to please his rich friends.  There’s no expectation that he will reform the property tax system, only that he will strangle local governments from growing.  And voters knew that going in.  He’s been a disaster for New Jersey.

But Corzine lost anyway even though he was the favored Democrat in 2009 in a year when Democrats should have had an easy run.  The local Democrats think it was a Christie revolution.  I disagree.  There was a third party candidate on the ballot that year.  His name was Chris Daggett, an independent, and judging from his debate performances, one of which I was able to attend in person, he was the best candidate we had.  Of course, the two major parties have a strangle hold on the ballots and every ballot in every county is different, so Daggett’s name wasn’t easy to locate.  You want to know how it turned out.  Here are the results?

Candidate Chris Christie Jon Corzine Chris Daggett
Party Republican Democratic Independent
Running mate Kim Guadagno Loretta Weinberg Frank Esposito
Popular vote 1,174,445 1,087,731 139,579
Percentage 48.5% 44.9% 5.8%

You’d think the Democrats would have learned their lesson but apparently they haven’t.  It doesn’t take much of a defection to flip a race to your opponent.  And right now, there are a lot of women who are angry enough at the passivity of the Democrats and their arrogant attitude towards the voters that it might be better for US to take our votes elsewhere or split our ticket or not vote at all.

So, you gotta ask yourselves, Democrats, will November 6, 2012 be your lucky day?


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