It’s about choice, stupid

Ggggggrrrrrrrrr! Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that the PUMA movement is getting so big and effective that we’re being reported on in the mainstream media. And I’ve been paying attention long enough to know that the mainstream media is comprised of a pack of lying dogs. But good lord, the attempts at emotional manipulation and the arrogance!

I will say this, Kevin Merida at least got part of it right, which is more than you can say for anyone who isn’t a PUMA but is writing about them in the press. Here’s what he got right, though it is an impartial truth if you ask me:

Defining the Just Say No Deal coalition is not simple. The clearest and strongest sentiments seem to be that party leaders tried to force Clinton out of the race prematurely, allowed sexism and misogyny to go unchecked in the media, and made decisions about the Florida and Michigan contests that were designed to favor Obama.

We are mad about all of those things, and we are coalescing around those issues, but the number one reason is only hinted at, not stated: The primary was rigged. If it wasn’t rigged, it was gerrymandered as it went along. It certainly wasn’t fair by any stretch, and demonstrated a complete abandonment of core Democratic principles on the part of leadership Democrats as well as many average party loyalists. The sexism and the double standards just served to make it impossible for us to ignore those facts, to “play nice” as it were. And expectations of women are outdated, which is why Diane Mantouvalos is right when she says:

This is not the usual reaction to an election loss,” Mantouvalos said. “I know that is the way it is being spun, but it’s not prototypical. Anyone who doesn’t take time to analyze it will do so at their own peril.

And when she says:

Mantouvalos… believes party leaders are underestimating the seriousness of the opposition movement.

Part of the reason for their hubris in assuming that PUMAs will come back is because they assume the vast majority of PUMAs are women, which is not the case. Because they assume that the PUMA movement is a movement of women, they assume that the beliefs they hold about women will hold true. You, whether you are a woman or not, will be familiar with these outdated beliefs. That women are self-sacrificing, that they will do anything for the greater good, even if it hurts them, that they aren’t calculating, that they don’t care about and aren’t good with money (read: leverage), that they don’t seek power, they are responsive to emotional appeals. etc. And in many ways, those beliefs may perfectly characterize many women in other times, but it doesn’t even begin to encapsulate modern American women, and many of those misconceptions are just no longer true.

Because they believe these things, they still believe that abortion is the magic key. The article is riddled with the evidence for it, for instance, this, from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

The Obama-McCain comparison is what Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has been trying to emphasize. A prominent Clinton supporter, Wasserman Schultz said for women who care about reproductive rights, the economy and a range other issues, the only choice is Obama.

Or this:

Given that she [PUMA Robin Murray] is a supporter of abortion rights and holds other beliefs that are at odds with McCain’s, Murray was asked why she would consider voting against her own interests. “Whether it’s appropriate or whether it will work doesn’t matter at this time,” she said. “The vote is a protest vote — be it if I vote for McCain, if I don’t show up, or if I write in Hillary’s name.” Added Murray: “I view it in a holistic way. It says, we will not be controlled and manipulated by these singular issues in order to cast a vote that we feel is deceitful, negative, there is just no pretty way to say it — they cheated.”

What she’s trying, rather inartfully, to say, I believe is, that it’s not about abortion, it’s about choice. It’s about making the choice that you are not some textbook example of the proto-typical female, you are not subject to emotional manipulation over your reproductive capacity, and that you do, in fact, care about power and leverage. And that it’s perfectly okay to do something that may not be for the greater good, because self-preservation is a better idea at this time.

Obama talks all the time about the new politics, even as he demonstrates every day that that isn’t actually what he wants. What he wants is a new coalition to give him means to the same old power, which he will deploy in the same old way. All he wants is a new path to the White House, not a new way of governing once in it. If we, as Democrats, both male and female, allow ourselves to be persuaded by such cheap and manipulative ploys as hope, change, and abortion, then we will get the government we deserve. If we fail to see the dangers, once again, nothing will change. But if we take a risk, and choose a new politics anyway, where it is perfectly okay to challenge old assumptions and voting patterns, then maybe things will change. If we show whoever is listening that we can’t be taken for granted, we will come out with more power to affect that change.

Don’t give up your leverage, whatever you decide to do in November. The only way you do is if you accept the New Democratic Strategy of Complete and Total Acquiescence, and vote for Obama. We’ll discuss more tomorrow about the variety of choices for November, and how best to strategize for your principles and your state.

Insomniatic Update: Okay, what’s keeping me awake and will until I get it off my chest is the notion that Democrats who vote for McCain are voting against their own self interest. They aren’t. If they are choosing to vote for McCain because they find themselves with unexpected leverage this year and want to use it, that is voting in their self interests. If they chose to vote for McCain because they can not bring themselves to reward Democrats for their corruption and inaction, that is voting in their best interests. Voting in your best interests can take a number of different routes, and is different for different people. Anybody telling you differently is lying to promote what they perceive their best interests to be.


13 comments on “It’s about choice, stupid

  1. lola says:

    There’s also a nasty little dose of misogyny in the whole “self interest” bit (tsk, tsk, the silly things–can’t the poor wimmenz see that voting for McCain just isn’t in their best interest?) The idea that women might be voting tactically in a non-traditional manner seems to have escaped the grasp of most media/politicos commenting on PUMAS.

    And the Dem drama-queening of “But abortion! Abortion! Abortion!” doesn’t quite have the ring it once did. The Court already has five anti-Roe justices, so if McCain manages to appoint another–and Roe V Wade is overturned by six instead of five–how is that a greater harm to my repro rights? Once a majority of five has been reached, gone is gone (be it by five or seven or a Spinal Tap eleven).

    “All he wants is a new path to the White House, not a new way of governing once in it.”

    so smart. (and yes)

  2. huntingdonpost says:

    This is a great post. You are right on. Abortion is not the issue. There are many issues where Obama falls flat, especially in that crucial category of leadership experience. He has also abandoned some pretty important Democratic positions on FISA, gun control, Fairness Doctrine, etc. He has never come out fully in support of abortion rights either, if one listened to him at the Compassion Debate. The media presumes all PUMAs are women and that women can’t think for themselves. How do these men know what “women’s interests” are anyway, since they have never given a s%$# about them before? I hope the numbers are true that 25% of Clinton supporters are voting for McCain. I hope another 25% don’t vote for Obama (my position). I don’t care if McCain becomes president, especially if he has a Democratic Congress to contend with. He has positions I don’t like, but he has some character. That’s more than I can say for Mr. “Yes I can…say anything.”

  3. annabellep says:

    Thanks for the comments, folks. Glad you’re enjoying my writing.

    I totally agree, Lola, but also note that the voting-against-self-interest argument is one that liberals have used for years against working class folks who vote Republican. And I’m just now realizing how highly offensive that, and so much of the rhetoric similar to it on the left, is. We have been a bunch of arrogant pricks for a couple of decades now.

  4. glyn46 says:

    Re the justices — isn’t it right to assume that we will have a strongly democratic senate and that they will refuse to bless a non moderate appointee? mccain’s ability to appoint right wingers will be severely limited, methinks. But I’d like feedback on this.

  5. CognitiveDissonance says:

    glyn46, that is a good point. We’ve been hearing for decades now that we have to vote Democratic for President or Roe v. Wade will get overturned. In reality, that is bull. The president gets to “suggest” Supreme Court nominees. But they don’t get put on the Court unless the Senate endorses them. The Senate has the power, not the President. We need pro-choice dems in the Senate a lot more than we need a dem President if Roe v. Wade is the issue. We need to keep hammering that at people.

  6. annabellep says:


    Given the recent history of both Democrats and Republicans on judiciary appointments, I don’t think we can say anything is certain. But ideally, yes, that is how it should operate.

    One thing I haven’t seen discussed yet regarding this issue, and which I will cover later tonight in that post on choices I promised, is that McCain is a Senator, has been for almost 30 years. He has a lot of friends in the Senate, but also a lot of enemies. Now, I don’t pretend to know how the future will play out, but the chuminess or lack of chuminess on behalf of those in the Senate will play a role in what he’s able to get done should he win the election. The fact that so many races are open may be a factor as well, as newbies won’t have that relationship to deal with. A similar, though not so certain dynamic is in play with Obama as well, but his tenure has been so short it isn’t as pronounced. More later.


  7. lola says:


    Couldn’t agree more — the Dem voting-against-self-interest argument (call it VASI for short?) is a pure shit sandwich, especially when served by those in firm possession of the brass ring (education, money, opportunity, etc). The “lower classes” are so Othered, very few in any class “above” can grasp why “those people” vote for reasons other than money.

    And when the pundit/politico set start gas-bagging about this every four years, it’s like listening to characters who have escaped from a 1930s screwball comedy (“Oh darling, no one thinks the Poor are people like Us, but without our portfolios! Or that they vote for reasons other than just money — can you imagine? — how divine, how droll, how amusing! When we all know it’s about their dear little pocketbooks!”)

    At the convention in 2004, Bill Clinton came close to addressing this when he said that voting for Bush would be in the self interest of people like him (due to tax breaks), but he didn’t take it a step further and say that just as he (and others like him) vote based on something more than $$ in one’s pocket, so do those with much smaller bank accounts.

    Which is all to say (lengthily!) it’s arrogant, but also deeply dehumanizing — if you’re a poor voter, well, you don’t get to have things like ideals and principles (whether based on the religious or secular) or any of the metaphysical niceties your financial betters routinely consider their own.

    No, you get economic self interest alone as a sensible basis for how you vote, and anything other than that will leave vast swathes of the lib pundit/politico establishment scratching their heads and musing, “Why won’t the poor just do what they’re told?”

  8. lola says:

    glyn 46

    I’m of the same mind (McCain’s ability to appoint a rad Justice should be limited by a strong Dem Senate) but I’m also beginning to wonder (especially post FISA) if Obama might end up with too much latitude when it comes to the Court.

    A Dem Senate won’t want to be seen as severely constraining or second-guessing the nominee of a historic Prez, and since Obama thought Roberts was fine (until an aide told him it would be political death), I’m worried Obama might make a pick out of left (right) field — striving for some centrist bullshit that really ends up being right of center — and the Senate won’t be willing to take him on.

    (btw, to anyone with the time to answer–is there any way to edit in wordpress? ended up with an unwanted smiley in one of my posts)

  9. sassysenora says:

    Two points.

    1. lola, i agree that a Dem Senate with Obama as POTUS might pose more of a threat than a Dem Senate with McCain as POTUS. it’s difficult to say bc the current (barely) Dem Senate didn’t protect us from Roberts or Alito. more strongly Dem Senates didn’t protect us from Kennedy or Thomas.

    2. i’m not sure whether we should work for a Dem senate. i think we should support good Dem candidates. however, several Dem Senators who are up for re-election endorsed Barak Obama even though their states voted for HRC (some of them by large margins). if we support these Senators (esp before the Convention), we have little leverage to get them to represent their constituents and vote for HRC at the convention. if they vote for Obama at the convention, we are telling them that it was fine to do that.

    here are the Dem Senators who are up for re-election and endorsed BO against the preference of voters in their states:

    John Kerry in MA
    Frank Lautenberg in NJ
    Jack Reed in RI
    Jay Rockefeller in WV

    Carl Levin, who is up for re-election in MI has not endorsed a candidate for POTUS but it was his plan that the RBC adopted that gave all MI’s uncommitted delegates and 4 HRC delegates to BO.

  10. annabellep says:

    Excellent points, sassysenora (love your name, btw. I’m a BIG fan of sass). Ed O”Reilly is running against John Kerry this year, and I’ve already donated to his campaign. I agree, we should work for better Democrats, instead of a majority of Democrats. It’s about quality, not quantity. And I agree about the leverage aspect at the convention if we say we will support them too. Great point there. Glad you stopped by!

  11. glyn46 says:

    re Democratic senators who went for Obama:
    I am particularly peeved at Clare McCaskill, who should have stood with her own. I would love to help defeat her.

    Also angry at Janet Napolitano, governor of New Mexico, and another governor whose first name is Amy and whose last name I don’t remember — both traitors. (Sorry for the strong language.) The hardest thing for me was how those ladies, as well as many female columnists, were super nasty to Hillary. It’s just incomprehensible to me. there was a psychology they are going on that left me completely in the dark, so if anybody has any insights on why they did what they did, I’d love to hear it.

  12. annabellep says:


    Good question. As near as I can tell, adults are not all that different from middle schoolers, or high schoolers for that matter. Especially when they have access to power that secures their privilege, they tend to travel in vicious little packs and rumor-monger about those in other powerful little groups.

    Once upon a time I worked for Corporate America. I was damn good at my job. I also did not play office politics. Even though I was damn good at my job (everyone agreed I was far and away way better than anyone who had been in that position in the company’s near twenty-year history) because I did not play politics, I suffered. All of the little fiefdoms around me resented me because they could not own me, and they could not get me fired for justifiable reasons. I ended up walking away because it became such a hostile environment. I’ll take sanity over money any day.

    But a lot of women approach work like this. They are so afraid of being seen as taking advantage of something they find unethical–and thus BEING the hypocrite they despise– that they end up suffering more than those who do play those unethical games, like chumming it up with the Director of a department in order to field an advantage for promotion. It’s all about the being for women…boys do, girls are. Life is just high school magnified on a grand scale.

    Those political women who couldn’t see the evidence right in front of their cosmetically altered noses were part of other vicious groups that rumor-mongered about Clinton, building up resentments because she can’t be owned, and they could not affect her power. That’s my take, anyway.

  13. MS. BLUEGRASS says:

    I am a Michigan resident and am wondering where you got this info. I have never seen this and I question it….please enlighten me. It was my understanding that he had asked for….repeatedly, that all Michigan delegates would be seated in full. I do not recall anything in the Michigan plan (put forth by ALL FOUR committee members) that ask for the votes to only count half. Did something happen when I was not paying attention? Thanks.

    “Carl Levin, who is up for re-election in MI has not endorsed a candidate for POTUS but it was his plan that the RBC adopted that gave all MI’s uncommitted delegates and 4 HRC delegates to BO.”

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