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Signorile To Hillary Supporters: Don’t Be Stupid

June 5th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

I’m baffled. I want to know what Barack Obama did to so many of the Hillary supporters such that they would choose to vote for John McCain in November rather than vote for the candidate that obviously has their best interest in mind. In the following video, Michelangelo Signorile confronts a caller who insists he can’t vote for Obama. As the conversation progresses, the caller actually admits his decision is an irrational gut instinct…yet that doesn’t seem to be enough of a reason to change his mind.

Signorile posits that the caller may be responding to some degree of racism that is buried below the surface. While I think that’s plausible, I have another theory. First, I don’t think it’s surprising that many gay men chose to support the Clinton candidacy over Barack Obama. Let me explain. The struggle for gay rights has, for the most part, been a contentious fight that has required the gay community to engage in a prolonged battle. It’s been a concerted effort of hard working scrappers who were willing to spend whatever time was needed in the trenches…slugging it out with our opponents. That is apt to create a kinship with a tenacious candidate like Clinton.

Barack Obama isn’t cut from the same mold. The tone and tenor of the gay rights struggle hasn’t been dominated by eloquent speeches. In truth, we’ve never had meaningful access to the audience. Our efforts have originated in the homes of gays, in small meetings of concerned individuals, and on the back channels of the media machine. In other words, the audience wasn’t listening…and the mainstream media wasn’t all that interested in providing us with a platform to voice our message.

So what does that mean? Well it means that a lot of gays…and older women…have a kinship of experience with Hillary Clinton. Gays, elderly women, and Hillary Clinton share an understanding of how it feels to be relegated to the status of an inconsequential figure in the background, frequently the object of insulting inferences, and often dismissed as the whiner who doesn’t understand the established hierarchy.

At the same time, it’s often said that the battle for gay rights isn’t similar to the struggle faced by people of color. The argument suggests that being black isn’t a choice and it isn’t possible to keep one’s color hidden. That has meant that many resent gays drawing any connection to the struggle against racism…arguing two things. One, being gay is a choice. Two, even if one makes that choice, one can easily hide that fact from society.

While one can argue that this does, in fact, make race part of the issue with Obama, I think there is another way to understand this situation. It centers on misogyny…and thus an inference of status. Women, and gays by default (particularly gay men) are not viewed as part of the male identity…the club that grants men and masculinity an exclusive status and a domain reserved for heterosexual males. In that construct, gay men, and most elderly women have been relegated to a lesser status…femininity by natural gender for women…and femininity by stereotype for gay men.

So how is this played out? Well, given the fact that the media is dominated by heterosexual men, it follows that there was a subtle bias against the woman candidate. Yes, many like to suggest that it was really about their dislike of THAT particular woman…but that can only be said because no other woman has had a real opportunity to unseat the existing order. Unfortunately, we lack a comparison to draw a definitive conclusion.

Regardless, this means that the establishment appears to have chosen Obama over Clinton…and this subtle slight was undoubtedly interpreted (primarily by elderly women and gay men) as the perpetuation of a misogynistic monopoly. In other words, white heterosexual males were seen to be choosing to open their club to a black heterosexual male while still excluding a women…and by association, gays. The natural reaction one can expect from the psyches of those left on the outside looking in is to assail the individual granted admission…whether or not that individual embraces the status quo or may even be an agent who would change it.

So all that is left is an understanding of the decision to choose McCain over Obama…a choice I doubt will happen in large numbers. I actually expect a number of elderly women will refuse to vote (my own mother is a case in point). Nonetheless, the caller and others are apt to vote for McCain…and it’s important we understand how that choice is made. From my background in psychology, I would suggest that while McCain is truly a prototypical member of the male dominated machine…he isn’t viewed to be a fellow minority (like Obama). Obama, because he is black, is seen as a traitor to those who have been excluded for years, and by default, his mere victory is seen as a tacit betrayal and an unacceptable affirmation of the status quo.

Voting for McCain delivers a message to the traitor…and sends a warning to others who might accept admission into a club that promotes more of the same. While this is an irrational association to make, Obama thus becomes the only object (person) available to punish for the perceived injustice. As it turns out, a vote for McCain is simply the mechanism to achieve this objective.

While I fully understand this dynamic, it is important for all of us to make a rational and reasoned decision in November. Cutting off our noses to spite our faces may provide momentary satisfaction, but it will be short lived if John McCain is allowed to win the presidency. Barack Obama’s victory need not be viewed as a rejection of women or gays. It may actually be the first step towards breaking through the glass ceiling.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 3 Responses to “Signorile To Hillary Supporters: Don’t Be Stupid”

  2. By rube cretin on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Daniel,
    once again you have cut through the noise. Democrats really have no place to go but obama. Hell, anybody who has been paying attention can see it. Hillary will be history in a couple of days and we can get on to the general.

    I just wish we did not have to do this thing conventionally. Why not go ahead and announce who will be the Sec. of State, (Biden is my choice), Sec of Defense, (Wes Clark is my choice), Attorney General, (Edwards is my choice,) and begin an assault on this crowd. Send them into their respective areas of responsibility and tell them to begin pointing out failures in current policy, what needs to be done, identify individuals who have to go and why, and meeting with world leaders who need to be consulted. Hell, the Dems have control of the House and senate and hearings can begin to develop strategies for implement ion on day one. The current administration, IMHO could be effectively rendered irrelevant. Capture the agenda now. why wait until january. Damn i am sick of this crowd.

  3. By Prof Haley on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    The odd thing is, Obama includes gay people in his message often, while VClinton can barely bring herself to say the word:

    http://www.americablog.com/2008/04/hillarys-gay-problem.html

  4. By Jersey McJones on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    If you weren’t sure about the depth and extent of racism in America then the 2008 Democratic Primaries should have shaken you awake. And if you think that was bad - just wait for the general election. God help us all. Good luck Obama.

    JMJ

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