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Right Candidates, Wrong Question

By February 8, 2007sites to see, thoughts

You won’t often find me talking politics here at the Upside Up. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that before you and I finish our conversation, I will generally get frustrated to the point of throwing my hands in the air with a futile sigh loud enough to wake Abe Lincoln. You know how in college, when you were taking a tough class, sometimes you didn’t study for an exam as well as you knew you should? This way, when you didn’t get a good grade, you could say, “Well, I didn’t study as hard as I could have,” which bore less sting than “Yeah — I don’t know what happened. I studied my ass off and still only got a C.” That’s how I feel about politics. If I don’t engage, I’m less likely to be disappointed.

So even though I’m completely skeptical that the 2008 election will yield anything actually resembling my hopes, I do have to convert those raised hands, for now, into a cheer for the indefatigable Gloria Steinem, who wrote an exceptional op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday: Right Candidates, Wrong Question.

Even before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton threw their exploratory committees into the ring, every reporter seemed to be asking which candidate are Americans more ready for, a white woman or a black man?

With all due respect to the journalistic dilemma of reporting two “firsts” at the same time — two viable presidential candidates who aren’t the usual white faces over collars and ties — I think this is a dumb and destructive question.

I assume you’ll go read the rest if you’re interested, but just in case you don’t/aren’t, I do want to share with you my favorite part of the whole piece — the last two sentences:

For now, I’ve figured out how to answer reporters when they ask if I’m supporting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

I just say yes.

So before the 2008 election disappoints me, I have a few things to say:

1) I consider myself quite lucky (and proud) to be among the living, breathing and voting in this Election Season™ which prominently and confidently features both a Black and a Woman candidate.

2) Even though I know I will be frustrated to the point of regret on many an occasion in the next year and a half, I am willing, for now, to disarm enough to celebrate two viable potential presidents who don’t look anything like any president in the history of the U.S.

3) And even though I share Steinem’s vexation with our notoriously un-unified subset of voters (and the journalists who polarize them), I am willing to step back and say, “Go us! Look at you up there on that high road!”

Now, let’s all sing a rousing “She’ll be Comin Round the Mountain” and enjoy the scenery up here while we can.

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  • I was just having dinner with some people tonight, one of whom has decided to allow some local Jehovah’s Witnesses into her home. (She’s told them she’s not going to be converted, but she wants to expose them to her life as a lesbian with a partner and child.) She recently learned that JW do not vote. She read them the riot act as best she could, and then suggested they drop off their ballots with her (we vote entirely by mail in Oregon). Too bad these folks won’t even register!

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