Tuesday, February 26, 2008

First Person, First Woman

From the Huffington Post, Jennifer Baumgardner tells of the pride she feels in voting for Hillary Clinton:

At my Brooklyn polling place on Super Tuesday, I unambivalently -- proudly! -- voted for Hillary Clinton. As I left the building, I started to cry. I'm often moved by voting, but it was a big deal to me, at age 37, to pull the lever for a woman who so clearly has what it takes. More than that, Senator Clinton has endured the attacks and derision we all know happens when women step out of line. She is becoming a sort of martyr-feminist, putting herself out there at great personal cost to put some reality behind our "free to be...you and me" rhetoric. I spoke with other friends who reported being utterly choked up. "I have devoted 40 years -- practically my entire adult life -- to bringing about this possibility, this fulfillment of what seemed an unattainable dream," an older friend wrote me in an email. "It's hard for me to understand those feminists who are voting for an unknown quantity instead of her, when they have this chance of a lifetime. Especially since the rivals' positions are so similar." Other women reported voting for Obama, then feeling surprised at how happy they were that Hillary did well on Super Tuesday. "I felt it would be selfish to vote for her," another friend told me.

That last line hit me hard: it's not selfish to vote for a candidate you believe in. I think the sort of sentiment seen here is the result of the huge media push to identify women as Clinton supporters on the basis of gender alone.

There's no way to remove the issues of race and gender from this presidential contest. I'm not going to say I don't feel proud to be able to vote for a woman, but the real reason behind my vote is that I think she'll do the best job.

Above all, as voters, as a group, we should avoid the media's characterization of the candidates and their tendency to pigeon-hole us into segments, dictating our votes. We should read the facts about each candidate. We should learn the truth, and vote with our consciences.

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