If you’re running for the Democratic presidential nomination, you have to sound like a progressive to get primary voters on your side and govern and vote like a right-winger so the centrist establishment will tolerate you.
One year after Donald Trump took office and the Women’s March supposedly marked the rise of a new anti-Trump Resistance, it is crystal clear that the Resistance amounts to nothing more than a campaign to elect more Democrats to high office. The only trouble is, Democrats never push for liberal, much less progressive or left, politics once they get into power. The Democratic Party is where the American Left goes to die…and Trump hasn’t changed that.
Transgender people often report having felt trapped in a different body gender than their actual identity. There was a “trans racial” NAACP official who identified as African-American though she had no black ancestry. Can transclassism be next in the battle for self identity and the right to live as we feel inside?
Hillary Clinton seems poised to become the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major American political party. It’s supposed to be a major symbolic moment, at least in terms of identity politics. But it feels hollow, largely because of something most commentators hesitate to say in public: if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton, she wouldn’t be where she is now. Why can’t a nation of 319 million people find a woman president who didn’t marry her way into the job? Because the system still won’t allow it.
Originally published at Skewed News:
If women ruled the world, we’ve been told for years, it would be a more peaceful planet.
Now that there’s a real possibility of a first woman president, it is no longer impossible to imagine ladies in charge. Thanks to a new Pentagon rule change, however, there is now less danger of a women-led Earth disintegrating into a devastating peace.
In a powerful statement in favor of gender equality, military officials in charge of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, who are conducting massive drone assassination programs in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, engaged in the bombing campaign against Syria, and who are providing most of the weapons and munitions used in the world’s wars have announced that women soldiers will be permitted to join the carnage as full-fledged combat partners to their male counterparts.
You’ve come a long way, G.I. baby.
Under new Pentagon policy, women soldiers and sailors will no longer have to stand by and watch as their male colleagues drop bombs on Muslim villages and wedding parties. They will be able to join in the fun. Similarly, when male soldiers and sailors rob, rape and go on killing sprees, female combat troops won’t have to cool their high heels at some boring forward operating base, expected to bake cookies. When there’s slaughtering to be done, lady soldiers will be invited to join in.
Some logistical questions remain unanswered. When raping local children in nations under U.S. occupation, will female soldiers be issued with rape tools, or will they have to improvise with “hillbilly” sodomizers? On the other hand, women soldiers — who are believed to have greater appreciation for art than men — may prove helpful in the looting of museums and marketing of archeological artifacts.
“It was a powerfully symbolic and sound policy move. While there will be logistical challenges as the Pentagon continues to break down barriers for women, doing so will make the military stronger and will narrow America’s gender equality gap,” editorialized The New York Times, which has endorsed most of the United States’ decisions to start the aforementioned military conflicts.
“They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. “They’ll be able to serve as Army rangers and green berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry.”
Secretary Carter said the world’s most violent and aggressive military forces will be able to become even more violent and aggressive now that 50% of the population is pitching in. “Our military will be better able to harness the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer.”
This is a period of greater openness for the U.S. armed forces, which are responsible for provoking most of the world to hate America. In July, the Pentagon decided to allow trans people to serve as soldiers. In August, a 28-year-old army sergeant became the first openly trans soldier. A symbol of trans pride, he has been on more than 400 combat missions in the illegal, undeclared wars against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both wars are viewed by most Americans as mistakes.
Political and military leaders of all genders agree that when it comes to invading and occupying and oppressing, greater gender participation means greater efficiency, particularly in an era when so few people agree with U.S. foreign policy in general or particular invasions. “I think it’s fair to say that women are a little more collaborative in their approach overall, and a little less driven to conflict as opposed to driven to working out problems,” said Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security. Whether you’re shooting a laser-guided missile at a hospital in Afghanistan or shoving things up prisoners’ asses in a U.S. military gulag, it’s important for everybody to be on the same page about, say, what things and how far up.
At Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq, for example, women and men played a joint role in the interrogation, torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners. This led to a higher level of depravity than might not have been possible had the job been left exclusively to those blessed with male privilege.
“If they’re qualified to do those positions, they should be able to anything that a man can do in the military,” said a female soldier with 10 years experience in the military. She noted that bombing, shooting, torturing and sending people to concentration camps can be a bonding experience for the entire family. “My husband is security forces as well, so my children see both of us going to work as cops and my son, he’s almost four, thinks it’s awesome.”
If you doubt that the politics of identity have triumphed over the debate over ideas, read today’s New York Times story about how “Carly Fiorina Both Repels and Enthralls Liberal Feminists.”
Identity politics is the marketing of and resulting support of candidates based upon their historically underprivileged status. Never mind what I believe or claim I’ll do if I win. Vote for me, gay males, because I am one of you! Vote for me, black women, because it’s time for a black woman!
Also: vote for me, black men, because I’m black (and also a woman).
Or: vote for me, white liberals, because I’ll heal the rifts of sexism and/or racism.
Barack Obama is the patron saint of modern identity politics. Though not black in a typical American sense, which indicates slave ancestry, Obama swept to victory twice, and enjoyed remarkable deference from the media, because he was black enough to serve as a symbol of racial reconciliation. Identity politics is how he convinced most Democrats to vote for him and do so enthusiastically — this despite a conservative voting record and politics that would have been at home in any of several Republican administrations. Obama’s ideas — expanding NSA surveillance of American civilians, drone assassinations of thousands of innocent people, reducing Libya and Syria to failed states — are anathema to those who voted for him, but he was (sort of) black, so they did anyway.
This campaign season, it’s the women’s turn.
Hillary Clinton’s conservative politics and ideas and performance are overlooked by the vast majority of her liberal supporters because she’s a woman, and there needs to be a woman president, and if she falls short of victory, who is the next woman capable of pulling it off?
As the Times notes, feminists — most of whom are, by definition, politically liberal or progressive — are confused by the disconnect between Carly Fiorina’s projection of strong, competent womanness, and her retrograde right-wing politics. “Can you love a campaign but hate a candidate’s politics?” the paper quotes self-described feminist writer Robin Marty, writing for Consmopolitan‘s website. I dunno, Robin — can you be a feminist and still write for a rag that makes millions by reselling the same tired list of cheap orgasm tricks? Can I admire Adolf Hitler’s design sense while mourning the fact that no one managed to assassinate him?
In the crucible of the 1970s, identity politics had its place. Where would feminism have been without the identifier of Ms. Magazine? Trans people, the latest to step out of the shadows of historical marginalization and oppression, have gotten where they are today via an identity politics that, first things first, made it OK to be proud of who and what you are.
But that was then and this is now. Now identity politics is all identity, no politics, all image, no substance.
Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel’s quotes illustrate the bankruptcy of identity politics. “Carly Fiorina is an ice-cold shade queen debate princess and I’m in love with and terrified of her,” she tweeted. Would a resident of Waziristan write: “Barack Obama is an ice-cold drone killer and I’m in love with his suits but not so much into being droned?” No. He would not. Because a resident of Waziristan is connected to his class interests. Because he is scared of, and disgusted by, Obama’s drones, he cannot appreciate the way the president cuts a fine figure in a suit.
It’s of course ridiculous when you think about it, but it really does come down to aesthetics for Ryan: Fiorina, she says, is “contrary to the conservative female narrative, the way she looks, the way she presents herself, the no-nonsense businesswoman thing.” For this generation of image feminists, Fiorina is seductive because cuts a fine figure in a high-end corporate outfit and refuses to absorb Donald Trump’s cheap shots at her looks. Too bad she wants to tell pregnant teenagers tough beans, they have to have the baby — and that she brazenly lied about a purported Planned Parenthood “harvest the brain” video.
Marty compares “liberal” feminist interest in Fiorina to eating at McDonald’s: “You know, inherently, it’s not something you should be eating. But when there’s nothing else around, it’s what you go and take.”
That’s so wrong in so many ways.
In the 2016 presidential race, there is another woman running. I think Hillary’s politics are repugnant. There is no way I’d vote for her. But if you roll lesser-evil style, she’s obviously better from a progressive viewpoint than Carly — like going to Wendy’s instead of Mickey D’s.
But lesser evilism, that bastard cousin of identity politics, is the first express stop on the road to ideological ruin. Bernie Sanders — old and white and male — is 50 times the feminist that Hillary Clinton will ever be. I know because I’ve read his platform, which would do a lot more than Hillary, and a zillion times more than Carly Fiorina, to help women.
And that’s leaving out the world where feminism should inhabit: the perfect ideal of total gender equality. We’re not going to get to equality under this variety of capitalism, or any other kind of capitalism. How can an identity politics that distracts real live feminists with the likes of a corporate monster like Carly Fiorina start to destroy and replace the entire system?
(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)
COPYRIGHT 2015 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
Hillary is the talk of 2016. Will she run? According to the pundit class whose water cooler speculation gets repackaged as “conventional wisdom,” the nomination is the former First Lady’s for the asking. Following a coronation that saves her cash and bruising primary battles, it’s currently hard to conjure a Republican who can stop her from taking the general election too.
But to paraphrase a recent viral music video, there’s one thing that no one knows:
What would President Clinton II do?
I posed this question to “Ready for Hillary,” the main pro-Hillary Super PAC. “Ready for Hillary focuses on grassroots organizing, not policy,” replied Seth Bringman. “Policy decisions would be up to the campaign if Hillary runs, which we are certainly encouraging her to do. We amplify the causes Hillary is advocating for and spread the word to our more than one-and-a-half million supporters. We have done so when Hillary spoke out on immigration reform, health care, voting rights, unemployment insurance, and the government shutdown.”
Given that the pre-primary season doesn’t begin for another 18 months, it’s a little early to expect a fully fleshed-out policy platform from a probable candidate. But HRC isn’t a fresh young thing. She’s been kicking around politics for decades — so it’s more than a little strange that neither her fans nor her enemies has a clue what she’d do about a host of issues.
Long before 2000, Al Gore’s longstanding interest in climate change signaled that the environment would have been a priority in his administration. Beginning with his testimony in the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings, John Kerry’s career path predicted a preference for diplomacy over war. On the other hand, it was similarly clear long before 2008 that a John McCain Administration would have been belligerent and quirky, featuring occasional alliances of convenience with Democrats.
So, what about Hill? The only agenda item anyone could have reasonably predicted was a revival of HillaryCare — which is now basically Obamacare. The biggest arrow in her quiver is gone.
Ready for Hillary says it has raised $4 million from 33,000 donors during 2013. That’s a lot of money. You’d think the donors would know what they’re buying, but if that’s the case, they’re keeping it to themselves.
Hillary leads every poll of the Democratic field for 2016. But why? What is it about her that makes some liberal voters swoon?
I combed the Internet looking for signs of something approximating a political agenda. I pushed out the following question to social networks: “Support Hillary for 2016? Can you tell me what she would DO?”
The closest approximation to an answer came back: “She would be the first woman president.”
Yeah, we knew that — but would she be a first woman president who fires drones at wedding parties, or a first woman president who pushes for a $20/hour minimum wage, or a first woman president who continues the first black president’s policy of not using government to try to create jobs? Would she be a first woman president who closes Guantánamo? Would she be a first woman president who continued NSA spying on Americans? Would she be a first woman president who adds a public option to the Affordable Care Act?
As far as I can tell, the (Democratic) arguments for Hillary boil down to the following talking points:
- Unlike Obama, who let himself get rolled by the Republicans, Hillary is tough and battle-tested. She’s a good negotiator.
- She’s an experienced manager. “Ready on day one,” she argued in 2008. She knows everyone and everything in government.
- Like her husband, she’s somewhat more liberal than Obama.
- She’s pre-disastered, thus electable. If there were any more Travelgates, Whitewaters, etc., the media would have uncovered them by now.
These are personality traits, not prescriptions for America.
Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate — she’s a brand. She doesn’t offer a set of ideas; she projects a vague sense of competence that feels absent in the current White House. (Didn’t she used to hold some kind of big job in that place?) Despite having held high posts in government, she can’t point to a single major legislative or ideological achievement — but that doesn’t matter to her supporters.
Mostly, Hillary represents the potentiality of a historical symbol: first woman president. As soon as she takes the oath of office, her campaign’s biggest goal, shattering the ultimate political glass ceiling, will have been achieved.
If this feels familiar, it should. Senator Barack Obama was Clinton in 2006 and 2007, projecting calm after long post-9/11 years of jittery Bushisms, with a light resume that served as a blank slate, allowing people to project their hopes and ideals upon him. In the end, all that mattered was the beginning: winning as a black man. For the Obamabots, all that followed — protecting Bush’s torturers, the bankster bailouts, the drones, the NSA — was beside the point of their politics of identitarian symbolism.
What will happen to the long-term unemployed under Hillary? If 2008 serves as a guide, the 2016 campaign will pass without Americans much talking or thinking about such questions.
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COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM