If women voted only for other women because they are women, we'd have had our first Madame President years ago.
If women voted only for other women because they are women, there would be 100 female United States Senators.
There would be 435 United States Congresswomen.
There would be 50 female governors.
There would be no need for a men's room off the chambers of any state legislature.
Every town and city would have a woman as mayor who would answer to nobody but councilwomen and alderwomen and selectwomen.
Not only are there more women in the country than men, they vote in a higher proportion.
If every race was boys against girls, the girls would always win.
But since women have had the right to vote (actually, women have always had the right to vote, it's one of those inalienable rights of democracy, all citizens get a say. Since men finally admitted women had the right vote...) 14 men have served as President. Odds are about even that come 2009 we'll make it 15.
There are 16 women in the Senate.
There are 73 women in the House of Representatives.
Off the top of my head I count 4 governors. (Vadranor reminds me there are 8!)
List the five largest American cities. How many of them have women serving as mayor?
Ok, obviously I'm playing games here for emphasis. Every race for every office hasn't included a female candidate. There are more and more women running for more and more offices, but men still dominate American politics from the bottom to the top and the result has been that a man is far more likely to be the candidate nominated by any Party for any given office.
Of course men never vote for a man just because he's a man.
But my point is valid. If women voted only for other women there would be a lot more women holding public office right now.
Which is why it is sexist to the point of misogyny to suggest that Hillary Clinton is only the women's candidate or that women who are supporting her are only supporting her because she is a woman.
But there is nothing wrong with women supporting her and voting for her for reasons that include the fact that she is a woman.
There is nothing wrong with women voting for a woman because she is a woman. Just as there is nothing wrong with African-Americans voting for a black man because he is black.
Just as there is nothing wrong with war veterans voting for another veteran because he was in the military or Conservative Christians voting for a former Baptist preacher because he is one of their own or dumb, unprincipled rich white guys voting for another dumb, unprincipled rich white guy.
Catholics vote for Catholics, Poles vote for Poles, Italians, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans vote for other Italians, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Indians. If the Martians have landed and are living among us they are waiting for their chance to vote for the first candidate with green skin and antenna to come along.
There is nothing wrong with any of us voting for a candidate because that candidate is a member of our own personal demographic, and you know why?
Because we live in a republic. We are sending these people off to represent us in Washington, in the state capital, down at city hall, and it is only natural that we want the people representing us to be like us.
We are hiring them to champion our causes and defend our rights and advance our interests and it is common sense that, all other things being equal, the best person to do that is somebody who believes in those causes, depends on those rights, and shares those interests. And the sort of somebody most likely to do that is a somebody who is one of us.
That all other things being equal is important. Franklin Roosevelt grew up not just rich but an American prince. Ronald Reagan's family was saved by the New Deal.
I read somewhere online yesterday that there's a push, or at least a hope, among some Republicans to get Condoleeza Rice on the ticket as VP to blunt the history-making demographic fact of whichever the Democrats nominee, Obama or Clinton. Women aren't going to be fooled by this. Black people are going to have to try not to laugh out loud.
At any rate, we all vote for the candidates we think are most like us, if only in that we think they will stand up for the things we believe need standing up for.
Not surprisingly, the white boys' club that is the national political press corps and punditocracy and the cheerleaders they let sit with the team as long as they root them on seem only to notice this fact when it comes to black candidates for any office and a woman running for President.
And they only notice the fact to sneer at it as if it proves something about the candidate and the people voting for that candidate.
What it proves in their mind is that the candidate is not really to be taken seriously because that candidate is merely a representative and the people voting for that candidate are not to be taken seriously because serious people don't make their decisions based on who would best represent them.
So far the white boys' club has been somewhat careful about Obama and his support among African-Americans. That will change if he's the nominee.
But they have been merciless about bringing it up about Clinton and her support among women.
And that may explain why a number of women I've spoken to have expressed some chagrin at the fact that one of the reasons they want Hillary Clinton to be President is that she is a woman. Imagine this, people in a republic being embarrassed that they want their representative to be representative of them.
Melissa McEwan says in a terrific post, Hillary and the women who support her are damned if they do, damned if they don't:
Every time she mentions being a woman, mentions being a mother, mentions being a daughter, mentions being a wife, or even makes any oblique reference to running a historical campaign or being the first woman to do something (like win a presidential primary), she is accused of playing the gender card. She is diminished, ridiculed, criticized, and dismissed using dog whistles, slurs, graphics, and bluntly misogynist commentary. When her womanness is the weapon most used against her, is it any wonder that women who support her may be hesitant to scream it from the rooftops, reluctant to stand behind her in large numbers, lest we undermine her? When womanness is hated, it will inevitably make women feel like a liability.
I don't even think this is a conscious feeling in many women. It certainly has taken me a long time to reach the point where I found this hesitation within myself, that I could bluntly engage the grim realization that I had internalized the expressions of contempt for a strong woman and let them manifest as a disinclination to speak too loudly of any admiration I had for Hillary, lest the contempt for me, for this strong woman here and her strong opinions, add to the weight of disdain Hillary carries already on her shoulders.
As I said, all things being equal, and this year for the Democrats all things are very close to equal---Choosing between Obama and Hillary is mostly a matter of choosing between emphases---it is natural and right for voters to choose the candidate who is most like them.
Women have good reason to be proud of Hillary Clinton and of voting for her.
Black people have good reason to be proud of Barack Obama and of voting for him.
I would think that black women must be so proud all around that they can hardly contain their joy and in choosing which one to vote for they've had to decide not which candidate is most like them but which interests and causes of their own they think need the most emphasis, and the result of that would logically be that the votes of black women must be counted as among the most thoughtfully and carefully decided. In other words, they are the voters least likely to be choosing a candidate solely on the basis of race or gender, because it's all one to them, and the most likely to be deciding on the issues.
Hardly the way the Media would play it. Has played it. Didn't CNN run a story a little while back suggesting that black women couldn't make up their pretty little minds because their only concerns were gender and race?
Women aren't voting for Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman. Black people aren't voting for Barack Obama just because he's black.
They are voting for the candidate they think will best represent them, and part of their representativeness includes their gender and their race. It is not necessarily a deciding fact but it is a fact that naturally has to figure in their thinking.
Women vote for women, black people vote for black people, Southerners vote for other Southerners, Texans vote for Texans, business types vote for business types, Union members would vote for Union members if any run but usually have to settle for voting for people who support Unions. John Kennedy became President because he was Catholic and Irish and a war veteran and a Democrat and Catholics and Irish-Americans and war veterans and Democrats voted for him because he was Catholic, Irish, Democratic, and a veteran of the war. George W. Bush became President because he was a Texan and a born-again Christian and a rich white guy and Texans and born-agains and rich white guys voted for him because he was one of them.
We vote for people who are like us because this is what our government is---us. It's government of us, by us, for us. The government is us.
We aren't children. We aren't sheep.
We are the People.
And we, the People, all the people, male, female, white, black, insert further cliches that aren't really cliches here, all of us, have a right to have our say, to have a government that looks like us.
That is us.