Yesterday, I wrote about why I support Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the next president of the United States. Today, I am here to talk about why I cannot support Barack Obama as president.
First, I should say that Sen. Obama’s liberal credentials are sound, and his voting record is impressive. In that respect, he is a good candidate. But there are some things that disturb me about him and his campaign:
Sen. Obama is not who he pretends to be. While Obama’s claim that he is not in the pockets of special interests sounds admirable, it is disingenuous. He has a history of accepting money from both lobbyists and corporations, and one of his top advisors is a lobbyist for such entities as Monsanto and The Carlyle Group. More significant is the fact the groups such as PowerPac.org and Vote Hope have poured millions of dollars into Obama’s campaign. Obama’s response is to say that he wishes they would not do so, but his campaign has willingly spent every cent of the money, and has indeed spent some of it by appealing to a bigoted audience (see the section below on South Carolina).
The Obama campaign, through both silence and gesture, promotes sexism. The news media has relentlessly attacked Sen. Clinton in ways that reflect both subtle sexism (talking about her clothes rather than her policy, constantly discussing her voice, proclaiming her tears to be either fake or “unfeminist,” etc.) and overt misogyny (declaring she profited from her husband’s sex life, proclaiming men would never vote for her, accusing her of “pimping” her adult daughter, etc.). Though this is not Sen. Obama’s fault, consider what would happen if the tables were turned: If the news media made both subtle and overt racist remarks about Obama and Sen. Clinton did not tell them to stop, she would be excoriated by both Democrats and Republicans, and she would be accused of taking advantage of racism. But no one has come forward to ask Obama why he has not intervened to stop the institutionalized campaign of bigotry against Clinton.
That is not Obama’s fault, either. American culture dictates that demeaning women is acceptable behavior. But by remaining silent, Obama is either knowingly profiting from the bigotry, or he is part and parcel of a cultural belief that it is acceptable to heap all manner of abuse upon women. Those are the only two alternatives, and they are both disturbing.
By suggesting Sen. Clinton had taken “her claws out,” Obama exposed his own latent sexism, and then leaked even more of it when he referred to Clinton’s eight years as First Lady as a “glorified tea party.” It did not help that Obama’s wife declared that Clinton was not fit to clean up the White House when “she could not clean up her own house.”
A visit to Obama’s campaign website will disappoint you if you want to learn the Senator’s positions on women’s issues, by the way. Women’s concerns do not appear under “Issues,” at all, and under “Civil Rights,” the only women’s issue to appear is equal pay for equal work.
The Obama campaign sold the LGBT community in exchange for votes. Of all the things that disturb me about Obama, this one disturbs me the most. PowerPac.org contributed millions of dollars so that the gay-hating Donnie McClurkin and a bevy of gay-hating entertainers could appear on Obama’s behalf in South Carolina. At one rally, McClurkin even “preached” some of his bigotry. For his part, Obama—stressing that he does not share McClurkin’s view about LGBT citizens–nevertheless did not apologize, but rather, made it clear that he would not exclude such bigots from future campaign events. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, have LGBT friends and loved ones, or just give a damn about gay-hating and homophobia in the U.S., then it is important that you know that Obama’s South Carolina “Embrace the Courage” campaign actually abandoned the courage and embraced the bigotry.
The Obama “movement” is long on inspiration and short on substance. All the people shouting “Yes we can!” and “We want change!” are somewhat caught up in the moment. Yes, a good liberal candidate can effect change, but she has to do so by working with what she has. Someone like myself, who wants radical change, supports the Green Party or Democratic candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, who are committed to radical change. I am a member of the Green Party, and I do support Kucinich’s ideas. But a Green or a Kucinich is not going to be elected or even given much support, so we are left with good liberal candidates who can be elected.
In order to effect change, it is necessary to deal with Congress, an incompetent and unprofessional news media, and the overwhelming influence of very powerful corporate and cultural interests. Hope easily translates into frustration unless the person in charge is at once a gifted analyst, strategist, communicator, persuader, negotiator, coalition-builder, and toughened survivor.
Sen. Obama, whose experience in dealing with very difficult issues on a world stage is very limited, has circumvented the issue of competence by making sure that even his supporters do not talk about policy. They are instructed to stay away from policy questions, and instead, to talk about how they “came to Obama.” Of course, at this stage of the campaign, we are going to hear more policy talk from Obama, but the fundamental problem remains for me: I do not want someone who represents fervor over abstractions, but rather, someone who has a proven record of helping Americans.