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Where’s the Sexism?

Where’s the Sexism?

June 1, 2008 2:12 pmComments are Disabled

With the DNC Florida and Michigan compromise decided, thousands of Clinton supporters are claiming that their voices aren’t heard.  Hundreds protested at the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting Saturday in Washington, and countless others watched from across the country as their candidate was effectively blocked in her last effort to secure the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The most outrageous claim that has been made so far in this process, from feminists to Bill Clinton to protesters on the street, is that Hillary has been the victim of good-old-fashioned misogyny.  Sexism, they claim, has been tearing their candidate’s chances apart from the moment she started her run.  The media is out to get her, Bill Clinton says.  “Women are never front-runners,” writes Gloria Steinem back in January.

I don’t buy it.  For one, Hillary Clinton was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  She was the front-runner in a big way–no one thought she could lose.  Back in 2007, when she was front-runner, she supported the decision of the DNC to withhold Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates because they had broken the party’s rules by moving their primaries earlier than February 5.  She didn’t think that it would matter.  Now that she needs those delegates to have a shot at the nomination, she claims that the people in Florida are victims of a Mugabe-level conspiracy to disenfranchise voters.  Suddenly, human rights are being violated.  And somehow, Clinton supporters have convinced themselves that sexism–not bad campaigning, a bad candidate or a bad decision by the Florida and Michigan Democratic committees–is responsible for Hillary’s downfall.

Sexism has certainly played a role in this campaign.  The “Bros before Hoes” t-shirts and the misogynist comments by some members of the media and the Hillary Nutcracker all reveal an ugly truth about American society…and how unwilling some people are to see a woman in the white house.  But to claim that these forces undid Hillary Clinton’s campaign, when there were a host of other factors, including a terrible front-loaded, ignore-the-caucuses campaign strategy, an incompetent staff and an irate, divisive ex-President, is to ignore the realities of the political process.  Barack Obama is winning, fair and square.  He’s winning despite racially charged ads and Reverend Wright and the Madrassa email hoax and the Muslim rumor and the countless “Osama/Obama” gaffes on TV.  To claim that Hillary Clinton is a victim of sexism–and moreover, to claim that that sexism is perpetrated by Barack Obama–is being a sore loser.

It is not sexism to deny Hillary Clinton the nomination.  If she campaigned hard, won more states and more delegates, and then saw the nomination handed to another candidate–that would be sexism.  If she ran for the nomination as a heavy favorite and then lost primary after primary despite being ahead in the polls–then you could question if sexism truly played a factor.

But she’s going to lose fair and square.  And that’s what equality is.  In a world that recognizes no difference between the sexes, good candidates can be both men and women, and bad candidates can damn well be women as well as men.  Isn’t that the end goal?  A world where a qualified woman can run seriously for President and lose fairly?  Not because she’s a woman, but because the voters decided she isn’t the best person for the job.  And in this nominating process, the voters have spoken.

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