Friday, June 10, 2016

The Queasiness of History

I want to be happy about this. I feel like I should be happy about this, but as I sat in Dispatch on my second break on Wednesday, I found myself anything but happy about it and I wasn't quite sure why. I've thought the inability of the United States to elect a woman to it's highest office has long been a ridiculous pet peeve of mine and now, finally, a qualified woman had, for the first time in history won the Presidential nomination of a major political party and I honestly wasn't sure I could bring myself to vote for her.

Politics in this country needs to change and I mean absolutely and Hillary Clinton, whether you love her, hate her or just get utterly queasy at the thought of voting for her, is a card-carrying, dyed in the wool member of the political establishment.* She reeks of it. She oozes it. She is just another politician and that might work for some people- hell, it might work for a lot of people- enough to make her President, even, but I'm not sure it's going to work for me yet.

I had to hit mute on her speech last night. 'Make America Great Again' is apparently code for 'taking America backwards' but she's ready to 'write the next chapter of American greatness' which is pretty much saying the same damn thing only instead of four words, she used seven. She's going to have our backs, which made my shoulder blades itch, because she's just another politician- she might even be a good politician and good politicians- male and female make sacrifices to preserve themselves in power. She might tell me she has my back now, but she'd shank my ass in a second if she thought it was in her best interests.

I might be okay with just another politician this time around. I might be okay with someone who can wheel, deal and work across the aisle to get shit done and move the needle a bit. Problem is, I'm not sold on the idea that another President Clinton is what this country needs. If elected, then the Presidency will have been held by either a Bush or a Clinton for twenty of the past twenty eight years. That, to me, is not a sign of a healthy democracy. We have enough problems with the country's drift toward corporatism and oligarchy without encouraging more of it.

But the pinnacle has been reached, the glass ceiling shattered with the biggest one of the all still to come. It's an achievement, however you look at it.

I hate that she had to use her husband's name to do it though**. And maybe that's a stupid thing to hate and it's quite possibly an unfair thing to hate, but nothing irritates me more than people who get all excited because 'Bill's going to be back in the White House.' His ass ain't gonna be in charge- I want to know what President Hillary Clinton is going to do for me. I want to be convinced, because right now, I'm standing on the precipice of history and feeling distinctly queasy about it all.

Fear of Trump might motivate many, but it's not enough for me. Trump doesn't have my vote and while erratic and unpredictable, he's shown moments of uncomfortable coherence now and again. I have no idea who's going to win this election but therein lies the dilemma of this election. I'm not convinced that either one of them will do a damn thing that matters. That's what's making me contemplate buying my body weight in Tums- because right now, honestly, I'd need an industrial strength nose peg and a metric fuckton of Tums to vote for Hillary.

That might very well change, but then again, it might not. So yes, Wednesday night history was made. And I wish like hell I was happier about it.

*This was my problem with Bernie as well. I couldn't accept the premise that in order to change the government we have and make it work for the people, we'd have to expand the government we have in a massive, expensive way. You can't put an IKEA kitchen with all the trimmings in the middle of a house with massive structural issues and a leaky roof and expect it to still look good in a year or so. You've got to rebuild the house from the ground up. Similarly, I hear a lot of promises from Hillary, but haven't really seen evidence that she's interested in radical change of the status quo.

**Yay, my master's thesis is still in my brain! The track record of female leaders who used their husbands/father's name to springboard their way to power is mixed, whereas women who did it themselves from the ground up tend to fair a little better- I think. The whole widow's walk phenomenon seems to be more of a South-SE Asia type of thing so far, but Cory Aquino and Megawati Sukarnoputri were solid...  the rest were a mixed bag. Though it's interesting that Indira Gandhi was offered the job immediately after Nehru died and she said no. She didn't want to be a figurehead beholden to the party bosses and if Prime Minister Shastri hadn't had a heart attack the history of India might be very different indeed.

On the face of it, who cares? I mean she got to where she is, does it matter how? That's what I'm not entirely sure on myself. I don't think it's like Sammy Sosa or Mark McGuire who get the asterisk next to their names for their careers, but banking on the nostalgia and the residual good feelings people have for your husband can be something of an albatross, especially if you can't deliver what people are voting for you for. (If they don't have the warm and fuzzies for your husband, that can also be an equally large albatross.)

***Well, if not Hillary, then who? Camille Paglia (who's columns are always excellent- a must-read) likes Senator Diane Feinstein out of California, which I could totally see. I think if Senator Klobuchar from Minnesota lands herself in the Governor's Mansion for a term or two, she could be an candidate people could get behind. (You can't count her out of the Veepstakes either if the Clinton Camp is serious about putting another woman on the ticket.)

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