Ron Rosenbaum

Which Mattered More in Obama vs. Clinton: Racism or Sexism?

I was crossing the street in 100 degree heat we’re having here in New York City and perhaps because of heat derangement it occurred to me that every blogger is required to have an opinion on this racism vs. sexisim question. This was shortly after listening to Hillary Clinton’s putatively final concession speech. (If you want to know the truth I don’t think the ambiguity over whether she has “released” her delegates or wants a nominating speech and a roll call vote for “history” has been resolved and I have a feeling it will become an attention grabbing issue between now and the convention. And that she’s still hedging against the possibility of “somethng happening” and not dismissing her troops between now and August. Anyone who’s read Prince John’s dirty trick in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2 will know what I’m talking about.)

But to return to the racism versus sexism question. I’ve read a lot of blogs claiming how terribly Hillary Clinton was hurt by sexism, and there were many ugly instances indeed, but in fact I think she benefitted more from the fact that she was a woman, which allowed her candidacy to become a cause that transcended the other part of her identity: her the corrupt legacy of Clintonism, of both Bill and Hill. I think she gained more votes because of her sex than she lost because of it. While the stunning drop off in white votes for Obama after Super Tuesday makes clear that he lost more votes because of his race than he may have gained.

I think his winning the nomination was a civil rights landmark even if he loses the election–sometimes progress comes in stages. But I also think the primary election process revealed something ugly about the perisistence of racism in America, particularly in the Democratic Party, even among so called liberals, as anyone who spent time reading some of the comments on the pro-Hillary blogs, and pro Hillary comments on pro Obama blogs can testify.