This is the time in the political cycle when we should be examining potential contenders and shaping the field we’ll have to vote for (or against) someday. Every time, we find ourselves in this position of general apathy until we arrive at the election…and suddenly it sinks in that the Republican is a shameless cretin and the Democrat is a political opportunist chosen because he’s less likely to annoy Wall Street, and then we’re stuck. The media, meanwhile, adopt simple-minded tropes that they push over and over again, to the detriment of actual discussion of policy.
We saw it with Obama: on the left, it was all “he’s black!” “Hope!” On the right, it was all “Socialist!” “Urban!” Never mind that he’s actually a conservative-leaning centrist, all too willing to surrender to the right on human rights and economic issues.
Now it’s happening again. Apparently, the front-runner on the Democratic side is Hillary Clinton. I am unenthused, because I’m not a fan of political dynasties, and because I don’t see Clinton as a particularly progressive sort of politician. But will we discuss those issues? Of course not. As Digby explains, it’s all about the ‘old woman’ distraction.
As I have discussed many times before, this was a theme of the 2008 campaign as well, with people from all sides of the political spectrum feeling free to point out that older women are such repulsive creatures they should not even be seen in public much less run for public office.
I don’t expect to see Democrats saying that sort of thing this time unless a sexy dark horse candidate emerges who doesn’t fit the old hag profile. (No Liz Warren for you! She’s over 60 …) But the Republicans are going to have a field day with it. It will be interesting to see how the GOP women react and if they join in the fun. It wouldn’t surprise me. But in the back of their minds they know that they too are going to be old some day — and that this is how the men they associate with will think of them.
I don’t care how old she is, or how wrinkled she is, or whether she is a grandma (has the issue of being a grandparent ever been a concern for a man running for office?). I want to know…will she fight hard to reduce our use of fossil fuels, and will she oppose Keystone XL? Is she going to do something about the obscene levels of income inequality? Will she support public education for all and increase investment in science? Is she the kind of person who recognizes that art makes a tangible contribution to culture, and will promote it?
That’s the stuff I care about in an election. I know the Republicans will make hay about the looks of the candidates, because they’re superficial and stupid twits, and that’s all they know how to do; but I’m going to be disappointed in the Democrats (and I’m always disappointed with them) if they don’t reply with substance, for a change.
I don’t think Clinton is on my side in most of the issues I worry about, but I could be wrong. It’s not easy to find that information, though, when it should be front and center in any discussion of relative merits, because our lousy media doesn’t care. They’re probably hoping a Kardashian promises to run for office, because that would give them the material they need to sell more soap.