Unfortunately, in the new era of the Democratic Party, brought to us by Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, when one objects to misogyny people assume that one condones racism. I have been writing in recent posts about the misogyny that has surfaced in this political season. In various places and in comments left for me, some have complained that I have not objected to racism directed at Senator Obama.
Racism is vile. To demean, degrade, threaten, or disrespect anybody because of the color of her or his skin is unequivocally unacceptable and reprehensible. To refuse to vote for somebody simply because of the color of his or her skin is unacceptable.
I believe the same holds with regard to gender. To revile misogyny is not to accept racial bigotry. Bigotry, in all its forms, is a pervasive problem in American life. That this must be spelled out in the year 2008, among Democrats, is a sorry reflection upon the state of the Democratic Party and the state of the union.
I lay the blame for the need to state that my objections to misogyny are no excuse for racism squarely at the feet of Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi.
When confronted with the end of a primary season where the two leading contenders for the Democratic Party nomination happened to be a black male and a white female, Chairman Dean and Speaker Pelosi choked. Instead of leaving the nomination to a free and noncoerced floor vote - or votes, if balloting took more than one round - Dean and Pelosi chose to rig the eventual nomination, risking the legitimacy of the outcome. This has opened the door to suspicions that those who object to the outcome base their objection on something other than the fact the Democratic Party, the self-proclaimed party protector of voting rights since the mid-1960s, tampered with its own election. I do not know why Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi chose to rig the Democratic nomination; I do not know why they chose to rig the nomination in favor of Barack Obama, a black man, rather than Hillary Clinton, a white woman. Doing this has damaged both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. Senator Obama appears to have profited from a corrupt process at the expense of Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton seems to have had to do back flips to demonstrate her commitment to the Democratic Party, thereby costing her credibility with many primary voters who shared her primary season objections to Senator Obama's qualifications and substantive positions.
As for the rest of us, the Dean-Pelosi decision means that we must state the obvious, at the risk of being boring.
At that risk, here's the obvious:
Objecting to corrupt electioneering practices or corrupt elections (within a political party or in general elections) is an entirely separate issue from condemning racism or misogyny. And condemning misogyny, and those politicians who will not step up and object to it, is an entirely separate issue from condemning racism and those politicians who will not step up and object to it. Election corruption and bigotry are bad and bad for America. Bigotry in all forms is bad and bad for America. Election tampering is bad in any democratic venture, bad for democracy and bad for America.