the political process & me
January 22, 2004 12:52 PM

I haven't talked much about my views on the Democratic candidates and the presidential election in general. It's not so much that I'm apathetic, but I'm torn. Roni asks on WHB: How are we preparing ourselves?

How, as a feminist, are you preparing yourself to decide who to vote for in the 2004 primary? If you're not a Democrat, you may have a senate race to watch out for as well, so feel free to address this question from a Presidential stand-point or the Senate or even the House of Representatives. Which issues are deal breakers? Which you can bend on? If a candidate says one thing, but you know they vote another way, which do you tend to believe? Where do you get your information?

Kerri's response had me going "right! me too!" and is rather exhaustive; good reading.

I was looking forward to voting for Carol Moseley Braun in our primary. Both she and Kucinich were really written off by the media, despite fervent support from their fans. Sure, they didn't get the Dean celebrity endorsements & didn't really engage either the machine of the usual donors or the new grassroots buzz, but various media helped to feed that.

Braun agrees with me on most things, and her femaleness and blackness are a plus. But she's out of the race now, and I can't vote in the primary, so I'm not really doing anything to prepare. If I passionately supported one of the other candidates, I'd write letters to New Hampshire voters.

[Sidebar: I'm annoyed that you have to apply for an absentee ballot so far in advance in my state. I didn't realize until last week that I'd be out of state on primary day (I never travel for work, but I am that week), and now I can't vote. I know the VA primary doesn't mean a lot, but it means something.]

What issues are the deal breakers?
Choice, healthcare, living wage & welfare reform, responsible foreign policy, social equality, civil liberties (namely, the Patriot Act must go).

What can I bend on?
Gun control, education, the death penalty, the military. I'm also willing to bend on anything but the items above in favor of electability. Two nights ago, my Bush-voting Navy dad told me he'd vote for Clark - that is, to me, a pretty compelling note in favor of Clark. He's a social liberal with a fiscally moderate agenda (not unlike Dean, who seems to differ from Clark mainly on Iraq), which means many of my biggest issues would be addressed in a Clark administration. Ultimately, I will give on many points in order to be de-Bushed.

Where do I get my info?
Everywhere. News junkie here. NPR. Project Vote Smart.

Talk vs. walk?
A candidate's recent voting history tells me what they really think. But I'm willing to grant someone the opportunity for a change of opinion. Kucinich's stand on abortion, for instance, has clearly changed. Their responsibility is to go with what the majority of Americans believe, so it is absolutely reasonable to change to suit public opinion - as long as that new opinion is backed up with future votes.

More about the issues...

A good candidate knows that abortion is a decision a woman makes about her body and potential life. A great candidate will understand that choice is also about healthcare and the economy - women should not feel obliged to abort because they can't earn enough working two jobs to support a kid, and elective abortion needs to be considered as a healthcare issue, meaning insurance covers some portion of the cost and the patient has easy access to it, as with other elective procedures.

Everyone needs health insurance. A decent candidate will realize it. A strong candidate won't just realize this, s/he'll make it happen, and it won't involve private companies - their MO seems to be to constantly increase insurance costs and decrease benefits in order to deliver value to shareholders; that's not acceptable. Additionally, I'll hesitate to support any candidate who starts talking about obesity crises and wars on fat. Take every cent you think needs to be spent on anti-fat campaigns and make sure my underpaid best friend and her skinny asthmatic partner can go to the doctor. Then, let's talk about ways we can make people's environments safer and healthier to keep the cost of that insurance as low as possible.

Living wage.
This is the tough one for me - it's actually the main reason I haven't contributed to any of the campaigns - because none of these candidates are truly addressing this. They talk about the economic failures under Bush, but don't recognize how much those things are part of our SYSTEM, not the administation. It is absolutely not acceptable for the minimum wage to remain at its current level. Wage workers today make less than they did in the fifties and sixties. You want mid-century happy families back? Well, pay our workers enough to live on.

You know what? I bet you could even cut some corporate taxes so those pay raises didn't get all us stock-owning wankers whining about our earnings falling. Besides, our stocks' values will all rise when all those welfare folk start being able to buy houses and cars (on credit, of course) with the money they can now make working at 7-11, where they never miss work because they've got quality healthcare. The living wage campaign isn't about charity; it operates on the same "sound" economic principles of the Republican eighties - in reverse - Trickle UP Theory.

In the meantime, though, don't penalize moms on welfare who are trying to train for new jobs. They need training and childcare, and I bet some of them would be willing to work at some new federally funded childcare centers as part of their welfare-to-work benefits.

Oh, and shut up about the damned drug wars. If every teenage boy in the projects new he could be saving for college, cars, even some crazy bling-bling - all just as a clerk at McDonald's, do you think he'd be risking his ass pedalling drugs?

Responsible foreign policy.
I don't care how the next president feels about the Iraq war, I want him (I guess, as no woman seems to be running now) to behave responsibly in transitioning out of Iraq. That means engagement of the UN and being willing to negotiate with the international community. It doesn't just mean pouring more money into Iraq, but it can't mean pulling the money out, either. Basically, I have some faith that you could be a good president if you recognize that Iraq is a very very complex issue.

Along the same lines, a really good president would be able to negotiate between Americans, their representatives and the world community. If you don't talk about willingness to work with other countries to make world-impacting decisions, I don't want to talk to you. Because that's how I think the "war on terror" will be won - through cooperation and a willingness to adjust our foreign policy to accomodate prevailing world opinions. Hey, it works on the playground.

Social equality.
I don't think making gay marriage legal is enough. I think the marriage contract needs to be expanded to allow for the great variety of people's relationships in a way that lets them recognize legal responsibilities to each other. I'm not sure marriage should only be between two people, for instance, if that's not how all households work. But gay marriage is a start, and an absolute necessity.

There are a thousand other ways in which people of difference need to be accepted and accommodated - whether the difference is by choice or design. I want a president who at least understands that and won't undermine any existing protections. A president who was also a supporter of the dead-in-water ERA would be nice.

Gun control.
I'm in favor of reasonable restrictions, but the Bush regime has reminded me of why the 2nd Amendment exists. Because at some point, some shithead administration might go completely nuts, leaving citizens defenseless against our military if we don't have our own weapons. I don't know, maybe I've been watching too many episodes of Dark Angel or something, but it seems like the sci-fi world could be a lot closer than we think. So I've come to be less adamant about gun control - I could support a candidate who wasn't for assault weapon bans, for instance.

As I become more and more convinced that our entire outlook on schooling is absurd and wrong, it becomes harder for me to support anyone's pat views on school improvement. That said, none of the candidates' plan seem significantly worse than others.

I'm just not sure throwing money at the problem is the answer - though most schools could hardly be hurt by money. I'm pretty sure that "holding schools accountable" or directing money from public to private schools via vouchers isn't the answer, either.

Death (that is, the military & the death penalty).
I am not opposed to the death penalty. Honestly, I think it's sometimes a darn good idea. But it's a bad idea if badly applied, and it's currently badly applied. So I lean towards candidates who support death penalty reform, but am willing to listen to those who oppose it outright. I'm wary of candidates who think the system's working great now.

I think the draft is a dumb idea and that reservists need to actually be ready for service. I also know from some experience that our military has some of the least efficient purchasing systems everywhere and is just generally spending way more than needed. We need to curb that. At the same time, we are the world's police force, and we need to find ways to be more effective (and less pushy) at that. So I'm willing to negotiate on military spending approach.

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your wicked thoughts

"Oh, and shut up about the damned drug wars. If every teenage boy in the projects new he could be saving for college, cars, even some crazy bling-bling - all just as a clerk at McDonald's, do you think he'd be risking his ass pedalling drugs?"

thank you. i didn't even address this in my response, it goes almost without saying, to me, but i find it of the utmost importance that we remind people that living wages are anything but.

these are the thoughts of lenée on January 24, 2004 11:09 AM

I think, given what you think important in the candidates, you should be doing everything necessary to get Dennis Kucinich to the White House.

Dennis is for a "living minimum wage" as a first step, he advocates the minimum wage be raised to the real wage as it was in 1968 -- which means $8.50 an hour.


I was at an inner city meeting/discussion group in Oakland CA, and he really connected with the young inner city kids, and showed an immense undrrstanding of their concerns. I will see if their is a video of the occasion on the internet. You will find links to very good audio/video relating to Kucinich at

You can also see his views on various topics at

There is also good information at

Thanks for having a caring attitude towards the world


these are the thoughts of Rajiv on February 1, 2004 12:54 AM

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