27 August 2008

An anniversary betrayed?

Today is the 88th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US constitution which enshrined the right of all women to vote in American elections. It is also the day that Hilary Clinton takes to the stage at Denver to make her speech to the Democrat Convention in which she will (once again) formally concede defeat and endorse the nomination of Obama.

That a key moment in the battle for women’s rights provides the setting for Hilary’s speech, which will mark her final moment as a current Democratic nominee (albeit one who has suspended her campaign) is an apt ending to the drama of this battle for Party nomination which has itself been a milestone in the advancement of American women.

But whilst in her speech Hilary is expected to try to heal the wounds inflicted by the long and often bitter campaign to become the Democrat Presidential nominee and urge her supporters to throw their support behind Obama, many of her supporters appear far from receptive to such talk.

An embittered hardcore have pledged their support for McCain in an ‘’at all costs’’ attempt to block Obama from gaining the Presidency. And with Obama and McCain neck and neck in the polls the fight to win over this stubborn group may prove crucial.

The lengths these pro Clintonites are prepared to go has proved shocking, and the McCain campaign has been quick to court them. The most recent attack advert by the Republicans, released yesterday, stars Debra Bartoshevich, the former delegate to the Democratic Convention who lost her place after she publicly declared that she would vote for McCain in November. In it she once again pledges her support for McCain declaring that ‘’a lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It’s okay, really!’’.

Bartoshevich has joined a group of staunch Clintonites who have decamped to Denver to enact their own alternative convention. They are holding daily press conferences and protests and blogging intensely in their desperate campaign to get the roll call to be read out in its entirety on the conference floor in the hope that delegates will pledge their support for Clinton and that she will secure the nomination via this route.

This strategy is self evidently delusional; in suspending her campaign Hilary effectively conceded defeat and has transferred her support over to Obama through numerous public endorsements. And whilst this idea was circulated whilst her campaign was still live such a tactic now would surely split the Party without bringing her any closer to her White House ambitions.

It is also self defeating. In supporting John McCain these (mainly female) ex Democrats are getting in bed with a man who earlier this year promised to appoint Supreme Court Judges who would limit the reach of Roe Vs. Wade in an attempt to woo the Christian Right who had been sceptical of his election as the Republican nominee.

Hilary’s campaign galvanised the emotions of so many activists because it seemed to promise a brighter future for women in which achievement at the highest level was possible, in many ways it did. As Hilary put it ‘’Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling...it’s got about 18 million cracks in it’’.

Voting for a candidate who promises to attack many of the rights women have won will only take America further away from breaking this final glass ceiling, and is no way to mark such an anniversary.

 

Kate Ferguson.

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