Is this it for female candidates?

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 17:07 EDT
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With two hands over my eyes and plugs in my ears, I could still tell you that Clinton losing the nomination is going to inspire all sorts of disingenuous hand-wringing concealing glee over women’s chances in politics. Again, I’m grateful to the LA Times for stalking out in the other direction by giving the space this week to Katha Pollitt and myself to discuss these issues, knowing we’re two feminists and unlikely to either throw in the towel on women or be happy about it. Later today will be the next round, and as I’ve already written my part, I can tell you that I lament that the U.S. can’t follow the lead of countries that have seat quotas in legislative bodies for women, a simple measure that would go a long way to make historic runs like Hillary Clinton’s seem less like “make it or break it” moments for our chances to have a female President.

For those about to gloat about the end of women in politics, I salute you.

What is probably feeling like the end for a lot of feminist Clinton supporters should be treated more like a beginning. Katha sez:

Clinton has shown that a woman can be a mainstream, non-symbolic candidate of a major party — she can raise tons of money, run a professional campaign, get lots of votes from men as well as benefit from the female side of the gender gap, and come this close to winning.

We’ve also learned more about institutional misogyny and how to fight it. The full-blown panic over whether or not this was the last chance ever for a female President seems premature to me. One reason I’ve been annoyed at Clinton for hanging in after it was becoming clear she wasn’t going to win was that she was taking donations that might be better aimed elsewhere, such as organizations like Emily’s List that are out there making sure that we have more worthy candidates in the future.

I don’t think Obama should offer Clinton the V.P. spot, though it’s increasingly clear that this might be the choice out of some sort of political machinations. And that’s precisely why I don’t think she should be offered the spot. She’d be in a vantage point to extract a pound of flesh from him in that case. While I think well of Hillary Clinton, the DLC baggage and her top level campaign staff need immediately and unambiguously to be dumped. They don’t need more power; they need less. There’s way too much energy poured into the V.P. pick, anyway. People won’t vote for you because of your V.P., but the V.P. can be an albatross. Clinton just doesn’t seem like she’d help, but she could hurt. Same, by the way, with Jim Webb. Edwards would be a non-controversial pick, as would Kathleen Sebelius.

I’m actually not that worried that there will be many Clinton supporters who don’t vote or vote for McCain out of feminist foot-stomping temper tantrum throwing. That’s a level of bitterness, cruelty, and stupidity that most people just don’t have, even and especially feminists. I’m far more worried about the people that are racist or believe that Obama is Muslim sleeper cell or something. But those people are mostly Republicans anyway, so I don’t think there’s a loss there.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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