Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Stop Being So Goddam Precious

"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You..." - John Rogers @ Kung Fu Monkey

At the end of last week I wrote a confused rant of a post on the sexism versus racism issues flying about in the Democratic nomination. It was written out of anger and doesn't represent my rational thinking. But taking the post down seemed cowardly to me. I don't stand behind the vitriol of those thoughts but I'm willing to take the flak for writing them. They are my words and no amount of rejection can change that. Even so, I continued to think about the issue, quietly crafting an addendum built out of reasoned and logical thought. And goddamn if John Rogers didn't beat me to the punch.
The entire post hits on every single point I wanted to make and does so in a clear fashion--from the generational issues to the craziness of hardcore supporters on either side to the mainstream media's treatment of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama's continued refusal to play into the mainstream media's hands. Moreover, Rogers goes beyond my original thoughts to talk about the egoism of Americans and how that egoism has nothing to do with race, gender or age. He pointedly takes Sen. Clinton to task for being "the weirdly Republican-lite, crazy rules-changing, stereotype-reinforcing panderer." And Rogers doesn't even entirely blame Sen. Clinton but the mindworm that transformed her from a serious leftist contender to a rightist dead-ender.
What Rogers is getting at is the failure of Sen. Clinton's campaign has far less to do with gender than it does with the way in which the campaign was run. Rogers argues that the most damaging aspect of the Clinton campaign was its effort to make Sen. Clinton's personal trials and tribulations every woman's trials and tribulations.
By tying herself to the feminist movement so closely, Sen. Clinton turned a generation of young women away from such feminism while telling the older generations of women that her loss was their loss. Had things been the other way around and Sen. Obama lost I'm sure legions of black pundits and supporters would make the same argument. Instead, it seems to me that Rogers is saying while either candidate's victory would be transformational, neither candidate's loss was a loss for their movements. Feminism will continue as it has with the advent of third-wave feminism. Sen. Clinton's loss of the nomination does not change that no matter how much the feminists allied with her claim otherwise.
Rogers ends his post with one of President Kennedy's more famous quotes about what you can do for this country. He calls on the same kind of sacrafice President Kennedy did by asking us "that the least we can do, for our country, is to stop being so goddam precious." He asks, simply, that we not believe that we, individually, are a part of some grand historical narrative. He asks that we make a sacrafice of our egos and agendas so real progress can happen. The final part of Rogers' post sums the issue up nicely: "We are small, our time is limited, people are shitty, death claims us all. The only lasting marks we leave in this world are the results of our actions, not our internal monologues." Rogers words are something to always remember when we are about to launch our latest salvos against politicans we don't entirely agree with. We will not live forever, but our actions and our words will.