America, from its inception, has been addicted to patriarchy-the white supremacist capitalist kind. American feminists have been railing against the more ignorant aspects of patriarchy and misogyny in all of its forms for more than a century. They have been chafing under the gendered constraints of patriarchy and desire to break, at last, the ultimate glass ceiling of the Presidency.
Symbolically, the election of a female chief executive will be a watershed event. However, it’s practical, political import is the functional equivalent of dabbing perfume behind the ears of a pig in a pigsty. The American political system is hard-wired never to embrace reform completely and shall not next year. Instead, we will fall for a cosmetic subterfuge: two women exercising and extending white supremacist capitalist patriarchy into the middle of this new millennium and performing a kind of hormone replacement therapy for the nation, switching us from testosterone to estrogen.
Yes, children, Hillary will choose a woman to run with her and in the process cement her appeal to and strength among women everywhere. This will work because feminists-especially white feminists, have always been ambivalent about challenging patriarchy and white privilege. If anything, they wish to exercise the prerogatives of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy alongside their men. In my mind, nothing could be a better description of the Clintons marriage and political partnership.
African American feminist scholar and cultural critic, bell hooks, has written, “Coming in the wake of the civil rights struggle, of black power movements which were demanding cultural revolution, a sharing of the nation’s material resources as well as an end to white supremacy, contemporary white women’s liberation movement was easily co-opted to serve the interests of white patriarchy by reconsolidating white power, by keeping resources all in the family.”
“It should have come as no surprise to any of us that those white women who were mainly concerned with gaining equal access to domains of white male privilege quickly ceased to espouse a radical political agenda which included the dismantling of patriarchy as well as an anti-racist, anti-classist agenda. No doubt white patriarchal men must have found it amusing and affirming that many of the white women who had so vehemently and fiercely denounced domination were quite happy to assume the role of oppressor and/or exploiter if it meant that they could wield power equally with white men (Killing Rage p. 98-99).”
It makes me physically sick to see black people falling all over ourselves in a mad dash to subsidize our own oppression by supporting Bill and Hillary Clinton’s undercover malevolent agenda. They have deftly exploited our political ignorance and shall harness the loving caress of the black community to propel themselves back into the Oval Office and the apparatus of imperial tyranny that it commands.
It was recently discovered that hormone replacement therapy for women enduring the severe symptoms of menopause, is a cure more dangerous than the disease. Dramatically increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke are common in women after long-term treatment. Similarly, the estrogen replacement bait and switch ruse that Hillary and her Vice President will play on the American people is equally dangerous because the excesses of American capitalist hegemony will not be cured, social and economic justice will not be advanced, and resource wars will still be waged as tools of American foreign policy.
To whom shall Hillary turn to complete the troika of power? That’s the $64,000 question and one I have pondered a bit. I’ve come up with a few names: Ellen Tauscher, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, and Claire McCaskill. Each woman brings a different strength to the ticket and has more experience as an elected official than Hillary has.
A blue dog democrat, six-term Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher D-California has ready-made entrée to the more conservative wing of moderate House Democrats so crucial to maintaining legislative success and maintaining political power. A former stock broker and the youngest woman in the country to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, Ellen speaks Wall Street’s language and parlayed that ability to raise record sums for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s corporate pacification program. An initial supporter of the Iraq War, she’s had to backtrack because of the opposition of activist groups like MoveOn and the blogosphere, which, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conspired to alter her district to make a primary challenge more likely, if she didn’t toe the line. A gifted fundraiser, she can help take a burden off Hillary, a plus Hillary would greatly appreciate.
Blanche Lincoln, a second-term Arkansas Senator, is a right-wing good ole’ gal too comfy-cozy with the corporate power structure of Arkansas and D.C.’s legendary K street-synonymous as a headquarters of corporate lobbyist influence peddling. Blanche was also a supporter of the bullshit in Baghdad and Bush’s plutocratic tax cuts as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. A former congressional aide, she sized up many of the mediocre congressional membership and decided to throw caution to the wind and challenge former Congressman Bill Alexander, a profligate fool caught up in the house bank check kiting scandal. She won, got married, had twin boys, and left the house after two terms, only to return two years later to claim Dale Bumpers seat in the Senate. Blanche ain’t no radical and her down home twang and wholesome motherhood shtick would be a big selling point to working class women.
Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Senator up for re-election in 2008, is the most experienced politician of the four and brings nearly 3 decades of experience and she is only 52. The female scion of a prominent New Orleans political dynasty, Landrieu is a tough, unflappable pol that has survived two tough races for the Senate. A former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and two- term U.S. Senator, she brings to the table the ability to make a deal and be taken seriously. A member of the gang of 14 that smoothed the way for confirmation of two of Bush’s reactionary Court of Appeals judges, she kept the Senate from blowing up and shutting down if Cheney or his minions would have forced a vote by violating the Senate’s filibuster rules. Mary Landrieu is as liberal a Senator as Louisiana will ever have-which is to say that she voted for the War and against partial birth abortion and takes great pains to look after the care and feeding of the corporate interests of her state. Mary’s greatest strength is the ability to demagogue anything-a skill I’m sure Hillary will find a use for.
Lastly, there is Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Senator elected last year who rid us of Richard Nixon’s philosophical son, Jim Talent, a corporate whore and wingnut with a disturbing propensity to mentor black republicans. Claire McCaskill is an executive by temperament, a former state legislator, District Attorney and State Auditor, she ran against the sitting Governor of her party and defeated him for the nomination in 2004. She is hard charging and decisive and came heartbreakingly close to winning the governorship. She came back last year and was elected to the Senate to prove that there is a God, and he will not be mocked by a deceptive and sanctimonious fascist like Jim Talent. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Miss Claire has yet to find any of the balls she stole from weaker men and oppose this war like she was elected to do. A cautious moderate and policy wonk, she and Hillary will find immediate kinship.
Maxine Waters famously said at one of the Democratic National Conventions in the 90’s that the Clinton-Gore ticket was the last all-white anything she would support. I took a sistah at her word, and then came the Gore-Lieberman ticket, and then the Kerry-Edwards ticket. We heard some mild grumbling from ole girl about the corporate vampire that masquerades as Joe Lieberman, but that’s about it. Until Barack Obama came along, I thought that some grassroots effort to enforce diversity was in order, and then I really scrutinized the choices and examined our political system and concluded, rightly I think, that resistance is damn near futile when the choices are so circumscribed.
Author bell hooks has said, “What I am most criticized about is the use of the phrase “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. It’s seen as too strident, too exaggerated, too militant. But what that criticism says is that we’re not even allowed to name the enemy. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says we have to call things by their real name, and if we’re not allowed to do that, how can we have a revolution? How do we move forward? I’m not particularly attached to those terms but they seem to me to much more accurately state what we’re up against than a term like “sexism.” And I prefer the term “white supremacy” to “racism.”
It occurs to me that diversifying the patriarchy isn’t gonna do much except create female or colored mouthpieces to propagate a reactionary program-which will, in turn, drive progressives down an ideological cul de sac and do nothing to really change things. Hell, we can’t even agree that we need to name the thing which prevents progressive change. If a white, sixty-five year old fascist with and itchy trigger finger can be Vice President, and progressives can tout the Vice Presidential candidacy of the not so progressive Barack Obama, why can’t we discuss the Vice Presidential candidacy of a sixtyish black woman with 17 years experience in Congress like Maxine Waters. I think you know why. Maxine Waters has a political agenda that wasn’t written in the bowels of a corporate think tank or in the office suites of a corporate lobbyist.
Hillary Clinton will try to sell her all-white, all-female ticket as an affirmation of America’s diversity-it will be anything but. What it will be is an affirmation of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Again, bell hooks, “white women have a stake in white supremacy – that it is the hottest, the fastest ticket for white women to get inside the patriarchy and play the game. We can’t act like “daddy made me do it” anymore. It’s all about what white women have to gain. What Hillary and the women who are brainwashed by her have to gain is power. The glass ceiling may be shattered, but it will not liberate anybody except Bill and Hillary and their loyal retainers.