In case you missed it, here’s Hillary’s latest video in all its scandalousness. Spoiler alert: she endorses gay marriage!
Guys, my newsfeed has been blowing UP about HillDog’s endorsement for the gays. People are PUMPED. Reactions range from “About damn time,” to “HILLARY 2016!!!!! Let’s go!” Not so surprising, I guess, since most of the folks I populate my life with are the lefty-loosey, politically aware, feminista type. They all voted Obama in 2008, trashed the Mittens/Ryan ticket in 2012, and now, are all kinds of ready to see the former Secretary of Cool become the first Madame Commander in Chief.
But, I’ve gotta say, as much as I love me some Hillary, all this unthinking enthusiasm about her newfound love for the gays (or at least, the marrying kind) strikes me as a bit ill-advised. Here’s why:
1) Let’s think about the timing of this happy little announcement, shall we, my dears? We’re just a few months out from Decision 2012’s grand finale (the glorious defeat of Mittens). It’s that wonderful time in the voting cycle when politicians come out of their post-election hibernation and start stretching their claws.
Leading up to Decision Day, campaign commercials are about as avoidable as the eyeballs in your head–they are always there, all the time. Allthegoddamnmutherfuckingtime. And once the votes are in, the entire electorate–politicians included–seems to collapse into an exhausted heap of relief. You can’t say any political-sounding buzz words for months afterwards–unless you want to get that sideways, dirty look of someone who hates you with all of their soul. You know the one. You gave it to your roommate last weekend, when she was clanging pots and pans the morning after you drank your paycheck away.
But now, a good four months post-election overload trauma, political wheels are free to start turning. Contenders for Decision 2016 are already starting to gear up for the primaries. And HillDog is gunning for the Democratic ticket. This video’s release date is no coincidence. It’s right on the heels of CPAC, which raised questions about a future presidential bid for Republicans Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie. And Hillary can’t be late for the party! This video is little more than an announcement that she’s arrived. She’s a 2016 front runner. And when the time comes, she wants all the good little gays to vote for her.
2) Now, let’s talk about the organization that produced this video, for a moment. That would be the Human Rights Campaign (HRC for short). It’s the largest gay-rights political advocacy and lobbying organization in the country, and it’s run (mostly) by a bunch of upper-middle class white people. Mainly, it has focused on abolishing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (done!) and achieving marriage equality (still truckin’), a roundly popular agenda amongst other upper-middle class, (mostly) white gay folks.
But if you’re not upper-middle class and white, gay marriage might not be so exciting. Other organizations, comprised mainly of lower-income queers of color, have made a habit of criticizing the HRC. Why are gay rights synonymous with gay marriage, they ask, when we’re struggling to secure employment, avoid violence, and stay out of the prison industrial complex? Up to 40 percent of the homeless population is made up of LGBT youths–an issue the HRC talks little about.
Why aren’t these kids a priority, HRC? Your agenda isn’t helping them, or any of the other folks who aren’t privileged enough to find their identities reflected in the pages of J. Crew. So, when Hillary stands up to declare herself a proud supporter of this deeply problematic organization, let me be the first to say, I’m not too impressed. If she was making a video for the Ali Forney Center, on the other hand, that would be pretty awesome.
3) HillDog might have a reputation for being feministy, but she’s got a conservative streak that many of her Democratic supporters like to ignore. She has a history volunteering as a Goldwater Girl, a.k.a. a cheerleading cowgirl supporting one of the most staunchly conservative political candidates ever to make it to the general election.
Hillary claims to have liberaled-up after high school, but she continued to volunteer for Republican candidates during college, and was even president of Wellesley’s Young Republicans Club. She did, obviously, become a turncoat eventually–she was a Democratic First Lady, Senator, Presidential contender, and Secretary of State. But those conservative views still run deep. Her husband, Bill (remember him?) authorized a slew of policies that weren’t so different from those of Right-wing demi-god, Ronald Reagan, and Hillary’s own politics have proven to be quite consistent as well. She might be pro-choice, pro-healthcare reform, and pro-equal pay, but really, those are all just prerequisites for being a decent human being. Piddly reforms aren’t going to seriously improve the lives of most people, who are getting crushed under our current political-economic system, gay marriage included. Hillary doesn’t deserve any medals for her endorsement.
4) Let’s take a second to talk about that crushing economic system that’s screwing us all. It’s called neoliberalism, and it was architected by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the late 1970s. I could launch into a long, possibly (probably) boring explanation about how it all works, but basically it boils down to this: Make the rich richer, make the poor poorer, and leave everyone who’s not a gazillionaire without any social safety net to keep them warm at night. Here’s a nifty little video that illustrates the gigantic pile of crap this soulless system has created:
You see that? I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaws up off the floor.
The Clintons have supported and furthered this system since the 1990s, when Bill first took federal office, and jump to present day, Hillary’s not saying anything about changing it. Clearly, the U.S.’ wealth disparity is a big, gigantic problem. It affects all of us–especially those of us who are women (we clock lower earnings to begin with), who are gay (it’s still legal to be fired for your sexuality in most states), who are of color (disproportionately suffering from poverty), and who are are gender non-conforming (you try wearing boobs and a men’s suit on job interviews). So, while it’s cool that Hillary likes the gays and all, she’s still not saying anything about re-calibrating the wealth distribution in America to a level that even kind of makes sense. And that’s a big, gigantic problem all to itself.
5) Finally, Hillary’s endorsement of gay marriage is not-too-exciting because marriage, in and of itself, is a deeply problematic institution. As Yasmin Nair points out in her own blog, marriage doesn’t magically make poverty go away or healthcare appear. Instead, marriage acts as a handy little excuse to privilege certain types of people over others. Why should married couples get extra tax breaks, or partner-sponsored healthcare (if you’re lucky!), or green cards for immigrant spouses? In all this rush to privilege the gays with marriage, we all seem to be forgetting about our single friends who will still be screwed.
Shouldn’t they have access to quality healthcare too? Don’t they deserve to hang onto more of their hard-earned money? Don’t they deserve to not get deported?
Well duh. Instead of focusing on marriage rights like we all have tunnel vision, we should be fighting for things like universal healthcare, immigration reform, and tax laws that value people over corporations. Gay marriage is not the end of inequality–it’s just a tool that helps certain gay people live life a little more safely in a world that privileges coupledom over singlehood.
So HillDog? I’m glad you like the gays. I’m glad you don’t want to continue treating us like second-class citizens. I’m glad you realize that we’re people, we’re human beings, and we deserve to be valued and treated with respect.
But those are just the prereqs for being a Lefty, feminist politician who will actually make our lives better. Beyond that, you’ve got a lot left to prove.
So, my take on Hillary’s endorsement of same-sex marriage? More drab than fab. What do you think?