presidential election

I have been doing quite a bit of political blogging and commenting on others’ blogs at the Des Moines Register this past week or so. So much that my husband asked me tonight if I was planning to run for office myself. I told him I would be running for election right after I started to glow with the ethereal light of the chosen and asked him if he had noticed me lighting up the room at night with spiritual incandescence. He said no, but he had noticed that I fart in my sleep and offered to bring a lighter to bed.

My husband would make the perfect first husband however. He has a quiet presence of authority and is just apathetic enough to put to rest the fears of my fellow Americans who might worry that the United States would end up a mere puppet government in thrall to our empire building northern neighbors. I can assure you all that I am my own woman. Independent in thought and action (but I don’t clean litter boxes – that’s man’s work).

I am highly suspicious of those who seek the presidency too eagerly and am not at all surprised when their hypocrisy or true natures are exposed. Take for example the Republican, Ron Paul. He has been enjoying quite the cult-like build-up of late. His campaign raised something like $6 million over a short time period recently. But, interestingly and yet not surprisingly, about $500 of this money came from a known hate group. When called on this, the Paul organization went into a spin cycle that was as impressive as it was sad. Impressive because it was classic rationalization and sad because it seemed so effortless. So much for being different. I ran across a video on the Newsweek site which featured a Drake College student waxing rhapsodic about how wonderful and well-respected a guy Rudi Giuliani, of all people, is. It was especially ironic when you remember that he has children in college who dislike him enough to join Facebook groups supporting other presidential candidates.

Wouldn’t it be nice if real human beings ran for the presidency? People who realize that it’s just a job, albeit one with a great address, awesome health coverage and your own really cool jet so you can avoid the TSA entirely. I even bet when you’re president you don’t have to take your shoes off or check your shampoo at baggage. It is a job. I wonder if anyone remembers that? Seems odd that such an important position can be attained with vaguely detailed goals by people that many of us wouldn’t want to know personally.

I suppose though that someone has to want to be president just like someone has to clean rooms at Holiday Inn Express, chop up cow, pig carcasses for IBP, and roam from farm to farm during harvests, dragging their families behind them. Dirty work that most Americans won’t do. We leave it up to those without better options, leaving us free to up-size, accessorize and accumulate. I guess I should be ashamed that I don’t feel the tingly glow-worm of democracy pushing me to run for office.

So, Mitt Romney stepped up to the plate and shed a tear or two for the team because if you want to be the president of this country (the U.S. not Canada – they don’t have a president and I don’t have space to explain what they do up here), you have to be warm, likable (there’s that word again) and fuzzy. You have to prove that on top on of that intellectual core that is aflame with great policies destined to change the very essence of America is the next door neighbor of our dreams. Not the unemployed 40 something guy with man-boobs in the cut-off shirt and gym shorts who sits in his garage smoking and ogling the stay at home mom’s as they go about their momming. Not him. But the great person who always has a smile and a greeting and comes out in -30degree weather to help you shovel off that oversize drive you have to accommodate the two vehicles you can’t park inside due to the overflow of stuff. That person. It boggles the mind at times, but the fact is that only human beings through whom the milk of human kindness flows by the quart need apply for the the presidency. Competent. Smart. Experienced. That may get you in the door with your app, but if you can’t smooze, ya lose.

Hillary Clinton knows this – now (though Bill surely knew it before and I wonder why he didn’t share that with her) as she hustles about on her “If You Knew Hillary” tour of Iowa. She spent so much time playing the man’s game that she forgot a small but significant part of the game was being ingratiating and radiating a holy healing light that provides warmth to all. Interestingly MSNBC ran a short article today about a recent study that found that while male bosses were not expected to be overly caring and could be forgiven for not reading their employees moods/minds, women bosses were cut no such slack.

So, for not being a mind-reader, Hillary was sent back to go – almost – without collecting the 200 warm and fuzzy points and made to parade her inner self for the next two weeks.

Mitt Romney on the other hand just does what men in the public eye do when they want to prove they have a heart – somewhere. He cried. Because crying is womanly and proves that a man is in touch with that side of himself. Right?

Frankly, now that he has the Tancredo endorsement, Mitt may be squeezing out droplets at every turn because Tancredo is not exactly a warm breeze on a summer evening.

I think the real issue is why warmth is an issue at all. Clinton and Romney may or may not convince the non-believers they are sincere and are wasting a lot of time that might be better spent showing the voters some of their stands on issues of real consequence.

The current cover of People features a bikini-clad television actress with the protesting title “I am not Fat!” And she isn’t, not by even the most twisted standards of beauty that have infiltrated our society and handed it new weapons with which to re-enslave women. Ms. Love-Hewitt is a size two, and I mention this only because I know someone will dispute her claim of a healthy weight (and me) and ask. It’s sad really that 40 some odd years into (or after depending on your point of view) the women’s movement, women in the United States are still objects. Which is why Clinton won’t win the Iowa Democratic caucuses or be president. Because she is a woman and women in this country – like most of the rest of the world – are still just the sum of their pretty, or not so parts. Intelligence. Experience. Ability. None of this matters when the easiest way to put a woman back in her place, or at least remind her she is out of it, is to criticize her femininity via her appearance, martial status or commitment to her children.

While it is true that we are allowed to be as naked as we wanna be in the visual self-expression of how far we have come baby, answer me this – how is the fact that we are judged by our appearance and size and “femininity” any different than the Islamic obsession with covering women up? Or the French and Russian governments extolling their female citizens to patriotism via their birth canals? It’s two sides of the same coin, and the coin of the realm is keeping women in their place as second-class and objectified-  with our complicity at times it seems because we don’t help ourselves at all by playing into whatever the status quo may be. In western cultures women parrot the line that we are free because we can be blatantly sexual and can control our bodies, and chose to marry or not, parent or play working girl – all the while starving ourselves and fueling a beauty industry out of control, and reading Cosmo for man-snaring tips. Our pop culture thrives on female parts – in music and films that depict females and their sexuality as dirty and disposable. Beauty magazines that sell self-improvement in the form of diets and exercise programs. Fashion that is designed to accentuate beauty and expose those who are not.

In places like say, Saudi Arabia, women will tell you they don’t mind being seond-tier, covering up and not being able to drive is fine because they appreciate being protected by their males and the society these males have created for them. The China and the India are dangerously unbalancing their gender ratios by scanning their unborn fetuses and aborting girls because sons are better for a family – at least until they are of marriageable age and their are no daughters for them to marry. French women are bearing children in the name of nationalism and unaware of that the racist sentiments that are slowly tearing at the seams of their country is the likely cause their governments are praising them for their efforts. But telling yourself you are in charge of your choices is not the same as being in charge. When there are no options to chose from but the ones carefully pre-selected and laid in front of you by others – how free are you?

So, what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton, you ask most patiently. Just that she represents what women are not supposed to know about or think about becoming. She is educated and articulate and didn’t get where she is by conforming to the rules as they are written for women. She may have chosen the well-beaten path here and there, who doesn’t? For example, remember her changing hairstyles back in the early days of her husband’s presidency when her looks were being constantly criticized in the press – which by the way is one of the ways the media works for the system that wants all women to know that love and respect are reserved for the pretty and the closed-mouthed. Sen. Clinton plays politics the way the boys do and she isn’t supposed to even want to play in the first place. John Irving called this being “sexually suspect” in his novel, The World According to Garp. Women who live their lives against the current. The current fashions. The current standards of beauty as dictated to us. The current standards of womanhood. 
The Register endorsed Sen. Clinton. It’s unlikely to do her any more good than Ms. Love-Hewitt revealing her dress size. A woman is not likely to be the president of this country. Our sexism is embedded in our genes so deep that we don’t even recognize it. We built our country upon the idea that all men, not women too, were created equal and never changed our minds. And don’t think that our founding fathers didn’t know what they were saying. John Adams wife Abigail railed at him for excluding women. Just as they knew they were in the wrong about slavery (Jefferson referred to it as “holding a wolf by the ears”), they knew what they were doing when they wrote “men”.

I am not a Clinton supporter. I haven’t even begun to make up my mind about the presidential field. It’s a little early in the race and future presidents should be put to the test and made to show their stuff and stamina. Nobody has done that yet. But, the Catholic school girl in me can’t abide those who will use the belittling tactics of the old parish priests when confronted with women who won’t sit down, or shut up or just go away. It may be a man’s world, but as someone pointed out to me recently they aren’t the majority. We are. And perhaps it’s time we decide where are places should be.