Friday, June 20, 2008

Alienation and allies (by Suzie)

          When Clinton endorsed Obama, I was in Little Rock, staying at the home of an Obama supporter. The relationship with my friend reminded me of one of the take-away messages from the Clinton campaign.
          Let me back up, and make it clear that I was a Clinton supporter. I guess that’s as surprising as Jodie Foster coming out as a lesbian. I held off making an explicit statement of support out of deference to the neutral Echidne, but she gave me permission to come out of the Clinton closet.
          I’ve followed the Clintons a long time. My oldest sister worked with Bill Clinton in the McGovern campaign. When Clinton was governor of Arkansas, I had summer internships at the newspaper in Hot Springs, where he grew up. I later worked for a newspaper in Little Rock.
         When Bill ran for the presidency, many of us liked Hillary even better. We had reveled in her feminism in Arkansas. My oldest sister, who has been a radical lesbian separatist for many years, relished voting for Hillary in her state’s primary.
          During my return to Little Rock, my Obama-backing friend graciously took me to the Clinton Presidential Library, and we found a middle ground by admiring the collection of state gifts.
          At times, I get lulled into thinking that this person or that, this group or another, shares my views and values. Then something brings me up short, reminding me that my friendships exist despite our many differences, and that politics consists of allies and coalitions.
         Although my friends were courteous and informed, I can identify with Joan Walsh, disillusioned by some people she thought she knew: “A writer whose work I respect submitted a piece addressed to ‘old white feminists,’ telling them to get out of Obama's way.”
         Tad Bartimus writes:
         Several friends I'd assumed shared my commitment to dignified gender equality turned into harsh Clinton bashers for the flimsiest of reasons. One rejected her because she was disappointed Hillary didn't divorce her husband after the Monica Lewinsky affair. Another was infatuated with Obama's rhetoric, though she admitted she didn't know much about his political platform. A third resented being lumped into a baby boomer female stereotype identified with Clinton's life experience.
         When a colleague of 30 years gleefully brandished her coffee table centerpiece -- a Hillary nutcracker with incisor-sharp teeth between its thighs -- I was embarrassed for this woman who'd claimed to be a lifelong feminist …
          I’ll vote for Obama because I greatly prefer his policies to McCain’s. And I’ll continue to look for ways to work with those who differ from me. I just wish it was easier sometimes.
         As a former journalist, I understand the concept of writing about news events in a timely fashion. As a blogger, however, I’m writing about things once I’ve thought them through a bit. That’s a weird concept, I know.