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 And expectations of women are outdated, which is why Diane Mantouvalos is right when she says: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 You, whether you are a woman or not, will be familiar with these outdated beliefs.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.
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.