Yesterday, I was feeling all political after the DNC-RBC meeting and spent a lot of time reading articles online. One that really stuck with me is this one, specifically this passage, in which an older woman, a college professor by the name of Karen O’Connor, is lamenting younger women’s preference for Obama.
O’Connor founded the Institute of Women and Politics at AU. As a woman over 50 who has devoted her professional life to cultivating women leaders and looking ahead to the day when she might see a woman president, she learned a hard truth: that for these women, youth trumps gender. “I don’t vote for a woman just because she’s a woman,” a former student told O’Connor. “I do,” O’Connor responded, explaining that Clinton and Obama are “identical” on the issues. “This is gender versus race.”
Youth trumps gender? Gender versus race? I was shocked to read this, for it shows a deep misunderstanding of just how the younger generation thinks–it shows a deep cognitive divide between the Baby Boomers and GenMe. Perhaps even a refusal to try and understand our thinking, in so readily dismissing our rationales by focusing so much on their own worldview. A worldview that seems to revolve around categories of people. Black, White. Woman, Man. Old, Young.
O’Connor does not seem to understand that for us younger people, male and female, such categories are irrelevant in considering the merits of our candidates. We do not consider what they are, but rather who they are. And we do make a distinction between What and Who: these Whats do not define these Whos. They are merely influences, shapers of destiny, the co-creators of reality, but Whats are not the essence of a person’s who-ness, personality, or being.
In Feburary, I wrote this post, the day of Super Duper Tuesday, detailing my difficulties in deciding between Clinton and Obama, and then this one the next day, explaining how I finally came to choose Obama. No where in either post do I mention race or gender as a criterion of consideration; because my concerns are on talents and skills, attributes and personalities. How does race and gender have anything to do with any of these things? Neither is important to my understanding of these candidates. And to address O’Connor’s point that they are “identical”– that does not mean the issue therefore comes down to race vs gender. As I said before, in the first of those two posts:
Both candidates are intelligent, ambitious, educated, goal-oriented lawyers with identical platforms that differ only in the details. As a simple American, I am less interested in the details and more interested in getting things done.
I made my choice on the basis of my understanding of these people’s characters–their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, their individual talents–and on how closely those characteristics meet what I think this country needs in terms of its leader. It came down to the issue of leadership: which management style is the one that I think will take this country the right direction: the micromanaging adminstrator, or the broad-minded mobilizer?
To reduce this fight into a battle between race and gender is offensive to everyone concerned. It shows a preoccupation with categories and labels and perceived injustices rather than the individual consideration of human experience. Focusing on these categories in this manner serves only to perpetuate the experience of discrimination itself.
This campaign is not about sexism or racism, though we are aware of the presence of such divisive ills. Many of us young GenMe voters beleive that we cannot prevail over all those discriminatory “isms” if we let it define our understanding of people and events. These “isms” cannot be our overarching concern. Especially not in selecting our leaders.