Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'm sorry. I was wrong.

I am a thinker and a reasoner. I wish I was more passionate, but alas I have this mind that has to weigh things, turn them over, research and then come to a conclusion. And I am reticent by nature, no firebrand. Other more radical folks are quick to the barricades. I get there eventually, usually once my head catches up with my heart.

This morning, I wrote a post pledging allegiance to the Democratic Party, because I felt that it represents my liberal values more closely than the Republican Party. I said that despite my anger at Hillary Clinton, despite her flagrant use of racism, distortions and fear mongering, I would have no choice but to vote for her should she win the Democratic nomination. After all, cozying up to people you don't like (a la McCain and Bush) is part of the political game. It is how people in power get things done. And God help us if another Republican gets into office.

I take it back. I was wrong. I will not ever cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. And if she is the Democratic nominee, I will not vote for a Democrat for president.

How did I get here?

To tell you the truth, that post didn't feel right when I wrote it last night. Here I was writing about John McCain selling out his principles and throwing his arms around a man who launched a race-based smear campaign against him and his family, all for political power. And I was suggesting that this is the right thing for people to do. I was suggesting that this is what I would do. But that is not who I am. And it is not the kind of person I want to be. I cannot overlook Hillary Clinton's sins against my people and my values, which include honesty, fair play and human equality.

The real deal about the Clintons

Last night, while flipping through The Nation, I read this article about the Clintons, Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee, which detailed how the Clintons' establishment rule and backroom dealing is affecting the Democratic Party. Then, this afternoon I find that the Canadian/NAFTA brouhaha that buoyed Clinton to victory in Ohio was sheer distortion, aided by the Clinton camp and the mainstream media. I don't like the unprincipled way the Clintons are playing this game.

Wise words from a friend

Also this afternoon, a conservative friend of mine explained how many people like him feel about the Republican Party. He said he was a conservative first and a Republican second. In other words, he is true to his principles, not a political party. I am a black woman, a progressive, a wife, a stepmother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a womanist, an American...all those descriptors in my profile, before I am a Democrat. How can I be true to my black self and cast a ballot for someone who claims to be a friend of my people, yet employs racist strategy to win an election? And how can I be true to my liberal values if I cast a ballot for a corporatist, establishment candidate? How can I be a womanist if I cast a vote for someone who allows Bob Johnson, purveyor of violence, soft pornography and female denigration, to stump for her? How can I be a good American citizen if I allow dirty politics to prevail?

Wise words on the Internet

I was also stirred by passionate words from fellow blogger Jack Turner at Jack and Jill Politics, who wrote this morning:
I ain't afraid of John McCain! We just survived eight years of George W. Bush. I ain't afraid of John McCain!

My mother went to too many meetings, walked in too many marches, took over too many radio stations for me to vote out of fear. I ain't afraid of John McCain!

My grandmother wasn't the first black clerk at the Supreme Court, and her father did not teach himself to read just so I could vote out of fear. I ain't afraid of John McCain! Do you hear me??

My people did not build this country with their backs spilling blood, did not have their families systematically destroyed, their language stamped out, their identities stolen en masse so that I might be here today and vote out of fear. I am not afraid of John McCain or what the Republicans might do because millions of my ancestors lay at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean right now, and they did not die for me to cave so easily. Nothing John McCain could do as president would justify me turning my backs on my ancestors or my principles. We will survive. We have always survived.

You think we're in for hard times if we don't support Hillary? You don't know hard times.

We have a choice, and now is the time to stand up. If we sit by and let this go down as if we had no choice in the matter, then we might as well do away with ballots and courts and rights, get a barcode stamped on our necks and a chip inserted into our hands, and simply bow down.

Don't ever come at me and try to blackmail me into voting out of fear. SOURCE

...and a commenter called Bad Christian at Huffington Post, who wrote:
After thirty five years of watching how the fear card has effected the Security/Soccer moms" of the Democratic Party, and the devastating effect that
that has had on our urban youth, I am definitely relieved to see a new feminism,
and a resurgence of actual liberal politics.

Content of character, not just steel tongs long enough that reach from the safety of the suburbs, plucking urban males out and dropping them into the Corporate prison system. Not just advancing feed lot style urban schools, while elevating property taxes so that suburban residents can have public education, while urban areas are fear mongered, vilified and turned against. The Democrats failed urban centers, because of fear. One need only look at the stark differences between urban areas and their neighbors in the gated suburbs to realize this.

Reagan knew it, and the Reagan Democrats are still out there...There is a generation that thinks the television is their friend, and they have been sold on it, and to it, ever since Howdy Doodie and Hoola Hoops. The Corporation got them and now America pays for it by trying to overcome that generations TV advertising addiction. The Corporation knows how to sell them, and if you look at the past years of marketing research, it's obvious. They can sell them anything with the old style Television ad of "greed is good" and "be very afraid." If you want to know how the United States was conquered by the Corporation, it's through these techniques that they learned they could sell many Baby Boomers anything, and frequently do... No matter how Orwellian the language.

Fighting fire with fire, like fear with fear and greed with greed, is only good for burning bridges and leaving urban areas like the ninth ward behind. Fighting the "Plastic Fantastic" with credit cards and Corporate Cures is like fighting pain with drug addiction...

I am voting for real change...Not a Party, but a person, and the people he brings with him. I am voting to help change our circumstances, not to prop up a party that has failed urban America. The Democrats have an opportunity to gain my vote, or lose it. If they select more of the same old fearful "Security mom" solutions, they don't want my vote, and they won't get it.

Every day as I watch this campaign unfold, I get sadder and less hopeful. With every lie, distortion and attack, I get more disappointed. With every racial indignity, I get angrier. I've turned it over in my head and I have finally come around to the radical way. And I feel lighter for it.

Come November, I will vote. I could never not vote. If Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, I will vote for him. Otherwise, I will vote for a third party candidate or write in a candidate. If the Democratic Party chooses to run a race-baiting, fear mongering candidate who is more concerned with winning than principles, then surely it is true that they do not want my vote. Hell, I could vote Republican if I wanted that sort of treatment. Perhaps it is time for a major third party--one that believes in the values the Democrats give lip service to, but can never seem to uphold.

I will not vote for Hillary Clinton--not out of spite, but out of principle.


Symphony said...

Tami, great reflection on what YOU feel is best for not only your political interests but your principles.

I'm tired of people saying they will vote for Hillary because they don't want a Republican all the while admitting they think Democrats are just as screwed up.

If you play the game, dont go whining when the other side knocks you up side your head. Pat them on the *ss, say good move and go prepare to retaliate. Thats the atmosphere you apparently accept, now accept all of it--good and bad.

Symphony said...

How can I be true to my black self and cast a ballot for someone who claims to be a friend of my people, yet employs racist strategy to win an election? And how can I be true to my liberal values if I cast a ballot for a corporatist, establishment candidate? How can I be a womanist if I cast a vote for someone who allows Bob Johnson, purveyor of violence, soft pornography and female denigration, to stump for her? How can I be a good American citizen if I allow dirty politics to prevail?

And this is why voting strictly for party does not work. Like you said, you are many things before you are a Democrat.

Mes Deux Cents said...



Villager said...

Tami, I recently reached the same decision in my mind. I could never vote for McCain or Nadar. However, I concluded the other day that Hillary Clinton has racist tendencies.

I'm an articulate Blackman. I regularly give presentations or keynote addresses. Often, I'm told by white people in the audience that I 'talk well' without any attention paid to the content of my talk or presentation. I never hear the same remarks for my white colleagues when they step down from the podium.

Hillary called Obama nothing more that 'a speech' as she pumped up the Commander-in-Chief bonafides of herself and McCain. That was a tremendous insult in my view. Barack Obama is the only Black US Senator in the country and one of only a handful in the nation. He deserves the respect of other US Senators from his own dayum party ... and Hillary is being disrespectful because of her lust to get back to the White House.

As such, I agree with your premise. Phuque Hillary Clinton.

peace, Villager

slag said...

I hear what you're saying. But it looks like the NAFTA controversy is still very sketchy.

I agree that a third-party vote or a write-in has value. Better than nothing and much better than a vote for McCain. One thing that sometimes gives me pause about doing that is the fact that, often, we don't know as much about lower level candidates as we do about the major ones. Consequently, it's hard to know how they would behave in the same circumstances that we see the current contenders in.

NOLA radfem said...

I was a Bill Clinton delegate in 1992. My photos of him giving a speech in a local park have been among my most prized possessions ever since then. I once slipped out of my evening shift at work for a two hour lunch break to hear Hillary Clinton speak - I could have gotten fired! When we evacuated for Hurricane Katrina, my family chose to go to Little Rock because if we had to leave Louisiana, we said, we were at least going to go visit the Bill Clinton presidential library.

Now, when I post on Democratic blogs and say I am disgusted with the Clintons, I get accused of being some irrational "Clinton hater." I used to LOVE the Clintons!

I was a lifelong Democrat, raised by Democratic activists. The Clintons are doing big damage to this party, and when I point that out to people, they shout ME down.

As recently as last week, I would have said I would vote for Clinton OR Obama, whoever got the nomination. But Hillary Clinton is dead to me now. No way.

There are third party candidates running this time - including Cynthia McKinney. I have always liked her. She is a politician who always spoke truth to power.

Thanks for giving me a safe place to say this, Tami.

This weekend, I'm canvassing for Obama in Mississippi. I already did so in Louisiana and Texas.

Anonymous said...

Long-time lurker here. I mostly agree, but I just can't shake the feeling that if Obama did not get the nomination, that a vote for a third party, or an abstention, would be the equivalent of a vote for McCain. As bad as Clinton and her tactics might be, don't you think she still differs fundamentally from McCain on many important issues?

I seriously don't know what I'm going to do if the situation arises, but the realist in me isn't sure whether voting on principle is the right thing to do in this case. I know third parties measure success in how much they can induce the major parties to change rather than electoral successes. But I don't think we can really afford another Republican president.

Is this a matter of letting the ideal stand in the way of the good? I ask this sincerely.

Symphony said...

When is it the best time? What has simply voting for the same kind of Democrat gotten us?

Our problem isn't voting for Democrats in the general election, its the Democrats we vote for in primaries and run-offs in the first place.

We give ourselves sorry options inh the first place. We need to start looking at NOT promoting the same status quo, forever on defense Democrats who don't know how to get the job doen.

ac said...

Well said Tami, and welcome to the revolution. Don't get me wrong, I'm not buying into the media driven hype - it's all about the delgates and Obama is ahead. He should go into Denver ahead and I still believe he will walk away the nominee. However, Plan B is in case there is a whole lot of foolishness with the super delgates and pledged delegates at the convention. If Obama loses the nomination through some shady hot mess I plan to remove myself from the democratic roles and register as an independent. I will then vote for the candidates who best serve my interests, regardless of party affilation. (This "plan" is something that "Ronnie B" posted in the comments on Jack & Jill). He suggests that the african american community walk away from the Democractic party and hold oursleves apart from either party and make them "court" us in the future. We have the potential to hold great political power if we can wield our votes in a large block. Imagine that - us powerful. Now THAT would be some serious change.

Tami said...


Yeah, you and MDC finally got me. I'm not with you on the Republican thing, at least until their platform and issues align more closely with mine...and I am very liberal, so they have a long, long, way to go. I also need to their water-carriers like Bill Bennett, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh to stop making egregious sexist, racist and xenophobic statements. Something tells me I'll be waiting a lifetime.

But what I am coming to realize is that my own party is only marginally better. Was it Malcolm who said "The Republicans are wolves. The Democrats are wolves in sheep's clothing."?

From now on, I will vote for the candidate/party that best aligns with my values. I'm not saying I won't be strategic--sometimes going for the lesser of two evils, but really, what is going on in the Democratic Party right now is ridiculous. The party is battling for its soul. I hope the Howard Dean/Barack Obama side beats the entrenched Clintonian side.


I hear you on the "articulate Negro" thing. My title at work includes "director of COMMUNICATIONS." Still, from time to time, I get effusive praise from people on my speaking abilities.


Glad you feel safe here. I am finding in many feminist circles, some women will not brook any critique of Hillary Clinton or admiration for Barack Obama. It's like tensions are running so high, discussion has lost all rationality.

I am a lifelong Democrat and feminist, too. It is Hillary Clinton's BEHAVIOR that has made me decide not to vote for her, not sexism.

Slag and anonymous,

I am scared, too. I don't want a Republican in the White House. But how can we allow fear to stop us from demanding justice? If we allow this campaign to be stolen by lies, distortion, dirty tricks and race-baiting, doesn't that make us accomplices?

Symphony said...

So funny you mentioned wolf in sheep's clothing. Thats basically my post tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I take it all back. Clinton's response to Geraldine Ferraro has been disgusting.


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