Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I am troubled and puzzled by the idea that some HRC supporters are having a difficult time coming around to supporting Obama. Although I found her platform and her record profoundly flawed, and although she has been a disappointment as my senator, the idea of Hillary Clinton is not something I have a problem with. As I said in the early going when ol' Bill ran the first time, my biggest problem with Clinton was that sooner or later I was going to vote for him. In that race, as in 1988, I voted for the African-American candidate, and although I am not the sort of person that believes that people should wait and take their turn (that would make me a Republican), I do think it is worth noting that it has taken a while for both African-Americans and women to develop the sort of electoral bench strength that's necessary to produce successful national candidates.

The Jessie Jackson comparison is useful, I think, because both Senator Clinton and the Reverend Jackson came to the national stage through channels outside the conventional ladder of elected office. Both are highly polarizing figures, with charisma and appeal that is equaled only by the extent to which they are disliked by their opponents. Say this for Jessie's supporters, though-- they understood that although history might have passed their guy by, their interests were best served by turning out and supporting the candidate who stood for the interests and principles they had in common. The African-American voter knows who gets punished when a vote is cast, or not cast, to punish the Democrats.

What makes it odd this time is that Obama was utterly respectful of HRC. True enough, the way she was treated by the media was disgraceful. I'd say that some of that was attributable to the fact that the media has never been particularly kind to the Clintons, but you can't say that Obama was sexist. I'd say that he was running a campaign that was premised first and foremost on the idea that we need to get past those fights, and while I understand that for the women who are passed over for promotion, or are sexually harassed, or are just tired of being treated like 3/5ths of a person that may be hard, I'd say that the reason this African-American candidate was able to accomplish what he has was because, in part, he had the Rev. Jessie come before him. The next woman will have it easier, and if we don't know who that is yet, well, in 1988 Barak Obama was working for the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization on Chicago's South Side. It is strange and ironic that the culture of the United States, founded on enunciated principals of fairness, equality and justice has actually been a history of civil oppression and bigotry. I wish it weren't true, but some notion about the perfectibility of our society makes me a glass half-full kinda guy. A profoundly flawed woman candidate for the Democratic nomination lost. I've seen flawed candidates win and lose, and now, maybe, we have moved past race and sex as being viewed as drags on electability. As I write this it seems like it-- HRC will be remembered as a woman candidate, but she lost as a Clinton, and both of those are positive developments, I'd say.

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