East Bay "Democracy for America" Meetup Message Board › Feminists for Obama? Convince them with these
From Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Tikkun Magazine: Yup, it's long...
The Feminist Debate on Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama
While the media portrays the selection of a Democratic Party presidential candidate as pitting women against men, over 100 feminists--including Katha Pollitt of The Nation, Kate Michelman chair for 20 years of NARAL Choice for Women, and Ellen Bravo, former director of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women?have endorsed Senator Barack Obama. <
We thought you ought to hear some of this discussion. So, below we present a view from one of the women who endorsed Obama, feminist anthropologist Nancy Fraser, and a statement by Robin Morgan on why she supports Hillary Clinton, and then the news release we read about the 100 feminists who issued their statement on Feb. 1st.
Hillary or Barack?
Two Views of Feminism by Nancy Fraser
I was distressed to read that the President of NY State N.O.W. excoriated Ted Kennedy for "betraying women" by endorsing Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton (NYT, 2/1/08). But I was not entirely surprised. That view reflects what has by now become the mainstream self-understanding of American feminism as a political interest group. To the extent that feminists understand themselves in this way, as defending women's policy interests within the existing framework of politics-as-usual, they have found an excellent standard-bearer in Hillary Clinton. But that is not the only way to understand feminism. Not so long ago, many of us saw ourselves as participants in a transformative social movement, which aspired to remake the political landscape. Intent more on changing the rules of the game than on playing it as it lays, we mobilized energies from below to stretch the bounds of what was politically thinkable. Expanding public space and invigorating public debate, our movement projected, not a laundry list of demands, but the inspiriting vision of a non-hierarchical society that nurtured both human connections and individual freedom. Some feminists continue to cleave to that self-understanding. For us, Barack Obama represents a better vehicle for feminist aspirations than Hillary Clinton. The democratizing energies now converging on him promise to create the terrain on which our sort of feminism can once again flourish. Drawing its momentum from activist forces, and inspiring the latter in turn, the Obama compaign offers feminists, and other progressive forces, that rarest of political opportunities: the chance to help build and shape a major realignment of American politics. That is a prospect worthy of the best and the highest in American feminism.
Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics
New School for Social Research
P.S. from Nancy Fraser: I wrote the above before reading Robin Morgan's intervention.
Rhetorically powerful, her essay contains much that I agree with: that the election of a woman president would be a historic milestone in the struggle against sexism; that media coverage of HillaryÂ¹s campaign has been rife with misogyny; that if elected, Hillary would make a very good President; and that if nominated, she deserves my full support. But none of this convinces me that feminists should prefer her to Barack Obama. On the contrary, it is
my conviction that feminist struggles are best waged on the sort of
political terrain that his campaign is beginning to foster. It is only in
the context of a broad, diverse array of energized movements for social justice that feminism acquires its full depth as a comprehensive and transformative challenge to the status quo. In the past, Robin Morgan has herself exemplified such radical energies. I hope that she, and other feminists, will embrace the opportunity to extend them that the Obama campaign is offering us now.
MORE Feminists for Obama:
NEWS REPORT: 100 Feminists endorse Obama
from The Nation
More than 100 New York feminist leaders released a joint statement Sunday afternoon criticizing Hillary Clinton and supporting Obama for president - evidence that Clinton's support among women activists has declined significantly in the days before the super-Tuesday primary.
Clinton's support for the war in Iraq was the leading reason she lost the support of the group, which calls itself "New York Feminists for Peace and Barack Obama!" "We urgently need a presidential candidate whose first priority is to address domestic needs," the group added.
Those endorsing Obama include longtime peace activist Cora Weiss; Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation; Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times writer Margo Jefferson; award-winning women's rights historians Alice Kessler Harris and Linda Gordon; Barbara Weinstein, president of the American Historical Association, and Ellen P. Chapnick, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives at Columbia Law School.
"Choosing to support Senator Obama was not an easy decision for us," the group stated, "because electing a woman president would be a cause for celebration in itself." They "deplored" the "sexist attacks against Senator Clinton that have circulated in the media." But, they stated, they nevertheless supported Obama because his election "would be another historic achievement" and because "his support for gender equality has been unwavering."
The group based their opposition to Clinton on "her seven-year record as senator." Despite her recent pledges to remove troops from Iraq, the group stated, Clinton's "record of embracing military solutions and the foreign policy advisers she has selected make us doubt that she will end this calamitous war."
The group supported Obama not only for his positions on the war and gender equality, but also because of "the dramatic engagement of young people" with his campaign.
This group joins other prominent feminist leaders who have turned against Hillary and endorsed Obama, including Kate Michelman, president for 20 years of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the country's leading reproductive rights group, and Ellen Bravo, former director of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women.