I am very much interested in the opportunity, opened up by the extraordinary perseverance and integrity of Bernie Sanders, the Independent Senator from Vermont, to break open the hold the two major party machines have had on US politics.
That there remains some difference between the two is unquestionable, and the Democrats’ reputation for what we call culturally liberal policies would make them a natural choice for a feminist (man or woman). I’m not an American, but even as a Canadian, I am certainly affected by the internal political developments in the US. Faced with the choices currently on offer, as a feminist, and given the party’s recent track-record, I could not contemplate voting for any Republican Party candidate in the 2016 elections. That would leave me with only two options: either to support a Democratic Party candidate (whoever that might be) or to look for an alternative to both.
Since the most likely Democratic Party candidate for the office of the president of the US will be Hillary Clinton, both as a feminist and as a humanist, I couldn’t possibly give her my vote. As a feminist, I don’t think it a good idea to have as the first woman president of the US a woman who has all her life put up with her partner’s repeated sexual misconduct and his public humiliation of her. Such a choice would be inappropriate — and, even dangerous — for two reasons.
As Sophocles over 2000 years ago and Shakespeare several centuries ago showed us, and, as modern psychoanalytic theory confirms, the office of the king, the ruler, the president or the prime minister is weighted with a certain symbolic ballast, plays more than merely a political function or role, and the question of what sort of a person occupies that office is of more than merely political import. We all know, for instance, the role the deceased Princess of Wales, Princess Diana, played in the collective psyche of the British people, whose love for her was made most evident at her funeral. While the British may have a special psycho-cultural relation and attitude to their royal family, their sympathy for Princess Diana is emblematic of (and exemplifies) what holds true for others, too, as the British are not an exception to the nature of the human psyche, with its legitimate needs, its structures, and its operations. Hilary Clinton’s life-long willing acceptance of her husband’s philandering – a humiliation for any woman and a blow to the self which inevitably leaves deep psychological scars – makes her, first of all, unacceptable as a role model for girls and women because they would, naturally, regard a woman holding the position of the president of the US as someone to emulate. What father (or mother) would want their daughters to model themselves on a woman who accepts such disrespect and such public humiliation from her husband — and, to make it worse, does so mainly for the sake of her social (which is also her political) position? Clinton’s acceptance of the deal she has struck with her husband also makes her a very poor model of successful and admirable womanhood for the boys and young men of America, who have legitimate and genuine emotional needs of their own and who are also psychologically affected by women, but especially women in positions of power, and by the character of the person holding the highest office in the land.
The second reason why I, if I were an American, could not give my vote to Hilary Clinton is the effect on her own psyche of her husband’s repeated (and publicly known) betrayals of her. While their marriage has held together at least in the formal sense of them opting not to divorce each other, Bill Clinton’s betrayals must inevitably have created a deep well of anger and resentment, of shame and real psychic pain in her. Such emotions – which cannot be denied, only repressed and managed at the cost of a great deal of psychological (neuro-emotional) energy – must and do seek an outlet, a means and a venue of expression. There are already several indications of how Hilary Clinton habitually (that is, by her now fully formed mature character) chooses to express her anger and her perfectly natural vengefulness, her aggression. I’ll mention only two of the incidents which demonstrate how she handles it, her aggression, that is, something natural and necessary in all human beings, but something that can get seriously warped by the blows life deals us. When the Clintons were the reigning family in Arkansas, she chose to gratify the Arkansas voters’ basest instincts and to gratify her own aggression, as well as what she correctly perceived as her self-interest, by refusing to commute the death sentence passed on a mentally deficient African-American boy who, while still a juvenile, had killed someone. It goes without saying that it takes a person of some considerable cruelty and unscrupulousness to send to the death chamber a mentally deficient boy so as to curry favour with one’s husband’s potential voters.
The second of many of Hillary Cinton’s self-revealing gestures which I suggest should make us all pause and think carefully whether she’s to be trusted with the office of the president of the United States of America took place much more recently and in public and was videoed and broadcast both in the States and internationally, as well as on the Internet. I’m referring to the manner in which she reacted to the news of the rather convenient silencing of Libya’s former dictator, Colonel Gaddafi, whose sexually perverse and brutal lynching at the hands of some Libyan revolutionaries took place with the aid of NATO air cover. Exceptionally, on that day, and unlike on several other occasions on which the defenders of Misurata had begged and implored NATO for immediate air cover, repeatedly providing NATO air force with accurate coordinates to help the civilian defenders stop the regime’s merciless shelling of that city — on all of which occasions NATO planes were between 4 and 6 hours too late in arriving to be of any help whatsoever — the day Gaddafi was summarily executed, NATO had given the revolutionaries who had besieged Sirte, and were waiting for the column of vehicles Gaddafi was in, full air cover to finish off the job of silencing him for good. Whose good, however, remains to be seen once more documents and more facts about that operation and about the entire Libyan Revolution come out into the open. Hillary Clinton’s reaction to the news that Gaddafi had been captured alive and then assassinated – rather than allowed to live so as to face trial in either Tripoli or at the International Criminal Court – was to quote Caesar’s famous “Veni, vidi, vici” imperial self-exultation.
As a human being, a feminist, and a humanist, I cannot support anyone whose politics are modelled on that of Julius Caesar.
I don’t like or approve of imperialism in general, but there are gradations of aggressiveness, exploitativeness and unscrupulousness even among imperialists, so that, for example, Alexander the Great not only managed at least briefly to unify the then known world, the West and the East — marrying an Afghani princess in order to seal the only successful alliance the “West” has ever had with Afghanistan (or with the “East” as such, for that matter) to this day — but Alexander, having had Aristotle for his private tutor, had also found the time in his very short life to lay the foundations of the Great Library of Alexandria, not to mention the city itself, the greatest library of the Ancient World, which, according to some historians, Julius Caesar was the first to put to the fire. Who we choose to model ourselves on, consciously or not, says a lot about us – and so it does about Hillary Rodham Clinton.
These are some of the reasons why I, a feminist, would not give my vote to her or to the Democrats in 2016.
Instead, if I were an American, I’d give my one vote of support, the one vouchsafed me by the very constitution of the United States of America, to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Not only is he a man of integrity, courage and true grit, true perseverance, but Sanders is the only independent candidate running in the 2016 presidential election who stands even the remotest of chances of breaking through the lock the two major party machines have had on US politics since the 19th century.
The time has come, I think, for some serious changes – for the better. When I posted the following on my Facebook the other week, three of my friends in Europe, currently in the grip of the most serious political crisis it’s had since World War II, and a crisis largely if not entirely of USA’s making (who else stands to benefit from the fascist dogs of war Kiev has unleashed on South East Ukraine and the rift now created between the EU and Russia?), three of my friends in Europe immediately chimed in with corroborating comments from their own countries: the UK and Italy.
Here’s what I had written in my comment on the photo below:
“And they call that representative democracy. Whom does it represent, then?”
Here’s how my friends from Europe responded and how our conversation developed (I’m leaving our Facebook comments unedited in the interests of credibility as, given the topic of the discussion, any editorial intervention of mine could be misconstrued as something else):
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Mick Carter likes this.
Mick Carter This has been happening in England for a few years. They don’t call it off shoring the work as they would never off shore the work instead it is called best shoring which is exactly the same
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Patrick Foster Thats what Thatcher did, destroy the British manufacturing base while the French and Germans safeguarded theirs, hense no ship building industry, car industry …anyone remmenber Austin, Triumph and all the rest….but now we drive Audi, Merc, Pergeot, Citreon etc
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Giovanni Vasta We hadn’t tatcher but the bankers of Frankfurt driven by Germany who doubled the rate of euro against dollar and yuan and yen ! We had handicraft products with high added value of work not like Germany products made by robot and lost not only our monetary sovreignity but also our economy and labour ! And now the same who destroyed us want us to pay an extra bill in taxes to settle twice what they made us loose !!
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Giovanni Vasta And IT is not over yet ! Now we have put there from germany a puppet and a thief ( a legal thief of tax from luxemburg also damaging taxes of italy ) who pretend to give us the rules while inventing a policy of fake investiments for 315 billion euros exist ing only in papers and nicknamed chicken feed !!the incomparabile mr juncker
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Patrick Foster Dont worry Giovanni Climate change could change everything world wide, people still dont realise that…
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Vaska Tumir It will, Patrick, but unless we, the people world-wide, act soon to change our relations, the way we relate with one another, climate change will only bring about horrific catastrophic suffering for huge, but huge numbers of human beings for centuries if not millenia to come. I think more and more of us are becoming aware of the seriousness of the situation, the injustices done and those still continuing, and the dangers that we face — as well as the need to decisively — not violently, if we can at all help it, but decisively — transform what have been our political, social, psychological habits up until now into new ways of being, better ways of being, that will support us through the inevitable climactic and other challenges humanity will have to deal with in the relatively near future.
Vaska Tumir Great posts, you guys! Thank you so much for responding as you have
Patrick Foster I sincerely believe that many of the troubles we have at present are nothing to what we could face. In a worse senario case the shheer movement of populations could result in the breakdown of society and both civil and military conflicts. I wish I couldbelieve that the human race will face the upheval with a calm and moderate way, with community helping community, but I have become far to cynical to think that that will happen…
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Vaska Tumir That’s my fear, too, Patrick. There have been several great population migrations in the last 10,000 years, and traces of them are recorded in the languages we speak (it blew my mind to learn at UC Berkeley, where I studied Anglo-Saxon, that Germanic and Slavic peoples must have been the same group of people some 3,000 or 4,000 or possibly as late as 2,000 years ago or so — the early medieval English has words which are identical to words in Serbo-Croatian, something that is neither a coincidence nor a matter of borrowing, since one of the key and unquestionable findings of socio-linguistics is that people do not borrow words for the most basic articles of life, that each ethnic group develops that vocabulary on its own — I had studied linguistics prior to that, and had also had some background in the findings of 19th-century German philology, so I could figure it out the moment I learned Anglo-Saxon in California, the fact that your ancestors and mine were first cousins, i.e. that you and I, for example, are one people who just settled in different parts of Europe). Modern genetics also corroborates this insight of mine (a Nobel Prize winner from Italy’s done excellent work on that). The thing is: we don’t really know how our ancestors handled those earlier great migrations and to what degree they provoked aggression and the annihilation of the local populations our ancestors (the migrating peoples) encountered, or to what extent the process was a relatively peaceful one, with the main mechanism of settlement being inter-marriage and co-operation among the migrating groups and the local hosts. Right now, we in the so-called Western hemisphere (a ridiculous term, but never mind that) are the richer folks, with more know-how and greater social organization etc. — but we’re extremely selfish and unused to sharing things even among ourselves. For the sake of our own progeny, we need to figure out ways of changing such bad habits of mind and heart that we’ve fallen prey to so that, when the inevitable comes, as surely it will, we (our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc) will be ready to deal with the challenges in ways that will maintain their own necessary human civilization while accommodating the inescapable facts of nature and the legitimate needs of other human beings who may need to move into our part of the world so as to survive and flourish (much as our ancestors had to do). And we really can’t keep on postponing and delaying that necessary, ground-laying process of cultural change and adaptation any longer. It will necessitate political changes, too — but we ARE a highly adaptable species, so we really shouldn’t fear the task quite as much as we seem to (that’s my sense of it, at any rate).
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Vaska Tumir P.S. And, for all we know, it is us who may have to migrate once again! In which case, we better make sure that we lay ground for a *global* civilization (not a one-world, big-brother government, but a shared political and social ethos) which will make our future hosts accommodating towards us. And to get there, I think the first steps will again have to be local ones, exactly the stuff Mick Carter and Giovanni Vasta have talked about.
I hope my American friends will come ’round to seeing things in the same light and will work hard to make it possible – however impossible it may seem right now – for Bernie Sanders to be elected the next president of the United States of America.