It has been brought to my attention that some of the people I had teamed up with during the 2008 campaign have decided to go back to the Democrats to support Barack Obama in 2012. That of course is their right as Americans, and I won't argue that point. However, it just seems so incongruous to me to join back with the very same people who perpetuated the worst outbreak of sexism and misogyny of my adult life. Are we just going to let that sexism be swept under the rug? Are we going to have it stand for the record that the party of women used the very tools that they say they support to run off the women who tried to make it to the top?
There is no question that the Democrats used whatever it took to win in 2008, and that included vicious sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and they never used their bully pulpit to speak up against these attacks. You can view the two videos in the right column that illustrate a sampling of what went on in 2008.
I became a Democrat and married myself to that party for 40 years. The only reason I chose that party is because I believed that they put women's advancement and interests front and center. When I saw what happened in 2008, I felt duped and betrayed. But you don't need to read my account of it. Anita Finlay wrote a book that describes what went on better than I ever could. 4 million people left the Democratic party over this turn of events. Many of us found our way to each other, and there are tons of blogs and websites that have been writing about it ever since. But don't take my word for it. Go over to The Crawdad Hole or Peacocks and Lillies, just to mention a few, and check out their extensive blogrolls. We are a large community and we keep speaking up.
I understand that time has passed and that things have happened that have perhaps moved our attention away from the events of 2008. It has been hard taking the stand that many of us have taken. We have had to fight an ongoing war with our former compatriots on the Democratic side. Most of us have suffered hate mail, death threats, taunting, derision, we've been called every ugly thing in the book, and character assassination is the order of the day. Although it is a Republican meme to keep trotting out the Saul Alinsky school of doing politics and the Chicago Way, as far as I am concerned, there is some truth to that. I have come to believe that Alinsky spawned a Machiavellian mindset for the modern age.
I also understand that many of us were completely unprepared for such a fight. We were just standing up for the truth as we saw it. As one of the first out there publicly speaking up, the blowback was fierce. However, the door was opened for a large and mighty army of like-minded people to speak up as well. Although 2008 was an ugly year to stand up against the establishment, it was also a wonderful year to meet all of the amazing people. We were definitely not alone in this fight.
We were ridiculed because there were not enough of us to change the course of the election. That is a fact. But that doesn't mean that our concerns were ridiculous or irrelevant. Our concerns have changed the national dialogue and have prompted a new and sometimes reluctant look at what the state of women is in the early 21st century in the U.S.
Many people are still deniers. They want to say that the sexism never happened. For these people, the mere existence of sexism muddies up their view of history, that 2008 was a year for all Americans to feel so proud of their country for electing their first African-American president. But for many of us, that accomplishment was tainted by the way that victory was achieved. It was achieved on the backs of women, and that piece of history must never be forgotten. And no Lily Ledbetter Act or female appointments to the Supreme Court or anything else can change what happened in 2008.
I suppose that we have to celebrate our victories even if they were won ugly. I am glad that we have a third of the Supreme Court as females. I guess it really doesn't matter how we got there as long as we got there. I am not naive-----politics is an ugly affair. You know, that whole sausage making thing. I mean we got the right to vote because Alice Paul almost starved herself to death and was tortured in prison along with other courageous souls. And we have three female justices on the Supreme Court because of a guilty conscience. These and the passage of the Lily Ledbetter Act were a form of hush money. That is to say, we'll do this for you if you shut up about the sexism.
I say NO DEAL to that. I know it is difficult to move away from what we have been for many years. Many of us have been Democrats so long that it was just part of our existence like our families and our communities. It has been extremely disorienting to move away from what we've always known, but it has also been refreshing in many ways. Truthfully, some of the Democratic beliefs need to be questioned. And I and many many others have realized that we were so complacent and lazy in our belief that we never even bothered to question what the Democrats were doing.
One of my friends says that you just can't question people for what are their basic fundamental beliefs. I understand what she is saying, and that is that you have to have some respect for where people are coming from. I agree with that because you can't have a conversation with someone if you don't try to meet them on their turf a little bit.
But I have grown weary of the defense of the indefensible. Just because people don't think it happened doesn't mean it didn't happen . These people are sweeping the whole thing under the rug because it calls into question other beliefs and I consider that a sign of weakness, intellectual laziness, call it what you will. In my opinion, our whole politics needs to be reframed anyways, and doing what you've always done and expecting to get a different result is a symptom of fear of change.
I bring all of this up because I understand if some of our warriors are weary. I understand that it is tiring to constantly be told that if you don't support such and such a thing that women will be blasted back to the stone age. It's an exhausting argument to have. But who do we want to write the history of 2008? Do we want the history to be one of denying that the sexism of 2008 ever happened, or do we want it to be the history that WE experienced? What good does it do to the future of women to say that this piece of our history never happened??????
I'm not hunting votes for Romney/Ryan, although that is the ticket I am supporting. Actually, the Republicans in the ugliness of the moment, are actually doing the right things vis-a vis the akin garbage, even though it is only for politically expediency. I am just saying that it seems crazy to me to be upset about what the Obama team wrought in 2008 concerning women and then to go back and align yourself with that ticket in 2012. That is as good as saying that the misogyny of 2008 didn't matter. It is almost the same as going back to your abuser because they really didn't mean it, or you love them, or whatever. It is like an addiction you can't shake. It completely undermines your argument and negates what you stand for. And it rewrites the important history that must be recorded for future generations.
Why does the U.S. rank now #79 in the world in female representation in government? Why have we never had a female president or vice-president? Why do women hold only 12% of the governorships, 6% of the top 100 mayoralties in the U.S., 2.8% of the Fortune 1000 CEO positions, 24% of the state legislative positions? What did you do to help change it? Were you courageous like Alice Paul, or were you content to let others shoulder the heavy lifting? It is a long and winding road, to quote Paul McCartney. Let's not lose sight of what brought us together and what we are fighting for. Who is going to write the history?