Ever since my choice for the democratic nomination, John Edwards, suspended his campaign, I have been besieged by friend and stranger alike, urging me to vote for Barack Obama. Literally no one I know has approached me about Hillary. Maybe that says something about my friends or Hillary or maybe it says something about me. It doesn’t matter, because the only way I hold my nose and vote for her is if she’s the nominee in November. The thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Obama, either. Many of my friends are somewhat incredulous at my recalcitrance, but I have my reasons.
First a little background. My mother was a proud and politically active woman of mixed ethnicity but I think she identified most often as black. She was a filmmaker, author and journalist and paid close attention to the goings on of the day. She was deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement and I was raised in an politically aware home. But let’s be honest, unless you know me or are very race conscious, you wouldn’t know I was anything but Caucasian (or maybe Latino. I get that on the streets of NYC all the time). That said, I was raised in a multi-ethnic home and am myself very conscious of my heritage.
I am a feminist and a civil rights activist and I would be more than happy to see the first woman president or the first black president. The thing is, I will not and cannot sacrifice my overall political beliefs and I flatly refuse to do something so base and crass as to sell my vote for race or gender. This year’s race for the democratic nomination has been framed by the media for over a year as Clinton vs. Obama and as a result, the candidate most committed to the wellbeing of the people, John Edwards, was marginalized from the start. He really never had a chance and for that, the mainstream media should be ashamed. It’s clear, at least from my perspective, that John Edwards preached what was fair and good: An end to the dominance of Big Pharma and the insurance company lobby, the return of the government to the people, the end of corporate media dominance…oh…. Ooops!
So, John Edwards was, for my money, the most progressive, committed and honest person in the democratic race and he got my support. When he dropped out, I fully expected a switch to click in my head and start to get excited about Obama, but you know what? I couldn’t do it. I don’t like his heathcare plan, he strikes me as an appeaser, I don’t fully trust him and he never says anything. It drives me nuts. His speeches are like revival meetings and while I love a good call-and-response, “Yes we can” doesn’t really say much besides, well, “yes we can.” Besides, I’m loyal. When I support someone, I support them and in the absence of an endorsement from Edwards, I felt no compelling urge to vote for Obama.
The thing is, it’s all about November, for me and who can beat John McCain (for he’s clearly the likely nominee). Unfortunately, the only candidate who was the clear winner in that contest is no longer in the race. In poll after poll, you democrats all over the country named Edwards as the candidate you thought could most beat the republicans in November and in poll after poll you named Edwards as the candidate who most cared about people. And what did you all do? You voted against your interests and against the interests of the country as a whole. I just don’t get it. If you really thought Obama or Clinton were more likely to win, the results would make sense, but you didn’t. You said Edwards was a better candidate and cared more about you and then you went out and voted for someone else. Shame on you.
Photo of John Edwards by George P. Stern