Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lessons From Chavez and Huerta

Thank you for the well thought out comments on my previous blog entry. I know that most of you understand where I'm coming from. I don't think either disappointment or anger are childish traits. Many times, they force us to find a new direction.

It's hard for me to write this because I am still upset. I know that I've written before about how this election has personally affected me and my family but for the first time this morning, I realized that I just have to move on. Reading a transcript of Dolores Huerta's nominating speech for Hillary Clinton at the DNC really got to me. Dolores Huerta, who has been through so much and has meant so much to Latinos, helped me remember the many setbacks that the UFW has faced over the years and the long, painstaking road that she has walked to improve conditions for those who have neither a voice nor a vote.

I see now that this is one of those setbacks for women like me, who are tired of being pushed around by a seemingly omnipresent patriarchy. Change is infuriatingly slow and I am not a patient woman.

Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta helped the world understand the lack of basic human rights that migrant farm workers were denied. They taught us to look beyond our own concerns and to remember that whenever there is injustice toward others, we must stand united to fight against it.

This time was not our time to break through the glass ceiling and as much as I am saddened for myself and for my daughters, I realize that there is something to celebrate. As angry as I was at Barack Obama for not choosing a woman as his vice presidential running mate, it is time for me to look beyond my own concerns and celebrate the step forward that the Democrats are making by becoming the first major party to nominate an African American for President of The United States. I am familiar with Obama's voting record and as I've said before, it is very similar to Hillary's. While it is possible that he may turn out to be the best choice, I did use my anger constructively and I began to look outside the two major parties. I am currently researching Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party's presidential candidate who also looks like a good candidate. I'm not ready to say how I'll vote yet, but I am ready to move on, re-group, and move forward.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on another thoughtful and heartfelt post, Alice.By sharing your innermost hopes and frustrations, you humanize the struggles and aspirations of many. I applaud your sincerity and integrity in admitting your willingness to move on, as hard as it is for many of us.

chris tv said...

I also applaud your sincerity and integrity in admitting your willingness to move on, as hard as it is for many of us. It has been difficult for me too.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the anonymous from the other thread. I started responding a couple times, but decided to delete when it started to ramble. But just a few points.

I want to emphasize that Obama has done much, much more in the Senate than cast votes. Maybe I'm inferring too much from your comment, but I've heard too often the charge that he is lacking in substance - famously from Hillary, who has worked with him and knows him well - and it's crap.

And if you doubt that it's crap, I recommend you read this post by Hilzoy (I think it's a different one than I posted a while back), and this this post by Ezra Klein. And while you're at it, look at the issues page on his website. I mean, really, I don't care who any individual votes for, one vote won't make a difference, but if you're taking the time to research 3rd party candidates, you might want to find out a little more about whom you're rejecting. Because he's a very good man.

As far as the 3rd party thing, I'll just note that I flirted with it a bit in 2000, went to a rally and everything, but I'm proud to say that I ultimately decided to vote for Gore. My attitude is that if you want to work toward automatic run-off voting or some other scheme that will give 3rd parties a meaningful place in national politics, more power to you, but until such a change comes, 3rd party votes are wasted at best. Of course, my reason for briefly going green was that I'd been fooled into misunderestimating Bush's conservatism. Maybe you have to be a woman to understand, but I can't imagine rejecting 2 highly qualified candidates who are 90% in agreement with the one for whom I'd enthusiastically campaigned, just because they don't belong to my favored demographic.

As you know, McCain has calculated that it would be in his political interest to select a woman - any woman, just as long a she's right-wing - for his running mate. As Ezra mentioned today, what this shows is that, for the 1st time in the country's history, having a woman on the ticket is demonstrably a political advantage. And this means that it's unlikely to be long before America joins the many other countries around the world throughout history that have had female national leaders, capable of governing as well or as badly as any man.

So if I were you I like to think I'd chill.

Anonymous said...

...and, yikes, it had been a while since I actually read that Ezra Klein piece. He's pretty harsh on Obama on health care, which is the one area where it's pretty much agreed that Hillary is stronger. I frantically googled around for a post where he'd be more positive on this. Um, Here's one.

Basically my take is that either health plan is far better than what we'd get from the republicans, and far less than what we really need (which would require more taxes on the billionaires who make up an ever-increases portion of our economy). I've also heard it argued that the nature health care plan that's actually implemented will depend more on the make-up of congress than on the president.

So, um, anyway, the Hilzoy piece would be the one to show that Obama is substantive.

Elle said...

Instead of frantically googling around to find opinions and facts to support your candidate's substantiveness, why don't you just get out and walk a few precincts, sign up to make some phone calls, join up with the Obama campaign and help them out? Donate some money to his campaign and let his campaign spend it where they think it will make the most sense.

Alice ain't gonna chill, that's not who she is or what she is about. Alice is feeling betrayed by the Democratic party because half of the primary voters (clearly not you) voted for Hillary, her record and what she stands for. Those people were holding out hope that we'd get a "dream team" of Obama/Clinton, which would have been completely unstoppable. Clinton is every bit as good an attack dog as Biden and has the undying loyalty of 18,000,000 democratic voters. You don't have to be a woman to get it, just perceptive and sensitive to the American woman's struggle to break through the glass ceiling, something larger than policy wonk arguments about "substantiveness."

Anonymous said...

Wish I could do that stuff. Can't. Hope I can eventually.

Anonymous said...

...which I'm not going to explain, because, let's just say that next time I hear "everyone's got problems," somebody's likely to get throttled. Anyway, I'm just musing here...sometimes you don't know if your thoughts hold up until you try typing them out...but I can't resist just one last thought: we've had 8 years of emotion-driven politics. 8 years of policy driven by the philosophy that reality doesn't matter as long as you believe hard enough. 8 years of using millions of human beings for therapy.

Or to drop the self-righteousness, which really isn't my preferred style, I think there's an unfortunate human tendency to think that what works in their personal lives is applicable to public policy. That's the basis of libertarian philosophy, with its talk of "first principles," it's the philosophy of people who voted for Arnold on the assumption that his business acumen would translate into wise macroeconomic management, it's the basis of Bush and Cheney's foreign policy, it was the basis of, oh, gosh, the Great Leap Forward, and so on and so forth. So, you know, there's just going to be an unbridgeable communication gap between me and somebody who's politics is based on punk rock even if we happen to agree on most things. I hardly ever even listen to the stuff since I was in high school anyway. It was sort of a weird aberration.

But obviously y'all are going to do whatever rocks your boat. My understanding is that the hard-core Clinton hold-outs are probably pretty few anyway. Right now the religious crazies look to be the bigger problem.

libhom said...

elle: A rather high percentage of liberals and progressives simply could not vote for a ticket that includes a rightist Republican like Hillary Clinton.

general comment: I think who one votes for depends on whether or not one lives in a swing state. Our crazy electoral college makes that the most logical way of looking at things.

Anonymous said...

Last comment! Rereading this stuff and some other things about healthcare (mainly by Klein, who's extraordinarily good on the subject; really the tone of that one post was really uncharacteristic), has got me thinking about it a bit, so I'll use this thread to complete my thoughts. The main difference between Hillary's health care plan and Obama's is that he rejects mandates. In other words, Hillary's plan covers more people because it forces some people to buy insurance. Obama as I understand it has been influenced by some recent economic theories positing that government is more effective when it tries to encourage desired behavior rather than enforce it. I think that if you want to force people to pay - preferably the super-rich who control an ever increasing portion of the economy - you should do it through more progressive taxation, but unfortunately that's a very hard sell in a conservative country like this one (which is why 3rd party talk is a double edge - there are a lot more right-wing extremists than left-wing ones here). And an overly ambitious program would be vulnerable to the Republican strategy of deliberate underfunding and mismanagement in order to prove that government "doesn't work."

Just musing. I suppose I could say something to tie all this back into the topic at hand, but I don't feel like it.

Tom said...

Anonymous said: "Basically my take is that either health plan is far better than what we'd get from the republicans, and far less than what we really need (which would require more taxes on the billionaires who make up an ever-increases portion of our economy)."

Normally I wouldn't go around making semantic arguments, but I have to in this case. The 2008 Forbes list of billionaires is out. (This is online, so you can very easily look it up.) Accounting for the 50 or so people tied in the last slot, there are about 1062+50=call it 1125 billionaires. This is in the world. I didn't count because I didn't feel like going through 45 pages, but *maybe* a quarter lived in America or were American citizens. I'll be generous and call it 300 American billionaires, again rounding up. This is out of 300+ million Americans. So while each new billionaire increases the percentage of members in that club significantly (by 1/3%), it's nothing to the total population. We're not teeming super-rich. Even looking at American millionaires, the last number I heard was maybe 1% of the population, about 3 million.

To counter Anon's other point, the rich actually pay a bigger percentage of the income tax revenue than the rest of us combined. Cecil Adams, not a bastion of conservative thought, recently covered this in a column:

People who live in countries with socialized or nationalized health care are generally taxed to the hilt and usually only receive basic care; they often come to the US when they want something more specialized.

If you want better health care, get rid of the HMO system (supposed to be a preventive system, but it's a PITA, and I blame an HMO for killing my mom), and, this will shock some, get RID of mandatory insurance. If we aren't forced to have insurance, they will have to bring down rates to get more customers. I've had arguments that this burden the system even more with the insured, but I think it will be offset by those who want insurance now but unable to get it, getting it and relieving some of the burden. Get rid of the profit motive, and things will be better.